Beijing auto boom Weekly Brief—4.30.2012

In this week's Brief: Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Bentley, BMW, GM, BYD, Hyundai, HARMAN, Geely Motors, BAIC Motors, Tata Motors, TomTom, US Department of Transportation, Autonet Mobile, and Bosch 

Despite moderate sales in China’s passenger car sector in 2012, the 2012 Beijing Auto Show opened to its biggest venue yet, with more exhibitions, demos, and guests than ever before.

The theme of the show was “Innovate and Excel,” and in keeping with that spirit auto brands like Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Bentley all rolled out new cars, with Aston Martin’s 5-million yuan (that’s US$800,000) Dragon 88 taking the most expensive billing for any car at the Beijing show.

BMW made news by unveiling a 3 series sedan specifically for the Chinese market, and GM promised to build a new factory in China and to trundle five to 10 new Cadillac models out of it in the coming few years. 

BYD unveiled the “Qin,” a hybrid electric vehicle equipped with the BYD “i” intelligent cloud system platform, which incorporates features like telematics, cloud-computing and a full-range of services 24 hours a day, such as roadside assistance, vehicle positioning, remote monitoring, music and video downloads.

BYD also introduced the “Remote Driving Controller” technology, which harnesses a remote “key” that can start the car, move it forward or back, turn left and right, and travel at a restricted speed all by itself, without the driver being inside the vehicle.

Hyundai showcased a China-exclusive vehicle dubbed the “Langdong,” which is based on the company’s award-winning Elantra and which translates as “dynamic car for the young, new generation.”

The car will come equipped with the Blue Link infotainment system, which will feature its usual suite of safety and maintenance alerts and navigation and remote control.

In addition to its 3 series sedan for the Chinese market, BMW presented the “BMW Connected” app, which can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and enables drivers with iPhones to link their phones to their dashboards and leverage all sorts of apps inside.

Specifically, drivers can link social network services Kaixin and SinaWeibo into the vehicle.

Elsewhere, HARMAN finalized multi-year agreements with three leading domestic automakers in China and India to feature the company’s branded audio and infotainment systems.

Geely Motors, parent company of Volvo Cars, and BAIC Motors of China selected HARMAN to develop systems for luxury sedans, and Tata Motors, India’s leading automaker and parent company of Jaguar Land Rover, has asked HARMAN to develop a branded audio and infotainment strategy for vehicles across Tata’s new vehicle range.

The combined business represents a record total of more than US$500M.

TomTom launched TomTom Global Geocoder, a high-volume batch geocoding web service that enables businesses to process large amounts of data with a single click of a button and return results quickly.

Geocoding is the process of converting addresses into geographic coordinates to allow location analysis. By combining geographic knowledge with business information, businesses can make smarter decisions that will lead to better products, as well as cost savings and process improvements.

Young people are involved in the most crash or near-crash incidents related to phone involvement, according to new survey analysis from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The national telephone survey found that 18- to 20-year-olds are three times more likely than drivers age 25 or older to have been sending a text or e-mail when such an incident occurs. Young drivers are also the least likely passengers to say something to their driver if he or she were texting or talking on a cell phone.

The survey is part of the DOTs campaign to confront young distracted driving.

Autonet Mobile partnered with Bosch's Car Multimedia Division to manufacture an IP-based telematics control unit.  Autonet Mobile's automotive-grade device is built to be factory-installed and to access the vehicle's CAN Bus to drive the development of in-vehicle applications including key fob, parental control, and fleet offerings.

With Autonet Mobile's TCU in place, OEMs can drive new revenue streams from their vehicles by offering services such as the ability to connect the car to smartphones, parking and toll applications, and vehicle diagnostics.

"Partnering with Autonet Mobile provides a massive market opportunity to bring Internet apps into the vehicle," says Juergen Peters, regional president, Car Multimedia North America, Robert Bosch LLC.

"Together, we're enabling a whole world of applications that communicate with systems throughout the car – including the head unit, sensor networks and instrument clusters – to enhance the driving experience."

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