Weekly Brief: Daimler plans to pull the plug on EV charging angst

Research has shown that people greatly dislike manually charging their cars. Some owners live in shared housing estates or apartments where finding a plug is tough. Others are annoyed by the inconvenience of tangled cables and complicated timing regimens. There has been a media report that one carmaker's customer survey found up to 70% of its owners of hybrid vehicles never plug their cars in and, instead, rely entirely on fuel to get their vehicles started.

That's a problem for the electric vehicle movement and it's why Daimler’s wireless charging announcement last week is so important. The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S550e is set to become the first commercial application of a wireless electric vehicle charging (WEVC) system among hybrid vehicles. Drivers of the car will simply park over a special pad and charging will begin — no cables to manage or untangle, just park it and charge it.

Daimler is working with Qualcomm on the technology and other carmakers are likely to follow suit. It's important to note that while this “Qualcomm Halo” solution is powerful enough to charge a hybrid in a timely manner, the system still has a few more years in development before it can charge a fully electric vehicle in the same amount of time.

In other news, General Motors was busy again on the car-sharing front, this time investing an undisclosed sumin Yi Wei Xing, a leading car-sharing technology solution provider in China. The company’s app, Feezu, allows drivers and passengers in China to connect a la Uber and offers car rental companies a customised cloud-based car-sharing platform. GM also expanded its own car-sharing program Maven into the San Francisco market. That brings Maven’s total count to nine cities since launch in January 2016 and vaults it into competition with some of the US’s most popular programmes, like ZipCar.

Samsung's global nightmare with the Galaxy Note 7 has forced the tech company to halt negotiations with Fiat. Samsung was looking to expand into the connected car space and was keen to purchase part of Fiat's Magneti Marelli business, which focuses on in-car entertainment and telematics. That was before Samsung's new flagship phone started spontaneously combusting and the company was forced to terminate the Galaxy Note 7 just six weeks after launch, costing some $5.2Bn (£4.26Bn) in lost profit and wiping out nearly $20Bn in stock value. Samsung and Fiat may return to the negotiating table in 2017, Bloomberg reports.

Toyota and Suzuki will collaborate on research and development in an attempt to catch up with other carmakers in the connected car arena. Toyota acknowledged that it was lagging behind its competition in the US and Europe and said that it hopes targeted partnerships and investments in automated driving, hydrogen technology and other mobility solutions will bring it back into the game. Toyota is particularly interested in Suzuki’s expertise in mini vehicles in emerging markets like India.

The US Department of Transportation awarded $65M in grants to support communities that harness technology to reduce congestion, connect people to mass transit and enhance vehicle and pedestrian safety. Among the winners are Pittsburgh, which will receive $11M to deploy smart traffic signal technology along major travel corridors, and San Francisco, which will receive $10M to deploy connected dynamic tolling for the Bay Bridge and dynamic carpool/rideshare pick-up curbs.

Finally, safety app Life360 launched a new subscription service called Driver Protect. The service uses your smartphone to automatically detect if you are in a serious accident and immediately contacts emergency responders and your family members. The service also delivers safe drive reviews to subscribers, providing them with actionable safety insights about their driving habits. Parents can thus check if their teens are speeding, for instance, or how often they’re using their cell phones while behind the wheel.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU-Automotive analysis with information from industry press releases.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *