Weekly Brief: In wake of CES, Detroit Auto Show gets back to basics

Connected tech was largely absent from the North American International Auto Show. Andrew Tolve reports.

Tens of thousands of car fanatics descended on the 2018 Detroit Auto Show for a peek at the biggest trends and hottest cars for 2018 and beyond. What they saw was a bunch of gas-guzzlers, from crossovers and SUVs to new pickup trucks like the Ram 1500, the Ford F-150 diesel, the Ford Ranger and the Chevrolet Silverado. Connected car technology seemed a little lost in the tail-pipe fumes.

It was a stark reminder that while self-driving cars and electric vehicles grab the headlines, pickup trucks and SUVS still pay the bills for most carmakers. It also was a reminder that the rise of the Consumer Electronics Show as a platform for showing off autonomous tech and mobility concepts has fundamentally changed the nature of the Detroit Auto Show and also it’s possible that carmakers only have so much stuff to debut right now.

There were some interesting connected car news items out of Detroit nonetheless. Let’s take a look back. US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was on hand to announce that the DOT will release new guidelines for self-driving cars this summer. The guidelines will be in their third iteration at that point and, Chao said, the latest will present new guidance for the trucking industry, infrastructure and transit. She also said the DOT plans to respond to GM’s request to be able to deploy a fleet of Level 5 robo-taxis in 2019.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said that she expects 2018 to deliver earnings on par with GM’s record-setting 2017 earnings and the 2019 is forecasted to be even better. What to do with all that money? Barra said her company plans to increase its annual investment in self-driving cars to $1Bn (£721M) in 2018, for starters.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett made a big commitment to electric vehicles. He said that Ford will have 40 electric vehicle models out by 2022, 24 hybrid and 16 fully electric. To make that happen, the carmaker plans to invest $11Bn into EVs in the coming half decade.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said that Infiniti will become a purely electric vehicle brand after 2021. All vehicles manufactured at that point will be one of two things: all-electric or ePower vehicles. ePower is Nissan’s range-extender technology that uses a battery to power the motor and a gas engine to charge the battery.

Magna unveiled ICON RADAR, a new standard in high-resolution automotive radar that will help companies jump from Level 3 to Level 5 autonomy. ICON RADAR is based on technology used by the US military. It has a range of more than 300 metres; scans the environment in four dimensions (distance, height, depth and speed); and detects, tracks and individually classifies almost 100 times more objects than competitive systems.

SiriusXM launched SiriusXM with 360L, a new platform that provides drivers with personalised recommendations for what to listen to next. Think of it like Pandora for Sirius, where the app gets a sense of what you like and listen to and uses that to provide recommendations for future content across its more than 200 satellite and streaming channels. SiriusXM with 360L will debut on the 2019 Ram 1500 truck.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen unveiled BlackBerry Jarvis, a software cybersecurity product for the automotive industry. Jarvis is a cloud-based static binary code scanning solution that identifies vulnerabilities in software used in automobiles. Jarvis scans and delivers deep actionable insights in minutes, what would otherwise involve manually scanning that will take large numbers of experts and an impractical amount of time.

Finally, outside of Detroit, BMW acquired Parkmobile, the largest provider of mobile parking services in North America. Up to 30% of city traffic is caused by people looking for parking spaces, so cutting down on search time even a little bit can make a significant impact for humans and planet Earth. BMW has held a minority stake in Parkmobile since 2014.

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

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