Weekly Brief: Lyft to build self-driving tech with auto supplier Magna

Lyft was happy to let others take the lead on building self-driving tech. Not anymore, reports Andrew Tolve.

Don’t forget about Lyft. In the furious race to commercialise robo-taxi services, it’s easy to think of this as a battle between Waymo and Uber, with a few traditional carmakers making some noise on the fringes. Lyft has other ideas. Last week the company announced a partnership with Magna, North America’s largest auto supplier, tojointly fund, develop and manufacture self-driving systems. These systems will be market-ready over the next few years, and any carmaker will be able to order them for their vehicles. Lyft will also use the systems to build out their own robo-taxi fleet. It’s a smart move on both sides. Lyft gains Magna’s manufacturing chops, and Magna gets a more attractive offering for customers: a self-driving system with built-in access to the Lyft network. In addition, Magna will invest $200M (£143M) in Lyft equity. The partnership is subject to regulatory approval.

In other news, General Motors will soon begin to build production versions of its Cruise AV at two factories in Michigan. The carmaker has been building test vehicles for more than a year with plans to fully commercialise in 2019. The vehicle will have no steering wheel, pedals or manual controls. GM will invest more than $100M to upgrade both facilities.

Waymo is expanding its focus from self-driving vehicles to self-driving trucks. The company announced a pilot in Atlanta that will focus on autonomous tucks and automated logistics. Waymo will partner with none other than Google to haul cargo to and from Google’s data centres in Atlanta. The trucks will have the same technology under their hoods as Waymo’s fleet of Chrysler minivans in Phoenix. 

Ford revealed that all new vehicles across the Ford line-up will have 4G LTE connectivity by the end of 2019. Ford will also introduce Ford Co-Pilot360, a new driver-assist technology package with standard automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning and other driver assist features.

TomTom launched its electric vehicle service in North America. The TomTom EV Service is a real-time service that helps drivers make informed decisions about when and where to charge their vehicles. It’s available to automakers and their suppliers and includes almost 11,000 charging locations across the US and Canada at launch, with more locations to come.

The PSA Group launched a similar service in France for Peugeot and Citroëndrivers, only in place of TomTom it’s in partnership with Digital Charging Solutions (subsidiary of BMW’s ChargeNow service). Called ChargeMyPeugeot and ChargeMyCitroën, the new service is available through the ChargeNow app and lets drivers locate 6,360 charging stations throughout France – including 460 fast-charge terminals – as well as check availability and type of plug.

Caught up in the hype of self-driving cars? UK business owners aren’t. Seven out of ten small and mid-sized business owners in the UK don’t think driverless cars will be a prominent feature on the road by 2021, new research from Close Brothers Asset Finance reveals. Only 9% of business owners expect their business to be impacted by driverless cars, while 69% don’t expect any change. All of which seems a bit naive, frankly, given projections by the likes of Intelthat driverless technology will create a new passenger economy worth $7Trn by 2050 and that businesses that don’t prepare early for a self-driving future risk obsolescence.

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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