Weekly Brief: Uber caves in to Chinese rival

After two years of haemorrhaging money in China, upward of a $1Bn (£764M) a year, Uber sold off its entire Chinese division to its chief Chinese rival Didi Chuxing. In place of cash, Uber will receive a 20% stake in future Didi Chuxing operations.

Talk about a shocker. Short-term losses aside, China is the largest developing market in the world and one of the greatest potential growth areas for any endeavour involving the connected car, especially ride sharing initiatives given the countries crippling gridlock and pollution challenges.

Even more baffling is the fact that this comes hard on the heels of a major announcement from the Chinese government legalising ride sharing operations in China. The new regulations require three years of driving experience from drivers as well as a clean background. The law was seen as a major boost for Uber, given that so much of its struggles came from trying to wrangle with or work around the government.

Evidently enough was enough. In place of sinking more cash into China, the company announced last week that it would be investing $500M in its own mapping capabilities, thus decreasing its reliance onGoogle maps. Uber wants to create a map in database that is accurate enough to get its drivers to pick-ups and deliveries as fast as possible and to fuel its future self-driving car ambitions. Uber mapping cars will descend en masse on Mexico this summer and the investment will enable further mapping of the United States.

In other news, Verizon went on an epic spending spree. A couple days after acquiring all of Yahoo’s mobile, advertising and content assets for $4.83Bn, the global telecoms company acquired GPS tracking specialistFleetmatics for $2.4Bn. This follows on the heels of its June acquisition of fleet management platform provider Telogis. Both will now operate under Verizon's existing fleet offering Verizon Telematics.

Teslarecorded a $220M loss and its second-quarter of business in 2016, yet the company's irrepressibly upbeat CEO Elon musk insists that Tesla has never been better positioned for profit and growth. He points to the fact that production and delivery of Model X and Model S is steeply on the rise, with a target of 50,000 due by the end of the year. Also, Tesla is decreasing its dependence on suppliers with in-house parts made in its new super factory dubbed the Gigafactory. Musk has said that he wants to lessen electric vehicles’ drain on the grid by encouraging owners to install solar panels on their roofs.

Nissanannounced that it is pursuing a different solution at its Nissan future lab, that of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging. The company is working in concert with the US Air Force on a V2G pilot programme in which modified Nissan LEAFs discharge energy back into the grid via by directional charging stations.

Finally, Audi wants drivers to be healthier and happier and it's founded a new business accelerator called the Flying Health Incubator to make it happen. The incubator will scout for and support start-ups in the digital healthcare sector, specifically those with an eye on "automotive health". If that conjures an image of a driver doing somersaults or push-ups behind the wheel, that's not exactly what Audi has in mind – rather harnessing advanced sensors to monitor driver alertness and tension and address those through novel solutions.

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


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