Sunday, 18 June 2017

Amazon plans to sell cars in Europe

MUNICH — Amazon plans a digital assault on the retail automotive sector and is sounding the attack in Europe first, sources have told Automobilwoche, an affiliate of Automotive News.

The Internet giant has recruited Christoph Moeller, a partner at the Oliver Wyman consultancy for the effort. He was responsible for the auto industry at the firm up until last February.

“At Amazon, I am overseeing the OEM business in the European market,” Moeller told Automobilwoche.

Amazon is spending large sums to build up its new unit, which will be run from Luxembourg and will start by selling cars in the U.K. “It has been luring experts with fat pay packages for some time,” an automotive consultant said.

“I know that Amazon is planning something in this area,” a spokesman for Fiat Chrysler said. Like Hyundai and Opel, Fiat has already sold cars over Amazon.

Amazon is exerting “massive pressure to add yet another supporting pillar to the market in the form of test drives,” said an executive at one manufacturer. In scattered instances, it is already possible to get test drives of Mercedes models at Amazon.

A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment on European plans and it’s not clear whether new or used cars will be offered. The company last year announced a deal to sell three Fiat cars, including the 500 and Panda, on its Italian website. The program was extended in March and now also includes long-term leases.

Amazon is seeking to fill a gap as traditional dealerships lose appeal.

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A New Way of Thinking About the Automotive Industry

Over the last couple of decades, Silicon Valley has been responsible for inventing and reinventing all kinds of gadgets and technologies: the music player, the phone, the watch, the TV and the computer itself. Recent trends suggest that the automotive industry might be next on Silicon Valley’s disruption list.

Besides a surge of auto tech startups and Tesla’s success, Silicon Valley’s new affair with the automotive industry is heightened by chatter about a secret car project by the most prominent disruptor of them all: Apple. Dan Akerson, retired CEO of General Motors, recently commented on Apple’s alleged entrance into the automotive market with the following remarks:

“We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into a car. They have no idea what they’re getting into if they get into that.”

But is this really true? Does Silicon Valley really have no idea what they are getting into? Or might the Valley just have a drastically different idea of the future of the automotive industry?


Are We Reaching Peak Driving?

One reason for Silicon Valley’s interest in the automotive industry is the theory of “peak driving”. In the U.S. and Europe, people are buying fewer cars, driving less and getting less driver’s licenses, suggesting a major cultural shift away from individual car ownership. This is especially true when one looks at the behavior of 16-30-year-olds living in urban areas.

While car sales in other markets, such as China, are still growing, a look at cities, here too, signals that this trend won’t hold for long. For example, in Beijing, a driver wishing to purchase a vehicle with an internal-combustion engine must first enter a lottery and then wait up to 2 years before receiving a license plate.

Consulting firm McKinsey expects such vehicle use restrictions to grow even more stringent in emerging countries as the level of urbanization and air pollution increases. Globally air pollution already accounts for 6.5 million deaths annually. It is such developments, among others, that attract Silicon Valley disruptors to enter and redefine the industry.

Changing the Worldview About Cars

The purpose-driven Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and executives, following their “change-the-world-mantra”, are viewing the shortcomings of internal combustion engine cars as global challenges, solvable by innovative technologies and business models.

In their view, cars are an old, inconvenient technology, destroying lives, polluting the air, and contributing to global warming. For executives like Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, the argument for disrupting the automotive industry is obvious. Referring to the over 1 million deaths and 15 million injuries caused by car accidents globally each year, Schmidt speaking to shareholders in 2016 bemoaned: “How could you accept that? Why is this not a national crisis?”

Furthermore, from the perspective of Silicon Valley, cars are not only destroying lives and the environment, they are also extremely narrow “computers on wheels“. While cars have become increasingly more computerized, they are still relatively unintelligent, inefficient, and rarely connected to the Internet with no unifying platform that allows third party software to be run. This is where Silicon Valley steps in: The smarter the car gets, the more it becomes obvious that the automobile is but one element of a complex mobility system – a system due for digital disruption.

The individual components which come together to form a car are obviously not all made by the same supplier, in fact there are thousands of satellite companies withint the automotive industry which support manufacturers at various stages in the supply chain. These smaller companies are often responsible for the innovations which have huge impact to the industry as a whole:

  • CAN (Controller Area Network) Bus – the system which allows microcontrollers and devices to communicate together
  • Tires – Optimizing performance is crucial not just for efficiency but also safety
  • ECU (Engine Control Unit) – the processor which manages operation of the engine
  • Windows – innovations in this department can lead to aesthetic design innovation
  • Seatbelts & airbags – innovation with regard to safety features of any car is essential, and new methods are constantly under development
  • Lighting – Whether it’s innovation in luxury class vehicles with the intention to impress, or functionality-focused for headlights and break lights
  • Fasteners – ensuring that all elements are securely attached is crucial when traveling at high speeds

From Selling Cars to Selling Experiences

A recently published report by independent think tank RethinkX suggests that by 2030, 95% of U.S. passenger miles traveled will be served by on-demand autonomous electric vehicles, owned by fleets, not individuals. In such a future, the key customer question that the automotive industry has to answer with innovative products and services is not: “What car should I buy?”, but rather “How do I get from A to B?”.



This dramatic shift from individual car ownership to Transport as a Service (TaaS) is the vision followed by Silicon Valley. Tech companies are racing to deploy the first TaaS solutions to leapfrog traditional car manufacturers and to gain first-mover advantages. Not only would such a shift dramatically shrink the automotive market (unit sales and margins), it would also mean that platform providers, companies developing autonomous vehicle operating systems, and computing platforms would win over traditional car manufacturers. Furthermore, as one billion people get in and out of cars every single day, McKinsey forecasts that aggregating and selling data from these vehicles could grow into a $450 to 750 billion market by 2030.

So, while executives of the automotive industry were still laughing at Google when it unveiled its fleet of little pod-cars without steering wheels in 2014, some traditional car manufacturers like General Motors have now at least begun calling themselves mobility companies instead of car manufacturers.

Key Challenge: Self-Disruption

In this coming mobility revolution, the predominant challenge for traditional players in the automotive industry is self-disruption. These companies have to redefine who they are and what they stand for. Changing the worldview about cars is the best way to start. As Vijay Govindarajan, a world leading expert on innovation and New York Times bestselling author, explains in his book The Three Box Solution: In order to create the future, one must forget the past. Govindarajan explains how older organizations often fall into the complacency and legacy trap, i.e. focusing too much on their past successes and existing structures and cultures. He argues that organizations must establish formal regimes of planned opportunism (i.e. gathering and analyzing weak signals and trends) and thus challenge their internal beliefs and values.

This means that incumbent players in the automotive industry are well advised to continuously irritate themselves and to create a new understanding and vision of the future of their industry. This requires open innovation solutions in order for employees and other stakeholders to first and foremost develop a collective intelligence about disruptive trends, but also to express new ideas that challenge the status quo.

Some of the biggest automotive companies are now taking notice and beginning to utilize this methodology. For example, in 2016 Ford began working with award-winning innovation management software vendor, Qmarkets, to engage their workforce and overcome their business challenges. Idea & Innovation Management software can help organizations shift their perspectives and jumpstart a conversation about new business opportunities which could prove invaluable to the success of the organization.


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Saturday, 10 June 2017

The speed limits in these parts of Dublin will be reduced from this week onwards

New speed limits will come into effect in a number of areas across the city from midnight on Tuesday onwards.

A 30 km/h speed limit will be enforced in certain urban areas and residential estates throughout Dublin from midnight on Tuesday, May 30, as part of the expansion of 30 km/h speed limits throughout the city.

The new speed limit will come into effect in parts of Sandymount, Crumlin, Drimnagh, Raheny, Artane, Donaghmede, Drumcondra and Phibsborough; a detailed map of the zones where the expansion of the 30km/hr limit will come into effect can be viewed here.

The introduction of the 30 km/h speed limit in those areas comes after it was initially introduced in a number of areas in Dublin city centre in March.

Dublin City Council says that the expansion of the 30km/hr speed limit zones will generally not affect the arterial roads in and out of the city but rather the residential areas of the city.

New signage will be revealed in housing estates and locations where the 30km/hr speed limit is being applied and a Slow Zone will be created.

Bye-laws for the 30km/hr expansion were adopted by Dublin City councillors in December 2016 following a period of public consultation; you can see all the areas of Dublin where it is in effect on the Dublin City Council website.

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Friday, 9 June 2017

Belfast Mechanical expands in Quinte West

Belfast Mechanical

Suzanne Andrews, general manager of the Quinte West chamber of commerce, congratulated David Cowan on the expansion of Belfast Mechanical on Wednesday June 7. – Erin Stewart/Metroland

Trenton — Belfast Mechanical Services Inc. auto repair shop has expanded services and is now open to the public, located in Quinte West.

Owner David Cowan, licensed technician in automotive, truck and car repair, has been a mechanic since high school and has worked in the Quinte area for the last 20 years.

For the past 17 years Cowan has solely repaired Quinte Paramedics Services EMS vehicles but since opening Belfast Mechanical in April 2016, Cowan said he has been able to expand his shop and hire another mechanic, enabling him to service the general public.

“It’s been a special relationship with EMS but working with other customers’ vehicles will be quite natural, we will be doing both,” he said.

“We’re going to be working on everything from passenger vehicles right through to medium duty size vehicles that would need annual safety inspections,” said Cowan.

“We do all repairs on all makes and models of vehicles, everything from tune-ups, to breaks, whatever a vehicle would need for repairs.”

Opening shop in Quinte West is a dream come true, said Cowan.

“I emigrated from Northern Ireland to Canada with my family in the mid 1970s,” he said.

“My grandfather came to Canada at age 55 and I grew up in his shop, learning from him became the foundation for many things and ultimately led me to wanting to become an entrepreneur myself.”

Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison congratulated Cowan on his new expansion, along with Suzanne Andrews, general manager of the Quinte West chamber of commerce, on Wednesday June 7.

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How Most Insurance Companies Strangle Automotive Enthusiasm

3 Automotive Brands Dominated Spending on New Creative Last Week

Need a new car this summer?

Three automotive brands populated Kantar Media’s list of last week’s top spenders on national broadcast placement for new campaigns. Spending on new creative increased last week, with 594 advertisers devoting around $95 million on placement for new campaigns, an increase of nearly a third over the previous week’s total of roughly $72 million, although well short of the $122 million mark set the week before that. Of that, advertisers devoted nearly $8.7 million on placement during the first two games of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers last week.

Total spending on broadcast placement was down, however, with advertisers spending around $746 million last week, compared to $828 million the week prior.

While three automotive brands made Kantar Media’s list, Toyota lapped the competition, spending some $9 million on broadcast placement, 81 percent of its $11.1 million budget, for a pair of spots promoting its 2018 CH-R cross-over vehicle. Of that, $5.3 million was dedicated to prime-time programming, spread out between a variety of shows including Mom and Life in Pieces. Lethal Weapon received $400,000, which was the most spending on new creative of any show.

The ads feature the 2018 CH-R, not a fantasy prince, saving modern-day depictions of Cinderella and Rapunzel. Both spots made their debut on May 29, running in both English and Spanish. As of the compiling of Kantar Media’s report, the “Cinderella” spot had run a total of 1,142 times with an expenditure of $5.6 million, while “Rapunzel” had run 1,216 times for a total expenditure of $3.5 million.

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$20 Million Hypercar Gathering Is a Symphony of Automotive Music

When any automotive enthusiasts sees more than three supercars (or hypercars) together, their skips a beat. When an automotive enthusiast hears more than three supercars start up and drive around, their heart just stops. But when hundreds of supercars get together—like the gaggle that recently gathered at TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands—well, it can even cause cardiac events among gearheads who are just watching on YouTube. So you’d better be sure you’re sitting down for this.

In the video shot by Carspotter Jeroen, we can see some truly amazing cars. Between the McLaren P1s and a Koenigsegg Agera RS and Agera RS ML, this event isn’t falling short of truly insane cars. Put it this way: The Bugatti Veyrons look like regular cars compared to some of the insanely rare vehicles darting down the front straight.

As the video continues, we get to see and hear some high-speed passes as these rolling works of art blast past Jeroen and his camera. A fun math exercise would be to estimate the cost of all the cars on the truck, but since we aren’t mathematicians, we’ll just play it safe and say north of $20 million. Other cars that can be seen are Ferrari LaFerraris, Lamborghini Huracans, Nissan GT-Rs, Mercedes-AMG GT S, Aston Martins, and much more.

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