Dubai To Deploy Robo-Car Police Patrols

Soon Dubai’s police force will have a new recruit patrolling the streets: a self-driving car that acts a mobile surveillance unit. The vehicle is about the size of a child’s toy electric buggy and is equipped with 360-degree cameras that “scan for wanted criminals and undesirables” – presumably using facial recognition technology.

Dubai Police signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singapore-based OTSAW Digital to deploy the new autonomous outdoor security robots, named O-R3, as part of the Smart Dubai initiative.

OTSAW says Dubai will be the first city in the world to use the O-R3 for everyday patrols, noting that the robot is not intended to replace human police officers, but to “fulfill low-level order enforcement tasks.” As well as all-seeing cameras, the O-R3 can charge itself automatically, and comes equipped with an onboard drone to follow individuals to places where it can’t drive.

 

Ghosn Perceives Renault-Nissan Alliance As Number One This Year

Renault-Nissan alliance boss Carlos Ghosn believes his grouping (Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi) will become number one in sales, bypassing Volksvagen Group and Toyota. During a shareholders’ meeting earlier this month, Ghosn said “We have been among the top three car manufacturers since January in sales volume, and we expect to be in the top spot by midyear — although this was not our goal.”

According to market research company JATO Dynamics, VW Group has sold 3.32 million vehicles, Toyota 3.06 million and Renault-Nissan 3.02 million. JATO uses a combination of vehicle registrations and retail sales to arrive at its figures.
Through the first four months, the alliance is close to the top two.

Renault-Nissan could stay in the top three for some time, excluding any unexpected mergers or acquisitions. The alliance of Groupe Renault, based in France, Japan-based Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., sells cars under nine brands – Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Renault Samsung Motors, Infiniti, Venucia, Dacia, Datsun and Lada.

 

Fatality Rates Are Four Times Higher In An Older Vehicle – ANCAP

Australia and New Zealand’s independent vehicle safety advocate, ANCAP, unveiled the results of a car-to-car crash test – dramatically demonstrating the improvements made in vehicle safety over the past two decades. This comes as new analysis shows older vehicles are over-represented in fatality crashes.

The crash test was conducted during the 4th United Nations’ Global Road Safety Week (8-14 May 2017) to highlight the important role safer vehicles play in improving road safety.

“This test physically illustrates the benefits of newer, safer cars,” said ANCAP Chief Executive Officer, James Goodwin. Analysis of the Australian vehicle fleet shows that while older vehicles [those built 2000 or earlier] account for just 20 per cent of the registered vehicle fleet, they’re involved in 33 per cent of fatality crashes*. In contrast, newer vehicles [those built 2011-2016] make up 31 per cent of the fleet yet are involved in just 13 per cent of fatality crashes.

“It is concerning the rate of fatal crashes is four times higher for older vehicles than for new vehicles. We’ve been tracking the average age of a vehicle involved in a fatal crash, and in just one year we’ve seen that average increase from 12.5 years to 12.9 years. This highlights the need for a renewed national focus and greater support for safer vehicles,” Goodwin said.

The over-representation of older vehicles in fatal crashes is similar in New Zealand where the average age of the vehicle fleet is 14.3 years and the average age of a vehicle involved in a fatal crash is 15.6 years.

“It is unfortunate we tend to see our most at-risk drivers – the young and inexperienced, as well as the elderly and more frail – in the most at-risk vehicles, and we hope this test promotes a conversation to encourage all motorists to consider the safety of their car,” Goodwin said. â€œSafety is not a luxury and we want everyone to remain safe on the road, so consumers should look for the safest car they can afford and the safest car that suits their needs.”

“The outcomes of this test are stark and the automotive, finance and insurance industries can play a part to assist in encouraging people into newer, safer cars.”

The frontal offset test, which replicates a head-on crash, was conducted at 64km/h.

“The older car sustained catastrophic structural failure with dummy readings showing an extremely high risk of serious head, chest and leg injury to the driver. It achieved a score of just 0.40 out of 16 points – zero stars. In contrast, the current model performed very well with a five star level of protection offered, scoring 12.93 out of 16 points,” said Goodwin.

 

Third Generation Hyundai i30 Debuts In Australia

Hyundai Motor Company Australia has announced pricing and specifications for the third generation all-new i30, which went on sale late last month.

The entry-level i30 Active manual will start at $20,950 (all prices are before on-road costs), $500 less than the outgoing model it replaces. Hyundai says it applied the $500 price reduction despite adding around $2000-worth of extra standard features to the new car compared with the old. These include a fully integrated satellite navigation system with eight-inch touch screen display (and it’s a huge upgrade over what Hyundai put in all of its cars previously), as well as Apple CarPlay / Android Auto smartphone mirroring, a DAB+ digital radio, and a 2.0-litre direct-injection engine developing 13kW more power and 28Nm more torque than the 1.8-litre multipoint-injection engine it replaces.

Other additions to the new i30 Active specification over the outgoing 2nd generation Active include 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, hill-start assist and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

“We have built outstanding quality and value into the new i30, not just at the entry level but across the range,” said Hyundai Motor Company Australia CEO, JW Lee. “Quality is what buyers demand and expect, and it is inherent in the new i30, its refinement, comfort, handling, performance, safety and practicality. In all of these respects, along with its superb design, we believe the new Hyundai i30 is competitive with the very best in the class from a product perspective, while simultaneously extending Hyundai’s value leadership.”

Development engineers at Hyundai Motor Europe’s Technical Centre in Germany enhanced the driving dynamics of the i30 in a rigorous testing programme throughout Europe and on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Hyundai says the highly rigid and light body, with 53 per cent Advanced High Strength Steel, helps deliver good ride and handling characteristics. Combined with 10 per cent more direct steering and a newly developed chassis, the driver can enjoy dynamic driving abilities without compromising high levels of comfort.

In addition to the entry-level Active, the new Hyundai i30 will come in two comfort and two sports trim grades.

A 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine – 100kW/300Nm in Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) form, 100kW/280Nm as a manual – is available in Active, Elite and Premium grades, while SR and SR Premium variants are now fitted with the upgraded 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine shared with the Elantra SR Turbo, developing 150kW and 265Nm.

Specification additions for the new i30 comfort and sports trims include wireless phone charging, new-design 17 and 18 inch wheels, dual exhaust tips, LED headlights, multi-link rear suspension in SR models (torsion beam in the others) and Hyundai’s SmartSense safety and alert system, which incorporates automatic emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and lane departure warning. An optional Safety Pack, including AEB and other SmartSense features, will become available for the Active by the end of 2017.

The new i30 is equipped with seven airbags and has achieved a maximum five star ANCAP safety rating.

“We are immensely proud of the work our engineers and designers have done to create this car,” JW Lee continued. “Through outstanding customer support, Hyundai will enhance the new i30’s ownership proposition even further, with a five year unlimited kilometre warranty, 10-year free map update plan for the satellite navigation system, a superb-value Lifetime Service Plan and outstanding roadside support.

“We feel confident this car will compete well with the best in the class and will appeal strongly to all Australian small car buyers.”

 

No. 88 Axalta/Ameristar Chevrolet SS To Race At Phoenix International Raceway On Sunday

Axalta teams up with Ameristar Perimeter Security to feature the new 2017 paint scheme for the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS for Spring Race Weekend at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), on Sunday, March 19, 2017. As a partner of Axalta, which is primary sponsor of the car in Phoenix, Ameristar will be prominently featured on the car. Dale Earnhardt Jr., voted by fans as NASCAR®’s most popular driver for the 14th consecutive season, will be behind the wheel. Earnhardt Jr. is a 26-time Sprint Cup winner and has three career wins at PIR.

This weekend’s race will be the first to feature the new paint scheme, which is nicknamed “Flash Point” by legendary designer Sam Bass, due to its graphic designs along the body of the car. Axalta’s AquaECâ„¢ electrocoat corrosion prevention coatings are used on Ameristar’s Montage products, the leading brand of ornamental steel fences in North America. Manufactured for strength and durability, Ameristar’s Montage decorative fencing products rely on Axalta’s innovative corrosion protection qualities to ensure its fences can withstand the elements and offer a lifetime limited warranty.

“We’re excited about this new alliance between Ameristar and Axalta,” said Barry Willingham, President of Ameristar Perimeter Security. “By combining the capabilities of Axalta’s coatings technology with our state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, we will be able to deliver our customers a product quality that is unprecedented in our industry. Ameristar’s partnership with Axalta allows for product differentiation today, and their commitment to product innovation translates into our future growth for tomorrow.”

In addition to Sunday’s headlining race, Ameristar will be the feature sponsor of the No. 9 car driven by William Byron in the Xfinity race on Saturday, March 18, 2017.

“I’m excited to have Ameristar participate in the Spring Race Weekend, and to see their logo on the newly painted No. 88 Chevrolet SS,” said Michael Cash, President of Industrial Coatings at Axalta. “Racing is all about the commitment to excellence, innovation, technology and teamwork – attributes that are key to success on the track and in business. Our great customers, like Ameristar, demonstrate this commitment every day and we are privileged to be able to support their goals through our products, our services, and the ways in which we help our customers build their businesses.”

 

PSA Finalises Deal To Buy Opel Brand From GM

France’s PSA Group is set to announce a deal to buy Opel from General Motors after striking an agreement with the US car manufacturer. The manufacturer of Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars will hold a press conference with GM, at which the transaction is expected to be presented after Reuters reported that a deal had been struck between the two car manufacturers.

By acquiring Opel, the French group will leapfrog rival Renault to become Europe’s second-ranked car manufacturer after Volkswagen by market share. Between them, PSA and GM Europe recorded 71.6 billion euros (AUD$100.1 billion) in revenue and 4.3 million vehicle deliveries last year.

The tie-up was approved by the PSA supervisory board, on which the French government, Peugeot family and China’s Dongfeng are represented as shareholders. The news of the takeover comes as GM’s European Opel brand recently posted a 16th consecutive year of losses. Britain’s impending exit from the European Union has only made the prospects for Opel and Vauxhall more difficult.

Brexit could lead to trade barriers between the UK and EU, disrupting supply chains, pushing up the cost of components and raising the price of cars. It could also mean large job losses. For PSA, the Opel deal caps a two-year recovery under cost-cutting chief executive Carlos Tavares, who said he would apply the same methods to Opel if the deal went through.

PSA averted bankruptcy by selling 14 per cent stakes to France and Dongfeng in 2014, to match a diluted Peugeot family holding. Tavares has said that PSA would redevelop the Opel lineup with its own technologies to achieve rapid savings, according to Reuters.

 

Electric Mercedes-Benz Urban e-Truck Comes To Market In 2017

This year, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is bringing the world´s first all-electric heavy-duty truck to market in a small series. Following the presentation of the Urban eTruck with 25 t perm. GVW and a range of up to 200 km at the International Commercial Vehicle Show in 2016, the first vehicles will be delivered to customers this year.

As Stefan Buchner, Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks worldwide, explains: “Following the world premiere in September 2016 at the International Commercial Vehicle Show the customer reaction was outstanding. We are currently talking to around 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs and logistics sector. With the small series we are now rapidly taking the next step towards a series product.

“By 2020 we want to be on the market with the series generation.”

“Zero emissions, quiet as a whisper and with a payload of 12.8 t: The Urban eTruck offers an impressive economical and environmentally friendly concept. The vehicle will initially go in a low two-figure number of units to customers in Germany – and later in Europe too. It will be used in real transportation applications there. The aim is to use actual application scenarios and requirement profiles together with the customer to further optimise the vehicle concept and the system configurations of the electric truck. The tests will include use in shift operation, charging times plus battery and range management.

Stefan Buchner continued: “When it comes to future technological issues we have set the standards in the sector, for instance with regard to electric and autonomous driving plus connectivity. 2017 will now be our year of implementation: step by step we are developing the vehicles and systems to achieve market maturity.”

In order to be able to depict the various application possibilities, 18- and 25-tonne models will be equipped with a refrigerated body, as a dry box body and as a platform vehicle. Together with a special charger which takes into account the increased demands on a truck, the vehicles will be handed over to the customers to use for a period of twelve months and supported by Mercedes-Benz Trucks road testing department. During this time the use profiles and areas of application will be recorded and the knowledge gained and expectations compared.

The Urban eTruck is part of a comprehensive electric initiative from Daimler Trucks. The light-duty electric truck Fuso eCanter will be in use in a global small series in 2017. Around 150 vehicles will be handed over to selected customers in Europe, Japan and the USA. Daimler Trucks is thus covering a wide application portfolio of electric trucks all over the world.

Increasing urbanisation and better economy of the battery technology pave the way for all-electric trucks. Better air quality, a lower noise level and entry restrictions are now important catchwords in the big metropolises of the world. It will be necessary to transport goods in urban environments for increasing numbers of people – and with the lowest possible emissions and noise. Therefore, in the future, all-electric trucks will take care of supplying people in many metropolises with groceries or other goods needed on a daily basis.

 

Harvey Norman Sponsors Simona De Silvestro’s Supercar Team

The striking red livery of the Team Harvey Norman entry was officially unveiled at this year’s Championship launch at Adelaide Oval, with De Silvestro excited to get her season underway. â€œThe car looks fantastic. Red goes faster, right?” remarked De Silvestro. “It’s great to show off the Altima I will be racing this year, as well as announcing that Harvey Norman will be supporting me. Harvey Norman was with me at the last two Bathurst 1000’s, so it’s great to have them on board again.”

The 28-year-old Swiss driver has a decorated track record in open-wheel racing, recording a podium in IndyCar, and landing a testing role with the Sauber F1 Team. But this will be her first full-time season racing the Nissan Altima Supercar.

“Everyone has been really welcoming to me since I arrived, so I can’t wait to get racing. We have started our testing program, and I’m feeling really comfortable in the car and with the team.”

“This season will be challenging, as it’s my first full year driving the Altima. But I have a great team around me, and I’m really looking forward to going racing at the Clipsal 500.”

Nissan Motorsport also welcomes two major consumer electronic brands, LG and Lenovo, who will also support De Silvestro’s campaign. For Nissan Motorsport Team Owner Rick Kelly, the new season now has added excitement.

“It’s always great to welcome new brands to our team,” said Kelly. “We were fortunate to work with Harvey Norman last year, but to have them now as part of our team is a huge endorsement of what we’re doing and where we’re headed. With also LG and Lenovo involved, we have two new exciting brands to go and represent. So, we’re all very keen to get the season started.”

The #78 Team Harvey Norman Nissan Altima will first hit the track for a pre-season test at Sydney Motorsport Park, Feb 21, before the season-opening Clipsal 500, March 2-5.

 

Summernats TV Special Begins This Sunday

The record smashing, tyre frying 30th edition of the Street Machine Summernats was the largest Summernats ever, jam packed with four days of epic high octane action. To relive this incredible, iconic spectacle, Summernats is bringing you a huge two part TV special, because with so much action it couldn’t fit in just one episode!

Grab some mates, get the BBQ heated up and enjoy the ultimate horsepower party in the comfort of your own home! For more information, click here.

 

High-Level VW Executives Could Face US Charges

U.S. prosecutors are planning to charge high-level Volkswagen executives based in Germany over the car manufacturer’s diesel-cheating scandal, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg, after the FBI arrested a manager in the U.S. for allegedly misleading regulators.

VW’s executive management was informed about the “existence, purpose and characteristics” of an emissions cheating device in July 2015, and chose not to disclose it to U.S. regulators, a court filing showed.

Oliver Schmidt, who headed the company’s regulatory compliance office in the U.S. from 2014 to March 2015, was arrested by federal investigators in Florida, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The person familiar with the situation declined to specify when charges against more senior-level executives may be filed or whether the executives to be charged are still employed by the car manufacturer, Bloomberg reported.

Schmidt appeared in U.S. District Court in Miami. He did not enter a plea and was ordered held pending a hearing by U.S. Magistrate Judge William C. Turnoff.

Schmidt, who was shackled and wearing a jail uniform, was charged with fraud and conspiracy in not disclosing a cheating device used to rig U.S. diesel emissions tests from 2006 through 2015.

He was arrested in Florida after attempting to return to Germany from a vacation, the Justice Department said. Schmidt’s lawyer David Massey said Schmidt had learned of the investigation and reached out to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to offer to cooperate. Schmidt then met with FBI agents in London last year, he said.

The criminal complaint against Schmidt was unsealed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

The U.S. complaint said Schmidt and other employees gave a presentation to VW’s executive management on or about July 27, 2015. The complaint did not identify the other executives who attended the meeting.

“In the presentation, VW employees assured VW executive management that U.S. regulators were not aware of the defeat device,” the complaint said.

“Rather than advocate for disclosure of the defeat device to U.S. regulators, VW executive management authorized its continued concealment.”

In the meeting, Schmidt and other VW employees prepared a chart with possible consequences from a meeting with California regulators. One of the “negative for VW” consequences was “there could be an ‘indictment,'” the complaint says.

It was not immediately clear if or when Schmidt was terminated at VW. VW officials declined to identify Schmidt’s employment status.

“Volkswagen continues to cooperate with the Department of Justice as we work to resolve remaining matters in the United States,” the company said in a statement. “It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters.”

Herbert Diess, VW brand chief, was asked by Automotive News about the charges on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. He said:

“Naturally I can say little about that. We simply have to accept that the investigations continue and we hope that we can soon reach a point where we put this behind us. But these are things that the management board itself has no knowledge of,” he said referring to the status of the investigations.

“Naturally this is not good news for us at the show.”

Diess declined to comment when asked if he expected further arrests of VW executives.

Building the case

Europe’s biggest carmaker initially blamed a small group of “rogue engineers” for the test-cheating, and has repeatedly said no current or former board members were involved.

According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Ian Dinsmore, internal VW emails and accounts from two anonymous cooperating witnesses from inside VW’s engine development department and from James Liang, an engine department employee who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in September 2016, provided enough evidence to charge Schmidt.

When the evidence first arose that something was off with VW’s diesel engines, Schmidt wrote an email to another executive questioning whether the company should fess up. “It should first be decided whether we are honest,” he wrote. “If we are not honest, everything stays as it is.”

After several meetings in Germany, Virginia, Michigan and California, Schmidt and other executives in August 2015 came up with a plan to conceal the defeat device from regulators. Schmidt wrote an email to another VW manager explaining that one employee would not be coming to a meeting with California regulators “so he would not have to consciously lie.”

The complaint reads: “Nevertheless, in the summer of 2015, Schmidt agreed to travel to the United States to participate in direct conversations with U.S. regulators in which he intended to, and did, deceive and mislead U.S. regulators by offering reasons for the discrepancy other than the fact that VW was intentionally cheating U.S. emissions tests, in order to allow VW to continue to sell diesel vehicles in the United States.”

Witness told Calfornia

An unnamed witness, referred to in the complaint as “CW1” met with California regulators on Aug. 19, 2015 and “disclosed, in direct contravention of instructions from his management, that certain VW diesel vehicles used different emissions treatment depending on whether the vehicles were on the (testing) dynamometer or on the road, thereby effectively admitting that VW had cheated U.S. emissions tests.”

The FBI was not immediately available for comment.

Senior VW officials are not attending this year’s Detroit auto show.

Lawsuits filed against VW by the New York and Massachusetts state attorneys general accused Schmidt of playing an important role in VW’s efforts to conceal its emissions cheating from U.S. regulators, the paper said. Schmidt and other VW officials repeatedly cited false technical explanations for the high emissions levels from the car manufacturer’s vehicles, according to the state attorneys general.

20 years at VW

Schmidt began working in Volkswagen engine development in 1997, after receiving a degree in mechanical engineering, from the University of Applied Sciences, in Hanover, Germany.

Throughout his career at Volkswagen, he held various positions in development, marketing, and production — all within the field of powertrain development.

He was then responsible for everything that was related to tailpipe emissions, starting with regulatory, leading to certification and in the end, taking care of the defect reporting, up to 15 years in a cars life.

He made several public appearances in the U.S. in recent years, including the 2012 CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich.

Schmidt followed Norbert Krause, who was head of VW’s U.S. environmental office until 2009 and who retired from VW in 2011. Krause told Reuters in 2015 that nobody at Volkswagen of America was involved in the process of engineering the manipulated diesel cars.

Scandal breaks

VW admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software known as “defeat devices” in 475,000 U.S. 2.0-litre diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner in testing. In reality, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable pollution levels.

The news comes as VW is nearing a deal to resolve criminal and civil allegations over its diesel cheating in the U.S., crucial steps toward moving past the scandal, which has cost it billions of dollars and its reputation.