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Verizon Telematics announced the commercial availability of hum, an aftermarket vehicle connectivity technology and subscription service. First announced in January at the North American International Auto Show as Verizon Vehicle, hum provides subscribers with a self-installed solution that helps predict potential issues, prevents breakdowns and offers protection when problems do arise.
At the press of a button, drivers receive diagnostic information, pinpoint roadside assistance and live consultation with ASE-certified mechanics and emergency personnel on-demand.
Powered by Verizon Telematics technology deployed to automakers, insurance companies and fleet managers for more than a decade—as the telematics service provider’s first direct-to-consumer offering—hum is compatible with more than 150 million passenger vehicles on the road today.
Subscribers install hum through an onboard diagnostic (OBD) reader that is plugged into the vehicle’s OBD port, and a Bluetooth-enabled device that is clipped to the visor. The monthly subscription also includes a smartphone app allowing subscribers to monitor their vehicle health, contact help, and manage maintenance needs, even when they are not behind the wheel.
Through GPS-based technology, hum helps accurately dispatch advanced roadside assistance, alerts emergency personnel of a car’s location if a crash is detected, and assists authorities in locating a vehicle that has been reported stolen.
Specific features include:
Pinpoint Roadside Assistance for breakdowns, flat tires, overheating, dead battery or virtually anything else that might require towing or roadside assistance.
Incident Alert & Emergency Assistance notifies the hum emergency response center if the system detects an incident. Help will be dispatched to the vehicle’s GPS location if an accident is confirmed or if there is no response from the driver for additional support. Drivers can also initiate a call at the push of a button to speak with a trained, live agent.
Auto Health & Diagnostics helps predict and prevent mechanical issues before they become bigger problems by giving subscribers’ insights into their car’s health via the hum web portal and smartphone app.
Mechanic’s Hotline connects subscribers with ASE Certified Mechanics providing personalized, immediate and unbiased consultation related to their vehicle’s repair and maintenance issues.
Parking & Meter Tools help drivers find where they left their vehicle—using the hum smartphone app—while also keeping tabs on how much time is left on the meter. Maintenance Reminders and Alerts can be set for oil changes, tire rotations and more. Additionally, hum will automatically alert customers to vehicle troubles and general manufacturer recalls.
Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance is available at the subscriber’s request—hum can provide information to authorities in order to help locate the stolen vehicle.
Travel & Repair Discounts include hotels, vehicle rentals, related travel expenses, and auto maintenance.
Two-year subscription plans start at $14.99 per month plus taxes, fees and equipment for the first vehicle (including the hardware, valued at $120) with the option to add other vehicles for less.
Uber has signed a partnership with the University of Arizona focused on research and development in the optics space for mapping and safety. The partners will work to improve the imagery captured and used to build out mapping and safety features. As part of this partnership, Uber is donating to U of A’s College of Optical Sciences.
In addition, Tucson and the University of Arizona will be become the next site for Uber mapping test vehicles. These are already on the streets in Pittsburgh, where Uber is working with Carnegie Mellon University on autonomous driving (and subsequently hired 40 of CMU’s researchers).
In June, Uber opened a new Center of Excellence in Phoenix which is dedicated to providing customer support to riders and driver-partners.
European drivers are showing an increasing appetite for semi-autonomous driving technologies, according to a new Ford Motor Company study on buying trends in Europe. Ford Car Buying Trends 2015, a study of new car buying habits in 22 countries across Europe, highlights regional trends and national differences.
The study shows significant increases in the number of cars with technologies that help drivers to park, avoid collisions, and maintain set speeds and distances from vehicles ahead. Among the results:
Active Park Assist uses sensors and the vehicle’s steering system to help drivers find a suitable space and steer in to it. The system was fitted to more than 1 in 3 (34%) Ford cars in Europe, up from 28% compared with the previous year. In Switzerland this was almost 3 in 4 (72%), followed by the Netherlands (62%), and Spain (61%).
Active City Stop can help reduce the severity of rear-end collisions by automatically applying braking if a driver does not react in time to slowing traffic ahead. In the past year more than 1 in 8 (13%) cars produced were equipped with the system, up from 7% compared with the previous year. The technology was most popular in Sweden (59%), then Norway (58%), and Switzerland (41%).
Adaptive Cruise Control enables drivers to maintain a set distance from the vehicle in front, even if the vehicle is travelling at a slower speed. In the past year more than half of new Ford cars in Europe were equipped with some kind of cruise control technology, rising from 48% to 52%. Turkey led with 86%, ahead of Finland (84%), and Sweden (80%).
Lane Keeping Aid detects an unintentional lane departure and applies steering torque, alerting drivers to direct the vehicle back into. In the past year, 51% of cars sold in Sweden were equipped with the technology, ahead of Norway (28%) and Switzerland (21%). Throughout Europe the number of vehicles sold with Lane Keeping Aid rose by 20%.
While manufacturers including Ford are working toward autonomous vehicles, our customers are already embracing many of the smart technologies that make driving and parking easier and safer. We are seeing increasing demand for features that relieve the stresses of driving, and make it more enjoyable – for example, people have very quickly become accustomed to systems that help them to find a suitable parking space and reverse into it.—Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe
From first being introduced in Europe in 2012, Ford’s voice-activated connected systems have quickly found their way into most new cars. Last year, 78% of all Ford vehicles were equipped with SYNC systems—up by 10% year‑over-year compared with the previous year.gasoline
SYNC 2 can enable drivers to talk to their car using simple, conversational language to operate phone, entertainment, climate and navigation systems, even bringing up a list of local restaurants by saying: “I’m hungry”.
Powertrains. The overwhelming majority (98%) still chose gasoline and diesel models.Gasoline was the fuel of choice for 56% of European drivers and nowhere was that more the case than in Russia, where customers chose 96% gasoline-powered cars, followed by the Netherlands (87%) and the Czech Republic (83%).
In the past year, more customers in Ireland went for diesel-powered cars (70%) than anywhere else, followed by Turkey and Romania (both 65%).
Preferences for manual versus automatic gearboxes compared with the previous year were almost unchanged. Drivers in all European countries still preferred a manual over an automatic—83% chose a car with a manual gear stick. In Greece that rose to 97%, and in Ireland to 96%, followed by Poland (95%).
Body styles. Most customers in the past year chose a 5-door car (52%), ahead of wagon versions (37%), with both claiming share from 4-door models (11%) compared with the previous year.
The practical wagon body-styles for the Mondeo and Focus appealed to drivers most in Denmark (84%), Germany (81%), and the Netherlands (78%). For the same cars, 5-door versions were most likely to find a home in Greece (96%), Spain (87%) and Britain (83%); while 4-door versions were most popular in Turkey (87%).
At Eurobike 2015, Samsung SDI unveiled a 500Wh e-bike Li-ion battery pack that can run for 100 km on a single battery charge. Samsung SDI is exhibiting six types of standardized battery packs that can either be built inside or installed on the outside for immediate use.
The company will also display 12 types of battery packs that are currently being supplied to global manufacturing companies and the cells of various specifications. A Bluetooth function which will enable users to check on their smartphones for residual battery, remaining distance, and other data, while riding their bicycles.
Samsung SDI also unveiled a battery pack product equipped with 21700-type batteries, noted for their upgraded energy capacity compared to previous cylindrical types. The 18650 battery, or rather the small cylindrical battery of 18mm diameter and 65mm length, has been in dominant use until recently. However, the creation of new battery applications has boosted the demand for high capacity batteries. In response, Samsung SDI has come up with a battery that has upgraded a maximum of 35% of energy volume, now known as the 21700 battery, and has successfully applied it onto e-bikes for the first in the world.
The 21700 model can have various applications other than e-bike, such as in electric tools, laptops, and more. It is expected to become the new standard in small cylindrical battery usage.
Japan’s secondary cell market research company B3 has estimated that Samsung SDI will follow up its past record of being No.1 for two consecutive years since 2013 in the e-bike lithium-ion battery market and will also come out as the leader this year with a total market share of 25%.
According to market research companies such as Navigant Research and Bike Europe, the global e-bike market is estimated to have reached the number of around 34 million bikes this year. B3 stated in their data that the replacement rate of lead-acid batteries in China has been on the rise and as a result, the demand for e-bike lithium-ion batteries will mark 163 million cells by the end of 2015, which is a 14% increase from last year.
The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has confirmed the Plug-In Car Grant will continue to be offered at current levels until February 2016. The discount, worth up to £5,000 on plug-in hybrid or electric cars will be reviewed as part of the Spending Review process, due in November.
UK-based ultracapacitor company Skeleton Technologies and France-based Adgero SARL are introducing an ultracapacitor-based Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for truck trailers. The hybrid system is designed to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions by up to 25%, and is optimized for intermodal road transport solutions.
The Adgero Hybrid System consists of a bank of Skeleton high-power ultracapacitors working alongside an electrically-driven axle, which is mounted under the trailer. The technology is controlled by an intelligent management system that tracks driver input in order to automatically control the regenerative braking and acceleration boost.
The technology is projected to reduce fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions by 15-25%, depending on terrain and traffic profile. It will also pay for itself in as little as three years through reduced consumption alone, and where subsidies are available the payback can be even quicker. The product has also been designed to exceed the typical 10-year lifetime of the trailer itself.
Road haulage accounts for over a fifth of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, so fuel efficient solutions are crucial. We are beginning to see regenerative braking systems in automotive applications but the market clearly needs a similar solution for articulated lorries.—Mack Murray, CEO of Adgero SARL
Skeleton Technologies uses a patented graphene material enabling better conductivity and higher surface area. This material has allowed the company to achieve breakthroughs in product performance, delivering twice the energy density and five times the power density of competitors’ products. (Earlier post.)
Over the last year, Skeleton Technologies has worked with Adgero to adapt an 800V ultracapacitor power module that is proving successful in the motorsport industry to meet the needs of road freight vehicles. The module consists of five 160V units made up of Skeleton Technologies' cylindrical cells. With monitoring for each individual cell, the module is able to actively self-balance.
Adgero’s system will be fully compatible with existing infrastructure and staff training programs. Any truck equipped with an Adgero monitor becomes a parallel electric hybrid when paired with an equipped trailer. If a truck without a monitor picks up a retrofitted trailer, the hybrid system will stay in standby mode.
In recent months the system has been through rigorous testing procedures including vibration, shock and immersion testing. Road testing will begin in 2016 with Altrans, a French logistics company that is part of a trade organisation that represents 11,000 vehicles across Europe. Adgero and Skeleton Technologies then plan to ramp up production, with the objective of producing 8000-10,000 units annually by 2020.
Founded in 2014, Adgero has developed a patent-pending Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for articulated lorries. Following laboratory testing in 2015, Adgero will undertake road tests with one of France’s leading road freight groups in 2016 before entering series production.
Adgero will be exhibiting at the World Efficiency Congress in Paris from October 13 to 15.
The US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) has awarded Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, a $6.7-billion firm fixed price production contract to manufacture the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).
The JLTV program replaces a large portion of the legacy HMMWV fleet with a light tactical vehicle with far superior protection and off-road mobility. During the contract, which includes both Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and Full Rate Production (FRP), Oshkosh expects to deliver approximately 17,000 vehicles and sustainment services.
The JLTV program provides protected, sustained and networked light tactical mobility for American troops across the full spectrum of military operations and missions. The JLTV production contract awarded to Oshkosh includes a base contract award and eight option years covering three years of LRIP and five years of FRP. Oshkosh will begin delivering vehicles approximately ten months after contract award.
The JLTV Family of Vehicles comprises two variants, a two-seat and a four-seat variant, as well as a companion trailer (JLTV-T). The two seat variant has one base vehicle platform, the Utility (JLTV-UTL). The four seat variant has two base vehicle platforms, the General Purpose (JLTV-GP) and the Close Combat Weapons Carrier (JLTV-CCWC).
The Oshkosh JLTV combines the latest in automotive technologies with the Oshkosh CORE1080 crew protection and TAK-4i independent suspension systems to provide next-generation performance. In designing its JLTV, Oshkosh leveraged its extensive experience producing and sustaining more than 150,000 heavy, medium and protected MRAP vehicles for the US and its allies.
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. will construct new compressed natural gas (CNG) stations for Arlington Transit (ART) in Arlington County, Virginia; Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) in Long Island, NY; and North Kansas City (MO) School District, which is set to become the largest school district in the US to transition its school bus fleet to CNG. The company also announced additional agreements across transportation market segments of transit, refuse, trucking and the bulk fuel market.
Transit. NICE has awarded Clean Energy the contract to design, build and operate and maintain a new CNG station that will, upon completion, replace its existing Mitchel Field station, and operate and maintain the existing CNG stations. The five-year contract valued at just over $13 million will extend the partnership between NICE and Clean Energy and will support a fleet of over 200 CNG buses. Clean Energy currently supports another 100 CNG buses at an additional station and provides a total of 4.6 million GGEs of CNG annually for the NICE bus fleet. Completion of the new station is expected for summer 2017.
Clean Energy has been contracted by W.M. Schlosser Co. to build a fast-fill CNG station at a new bus depot being constructed for ART, which will initially deploy 25 new CNG transit buses that are expected to consume 225,000 DGEs (diesel gallon equivalents) of CNG a year. ART has plans to grow the fleet to 75 CNG buses.
The North Kansas City School District will replace 124 school buses with new CNG buses with an option to purchase an additional 30 over the next 10 years. Clean Energy will construct a new station that includes fast-fill and time-fill fueling options using two Clean Energy Compression (CEC) compressors as well as modifying a maintenance facility to facilitate CNG buses.
The 15-year contract will be funded through financing secured by the District and is a joint-partnership between the North Kansas City School District, Clean Energy and Midwest Bus Sales, based in Bonner Springs, KS, which will supply the District’s new CNG school buses. This transition for the 20,000-student School District will begin for the 2016 school year when the Clean Energy station is scheduled to be operational and is expected to achieve a cumulative reduction of more than 5,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the 10-year span.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) ordered an additional 80 buses that will fuel at a Clean Energy operated and maintained station, which is expected to be an incremental 700,000 DGEs of CNG annually.
Trucking. Raven Transport has ordered an additional 20 liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks to add to their fleet of 187 LNG trucks fueling with Clean Energy. The new trucks will fuel at Clean Energy stations in the southeast US and are expected to consume 420,000 DGEs of LNG annually.
Clean Energy expanded its fueling partnership with Dart Trucking as it redeploys 25 CNG trucks to new Clean Energy stations in Ohio and Missouri. Clean Energy will open five additional stations for the fleet that is expected to consume 450,000 DGEs a year.
Bimbo Bakeries, currently fueling a fleet of CNG trucks at a Clean Energy station in Sacramento, CA, will deploy nine additional CNG trucks in Pennsylvania that are expected to consume over 40,000 DGEs a year.
Manhattan Beer Distributors signed a new agreement to fuel 20 CNG trucks at multiple Clean Energy stations in New York, consuming an expected 160,000 DGEs annually.
Off Spec Solutions will begin fueling 25 LNG trucks at several Clean Energy stations in the southwest U.S and are expected to consume 250,000 DGEs a year.
Schmidt Liquid Transport will initially deploy 10 CNG trucks and fuel at the recently opened Clean Energy station in North Platte, NE. These trucks are expected to consume 180,000 DGEs a year and Schmidt has plans to increase its CNG fleet.
Central Freight and Clean Energy expanded their fueling partnership with an additional 21 trucks fueling at Clean Energy’s Love Field station in Dallas and are forecasted to consume 149,000 DGEs of CNG annually.
Modern Transportation signed a new fuel agreement that will expand an existing partnership with over 20 CNG and LNG trucks which are being deployed in Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Colorado. The new trucks are expected to consume in excess of 400,000 DGEs of fuel a year.
Over the last four months, Clean Energy has expanded its America Natural Gas Highway of truck-friendly stations with openings in Ocala, FL; Orlando, FL; Atlanta, GA; Eden NC; Pearl, MS; Knoxville, TX; Midway, FL; Carlisle, PA; Ruther Glen, VA; Perris, CA, Lake Havasu, AZ; Vandalia, OH; Fort Chiswell, VA and Kansas City, KS, bringing the total to 19 Clean Energy stations opened in 2015 which can accommodate a heavy-duty truck.
Refuse. Republic Services continues to expand its already significant partnership with Clean Energy with a recent operations and maintenance agreement for a station that fuels 75 refuse trucks in Huntington Beach, CA, which are expected to consume 600,000 DGEs of CNG a year.
Garden City Sanitation in Santa Clara, CA, signed an operations and maintenance agreement that will serve 45 refuse trucks that consume 350,000 DGEs a year.
The City of Spokane, WA, will begin fueling 20 solid waste trucks at a recently opened CNG station that was designed and equipped by Clean Energy. The City plans to add approximately 10 trucks per year with as many as 100 eventually being fueled at the station. Each truck is expected to consume 11,500 DGEs annually.
Bulk Fuel Sales. PG&E signed a bulk fuel sales contract to receive more than 500,000 gallons of LNG from Clean Energy’s Boron plant in July and another 1,000,000 gallons of LNG in August for a pipeline integrity testing program.
Natural gas fuel costs up to $1.00 less than gasoline or diesel, depending on local market conditions. The use of natural gas fuel also reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 30% in light-duty vehicles and 23% in medium to heavy-duty vehicles. In addition, nearly all natural gas consumed in North America is produced in North America.