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BMW’s autonomous driving research prototypes have already driven thousands of kilometers in highly automated—i.e. self-driving—mode on German highways. In February 2013, the focus shifted to European motorways when BMW launched a joint project with Continental. Now, BMW is embarking on a research project which will pave the way for highly automated driving in China.
Over the next two years, the BMW Group will build prototype research vehicles for use in highly automated driving trials on Chinese roads. Whereas typical features which must be taken into account in Europe include tunnels, national borders and toll stations, China’s fast-expanding urban centers also present the engineers with challenges such as multi-level highways. BMW is taking on this new engineering challenge because it believes that only with a complete command of all the technical fundamentals will it be possible to help clarify the legal issues surrounding highly automated driving.
The BMW Group is teaming up with internet giant Baidu as its Chinese partner in this latest ambitious research project. Baidu operates China’s largest search engine and is also a provider of map services and cloud services. The highly automated prototypes developed in this joint project will initially be operated on urban highways in Beijing and Shanghai.
Background. “Vision Zero” is a strategy for achieving “accident-free mobility” that is being pursued right across Europe in many different arenas—social, political, scientific and industrial. Highly automated driving is capable of bringing Vision Zero a significant step closer to reality. In addition to the safety aspect, the aim is to enhance comfort and efficiency as well. The BMW Group believes that highly automated driving will play a major part in ensuring sustainable personal mobility in the future.
An “electronic co-pilot” system is not only able to relieve the driver of monotonous or repetitive driving tasks, but can also take over full control of the vehicle if desired.
As early as October 2009, in the TrackTrainer project, highly automated vehicles from the BMW Group were already demonstrating their ability to follow an ideal line around race tracks—including the Nürburgring North Loop, by accounts the most challenging racing circuit in the world. Important input has also been provided by the BMW Emergency Stop Assistant.
If the driver is suddenly incapacitated, this system is able to switch to highly automated driving mode and bring the vehicle safely to a stop at the side of the road before automatically calling for help. The BMW Group incorporated the results from this development work in a highly automated vehicle that underwent road testing on German motorways in 2011. Meanwhile, the highly automated research prototype presented at CES 2014, which is based on a BMW 2 Series Coupe, boasts further perfected control technology. This is rooted in BMW’s view that, in order to offer robust and dependable driver stress relief in tiring situations, highly automated driving systems must be capable of coping with all potential vehicle dynamics scenarios, right through to extreme situations such as a sudden emergency.
A decision by Russia to retaliate against sanctions imposed by the European Union and the US over Ukraine by imposing strong Russian sanctions—i.e., an embargo—on car imports from Europe and the US could undermine a faltering Russian economy even more, according to a new analysis by Germany-based Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.
Economic downturn and political uncertainty have kept revenues in the Russian automotive market on a downward trend for months now. In the first eight months of the year the market fell 12%, tumbling by some 25% in July and August. As Russia struggles with an ailing economy, rising inflation and a volatile currency, there’s no sign of a recovery any time soon, the consultancy said.
In the new study—“Russian automotive market update: what would be the real cost of sanctions?”—Roland Berger consultants devised three scenarios to illustrate the impact of sanctions on the Russian automotive industry.
Scenario 1: Ten percentage point rise in import duties for European and American OEMs. The forecasted market volume of 2.2 million new cars for 2015 would see only a slight drop.
European and American OEMs with production facilities in Russia could increase their local production to circumvent the higher import duties. This would raise the price level only marginally.—Roland Berger Partner Jürgen Reers
Russia itself would benefit; notwithstanding the lower income from taxes on sales, an increase in import duties would boost Russian state coffers by an extra €55 million, said Roland Berger Partner Uwe Kumm.
Scenario 2: Import ban on cars from the EU and the US with retail price of €30,000 or less. If Russia banned imports of cars in the lower to mid-range price segment, in other words those priced up to €30,000, the hole this would leave in the Russian market could largely be filled. Here, too, increased imports from Asia and ramped-up production volumes from the European and American OEMs’ local plants could take the heat off the market.
Scenario 3: Embargo on all car imports from the EU and US. This scenario would see almost 110,000 fewer vehicles sold on the Russian market in 2015. The country could then expect falling revenue from sales taxes and import duties.
By imposing such measures, the Russian state would hurt itself the most. Our calculations indicate that Russia would lose around 1.4 billion euros in tax and duty income in 2015.—Uwe Kumm
European and American automakers would be hit hard as well: Profits from their Russian business could shrink by €550 million in the coming 12 months. The only winners in these sanction scenarios are the Asian car manufacturers from China or Korea, who would be able to greatly expand their market share within a very short time, noted Reers.
The Roland Berger experts believe the Russian crisis will last another year or two and continue to dampen the Russian automotive market; Western OEMs should prepare themselves for this now.
But the Russian government, too, should eschew further sanctions and focus instead on improving the underlying conditions so as to stabilize the market long term and make local production more competitive. There are various conceivable options here, from banning the use of old vehicles to implementing funding programs to stimulate sales. The country should also foster local component production in particular as a means of improving the local cost base for OEMs.
Pennsylvania’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board has approved a project seeking a private partner to develop compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations at public transit agencies around the state that would also provide public access to the facilities. Through the project, the private partner will design, build, finance, operate and maintain CNG filling stations at up to 37 transit facilities. Each fueling site must provide access to CNG for public transit and other CNG vehicles alike.
In addition, PennDOT will enter into a CNG supply contract with the selected partner as well as purchase agreements with each of the transit agencies. PennDOT would receive a portion of the fuel sales revenue, with the money being returned to transit agencies to assist with future capital projects.
To kick off the project, PennDOT will release a Request for Qualifications to solicit interested parties and expects to invite qualified teams to submit proposals early next year. A project team could be selected in summer 2015.
In September 2012, Corbett signed into law the Public and Private Partnerships for Transportation Act, which authorized P3 projects in Pennsylvania. This law allows PennDOT and other transportation authorities and commissions to partner with private companies to participate in delivering, maintaining and financing transportation-related projects.
As part of the P3 law, the seven-member Public Private Transportation Partnership Board was appointed to examine and approve potential public-private transportation projects. If the board determines a state operation or project would be more cost-effectively administered or delivered by a private company, the department or appropriate transportation agency can advertise a competitive RFP and enter into a contract with a company to completely or partially deliver the transportation-related service or project.
In 2013, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas producing state in the nation. The abundance of low-cost natural gas has driven electric and natural gas prices down nearly 40%t since 2008, saving the average Pennsylvania resident nearly $1,200 annually in lower energy costs. After importing 75% of its natural gas just five years ago, Pennsylvania has become a net exporter of gas for the first time in more than 100 years.
Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new tool for analyzing the economic impacts of building new compressed natural gas fueling stations. Called JOBS NG, the tool is freely available to the public.
JOBS NG is designed to help states and local governments evaluate possible economic benefits related to natural gas stations when they are setting new policies. It can also help developers quantify proposals.
Our model estimates the jobs created and economic output at every stage in the process, beginning with station design and construction and continuing through the operation and maintenance of the station and the sale of natural gas fuel.—Marianne Mintz, Argonne systems analyst who built the tool
The analysis extends to the equipment for the station—accounting for the raw materials that go into components as they are mined, refined, distributed and assembled. The model, which is customizable by state or census region, also accounts for ripple effects as new jobholders purchase goods and services elsewhere in the economy
JOBS NG is the third in a series of tools designed to estimate economic impacts of energy investments, all based on standard equations used by the Department of Labor to estimate the effects of investment dollars in a region. Earlier tools calculated similar impacts for developing hydrogen fueling stations and for deploying fuel cells in forklifts and for backup power. All three tools are available online, along with information and guides for using the models.
Development of this tool was supported by the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, an initiative of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Clean Cities works with a network of nearly 100 coalitions to advance the nation’s economic, environmental and energy security by supporting local actions that reduce transportation-sector petroleum consumption.
Magna International Inc. is leveraging its advanced composites and exteriors systems expertise to produce an innovative, lightweight composite liftgate assembly on the BMW i3.
Magna’s collaboratively-designed liftgate achieves the BMW i brand appearance and vehicle mass requirements through the use of a lightweight composite structure which integrates the liftgate’s functional systems.
Locking and latching systems, rear windshield wiper system, interior trim, exterior painted trim finishes, electrical power and signal distribution, tail-lights, rear window and a unique glass outer panel are all integrated using a fully automated accelerated joining technology. The module is a completely assembled lightweight closure, ready for installation on the vehicle.
The liftgate assembly is being produced at a Magna facility in the Czech Republic, using advanced manufacturing and bonding processes to ensure a high-quality product scalable for high-volume production. The fully assembled module is transported to BMW Group’s Leipzig facility for direct assembly in line.