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Tag: BMW

Inside Tesla

Thursday, 12 October, 2017 0 Comments

“My proceeds from PayPal were $180m. I put $100m in SpaceX, $70m in Tesla and $10m in Solar City. I had to borrow money for rent.” — Elon Musk

Tesla

Five links…


The Deutschmark and the Diesel

Thursday, 3 August, 2017 0 Comments

Until it was replaced by the euro in 2002, the D-Mark (Deutsche Mark) was one of the world’s most stable currencies. In its short but eventful 54-year history, it was the official currency of West Germany and later the unified Germany. And then it was gone.

Is this the destiny of diesel? German. Stable. Gone.

Deutsche Mark Sure, history will note that Rudolf Diesel’s invention had a longer run. He filed a patent for an “internal-combustion engine” in 1895 in the US but it’s a safe bet that it is headed for the same fate as the D-Mark. Going, going…

Along with diesel fumes, fear was in the air yesterday in Berlin when German car executives and political leaders met to rescue Rudolf Diesel’s legacy. Their over-hyped meeting — dramatically described as a “diesel summit” — resulted in a plan to update the software in five million cars to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, the diesel by-product most harmful to human health. But it’s too little, too late. There’s a crisis of confidence in Germany’s most important industry. Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW are facing growing public anger at home and abroad for downplaying the health effects of diesel fumes and, in some cases, misleading customers about how much nitrogen oxides their cars produce.

The impact of all this on Germany cannot be overstated because vehicles are its single most important export product. They are also the most visible symbol of German engineering. Those arrays of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Porsches are a source of national pride and (like the D-Mark once) a vital part of post-war German self-image. News that Volkswagen agreed to pay more than $22 billion in the United States in fines after admitting that it had programmed diesel cars to cheat on emissions tests rattled the country, and recent reports that Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler may have secretly agreed to cut corners on emissions hardware has created a feeling of betrayal.

France and Britain want to end the sale of diesel cars. Athens and Madrid are banning them entirely, but Germany is hanging on for dear life to its preferred fuel. It’s a risky strategy because hansom cab drivers didn’t see the automobile coming and the makers of the internal combustion engine might not hear the approaching electric car.

Tomorrow, here: Tesla moves up a gear.


Trump week

Monday, 16 January, 2017 0 Comments

And it kicks off “mit einem Paukenschlag” (spectacularly), as our German friends say. President-elect Trump tells Bild, well, the truth. “You look at the European Union and it’s Germany. Basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.” Ouch!

He emphasized that he is going to be a tough trans-Atlantic partner, threatening to slap a 35% import tax on BMW cars if the Munich-based company sticks with its plan to build a factory in Mexico. He also blamed the decision of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to welcome refugees from the Middle East and Africa, for endangering the stability of Europe. Snippet:

“I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from.

People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. But I do believe this: if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it … entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.”

Obama is history and his legacy is, in a word, Trump.

Bild Trump


BMW Vision: selling miles, not cars

Tuesday, 15 November, 2016 0 Comments

How will cars function in the future? What role will cars play in the future? These are the questions BMW is dealing with today because tomorrow is just around the bend and the Bavarian auto maker wants to know if it should brake or accelerate. The idea that an autonomous car would drop you off at work, come back to pick you up in the evening, with all the shopping you ordered neatly arranged on the back seat, still sounds too far-fetched to most, but not to BMW’s engineers.

In their Vision Next 100 scenario, they envisage a world where artificial intelligence powers autonomous vehicles, where traffic jams and are eliminated and the accident rate is reduced to zero. In this increasingly urbanized world, autonomous ride-sharing will be the norm and 90 percent of today’s vehicles will no longer be needed on city streets. Of the current two million cars in New York City, only 200,000 will be needed, for example.

On the face of it, then, the future does not look bright for automobile manufacturers. Why make cars if people won’t need them? Cars will still be produced, of course, because the Ubers of tomorrow will want fleets of them, but it’s the business model that’s going to change. BMW will make its money from selling miles to passengers instead of selling cars to individual customers. Well, that’s how they see tomorrow’s world from the top floors of the BMW Hochhaus in Munich.

BMW


As cities get smarter

Friday, 11 October, 2013 0 Comments

There will be nine billion people on this planet by 2050 and the number of mega cities — defined as those with more than 10 million residents — is set to rise from 24 at the moment to 100 by the middle of this century. As a result, IT that helps cities better manage their resources will be big business. Intel, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, GE, BMW, Siemens and many others are looking to use software and sensors to guide urban development by analyzing and visualizing the big data sets that will be amassed daily in cities. The goal is the “smart city,” where sustainability, technology, security and economic opportunity integrate, and the idea is to use water, power, transportation systems and communication networks much more efficiently.

To get to there from here, new thinking is needed and IBM’s “People for Smarter Cities” initiative is encouraging urban dwellers to think laterally. Take billboards. They’re ubiquitous, so why not have them do something practical along with selling stuff? How about adding a simple curve to the top or bottom of a billboard to create shelter or seating for passers by?

Enabling the future city with its smart grids, smart transport, smart waste management and smart building systems is going to be one of the major 21st century challenges, but the benefits will be enormous for the players — telcos, IT companies, utilities providers and property developers — who successfully harness the technologies needed to for the task. We’re still a long way from living in the data-driven cities that many have been envisioning, but the conversation has started.


The hidden cost of BMWs, Ferraris, Porsches and Volkswagens

Tuesday, 13 August, 2013 0 Comments

“One company that buys and processes Colombian wolframite, or tungsten ore, supplies some of the world’s leading multinational corporations — including the makers of BMWs, Ferraris, Porsches and Volkswagens as well as Siemens AG (SIE) and the producer of BIC pens, these companies say.”

Brilliant reporting by Michael Smith for Bloomberg Markets Magazine in an article titled “How Colombian FARC Terrorists Mining Tungsten Are Linked to Your BMW Sedan.” But lots of other well-known companies are connected to this dirty trade: “Apple Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and Samsung Electronics Co. purchase parts from a firm that buys from the company that imports tungsten ore from Colombia, company records show.”

What Smith documents about the tungsten market is disturbing in the extreme, but some end users give the impression that all is well: “Munich-based BMW Group spokesman Frank Wienstroth says his company works hard to avoid purchasing anything from tainted suppliers. ‘These few grams out of the billions of tons of raw materials passing through the BMW supply chain are of no practical relevance,’ he says.”

Smith’s sobering conclusion: “Sixty-one hundred kilometers away from the glistening buildings of Silicon Valley, miners in Colombia’s Guainia province dig for tungsten ore on FARC-controlled land. The minerals they extract from the red earth help feed the world’s voracious appetite for luxury cars, smartphones and computers. Neither the Colombian government nor the world’s most powerful corporations have been able to stop a trade that has helped fund a half-century-long war.”