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Auto IQ weekly news update, including Ford, Argo AI, VW, JAC, Beam, Voi and BlaB…

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On Automotive IQ this week, we rounded up our Top Five lessons learned from Autonomous Vehicles Online.

From new innovations from Volvo Cars to trucking autonomy with Daimler and lots more in between, here are five of our top picks from the event, complete with links so you can rewatch the sessions on demand whenever you like.

In case you missed the event, you can sign up to watch every session on the event website completely free, simply by heading to Autonomous Vehicles Online.

We’re also looking forward to our next totally free event – Automotive Safety and Security Online – which takes place on June 30 and July 1. With top speakers already confirmed from NVIDIA, Intel and Continental, it’s sure to be worth a watch, and all the details are below.

In the meantime, here’s a few stories that caught our eye this week:

Ford and VW seal Argo AI deal

Despite setbacks caused by COVID-19 right across the globe, on June 1, VW finalized its previously announced investment in Argo AI. VW agreed to join Ford as part of a big-dollar collaboration in autonomous technology for the US and European markets last July. 

Now that the deal has been realised, the two firms will work towards a shared goal that splits into three. It is hoped that the deal will help share the $4bn costs, boost the scale of autonomy and increase data collection across both VW and Ford brands that will use Argo AI’s tech. 

It also signifies a continued deepening of ties between Ford and VW. Both firms recently reaffirmed their commitments to working together on a number of projects. In addition to Argo AI, Ford will use VW’s MEB EV toolkit for a European market SUV; Ford will develop a one-tonne pick-up that VW Commercial Vehicles will reskin; while a delivery van developed by the latter will be adapted by the former. The powertrain has not yet been announced. Interesting times…

VW deepens EV investment in China

On the topic of Volkswagen, the German firm has made a strategic move to expand its EV joint venture business in China.

First up, Volkswagen has plonked down €1 billion to increase its share in JAC Volkswagen, its joint venture for e-mobility from 50 to 75 per cent. The investment includes the acquisition of 50 per cent of JAG, the parent company of Volkswagen’s Chinese partner JAC.

While it’s at it, VW has also acquired 26 per cent of battery manufacturer Gotion High-Tech Co., Ltd. for around €1 billion, becoming the company’s largest shareholder.

The move is significant, and shows that even in a post-COVID world, VW believes in the future being electric. The firm plans to sell 1.5-million EVs per year in China by 2025.

Micromobility round-up

We covered the fact that the shared mobility space was having a tough time pre-coronavirus, but perhaps things are looking up.

First up, Singapore’s Beam has just announced a $26m Series A investment round in its e-scooter sharing business, taking its value over $50m. The firm currently operates in Australia, Malaysia New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan, and claims to be different from rivals by incentivising its users to park scooters responsibly after use. It will use the cash to expand where it offers it custom-designed third-generation Beam Saturn scooter that has swappable batteries.

Meanwhile, France’s BlaBlaCar has partnered with Sweden’s Voi to offer e-scooters through a new BlaBlaRide app. BlaBlaCar has 18 million subscribers in France, who will now be able to ride Voi scooters via the new app straight away. The Voi scooters gain BlaBla branding, but despite the deal, both companies remain separate legal entities.

Perhaps the most significant news is saved until last, with Lime announcing a new $170m funding round. In addition to gaining further funds from Google’s parent company Alphabet, the investment was led, significantly, by Uber.

Uber already held a small stake in Lime, but the new deal significantly increases this, and includes effectively offloading its bright red branded micromobility firm Jump to Lime. It will be interesting to see how both firms integrate one another’s products into their respective apps. 

Source: https://www.automotive-iq.com/autonomous-drive/news/auto-iq-weekly-news-update-including-ford-argo-ai-vw-jac-beam-voi-and-blablacar

Automotive

See 2021 Cadillac Escalade Get Driven With Blocked Windshield

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The 2021 Cadillac Escalade test units are out and about, and first drives have already been orchestrated. A handful of journalists and YouTubers have started pouring out content about the full-size luxury SUV. That includes us with our Escalade First Drive Review.

The Fast Lane, however, took a different route and made videos that are out of the ordinary. We’ve seen the channel do some off-roading with the Escalade, something owners won’t probably do when they get their hands on one.

This time, The Fast Lane Truck does a review with the Escalade’s bevy of tech toys. And as crazy as you would expect from the channel, the folks there tried to drive the SUV with a blocked windshield and front windows. How? By using the Escalade’s VR function displayed on the instrument panel. The resulting video was bonkers, which you can watch on top of this page.

Speaking of, the driver was able to go around the course without issues, twice even, and you can see in the video that he even reached speeds of up to 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour) before coming to a halt.

Before you raise your pitchforks, let us all be reminded that TFL Trucks did the test on a close course, so the test looked safe. Although as expected, both the driver and his passenger felt queasy after the virtual drive. But overall, at least now we know that you can still drive the new Escalade even if your windshield got broken – so as long as the front camera’s intact.

See the full crazy test on video and let us know what you think through the comments section below.

Source: https://www.motor1.com/news/450745/2021-cadillac-escalade-camera-test/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=RSS-category-technology

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Fancy Acer Book RS By Porsche Design Comes With Carbon Fiber Cover

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Porsche RS models are revered for their performance both on and off the race track, as they are admired for their flurry of carbon fiber materials. Porsche Design is back with another collaboration to showcase its styling prowess – this time it’s with Acer and its latest laptop.

Named the Porsche Design Acer Book RS, this fancy laptop signifies a new partnership between the two brands, something that fuses Porsche Design’s functional design philosophy and engineering mindset with Acer’s technological innovations and deep-rooted knowledge in the global computer segment.

The high-end notebook comes with a minimalist design, but a closer inspection reveals a 3k carbon fiber cover, striking a contrast against the diamond-cut CNC-machined chassis. With the use of this lightweight material normally used for race cars, the entire Acer Book RS only weighs 2.76 pounds (1.25 kilograms) while only measuring 0.63 inches (15.99 millimeters) thin.

Underneath the classy body, the Porsche Design Acer Book RS is equipped with the latest 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processors with Intel Iris Xe graphics and optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce®MX350 GPUs and 16 GB of RAM. The 14-inch FHD IPS3 touchscreen is covered with a layer of Antimicrobial4 Corning Gorilla Glass with an immersive 90% screen-to-body ratio.

The Porsche Design Acer Book RS will be available in North America with a starting price of $1,399.99. A premium package, which comes with equally great-looking accessories such as premium package i7 notebook, travel pack, and mouse, will be priced at $1,999.99. This chic Acer laptop will also be available in Europe and in China.

This isn’t the first time that Porsche designed a gadget. Back in 2018, a Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS came into fruition, which had a price tag that started at $1,800.

Source: https://www.motor1.com/news/450660/porsche-design-acer-book-rs/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=RSS-category-technology

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GMC Hummer EV’s WTF Mode Does A Weird Song And Dance Before Launching

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First thing’s first. What the heck is Watts to Freedom? In short, it’s the GMC Hummer EV version of Tesla’s Ludicrous Plus launch mode, both in function and in its gimmicky nature. What does that mean? Ludicrous refers to Ludicrous speed from the classic 1987 Sci-Fi spoof Spaceballs. Meanwhile, the acronym for GMC’s Watts To Freedom is WTF, and we’re sure you know what else that stands for. But wait, there’s more

Engage WTF mode in the recently revealed GMC Hummer EV, and you won’t just launch to 60 mph in three seconds. For starters, the truck will hunker down a couple of inches before putting its GM-estimated 1,000 horsepower (735 kilowatts) to the ground. That’s a functional component of going fast, but less functional are the sounds that emanate from the Hummer EV’s speakers and animations that pop up on its digital screens.

Watts To Freedom Screenshot

GMC doesn’t offer a specific description of what this means, but the B-roll footage below takes us through the process starting at the 28-second mark. Once activated, a low-pitch humming sound reverberates through the speakers, and a snazzy animation on the main screen morphs to a third-person view of a Hummer EV poised on a space-themed runway. Meanwhile, the dash displays “Watts To Freedom” with stars and bars, along with a message that advises “repeated usage will cause accelerated wear on vehicle.” The driver can choose cancel or let’s go, which isn’t quite as catchy as I want my mommy or bring it on but hey, you get the point.

Selecting let’s go puts the system into motion. The truck lowers (which is also shown on the instrument display) and the driver is eventually prompted to press the brake and accelerator. This is the interactive part, as the driver must brake hard enough to get the all-important green checkmark to then floor it, all while the sound increases in both intensity and annoyance.

With the pedals mashed and the Hummer EV ready, release the brake and it’s off to the races. Presumably, drivers will be concentrating on the road while sprinting to 60 mph, so they won’t see the mini starfield flashing on the digital instrument board next to the speed readout. However, everyone will hear what sounds like the USS Enterprise going to warp speed through the speakers. At least it’s more pleasant than the low-resonance buzzing that starts it all off.

Is the GMC Hummer EV fast? Yes, it certainly is. However, experiencing all the pomp and circumstance that’s not at all similar to Tesla’s various quirky Easter eggs could easily be considered gimmicky in the best of circumstances. We’re at least curious to try it all in person as opposed to seeing a close-up on a video, but we suspect these aspects of WTF Mode might have more than a few people asking WTF GMC was thinking with all this.

Source: https://www.motor1.com/news/450196/hummer-ev-wtf-sound-animation-launch/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=RSS-category-technology

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