Newsflash: hoe Jaguar Land Rover in korte tijd weer winstgevend is geworden


+++ There was a time when Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was a believer in fully AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES . These robotic cruisers would read and react to the road like humans, he said, and wouldn’t need a steering wheel. Wozniak hoped Apple, which had been rumored over the years to be working on a self-driving car project, would be the one to build it. But he has since tempered his expectations. There is simply too much unpredictability on roads, he said, for a self-driving car to manage. For now, he believes the burgeoning technology is better used to give drivers a safety net for certain situations. “I stepped way back on this idea of Level 5. I’ve really given up”, Wozniak said. “I don’t even know if that will happen in my lifetime”. Autonomous vehicles would fare better, he said, “if we were to modify roads and have certain sections that are well mapped and kept clean of refuse, and nothing unusual happens and there’s no road work”. The reality of current self-driving systems doesn’t match up with consumers’ expectations, but Wozniak doesn’t think that is their fault. “What we’ve done is we’ve misled the public into thinking this car is going to be like a human brain to be able to really figure out new things and say, ‘Here’s something I hadn’t seen before, but I know what’s going on here, and here’s how I should handle it’ ”, Wozniak said. “A human can do that”. But Wozniak did have a positive reaction to his first ride in a self-driving car last week in Vegas. He and his wife hailed a car through Lyft, which has partnered with Aptiv to service the Strip and downtown area with specially outfitted BMWs (with human backup drivers). As of May, the cars had given more than 50,000 passenger rides in Sin City. “It did a nice job”, Wozniak said. “We felt safe and comfortable”. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen is ramping up production of ELECTRIC cars to around 1 million vehicles by end of 2022, enabling the German carmaker to leapfrog Tesla and making China the key battleground. Volkswagen is readying 2 Chinese factories to build electric cars next year. The Chinese plants will have a production capacity of 600,000 vehicles. Volkswagens plans reveal its ability to industrialize production faster than other pioneers in the electric vehicle market.
Tesla is still trying to reach its goal of making more than 500,000 cars a year by building a new factory in Shanghai, China, while VW can rely on an established workforce in 2 of its plants in Anting and Foshun to build zero-emission cars. The scale and speed of VW’s electrification push marks a shift in favor of established manufacturers that can use existing factories and profit from combustion-engined SUVs to scale up faster than startups. “The truth is barriers to entry in autos remain high”, said Max Warburton, an analyst at Bernstein Research. “Making cars is hard. The move to electric vehicles will be expensive, but will probably be led by traditional manufacturers”. Volkswagen is leveraging its large infrastructure of suppliers, factories and workers (long a handicap to its profitability) more aggressively than rivals BMW, Renault, General Motors and Tesla, which were all quicker to sell a custom-designed electric car. Rather than adjusting production gradually, and using multi-powertrain platforms, Volkswagen is making a massive bet on a dedicated electric vehicle architecture, known as MEB, in the hope of increasing economies of scale sufficiently to push down the price of electric cars to around €22,000. The Wolfsburg based carmaker is retooling 8 plants across the globe by 2022 to specialize in manufacturing electric cars, and license its electric MEB platform to rivals, senior VW executives told, putting it on track to become the world’s largest maker of zero-emission vehicles. Tesla has emerged as a serious competitor with a credible car, its Model 3, Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess told. But startups have a hard time entering mass production without sufficient production facilities, he said. “The question is, can you expand your production quickly enough? The capital intensity is increasing”, Diess said. To fund its own electrification shift, the German carmaker aims to increase sales of SUV models, with combustion engines, to 40 % of overall sales by 2020 from 23 % in 2018. The powerstation that supplies energy for VW’s flagship e-vehicle factory in Zwickau, Germany, marked by 2 tall chimneys, was built to power production of the combustion-engined Volkswagen Golf. Now Zwickau can piggyback off this infrastructure to ramp up production to 330,000 ID.3 electric cars by 2021. The Volkswagen Group will increase economies of scale by rolling out electric vehicle platforms to its Audi, Skoda and Seat and Porsche brands. It will be in a position to build 22 million electric cars by 2028, of which 11.6 million could come out of Chinese factories, VW said. Volkswagen’s expansion push comes at a time when investors have started to question businesses delivering growth without real profit, a change in sentiment that is crippling the ability of several electric car pioneers to raise more cash. Back in 2016, Tesla said it wanted to build more than 500,000 Model 3 cars by 2018, a goal it has failed to meet. This year it expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 cars, a target that includes selling all models. Tesla’s struggles have dampened optimism about how easy it is to enter the car business, making it harder for China’s Nio, backed by internet company Tencent Holdings, as well as others like Faraday Future and Byton, to fund the next stage of growth: capital-intensive volume production and sales. “So much respect for those doing high volume manufacturing, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted earlier this month. “It’s insanely hard, but you make a real thing that people value. My hat is off to you”. After starting trial production runs at its factory in Shanghai, Tesla now hopes to reach its 500,000-vehicle target in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020. Tesla is also looking for a site to start production in Europe. Volkswagen is converting 2 German plants, Hannover and Zwickau, to build electric vehicles and will retool other factories including plants in China: Foshan which VW runs together with its joint-venture partner FAW-Volkswagen, and another in Anting, which VW runs together with SAIC. It will retool plants in Emden and Dresden in Germany, Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, in United States, as part of a €30 billion investment push into e-mobility by 2023. As a result, Volkswagen Group will be the No. 1 electric vehicle producer globally by 2025, while Tesla is likely to remain a niche player, according to UBS autos analyst Patrick Hummel. The cutthroat rivalry between automakers and software companies started when Google presented a prototype autonomous vehicle in 2012, leading analysts and industry executives to fear a so-called Nokia moment. This occurs when a new player from the tech sector unveils a superior design, in the way that Apple presented the iPhone in 2007, ending Nokia’s dominance of the mobile handset business. Today, Tesla’s cars are generally perceived as cutting-edge and potentially more sophisticated than VW’s. Volkswagen’s ID.3, which starts production this year, has an operating range of between 330 and 550 kilometers, below the 560 km long-range Model 3 version offered by Tesla. That is because Tesla has a sophisticated software algorithm to control how much electricity goes to the electric motor, air conditioning, seat heaters, in-car infotainment, and cooling system. Volkswagen’s edge is more blunt: price and massive economies of scale. The ID.3 has a starting price of €33,000. By contrast, Tesla’s Model 3 had an average selling price of $50,000 in the second quarter. The long-range version retails for €59,998 in The Netherlands. The VW vehicle’s lower price comes from the carmaker’s ability to place large orders which, by nature of their size, help drive down the price. Volkswagen is investing €50 billion to buy battery cells and will also license its MEB electric car platform to rival carmakers to further increase economies of scale. That is, Volkswagen will make that huge investment if suppliers can keep up. “There is a lot of investment”, Stefan Sommer, Volkswagen Group’s board member responsible for procurement, told. “But even the big companies like Samsung, CATL, LG Chem and SK hesitate to take so much money and invest because they are not seeing the market on the other side. “We are now seeing the first battery plants: LG in Poland and CATL in Germany. But they don’t have the skilled workforce. That will be the bottleneck”, Sommer said. “It’s a learning curve everybody has to work through. This will cause some lags in supply. We have no other choice”. Volkswagen plans to license its electric MEB vehicle platform to rival Ford, which will give it $10 billion in revenue over the next 6 years. Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen’s member of the board who oversees production of electric vehicles, told: “Ford and Volkswagen’s agreement will be a blueprint for further licensing deals”. In the short term, Volkswagen and its Chinese joint venture partners will invest €15 billion to produce 15 different electric cars for China alone by 2025. “The first MEB-based vehicle is an SUV model”, Volkswagen said about its China push. +++

+++ American start-up company FISKER will show a ‘production-intent prototype’ of its upcoming electric SUV in January 2020, according to a tweet by the firm’s founder Henrik Fisker. The American-Danish entrepeneur also confirmed that the new model’s name will be officially revealed soon and that the production variant will only be available via a ‘flexible lease’ plan, with no long-term contract necessary. Preview images shows that the Tesla Model Y rival will ride high and feature modern, utilitarian styling. Flared arches hint at the EV’s performance potential, while narrow headlights and chrome detailing are a nod to the brand’s 2018 Emotion concept. Like the Model Y, the as-yet-unnamed Fisker will be priced from less than $40,000 in the United States. It features what the firm calls “captivating design touches that have been traditionally reserved for supercars in the past”. Confirmed styling details include a front-mounted radar in place of a grille, a large front air intake, flared wheel arches and a futuristic headlight design. Performance details haven’t been revealed, but an 80kWh lithium ion battery pack is claimed to provide of a range of nearly 300 miles. The car will be available in 4-wheeldrive form, with an electric motor mounted on each axle. Fisker hints at the presence of a targa-style removable roof section, stating that “with the touch of a button, an extended open-air atmosphere will be made possible without compromising the rugged and safe structural integrity of an SUV”. The company also claims that the new model’s interior will offer class-leading space and feature a large head-up display and an intelligent user interface. Henrik Fisker previously said the new model will take the form of “a desirable, luxuriously rugged and green vehicle that’s accessible to people across the US and the world”. It’s not yet confirmed where the new model will be produced, but Fisker said prototype testing will begin before the end of this year. The company is also at work on developing solid-state battery technology, which it says would allow future vehicles to gain 800 kilometres worth of charge in as little as one minute. Fisker was formed in 2016, succeeding the bankrupted Fisker Automotive company that launched the Karma range-extender electric luxury saloon (now re-engineered and on sale as the Karma Revero) in 2011. +++ 

+++ German tuning company GEMBALLA has launched a fundraiser for a hypercar that’s expected to be revealed in prototype form early next year. Building on its experience in tuning McLaren and Porsche models, Gemballa has revealed the anticipated look and specifcation of the prototype, which (if it materialises) will be the first bespoke model it has built. The hypercar will use “state-of-the-art drive and aero technology” to deliver a 0-100 kph acceleration time of less than 2.5 seconds. Initially, this will be produced by a pure combustion engine. However, hybrid and potentially electric powertrains are expected to follow. There may also be the option of a manual gearbox. Gemballa appears to be focusing on the petrol car right now. CEO Steffan Korbach commented: “We’re now concentrating on building one of the last pure sports cars, a modern classic with an outstanding appearance and performance. A pure Gemballa car needs petrol and sound. Not all new trends are cool”. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) is now focused on delivering more sustainable growth and profits rather than chasing volume, according to chief commercial officer Felix Bräutigam. Falling sales in China and the impact of the likes of Brexit and the drop in demand for diesel caused JLR to announce a £2.5 billion turnaround plan a year ago. Called Charge and Accelerate, the plan has completely changed the way the company operates. The move followed almost a decade of record volume growth (sales in 2017 exceeded 600,000, more than treble 2009’s total, and were spearheaded in recent years by growth in China) and that helped fuel profits, which topped £2 billion in 2015. But at the end of the 2018/19 fiscal year, that had turned into a £3.6 billion loss (including a £3.1 billion write-down in assets, centred on diesel) so dramatic had the JLR decline been. And the positive progress is continuing, with the firm posting a £156 million pre-tax profit in the most recent financial quarter. JLR CEO Ralf Speth said at the recent Frankfurt motor show that the Charge and Accelerate plan is on track and “going very well”. He said: “We’re ahead of targets so we will achieve them”. He added that each investment decision is still a process of “turning a stone 3 times” to check it is right but the “right products” have had investment protected. That process meant temporary factory shutdowns in response to falling demand and cutting 4.500 jobs. But it has also refocused how the company does business. When asked about sales targets for the reborn Land Rover Defender, Bräutigam said more broadly that volume is not something JLR now judges itself on. “We don’t want to be driven by volume. It’s not the measure of success for a premium brand”, he said. “We want to build great cars and make money, not just shift units. “It’s more about profit, delivering that and having a sustainable business model. Not just business profits, but added value for the brand as well as the company”. JLR was hit particularly hard by falling sales in China. Its sales fell 22 % there in 2018. Sales of premium rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi rose in China in 2018, with JLR’s drop put down to quality issues and an unruly dealer network. Protesters complaining about the quality of their cars have been a regular feature at JLR’s Shanghai headquarter and it’s understood that JLR is awash with models on airfields in the UK that had been destined for China but can’t be sold there due to quality reasons, although no one in the company will confirm this. However, Bräutigam said there are now the “green shoots” of a recovery in China; a claim backed up by sales in the country rising 24.3 % year-on-year between July and September this year. He said: “We worked intensively with the retailers. There was room for improvement to get them on the highest level”. He added that JLR will no longer discount models in China. “China is now focused on price, and being aggressive on price”, he said, adding that JLR will not join the price war breaking out. “What we do right and wrong now will influence us in China for the next 15-20 years”, he said. “I feel we’re gaining traction and getting better in sync to the market, but it’s still declining as a whole and facing headwinds on a macro level. It’d be nice if we had a tailwind but it’s a tough environment. We got on the treadmill, got leaner and Charge and Accelerate got us fitter and on a good path”. Although Bräutigam said there is still plenty of room for China to grow again (“In a country of 1.4 billion people, there are roughly 150 cars per 1.000 people. It’s 800-900 per 1.000 in the US and 500-600 per 1.000 in Europe”), it will also be the most competitively and aggressively fought market. “We could fight for market share at a cost, but we could instead entice people into some niches, and then not discount, and say that’s the price”, he said. The company has protected investment in product development and, to that end, is instead committed to developing more electric cars. An all-electric Jaguar XJ will join the I-Pace next year, with a sibling model for the Range Rover line-up following hot on the XJ’s heels as Land Rover’s first electric car. The huge investments needed in electric cars are enough for many car makers much larger than JLR to pool resources in order to be able to develop them, most notably Volkswagen and Ford. JLR has itself teamed up with BMW to develop electric drive units rather than models. Electric cars, then, are where JLR’s product investments will lie for the foreseeable future. However, JLR still believes it can make money from electric cars in the short term. “We don’t do hobby projects”, said Bräutigam, when asked if the I-Pace makes money. “Every car has to make money” +++ 

+++ LEXUS has suggested it is unlikely a new-age IS F sports sedan will be released. Ever since Lexus killed off the previous-generation IS F, there has been talk about the possibility of a new one launching. However, Lexus chief executive Scott Thompson said there are no such plans on the agenda. “How do I answer that question? It’s one of my favorite cars that we’ve ever produced, but there’s no plans at the moment to release another one”, he told. If a new IS F were to be launched, it wouldn’t arrive with a naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine like other current ‘F’ badged models. Instead, the 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine of the LS 500 was thought to be a likely candidate. Lexus is in the midst of developing an all-new IS model underpinned by Toyota’s new TNGA architecture. With no signs of key competition including the Mercedes-AMG C 63, BMW M3 and Audi RS4 going anywhere despite clampdowns on fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions, a new Lexus IS F would certainly provide a nice alternative to the established Germans. According to Thompson, current offerings such as the RC F / RC F Track Edition, GS F, and LC 500 all make up for the lack of an IS F in the Lexus family. An exciting piece of technology that will make it to the road in future production-focused Lexus models is ‘posture control’. Debuting in the recent LF-30 concept unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, this technology has the potential to drastically alter the performance of a vehicle. “Posture control is bigger than just simply propulsion. It’s about what electrification can deliver to the vehicle in terms of its performance. Posture control looks at the adaptive nature of the vehicle: turning as well as propulsion and other aspects to improve performance”, Thompson said. “I can’t definitively tell you about the time frame, but in terms of the LF-30, some of those technologies you’ve seen and heard about will come well inside that 2030 timeframe”. +++ 

+++ Days before production starts on Volkswagen Group’s cornerstone electric vehicle, the ID.3, the automaker is stepping up a push to more than double its MARKET VALUE and gain investor recognition for the industry’s most ambitious technology push. In an internal newsletter, chief financial officer Frank Witter prodded managers to get behind a goal to reach a valuation of €200 billion, arguing that a higher stock price will help VW keep pace with rivals and strengthen its hand in negotiations with future partners. “We must increase our company value in order to stay competitive”, Witter said in the newsletter. “A higher capital market value reflects profitability and financial strength along with the future viability of a company”. The need to act is evident in VW’s numbers. VW leads Toyota in deliveries and generates robust cash and profits. But Toyota has more cost-efficient manufacturing operations and a market value of 24.4 trillion yen ($225 billion), versus about $95 billion for Volkswagen. VW’s lower valuation and earnings multiples suggest investors are not convinced the company’s €44 billion plan will succeed in making VW a leader in electrification with new, money-spinning software-based services. The company starts production on the ID.3, a key entry in an e-car onslaught that will eventually span 70 models across the group, at its plant in Zwickau on Nov. 4, with an event to be attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We are tackling crucial future areas, among them e-mobility and digitalization, with resolution and determination”, Witter said. “That boosts our credibility and the capital market gains more trust in our future viability”. A VW spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the newsletter, which will be used to regularly update managers on developments in the capital markets, and declined to comment further. The company has linked compensation of its top executives more closely with share-price performance, and is phasing in the system across management ranks. The 7-point plan includes strengthening individual brands such as VW, Audi and Porsche, growth in China and boosting software operations. The plan outlines these goals: 1) Strong brands with clear positioning and great products. 2) Leading position in China, with value-creating global growth. 3) Eliminate complexity, industry-leading economies of scale. 4) Full commitment to carbon-neutral goals and shaping e-mobility. 5) Transform into a leading automotive software player. 6) Optimize business portfolio and rigorous allocation of capital. Industry peers such as General Motors, Ford and Daimler also trade at relatively low multiples, far behind cash-rich Silicon Valley giants like Apple. and Waymo parent Alphabet that are plotting to grab valuable turf as technology challenges traditional automaking businesses. “We have a lot of potential within the group”, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said on the sidelines of the presentation of the revamped Golf. “We can make better use of synergies internally”, he said. Diess declined to elaborate on the next steps. Investors and analysts have intensified calls for VW to become more nimble and address an unwieldy conglomerate structure that includes 12 automotive brands. Porsche alone could be worth €100 billion in a potential initial public offering, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. The company has been weighing options for the Lamborghini unit, including a sale or a stock listing, people familiar with the matter said this month. While no decisions have been made, VW has started preparations to fold the Italian supercar brand into a separate legal entity. VW has said there is no plan in place for a Lamborghini IPO or sale. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles unlocked value with the IPO of its Ferrari unit, now worth about $30 billion. However key VW stakeholders have stifled similar moves at the automaker. An asset review started in 2016 has brought few tangible results to date, beyond an aborted effort to sell the Ducati motorbike brand and an initial public offering of the trucks division this year after much internal wrangling. +++ 

+++ OPEL has appointed Pascal Martens as the new head of its light commercial unit to executive ambitious growth goals for the business. Belgian national Martens, who is currently Opel’s director of sales, will assume the role on Nov. 1. He succeeds Tobias Stoever, who has been appointed head of Peugeot marketing in Germany. The PSA Group, which bought Opel from General Motors in 2017, currently dominates the LCV market in Europe with a 25 % market share. Under PSA, Opel is now aiming to increase its LCV sales by more than 25 % by 2022 under its Pace turnaround plan. Last year, PSA launched a new family of car-derived vans, the Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo and Opel / Vauxhall Combo. Martens held various senior management roles in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Russia and Germany, before taking his current position in 2016. He joined GM in Portugal in 1994 after completing his studies. In his new role, Martens will report to Xavier Duchemin, Opel’s head of sales, aftersales and marketing. +++ 

+++ PORSCHE has trademarked an intriguing seat design that could be used by future self-driving vehicles from the carmaker. The patents were filed in Germany with the World Intellectual Property Organization and published a couple of weeks ago. 3 different seating positions are detailed in the filings. The first is dubbed the ‘steering’ posture and is the same as that in any other car. A second driving posture dubbed ‘working’ is also detailed; it keeps the seat in an upright position and alters the position of the steering wheels and pedal to allow for some working space that could be used for things like reading. Last, but not least, is what Porsche describes as the ‘relaxation’ posture. This is the most intriguing of them all as it shows the driver’s seat steeply reclined like something you may find in the business class on an airliner. This mode also sees the steering wheel and pedals retracted into the dashboard. There is also a footrest to make things all the more comfortable. In 2018, Porsche North American chief executive Klaus Zellmer said the company had no plans to ditch steering wheels and pedals and make vehicles that cannot be driven manually by a human. However, he added that Porsche’s “customers always want it all” and may like an autonomous driving mode for certain situations. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA is confident that self-driving cars will play an important role in the future of the motoring industry but says no car manufacturers or technology companies are close to deploying ‘Level 5’ systems. Chief executive of Toyota’s global research division, James Kuffner, revealed that the Japanese car manufacturer is looking at how it must restrict the driver assistance systems it is developing. “Suddenly you’re adding restrictions. It’s geo-fenced, it’s lighter traffic, it’s lower speed, it’s good weather”, he said. “We can do that now if you restrict it enough. We could deploy that today. So the real question is how much are you restricting it and whether or not that’s providing good value”. Kuffner was once part of the team at Google that helped develop its autonomous driving systems and is now in charge at the Toyota Research Institute. Toyota plans on introducing its latest Level 2 system next year dubbed ‘ramp-to-ramp’ technology that will drive a vehicle without human intervention “from entrance to exit, with traffic merging capability” on the highway. Toyota believes that by the late 2020s, it expects to have perfected autonomous driving on surface-level roads. Kuffner added that recent “over-promising” from some companies about self-driving cars hitting the mainstream earlier than they actually will has dampened public perceptions about such technologies. “Unfortunately, it isn’t that hard to make a demo, but it would be nowhere near a product. It’s very hard to sell a product to a customer. We try to let our products speak for themselves. People trust our brand and we want to ship a product that we feel confident in. So over-promising by other people does sometimes hurt us. But we will keep working and we do believe that this technology is going to have a huge impact”, he said. +++ 

+++ The VOLKSWAGEN Group is looking to move Passat production from Emden, Germany, to eastern Europe. Until recently, Turkey looked like the likeliest candidate for a new factory, however, the automaker is now weary of the former’s military operations in Syria. With the Emden facility soon to be converted into an EV-only site (by October 2022), VW needs to make a decision quickly. One solution is to move Passat production to the carmaker’s Bratislava factory in Slovakia. That site already builds the Touareg and the Audi Q7 SUVs, as well as the VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo minicars, although minicar production is due to be phased out as the segment declines, in turn freeing capacity. With VW supervisory board member Stephan Weil (Lower Saxony prime minister) opposing a move to Turkey, it appears likely that the German brand might have to do a 180 and come up with a new production site for the Passat. Lower Saxony is a 20 % shareholder. Previously, VW had picked Manisa, which is 40 km northeast of Izmir on Turkey’s western coast as a location to build both the Passat as well as the Skoda Superb, estimating an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles. Aside from Slovakia, other eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia are also hoping to land the next VW factory. Also, rumor has it that VW has already decided to move some Skoda Karoq production to Bratislava, instead of a new plant in Turkey. +++ 

+++ WAYMO chief executive John Krafcik said the self-driving vehicle company is now offering limited “rider-only” trips in Phoenix, Arizona, as it looks beyond the robo-taxis business to generate future revenue. Waymo, a unit of Alphabet, has begun offering fully automated rides, without attendants in the vehicle, to a few hundred early users of its robo-taxi service in Phoenix, Krafcik confirmed on Sunday at a dinner with journalists ahead of a conference in Detroit. He did not say when or how quickly Waymo would expand “rider-only” services. Riders signed up for the fully automated service have signed non-disclosure agreements, he said. Waymo continues to look for new ways to sell its technology, beyond robo-taxi services, Krafcik said. The company is testing its so-called automated driver on Peterbilt trucks and plans to expand trucking and commercial delivery applications of its technology as part of a project known internally as “Husky”, Krafcik said. Waymo has said it is testing its system on trucks in Michigan, Arizona and Georgia. “We think trucking is a really interesting application of the Waymo driver”, Krafcik said. He added that current regulations do not allow driverless operation of heavier trucks, however. Waymo would consider selling its driver technology to a carmaker that wants to offer automated driving as a feature either branded as Waymo or using the vehicle maker’s brand. “Both would be interesting”, Krafcik said. One idea Waymo could consider is supplying its automated driver to a new vehicle, then having the vehicle move later in its life to a ride sharing fleet, he said. Waymo has announced agreements to develop self-driving vehicles and services with Renault and its partner Nissan, and has deals to use minivans made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar in its robo-taxi fleets. Waymo’s careful rollout of self-driving vehicle services comes as many automakers and rival self-driving vehicle companies are scaling back or consolidating their efforts. The high costs and technical challenges of developing a safe, reliable automated driving system coupled with uncertainty about regulation have put a chill on the automated driving industry’s previous exuberance. Backed by Google’s capital and computing power, Waymo has continued to grow. The company operates a facility in Detroit to retrofit Chrysler minivans and Jaguar iPace crossovers. One problem the automated vehicle industry faces is confusion about the terms used to describe the technology, Krafcik said. Tesla markets a system called Autopilot that is supposed to require a driver to remain ready to take control of the car. Federal safety regulators are investigating recent fatal crashes involving vehicles on Autopilot. Other carmakers offer systems that partially automate a vehicle during highway driving or in stop-and-go traffic, and describe them in a variety of terms. “If you need a driver’s license, it’s not self driving”, Krafcik said. +++

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