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Daimler CEO says Apple and Google are getting nearer to making a self-driving car

It seems that tech giants Apple and Google are progressing on automotive projects faster than the top honcho of German carmaker Daimler had assumed. Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche told German weekly Welt am Sonntag that Silicon Valley companies that are working to develop a self-driving car seemed to know and can do more than assumed.

He noted that these companies have more respect for Daimler’s achievements than they thought. Google is currently testing prototype vehicles and is seeking partners from the auto industry, the company car’s project leader John Krafcik recently told the Automotive News World Congress.

There were also rumors that Apple is working on a vehicle, but the company did not confirm any speculations. In response to Google’s car project, Mercedes-Benz developed an S-class sedan that managed to drive 103 km (64 miles) sans any driver input.

Read the entire article Daimler CEO says Apple and Google are getting nearer to making a self-driving car

Daimler CEO says Google won’t become a volume carmaker

Daimler AG chief executive Dieter Zetsche believes that tech companies like Google would not become volume carmakers, even if they could possibly disrupt the auto industry that is becoming more focused on software and automated driving.

Just in the past few years, carmakers and tech firms based in Silicon Valley companies have become more inter-dependent, mainly because the development of next-generation cars requires development of advanced software and sensors.

Zetsche remarked that Google’s objective in unveiling an advanced self-driving car in 2014 might be to get a better understanding on how cars are used, instead of becoming a carmaker itself. "Google and the likes want to get involved, I don’t think in the first place to build vehicles," Zetsche said.

Read the entire article Daimler CEO says Google won’t become a volume carmaker

Dieter Zetsche to step down as chairman of Daimler’s Board of Management in 2019

There will be a major shakeup at German group Daimler AG involving its Supervisory and Management Boards. In particular, it involves Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of the Daimler’s Board of Management and the chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Zetsche has been a member of the Board of Management at Daimler AG since December 1998, and has been its chairman since January 2006. He will be stepping down from these capacities, including as Head of Mercedes car, at the end of Daimler AG’s annual shareholders’ meeting in 2019. This, however, doesn’t mean that Zetsche is quitting Daimler; he is just being prepared to take a new position.

Currently, the Daimler’s Supervisory Board is led by Manfred Bischoff, its current Chairman. His term is set to expire at the end of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in 2021. Bischoff has been holding this post since April 2007. As preparation for Bischoff’s exit from the Supervisory Board, Daimler is already preparing a succession process this early.

Read the entire article Dieter Zetsche to step down as chairman of Daimler’s Board of Management in 2019

Daimler chairman takes selfie with camouflaged Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz really does love to tease, and now, we know why. It is because the top honcho of parent Daimler AG, chairman Dieter Zetsche, loves to do so. In fact, Zetsche was recently featured on a post at Daimler’s LinkedIn business network account, taking a selfie with a camouflaged version of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Yes, the 2018 Mercedes A-Class is finally coming and it is now being test-driven – as well as teased -- by Zetsche himself.

Teasing a new product isn’t actually the main part of Zetche’s job at Daimler. However, he can do as he pleases. Nonetheless, as Daimler’s chairman noted, it is part of his job to test drive new products like the next generation of the A Class. It is his job to make sure that a new model is good enough to pass the careful eyes of the company’s management team, and is ready for series production.

Confirming that the car that he was taking a picture with is the 2018 A-Class in a camouflaged form, Zetsche said in a LinkedIn post that Mercedes will be taking the wraps off the camouflaged A-Class in 2018. He called the new A-Class as special since it is a symbol of the rejuvenation of the Mercedes brand, which started when it introduced the current generation in 2012. He noted that since 2012, Mercedes has sold more than two million units of the A-Class.

Read the entire article Daimler chairman takes selfie with camouflaged Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Daimler Group CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche somehow confirmed that there will be a new SUV in their lineup. This announcement came from the CEO himself while on a press meeting at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Unfortunately, he didn’t go over the details. According to Zetsche, “I’d like to say you will be seeing it, but I’ll leave it at that.”

According to rumors, the luxury SUV will be wearing a Maybach badge. If that’s the case, the SUV will be among Mercedes’ Maybach division which also includes the limited edition S650 Cabriolet. For sure, not everyone would be pleased with the idea but some people would also want an SUV with all the luxurious appointments. Even if it gets delayed for a few more years, we think a Mercedes-Maybach SUV would be more than amazing.

Besides, don’t you think it’s about time that Mercedes-Benz comes up with an ultra-posh SUV? In any case, the German brand’s luxury sport utility vehicle will be pitted against Lamborghini’s Urus, Rolls Royce’s Cullinan and of course, Bentley’s Bentayga model.

Read the entire article Daimler CEO confirms that we’ll soon see a Mercedes-Maybach SUV

Now, you can control your car from the safety of your home. That is if you’re using Google Assistant-powered Google Home and your car is any of the Blue Link-enabled vehicles from South Korean carmaker Hyundai.

Hyundai will be unveiling at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show the seamless integration between its Blue Link Agent and the Google Assistant – allowing customers to connect with their Hyundai cars even though they are in the confines of their house doing some household chores. This integration is made possible through Google Home, a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant.

Through this small device, users could voice-command Google Assistant to do a number of functions. For instance, a user may voice-command Google Assistant to activate and control smart home devices. Moreover, a user may also voice-command Google Assistant activate streaming music services. Now that it has been integrated with Blue Link Agent, Google Assistant could now be used to activate cars. Yes, users could voice-command Google Assistant – without going inside a Blue Link-enabled vehicle – to remote start their Hyundai units or even remote lock them. All a user should do is to start the command phrase with “Ok Google” and tell it to send a request to Blue Link.

Read the entire article Hyundai Blue Link-enabled cars can now be voice-commanded remotely via Google Home

Just days after Google’s autonomous vehicle project became an autonomous tech company dubbed as Waymo Inc., the company now unveiled its first fully self-driving vehicles in the guise of 100 driverless Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.

Back in May 2016, Waymo – then known as the Google Self-Driving Project – and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles entered into a partnership in which the carmaker would provide a number of vehicles to the project. The partners saw it fitting to choose Chrysler’s new 2017 Pacifica Hybrid minivans – 100 of them -- for the self-driving vehicle project. The Pacifica Hybrid minivans were specifically built by Chrysler to be fitted with the latest of Google’s hardware and software.

While these Chrysler Pacifica units are based on the 2017 production model available to the market, the carmaker modified them – including their chassis, powertrain, structural and electrical systems – so that Waymo could properly install its own technology into these new minivans.

Read the entire article Waymo provides glimpse of its fully autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans

Google’s autonomous vehicle project has become an autonomous tech company. Here comes Waymo, a company with utmost focus on self-driving technology. Starting off as a project inside the tech company eight years, Waymo has now become a standalone business under Alphabet Inc. – the corporate parent of Google -- with an aim to commercialize its self-driving technology and build related products with it.

However, it seems that Google’s strategy for its self-driving unit actually involves a slim-down of its operations – similar to what Apple has done to its own autonomous car project. Apple has said that it was refocusing its energy from building self-driving cars to just creating self-driving technology. It was really a goodbye for Apple’s Project Titan, although the tech giant has not explicitly admitted that it was seeking to build a self-driving.

As for the formerly Google Self-Driving Project, now Waymo – which stands for a new Way forward in Mobility – the path it is treading seems similar to Apple’s. A report by The Information says that Waymo would not build its own self-driving vehicle, even though it – when it was still a project -- already unveiled its and the world’s first fully self-driven car in October 2015.

Read the entire article Google Self-Driving Project now a separate company as Waymo under Alphabet umbrella

Smartphones are now able to link to vehicle infotainment systems but automakers will be controlling the data that technology partners such as Apple and Google can get access to. Automakers are starting to find ways to monetize the information generated from these systems. They have the potential to gain billions of dollars in e-commerce.

Smartphone use has already generated money for Apple and Google. They offer different products and services, ranging from digital music to targeted advertising. But with the linking of phones and car systems like with Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto, they will be able to extend their reach even farther.

However, auto companies want to limit what tech providers are able to access. Computer systems in cars are capable of acquiring a ton of possibly profitable information. Several automakers have stated that data from the functional systems of the car won’t be given to Apple and Google. Examples are data on steering, throttle, and brakes.

Read the entire article Auto companies to limit in-vehicle data accessible to Apple, Google

Audi cited how internet-assisted driving may put passenger privacy at risk as a reason for saying no to Google’s invitation to be a partner. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler told executives via a speech last Tuesday that a car is private as it’s seen today as a “second living room.” He believes that the customer is the only person who needs access to the data onboard.

It’s apparent from Stadler’s comments that Audi, as well as the other German automakers, have been harbouring concerns on data protection as they work to create platforms that compete with Google when it comes to Internet-assisted motoring. He explained that what customers don’t want to be “exploited” as a car owner.

Rather, they want to control their data and not be monitored. At the same event, Eric Schmidt (the chairman of Google) said that it has been a year since the company has entered an “Automobile Alliance" with Audi, Opel and Volkswagen. Schmidt pointed out that Google is undertaking this with partners and that specifically, it is working with a “whole infrastructure” in Germany.

Read the entire article Audi turns down Google’s invitation due to worries about privacy

Dieter Zetsche will receive EUR8.36 million for his role as chief executive of Daimler AG in 2014, around 1.2 percent higher than he got in 2013 at EUR8.25 million. His base salary remains at EUR2 million. His remuneration also includes a short-term bonus of EUR1.73 million, a medium-term bonus payable in 2016 that depends on share performance, and long-term variable compensation that also entails stock options.

The extra pay comes after Mercedes posted higher sales growth in 2014 at 13 percent, which beats the pace posted by larger German luxury rivals BMW and Audi. Thanks to strong deliveries for its flagship S-class sedan and the GLA crossover, Mercedes was able to deliver over 1.65 million vehicles last year, but is still behind Audi by 91,090 and BMW by 161,709.

Combined pay, bonuses and stock options for Daimler's management board, however, dropped 5.6 percent to EUR28.5 million after Andreas Renschler, former head of manufacturing and procurement, jumped ship to Volkswagen in January 2014. Excluding Zetsche, the base salary of the management board jumped an average of 5 percent.

Read the entire article Daimler raises Dieter Zetsche’s pay by 1.4 percent after record sales in 2014

Uber, the app-based transportation company, may soon find one of its biggest investors as one of its largest rivals. Google Ventures, the tech giant's venture capital arm, invested $258 million in Uber in August 2013 and injected more less than a year later. As part of the investment, David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, has been on Uber’s board of directors since 2013.

Google is currently getting ready to roll out its own Uber-like service, probably in conjunction with its driverless car project. Drummond has alredy informed Uber's board of this possibility, according to a person privy to the board.

Likewise, Uber executives have already seen screenshots of what seems to be a ride-sharing app used by Google employees. The source told Bloomberg that the Uber board is now trying to decide whether to ask Drummond to step down from his post.

Read the entire article Uber faces competition challenge from investor Google

Roush Industries Inc., an engineering and specialty manufacturing company, has been tapped to assemble a fleet of 100 prototypes of Google Inc.’s two-seater self-driving electric cars. Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving cars program, remarked at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit that the tech giant did not contract with a carmaker for the project, although the production version of the self-driving car would involve an automaker.

Roush, known for its custom Ford Mustang models, has leased additional space at 28220 Plymouth Road in Livonia and refurbished it for the project, Maureen Crowley, director of corporate communications, told Crain’s Detroit Business.

According to Crowley, Roush has hired more people in supply chain support and assembly. In July 2013, the Michigan Strategic Fund awarded Roush a $1 million performance-based grant to expand space at a number of sites in suburban Detroit.

Read the entire article Google taps Roush Industries to build self-driving car prototype

Google Inc. has commenced working on a version of Android that will be built directly into vehicles, sources told Reuters. While the current Android Auto software requires an Android smartphone to be plugged into a compatible car with a built-in screen to access the Internet and a number of installed apps, the version in works allow drivers to use all those features even without plugging in their smartphones.

According to the sources, Google plans to provide details for its plans for placing Android Auto directly into cars when it introduces the next Android M operating system within at least a year.

Thilo Koslowski, vice president and Automotive Practice Leader of industry research firm Gartner, remarked that the built-in Android Auto would provide “a much stronger foothold” for Google to become part of the vehicle instead of being just an add-on.

Read the entire article Google working on built-in Android OS in vehicles

As we announced it here, Google revealed today at the I/O Developer Conference the Android Auto, its brand new in-car control system developed for smartphones, to rival Apple’s CarPlay. First of all, we don’t see the new Android Auto as a rival to Apple CarPlay, but as a way to reduce the risk of accidents because you may already know, people are distracted during driving by their smartphones.

Google’s Android Auto is completely voice-enabled, which means that the driver can keep its hands on the steering wheel and his eyes on the road. Known as Google Auto Link during the development stage, the Android Auto promises to be the first product arriving from the Open Automotive Alliance a.k.a. a group led by Google that includes carmakers such as Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai as well as the well-known chipmaker Nvidia.

According to Google, the Android Auto is a projected system and not an embedded operating system. This means that the smartphones using the Android operating system can be plugged into the car and the driver can access its features using the controls found on the steering wheel but also via the display screen.

Read the entire article Google introduces the Android Auto in-car control system to take on Apple CarPlay [w/video]

Google Inc. is unveiling its first in-car operating system at its annual Google I/O conference, set for June 25 and 26 in San Francisco, three people briefed on the project told Automotive News. The system -- known internally as Google Auto Link (GAL) during development -- will be the first fruit of the Open Automotive Alliance, a group of companies that include Google, Audi AG, General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Group and NVIDIA Corp.

According to the source, GAL is not an embedded infotainment system, but a “projected” system that allows a user to control the Android-based smartphones through the car’s own controls and display screen.

The sources said Google will not disclose yet which model would use GAL first. During the announcement of the creation of the Open Automotive Alliance in January, the group said it would bring the Android OS to cars starting this year.

Read the entire article Google to unveil its first in-car OS at 2014 I/O conference, will rival Apple CarPlay

As you may know already, Google is working on its self-driving car project since 2009 and it appears that a new phase started today as the company unveiled its own autonomous vehicle prototypes. The new vehicles are not fitted with a steering wheel or a gas/brake pedals and are powered by an electric motor that offers a top speed limited at 25 mph or 40 km/h.

Google will build around 100 test vehicles and will begin testing them this summer. Still, early versions will be fitted with manual vehicle controls and according to the official press release the models will be tested by company’s safety drivers.

Since 2009, Google says that its test fleet of autonomous managed to cover 700,000 miles. The new vehicles are about the same size of a Smart ForTwo and feature two seats and two doors.

Read the entire article Google unveils its autonomous vehicle prototype [w/video]

Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of German carmaker Daimler AG, is worried about the increasing anti-European Union sentiment in the region ahead of the European parliament elections on May 25. Zetsche remarked last week that the upcoming elections are “more important today than they have ever been.”

He said he does not believe that there is any alternative to a united Europe. The Daimler top honcho acknowledged that the EU is facing several challenges. He also acknowledged the continued disparity between the fortunes of member states.

He remarked the EU is at a point where nations needing further transformation suffer greater hardships than countries that are more successful. Zetsche quipped that lessons can be learned from history, noting 50 years ago, everybody referred to Germany as the sick man of Europe.

Read the entire article Daimler CEO expressed concern over anti-EU sentiments

Volvo Car Group and Google Inc. have commenced testing self-driving cars on city streets – considered as crucial stage en route to the autonomous driving technology a standard in vehicles. Volvo said in a statement that it has commenced testing 100 cars on the streets near its Gothenburg base in Sweden under a project dubbed "Drive Me."

Erik Coelingh, technical specialist at Volvo, said in the statement that the test cars can now handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic -- all by themselves, He remarked the tests represent an important step onto developing ‘Drive Me’ that could drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode.

The technology – to be dubbed as Autopilot – allows the driver to let the vehicle do all the driving. Google said in a post on its official blog that in the past it has shifted its focus to city-street driving.

Read the entire article Volvo and Google start testing self-driving cars on city roads

It seems that Honda and Acura and their dealers are competing against each other for Google shoppers. Similar case could happen when dealers and brands bid for the same keywords generating the most visible ad positions on top of a Google search for a vehicle. According to Brian Pasch, whose PCG Consulting helps dealers with digital marketing, the dealer-brand rivalry can push up Google ad prices.

At a recent national dealer meeting, Honda executives told its dealers they were searching for ways to minimize overlap on Google advertising buys between each other. In the past month, Pasch made waves by saying that Acura mulls barring dealers from bidding on five popular keywords and phrases on Google: Acura, Acura.com, Acura USA, Acura Cars and Acura Auto – in order to limit the prices.

He remarked that Acura’s strategy would unintentionally allow rivals and third-party shopping sites like cars.com, to get ad positions on top of Acura vehicle search listings, which currently are lorded by the brand and its dealers. Two of every three visitors to a dealer Web site are led from a Google link.

Read the entire article Honda and Acura fight vs dealers over Google search keywords