Chinese electric automakers Nio exceeds Q3 delivery target for its ES8 SUV

Nio, the Chinese electric automaker aiming to compete with Tesla, reported that it delivered 3,268 of its new ES8 vehicles in the third quarter, beating its own target by 9%. The company planned to deliver between 2,900 and 3,000 ES8s in the third quarter, according to Nio CFO Louis T. Hsieh. Nio began deliveries of the […]

Nio, the Chinese electric automaker aiming to compete with Tesla, reported that it delivered 3,268 of its new ES8 vehicles in the third quarter, beating its own target by 9%.

The company planned to deliver between 2,900 and 3,000 ES8s in the third quarter, according to Nio CFO Louis T. Hsieh.

Nio began deliveries of the ES8, a 7-seater high performance electric SUV in China on June 28. The company reported that its year-to-date ES8 deliveries, as of September 30, 2018, totaled 3,368 vehicles. The first 100 vehicles were delivered in the last days of the second quarter.

“Growing our monthly deliveries from 381 in July to 1,766 in September demonstrates our steady production ramp, strong demand from users and the initial acceptance of NIO as a premium brand,” William Li, founder, Chairman and CEO of Nio, said in a statement.

The company, which shut down its ES8 production line for 10 days for routine maintenance and to install equipment for its second production line, warned that deliveries in October will be lower.

However, the company said it remains on track to hit its delivery target of 10,000 ES8 vehicles for the second half of 2018.

The company is planning to release the ES6, a 5-seater premium SUV,  in June/July 2019.

Nio, which raised $1 billion when it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in September, has operations in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, although it only sells its ES8 vehicle in China. The 7-seater ES8 SUV is priced at 448,000 RMB, or around $65,000.

Baillie Gifford  & Co., the second-biggest shareholder of Tesla stock, owns an 11.44 percent stake in Nio, according to a regulatory filing posted October 9.

Chinese electric automakers Nio exceeds Q3 delivery target for its ES8 SUV

Nio, the Chinese electric automaker aiming to compete with Tesla, reported that it delivered 3,268 of its new ES8 vehicles in the third quarter, beating its own target by 9%. The company planned to deliver between 2,900 and 3,000 ES8s in the third quarter, according to Nio CFO Louis T. Hsieh. Nio began deliveries of the […]

Nio, the Chinese electric automaker aiming to compete with Tesla, reported that it delivered 3,268 of its new ES8 vehicles in the third quarter, beating its own target by 9%.

The company planned to deliver between 2,900 and 3,000 ES8s in the third quarter, according to Nio CFO Louis T. Hsieh.

Nio began deliveries of the ES8, a 7-seater high performance electric SUV in China on June 28. The company reported that its year-to-date ES8 deliveries, as of September 30, 2018, totaled 3,368 vehicles. The first 100 vehicles were delivered in the last days of the second quarter.

“Growing our monthly deliveries from 381 in July to 1,766 in September demonstrates our steady production ramp, strong demand from users and the initial acceptance of NIO as a premium brand,” William Li, founder, Chairman and CEO of Nio, said in a statement.

The company, which shut down its ES8 production line for 10 days for routine maintenance and to install equipment for its second production line, warned that deliveries in October will be lower.

However, the company said it remains on track to hit its delivery target of 10,000 ES8 vehicles for the second half of 2018.

The company is planning to release the ES6, a 5-seater premium SUV,  in June/July 2019.

Nio, which raised $1 billion when it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in September, has operations in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, although it only sells its ES8 vehicle in China. The 7-seater ES8 SUV is priced at 448,000 RMB, or around $65,000.

Baillie Gifford  & Co., the second-biggest shareholder of Tesla stock, owns an 11.44 percent stake in Nio, according to a regulatory filing posted October 9.

Google partners with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi to put Android into millions of vehicles

Google will partner with Renault -Nissan-Mitsubishi, the largest auto alliance in the world by vehicle sales, to put Android-based infotainment systems into millions of cars, the companies told Wall Street Journal. The alliance’s next-generation infotainment system and dashboard displays will use Android and launch in 2021. Drivers will be able to access Google’s maps, app […]

Google will partner with Renault -Nissan-Mitsubishi, the largest auto alliance in the world by vehicle sales, to put Android-based infotainment systems into millions of cars, the companies told Wall Street Journal. The alliance’s next-generation infotainment system and dashboard displays will use Android and launch in 2021.

Drivers will be able to access Google’s maps, app store and voice assistant from their vehicle’s dashboards. The new partnership is a giant step forward for Google’s ambitions to get its operating system into more cars (the alliance sold a combined 5.5 million vehicles in the first half of this year, putting it ahead of Volkswagen and Toyota Motor).

The alliance’s executives told WSJ that they decided on the partnership because many of their customers are accustomed to using Google Maps and other apps and prefer sticking with them instead of using software developed by automakers when they drive.

Auto executives have also become more comfortable with Google, which made its software open source in 2007. Kal Mos, the alliance’s vice president of connected vehicles, told the Wall Street Journal that “the trust was built in the last few years.”

By partnering with Google, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi ups the ante on rival automakers to partner with tech companies instead of developing their own software ecosystems. While this may win customers over, it also means potentially ceding control over valuable user data to companies like Google and Apple. Mos told WSJ that Google will have access to data collected from its in-car apps, but must ask for user permission first.

Other automakers that are already integrating Google apps into their vehicles include Volkswagen, which put Google Earth into the Audi’s in-car navigation system, and Volvo Cars, which said its next in-car infotaintment system will run on Android.

Google partners with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi to put Android into millions of vehicles

Google will partner with Renault -Nissan-Mitsubishi, the largest auto alliance in the world by vehicle sales, to put Android-based infotainment systems into millions of cars, the companies told Wall Street Journal. The alliance’s next-generation infotainment system and dashboard displays will use Android and launch in 2021. Drivers will be able to access Google’s maps, app […]

Google will partner with Renault -Nissan-Mitsubishi, the largest auto alliance in the world by vehicle sales, to put Android-based infotainment systems into millions of cars, the companies told Wall Street Journal. The alliance’s next-generation infotainment system and dashboard displays will use Android and launch in 2021.

Drivers will be able to access Google’s maps, app store and voice assistant from their vehicle’s dashboards. The new partnership is a giant step forward for Google’s ambitions to get its operating system into more cars (the alliance sold a combined 5.5 million vehicles in the first half of this year, putting it ahead of Volkswagen and Toyota Motor).

The alliance’s executives told WSJ that they decided on the partnership because many of their customers are accustomed to using Google Maps and other apps and prefer sticking with them instead of using software developed by automakers when they drive.

Auto executives have also become more comfortable with Google, which made its software open source in 2007. Kal Mos, the alliance’s vice president of connected vehicles, told the Wall Street Journal that “the trust was built in the last few years.”

By partnering with Google, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi ups the ante on rival automakers to partner with tech companies instead of developing their own software ecosystems. While this may win customers over, it also means potentially ceding control over valuable user data to companies like Google and Apple. Mos told WSJ that Google will have access to data collected from its in-car apps, but must ask for user permission first.

Other automakers that are already integrating Google apps into their vehicles include Volkswagen, which put Google Earth into the Audi’s in-car navigation system, and Volvo Cars, which said its next in-car infotaintment system will run on Android.

BMW launches a personal voice assistant for its cars

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, BMW today premiered its digital personal assistant for its cars, the aptly named BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. But you won’t have to say “Hey, BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant” to wake it up. You can give it any name you want. The announcement comes only a few weeks after BMW also […]

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, BMW today premiered its digital personal assistant for its cars, the aptly named BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. But you won’t have to say “Hey, BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant” to wake it up. You can give it any name you want.

The announcement comes only a few weeks after BMW also launched its integration with Amazon’s Alexa, but it’s worth stressing that these are complementary technologies. BMW’s own assistant is all about your car, while its partnerships with Amazon and also Microsoft enables other functions that aren’t directly related to your driving experience.

“BMW’s Personal Assistant gets to know you over time with each of your voice commands and by using your car,” BMW’s senior vice president Digital Products and Services, Dieter May, said. “It gets better and better every single day.”

Sticking with the precedents of Microsoft’s, Google’s and Amazon’s assistants, the voice of BMW’s assistant is female (though BMW often uses male names and pronouns in its press materials). Over time, it’ll surely get more voices.

So what can the BMW assistant do? Once you are in a compatible car, you’ll be able to control all of the standard in-car features by voice. Think navigation and climate control (“Hey John, I’m cold”), or check the tire pressure, oil level and other engine settings.

You also can have some more casual conversations (“Hey Charlie, what’s the meaning of life?”), but what’s maybe more important is that the assistant will continuously learn more about you. Right now, the assistant can remember your preferred settings, but over time, it’ll learn more and even proactively suggest changes. “For example, driving outside the city at night, the personal assistant could suggest you the BMW High Beam Assist,” May noted.

In addition, you’ll also be able to use the assistant to learn more about your car’s features, something that’s getting increasingly hard as cars become computers on wheels with ever-increasing complexity.

BMW built the assistant on top of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and conversational technologies. Azure has long been BMW’s preferred public cloud and the two companies have had a close relationship for years now. BMW has, after all, also integrated some support for accessing Office 365 files and using Skype for Business in its cars, with support for Cortana likely coming soon, too.

That all sounds a bit confusing, though. Why have three assistants in the car, after all. All that “Hey Alexa,” “Hey Charlie,” “Hey Cortana” is going to get a bit confusing after all. But BMW argues that each one has a specialty. For Alexa that may be shopping while Cortana is all about getting work done and the BMW is all about your car. And if everything else fails, BMW’s existing concierge service is still there and lets you talk to a human.

The assistant feature will be available in a basic version with support for 23 languages and markets, starting March 2019. In the U.S., Germany, U.K., Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Brazil and Japan, the service will feature more features like support for weather search, point of interest search and access to music in March 2019. In those markets, the assistant will also feature a more natural voice. In China, this expanded version will go live a bit later and is currently scheduled for May 2019. In those markets, it’ll roll out to cars that support the BMW Operating System 7.0 as part of the company’s Live Cockpit Professional program.

If you order a BMW 3 Series, starting in November, the assistant will be available to you right away and included for the first three years of your ownership. For new X5, Z4 and 8 Series models, BMW Assistant support will arrive in the form of an over-the-air software upgrade starting in March 2019.

Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov unveils its answer to Tesla

The Russian weapons manufacturer Kalahsnikov, best known for making the AK-47 machine gun, has unveiled a fleet of electric and hybrid cars, buggies and motorcycles this week — including an electric vehicle that the company says will rival Tesla. While it’s a noble goal to take competitive aim at the world’s most famous electric vehicle […]

The Russian weapons manufacturer Kalahsnikov, best known for making the AK-47 machine gun, has unveiled a fleet of electric and hybrid cars, buggies and motorcycles this week — including an electric vehicle that the company says will rival Tesla.

While it’s a noble goal to take competitive aim at the world’s most famous electric vehicle brand, the retro-styled concept car, dubbed the CV-1, bears a closer resemblance to another, more infamous car from the soviet era… the Trabant.

That’s a vehicle, by the way, whose Fahrvergnügen is best illustrated by the Conan O’Brien’s demonstration below.

The CV-1 is based on the retro-IZH-21252 model known as the “Combi” and is a test bed for Kalashnikov’s electric drive train, which the company said was developed in-house. The Combi has a cruising range of 350 kilometers and can go from 0 to 100 kilometers in roughly 6 seconds, so says the company.

Batteries for the new electric vehicle from Kalashnikov have a capacity of 90 kilowatts per hour.

At the same gun show where the new EV was unveiled, Kalashnikov also showed off a hybrid buggy and an electric motorcycle to complete its hattrick.

The four-seat buggy can purportedly achieve speeds of up to 100 kilometers-per-hour and has separate electric engines for its front and rear wheels, along with hydraulic shock absorbers. According to Russian news agency RT, the vehicles are a relatively recent addition to the Russian military’s mobility arsenal.

Kalashnikov’s new electric motorcycle for police units

Kalashnikov may have Tesla in its sights, but the car company likely has more to fear from U.S. regulators than it does from a Russian competitor. At this point, the weapons manufacturer might find more of a market for another machine it debuted at the Russian military trade show — its golden, metal-plated killer robot (!!).

Here’s a selection of images below, courtesy of Kalashnikov, of the new electric vehicle.

[gallery ids="1698553,1698555,1698556,1698557,1698558,1698559,1698554"]

With assistance from Jon Russell

BMW’s Alexa integration gets it right

BMW will in a few days start rolling out to many of its drivers support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The fact that BWM is doing this doesn’t come as a surprise, given that it has long talked about its plans to bring Alexa — and potentially other personal assistants like Cortana and the Google […]

BMW will in a few days start rolling out to many of its drivers support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The fact that BWM is doing this doesn’t come as a surprise, given that it has long talked about its plans to bring Alexa — and potentially other personal assistants like Cortana and the Google Assistant — to its cars. Ahead of its official launch in Germany, Austria, the U.S. and U.K. (with other countries following at a later date), I went to Munich to take a look at what using Alexa in a BMW is all about.

As Dieter May, BMW’s senior VP for digital products told me earlier this year, the company has long held that in-car digital assistants have to be more than just an “Echo Dot in a cup holder,” meaning that they have to be deeply integrated into the experience and the rest of the technology in the car. And that’s exactly what BMW has done here — and it has done it really well.

What maybe surprised me the most was that we’re not just talking about the voice interface here. BMW is working directly with the Alexa team at Amazon to also integrate visual responses from Alexa. Using the tablet-like display you find above the center console of most new BMWs, the service doesn’t just read out the answer but also shows additional facts or graphs when warranted. That means Alexa in a BMW is a lot more like using an Echo Show than a Dot (though you’re obviously not going to be able to watch any videos on it).

In the demo I saw, in a 2015 BMW X5 that was specifically rigged to run Alexa ahead of the launch, the display would activate when you ask for weather information, for example, or for queries that returned information from a Wikipedia post.

What’s cool here is that the BMW team styled these responses using the same design language that also governs the company’s other in-car products. So if you see the weather forecast from Alexa, that’ll look exactly like the weather forecast from BMW’s own Connected Drive system. The only difference is the “Alexa” name at the top-left of the screen.

All of this sounds easy, but I’m sure it took a good bit of negotiation with Amazon to build a system like this, especially because there’s an important second part to this integration that’s quite unique. The queries, which you start by pushing the usual “talk” button in the car (in newer models, the Alexa wake word feature will also work), are first sent to BMW’s servers before they go to Amazon. BMW wants to keep control over the data and ensure its users’ privacy, so it added this proxy in the middle. That means there’s a bit of an extra lag in getting responses from Amazon, but the team is working hard on reducing this, and for many of the queries we tried during my demo, it was already negligible.

As the team told me, the first thing it had to build was a way to switch that can route your queries to the right service. The car, after all, already has a built-in speech recognition service that lets you set directions in the navigation system, for example. Now, it has to recognize that the speaker said “Alexa” at the beginning of the query, then route it to the Alexa service. The team also stressed that we’re talking about a very deep integration here. “We’re not just streaming everything through your smartphone or using some plug-and-play solution,” a BMW spokesperson noted.

“You get what you’d expect from BMW, a deep integration, and to do that, we use the technology we already have in the car, especially the built-in SIM card.”

One of the advantages of Alexa’s open ecosystem is its skills. Not every skill makes sense in the context of the car, and some could be outright distracting, so the team is curating a list of skills that you’ll be able to use in the car.

It’s no secret that BMW is also working with Microsoft (and many of its cloud services run on Azure). BMW argues that Alexa and Cortana have different strengths, though, with Cortana being about productivity and a connection to Office 365, for example. It’s easy to imagine a future where you could call up both Alexa and Cortana from your car — and that’s surely why BMW built its own system for routing voice commands and why it wants to have control over this process.

BMW tells me that it’ll look at how users will use the new service and tune it accordingly. Because a lot of the functionality runs in the cloud, updates are obviously easy and the team can rapidly release new features — just like any other software company.