Say goodbye to gasoline – China’s going electric

China’s auto industry plan released in April envisages new energy vehicles – including electric and hybrids – making up all the future sales growth in the country. — Reuters

China, one-third of the world’s car market, is working on a timetable to end sales of fossil-fuel-based vehicles, the country’s vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobin, told an industry forum in Tianjin on Saturday. That would probably see the country join Norway, France and the UK in switching to a wholly electric fleet within the lifetime of most current drivers.

The announcement is important because the most influential players in the global auto market have always been not companies, but governments. Diesel cars make up about half of the market in the European Union and less than a percentage point in the US, largely because of different fuel-taxation and emissions regimes. Carburetors have been regulated out of most developed markets because fuel injection – originally a more costly technology — results in less tailpipe pollution.

Moves toward electrification of the world’s cars have been tentative. Just 695,000 electric vehicles were sold in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, equivalent to about three days of sales in an 84 million-strong market. Including those already on the roads, the global car fleet is roughly a billion-strong.

At the same time, the direction of travel is unambiguous. China’s auto industry plan released in April envisages new energy vehicles – including electric and hybrids – making up all the future sales growth in the country. With conventional cars plateauing at current levels, new-energy vehicle sales will reach seven million annually in 2025. As many as 800,000 charging stations will be built this year alone, according to the official China Daily. Government mandates will require manufacturers to sell 8% of their vehicles with electric or hybrid powertrains from next year, or purchase credits to make up the difference, rising to 20% by 2025.

India, due to overtake Germany and then Japan as the world’s third-biggest auto market by 2020, is on a similar path. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s think-tank Niti Aayog aims to get electric vehicles to 44 percent of the fleet by 2030, and is aggressively favoring them with tax rates 31 percentage points below those on hybrids and internal-combustion-engine cars under its new harmonised GST sales tax.

France and the UK, the world’s sixth- and seventh-biggest markets, are planning to phase out sales of non-electric cars by 2040, while tiny Norway aims to reach that line 10 years earlier. Neither of those targets looks especially ambitious, given the rapid drop in battery costs: In the US and EU, electric cars will reach price parity with conventional vehicles in terms of purchase and running costs around the mid-2020s, according to BNEF. The International Energy Agency believes the use of oil in passenger cars has already more or less peaked, with just 7% of demand growth by 2040 coming from the sector.

The pattern will accelerate as major automakers dedicate more of their research and development budgets – and, subsequently, lobbying funds – to the EV transition. Until the first Tesla Inc. Roadster went on sale just nine years ago, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. was the only major car company to take the prospect of fully electric vehicles seriously. Now, every large automaker is working on battery-powered cars, with even longstanding skeptics like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Sergio Marchionne and Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s RC Bhargava announcing plans in recent weeks.
ADVERTISING

For all the eye-catching symbolism of a ban, it’s unlikely that fossil fuel will soon be illegal on the roads. Gasoline and diesel cars will still be sold in 2040, and probably 2050 and 2100 as well. But with an increasing cost disadvantage and growing infrastructure issues, as gas stations close or go electric, internal-combustion engines will be sold only to enthusiasts – like high-performance sports cars, kit cars and vintage cars are today.

The conventional car isn’t quite dead yet – but its years are numbered. — Bloomberg

Source: The Star Online

Xiaomi is world’s top wearable maker for first time as Fitbit sales slide

Xiaomi’s good run has continued after a research firm found that the Chinese firm has ranked top for sales of wearable devices worldwide for the first. Sales of Fitbit devices, meanwhile, plunged by 40 percent

Coming off the back of Xiaomi’s reentry into the world’s top five smartphone sellers, a new Strategy Analytics report found that it leapfrogged Apple and Fitbit to become the top seller of wearables in Q2 2017 with 3.7 million units shipped. Fitbit logged 3.4 million shipments during the quarter with Apple coming in at 2.8 million — the U.S. firm actually posted higher sales growth than Xiaomi. The rest of the field was responsible for a further 11.7 million units, or 54 percent of all wearables shipped during the quarter.

Xiaomi and Apple both grew their marketshare year-on-year (from 15 percent to 17 percent, and nine percent to 13 percent, respectively), but Fitbit’s share cratered from 29 percent to 16 percent.

Both Xiaomi and Apple take very different approaches to wearables. Xiaomi has a wide range of products that are priced competitively and feature heart-rate monitors and alerts — the Mi Band is priced as low as $14.99 in the U.S. — while the Apple Watch, at upwards of $269, is a more premium approach that’s packed with a fuller set of features. While they both stand for something at different ends of the market, Fitbit’s position is less certain.

“Fitbit is at risk of being trapped in a pincer movement between the low-end fitness bands sold by Xiaomi and the fitness-led, high-end smartwatches sold by Apple,” Strategy Analytics’ Neil Mawston said in a statement.

As for the other two, Strategy Analytics said reports that the next Apple Watch may include extended health tracking capabilities could help Apple reclaim the top spot. But for now its lack of health band options is what the firm believes is keeping Xiaomi ahead, the firm concluded.

Xiaomi has had a resurgent 2017 so far, bouncing back from two disappointing years in which it struggled to maintain once-explosive growth and missed sales targets. A push into offline retail in China and progress in India, where the company cracked $1 billion in revenue last year, have contributed to a more optimistic outlook this year, with CEO Lei Jun claiming it has reached “a major inflection point in its growth.”

The company said its phone sales were up 70 percent quarter-on-quarter in Q2 with 23 million sold in Q2. Now it is pushing on with its offline retail strategy and furthering its global expansion plan thanks to a $1 billion loan that was secured last month.

Source: TechCrunch

‘Dronejacking’ may be the next big cyber threat

Next targets: Companies like Amazon, DHL and UPS are expected to use drones for package deliveries – becoming potential targets for criminals, the report said. — Deutsche Post/DHL

test

WASHINGTON: A big rise in drone use is likely to lead to a new wave of “dronejackings” by cybercriminals, security experts warned.

A report by Intel’s McAfee Labs said hackers are expected to start targeting drones used for deliveries, law enforcement or camera crews, in addition to hobbyists.

”Drones are well on the way to becoming a major tool for shippers, law enforcement agencies, photographers, farmers, the news media, and more,” said Intel Security’s Bruce Snell, in the company’s annual threat report.

Snell said the concept of dronejacking was demonstrated at a security conference last year, where researchers showed how someone could easily take control of a toy drone.

”Although taking over a kid’s drone may seem amusing and not that big of an issue, once we look at the increase in drone usage potential problems starts to arise,” he said.

The report noted that many consumer drones lack adequate security, which makes it easy for an outside hacker to take control.

Companies like Amazon and UPS are expected to use drones for package deliveries – becoming potential targets for criminals, the report said.

”Someone looking to ‘dronejack’ deliveries could find a location with regular drone traffic and wait for the targets to appear,” the report said.

”Once a package delivery drone is overhead, the drone could be sent to the ground, allowing the criminal to steal the package.”

The researchers said criminals may also look to steal expensive photographic equipment carried by drones, to knock out surveillance cameras used by law enforcement.

Intel said it expects to see dronejacking “toolkits” traded on “dark web” marketplaces in 2017.

”Once these toolkits start making the rounds, it is just a matter of time before we see stories of hijacked drones showing up in the evening news,” the report said.

Other predictions in the report included a decrease in so-called “ransomware” attacks as defences improve, but a rise in mobile attacks that enable cyber thieves to steal bank account or credit card information.

The report also noted that cybercriminals will begin using more sophisticated artificial intelligence or “machine learning” techniques and employ fake online ads. — AFP

Source: The Star Online

Asia-Pacific Gateway 54Tbps subsea cable completes construction

NEC has announced the completion of the Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG) subsea cable between China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore, which provides capacity of more than 54 terabits per second.

The APG fibre-optic submarine cable — owned by a consortium of telecommunications carriers including China’s China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile; Japan’s NTT Communications; South Korea’s KT Corporation and LG Uplus; Singapore’s StarHub; Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom; Thailand’s CAT; Malaysia’s Global Transit Communications; and Vietnam’s Viettel and VNPT — stretches 10,900km across the region.

“NEC is honoured to have been selected as the supplier for APG,” Shunichiro Tejima, executive vice president and head of the Telecom Carrier Business Unit at NEC, said.

“We hope to see our partnership with the consortium further enhanced through NEC’s ability to provide real-time technical support for the operation and maintenance of this advanced submarine cable.”

Back in 2012, Facebook also invested an undisclosed amount into the APG in order to “help support our growth in South Asia, making it possible for us to provide a better user experience for a greater number of Facebook users in countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore”.

Telecommunications carriers and consortiums are racing to build out subsea cable capacity across the Asia-Pacific region, driven by the rapid increase in data usage globally.

Australia’s incumbent telco Telstra acquired a 36,000km cable network system connecting China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines as part of purchasing Pacnet for $697 million in December 2014, and is also involved in a number of submarine cable projects: In May, it announced the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) 8,000km 100Gbps submarine cable system, made up of three fibre pairs, which will connect Singapore, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Telstra, Singaporean telco Singtel, and Australian company SubPartners in March also entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to construct a high-capacity Perth-to-Singapore subsea cable. The cable, named APX-West, will be 4,500km long, with two fibre pairs providing a minimum of 10Tbps capacity each pair and two-way data transmission, expected to be complete by 2018.

In September, Nextgen and Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks activated the $139 million North West Cable System (NWCS), now owned by Vocus Communications, a 2,100km fibre-optic submarine cable between Darwin and Port Headland.

The Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC) project, also acquired by Vocus after originally being a AU$170 million 50-50 joint-venture deal between Vocus and Nextgen, involves constructing a 100Gbps 4,600km subsea cable connecting Perth to Singapore and Indonesia.

The AU$400 million Trident subsea cable, backed by Beijing Construction and Engineering Group with the support of the China Development Bank, will connect the west coast of Australia with Singapore via Indonesia, and is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2018. It has a bandwidth of 28Tbps utilising 100Gbps coherent dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology, which is upgradeable to 400Gbps.

In April, the 14,000km 30Tbps capacity Hawaiki Submarine Cable connecting Australia and New Zealand to Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States also commenced construction, with an expected completion date of mid-2018.

The “FASTER” 10,000km subsea cable system connecting Japan with the west coast of the United States, consisting of six fibre pairs and making use of 10Gbps wave technology, is also being built, as is the Southern Cross Cable Network between California and Sydney.

Source: ZDNet

Waze just got a ‘lot’ better

What a waste: Drivers waste up to 55 hours a year looking for somewhere to park their car. — AFP Relaxnews

What a waste: Drivers waste up to 55 hours a year looking for somewhere to park their car. — AFP Relaxnews

Popular navigation app Waze is teaming up with INRIX to take the stress out of finding a parking lot a lot closer to your final destination.

It doesn’t matter how good the active safety and assistance features are on current cars if you can’t take advantage of them. A host of 2016 model-year vehicles can park themselves in a parallel or perpendicular space while simultaneously keeping an electronic eye out for on-coming traffic.

However, if you can’t find a parking space in the first place, the systems are redundant. And according to the latest Frost and Sullivan data, the average driver is currently wasting 55 hours a year looking for a parking space and that equates to a staggering US$600mil (RM2.48bil) in lost time and burned fuel in the US and Europe.

Waze already offers a list of parking lots sourced from its user community but by partnering with INRIX the app will now have a comprehensive list of facilities throughout Europe and North America.

“Driving from point A to B is only part of the journey,” said Alex Israel, vice president and general manager of parking at INRIX. “The addition of INRIX Parking enhances Wazers’ end-to-end driving experience.”

INRIX is one of the world leaders in connecting cars and is leveraging that information for insights on everything from congestion to parking. Its technology is appearing as standard in a host of carmakers’ ranges, from BMW to Volvo.

This initial coming together will only provide Waze users with navigation to car parks closest to their destination, but INRIX also has dynamic solutions that offer real-time information about pricing and use – i.e., how many spaces are available at a facility – plus algorithms that can calculate which on-street parking areas are the most and least likely to be in use.

“Driving around looking for spots impacts arrival times and adds unneeded frustration and stress to the entire driving experience,” said Flavia Sasaki Siqueira, Head of Business Development for Waze.

“Combining INRIX parking information with our own parking database expands reach and accuracy of the ‘where to park’ feature.” — AFP Relaxnews

Source: The Star Online

Xiaomi announces its first VR headset


Xiaomi is broadening its already expansive range of products by venturing into virtual reality for the first time.

The company today announced the Mi VR Play, an “entry-level” virtual reality headset that it hopes can open this new exciting medium to new audiences because not everyone has thousands of dollars needed to set up an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Democratizing technology is the thesis behind most of Xiaomi’s competitively priced products, including the $550/$750 notebook announced last week that will rival Apple’s Macbook in China.

This new device recalls Google’s super-cheap and super-simple Cardboard VR headset. It is fairly basic in nature; you pop a smartphone into the lycra-built body then open Xiaomi’s Mi VR app, which contains VR content from selected partners that include Conde Nast Traveler and YouKu, “China’s YouTube.” Xiaomi pledged to invest $1 billion in video content, including VR, last year, so that library is sure to get bigger over time.

Read more: TechCrunch