IAA MOBILITY Weekly: big plans at Hyundai and Apple?

Jan 15, 2021

Hyundai and Apple are apparently planning to create an electric car that could roll off the production lines as early as 2024. Amazon is pushing its robot taxi project. In Barcelona a business drone is waiting to commence everyday service. And technology made in Germany may soon conquer the Moon. Read about all this and more in the ninth IAA MOBILITY Weekly.

The lead: the Apple Car

They defy the cold with thick anoraks and sleeping bags. When a new iPhone or iPad appears on the market, Apple fans can be found camping in front of inner-city stores, even if it’s snowing. “Hype” would be an understatement. Soon this enthusiasm could be directed at a different target – an electric car made by Apple and Hyundai.

Acchording to various media reports, the technology giant from Silicon Valley and the South Korean car manufacturer are planning to develop an “Apple Car” together. The trade press has been buzzing with rumors for several days. On the stock markets Hyundai’s shares added more than 20 percent as they soared to their highest level for seven years. We can expect exciting days and weeks ahead for the auto maker that has exhibited at the IAA several times.

Until now, Hyundai has denied the rumors, while Apple has kept mum altogether. Yet speculation is growing. South Koran media report that Hyundai and Apple are planning to officially announce their cooperative project in March.

Some exciting details have leaked out. For example, the cooperation partners could possibly unveil the first prototype of the Apple Car as early as 2022, and begin series production in 2024. The vehicle could be built at the existing Kia Motors (a Hyundai subsidiary) factory in West Point, Georgia. The production capacity might eventually reach around 400,000 vehicles per year, according to the Reuters news agency.

Infrastructure update: robot taxis

Apple is not the only US global player trying to get onto the mobility market. The online trader Amazon is also planning a large mobility project. The company has long been wanting to make its robot taxis competitive, even though the transportation giant Uber only recently abandoned its ambitions in this field.

But Amazon is not being put off. In June the group acquired the Californian startup Zoox. In December the company presented its rather box-shaped robot taxi. The vehicle is 3.63 meters long and the interior has neither a driver’s seat nor a steering wheel. Instead, it has – in true American style – a sufficient number of cup holders. When the Zoox was unveiled, it scored with its flexibility. As its two axles are both steerable and motorized, and the LEDs on the ends can light up in different colors, the robot taxi never needs to turn round. Which end is the front and which is the back is determined by the direction of travel.

The Zoox vehicle comes with a 133 kwh battery, enabling about 16 hours of operation on a single charge. The vehicle is currently being successfully trialed in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Foster City.

© Zoox

Figure of the week: 16

Starting this spring, the traffic could get heavier on German cycle paths, due in part to the rising number of pedelecs being sold. According to a recent survey by the data-science company Kantar, now almost one in six Germans (16 percent to be precise) owns at least one e-bike. Another five percent of respondents are intending to buy one in the near future, the study found.

Quote of the week: held back by regulation

While passenger jets around the world are landing in aircraft boneyards, across Europe mobility startups are flourishing that want to deal in wings, propellers and rotors. The Advanced Air Mobility project from Barcelona, for instance, has ambitious plans. The firm’s founder, Aitor Martin, has developed an electric drone that can carry a passenger far more cheaply than a helicopter can. Martin designed his light aircraft for business travelers who need to cover medium distances rapidly. But a few more years will pass before the drones are allowed to transport passengers.

 

„What is still holding back flights with passenger drones is regulation.“

Aitor Martin, CEO of Advanced Air Mobility

Innovation update: the country of poets, thinkers and astronauts?

Travel agencies may soon have to re-write their brochures for foreign holidaymakers wishing to visit Germany. The country of poets and thinkers is gradually evolving into a nation of poets, thinkers and astronauts. In the fall, Mathias Maurer will become the next German astronaut in space. Maurer will travel to the ISS in a SpaceX Crew Dragon on a mission named “Cosmic Kiss.”

At the same time, German engineers are, slowly but surely, moving into space. For example, the innovators at Bosch are partnering with US companies to come up with hi-tech solutions for a Moon robot for NASA. At present they are working on technologies to enable intelligent autonomous navigation and wireless charging on the lunar surface. According to reports, Bosch wishes to make the innovations emerging from the project available to people here on Earth as well.

LinkedIn top voice of the week

Emily Castor Warren, Senior Policy Advisor at Nelson / Nygaard in San Francisco, is advising companies on the road to sustainable mobility.

 

Did you know… there are e-bikes with machine-tooled frames? Manufacturers can use many methods to produce aluminum frames for bicycles, such as stamping, pressing or lugging. But the north German bicycle maker Alutech Cycles has chosen an even more elaborate one. The frames of its “E-Fanes” electric mountain bikes are CNC-machined from a compact block of aluminum. This one process takes over 24 hours per bike to complete. Add to that the intensive welding and the result is an especially stable and almost indestructible frame. And a price tag of 15,999 euros.