Renault’s made-in-China electric SUV stirs labor unrest at home #SootinClaimon.Com

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Renault’s made-in-China electric SUV stirs labor unrest at home

Oct 23. 2020Renault will make the Spring electric automobile in Shiyan, China. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Benjamin Girette
Photo by: Benjamin Girette — BloombergRenault will make the Spring electric automobile in Shiyan, China. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Benjamin Girette Photo by: Benjamin Girette — Bloomberg 

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Tara Patel · BUSINESS, WORLD, ASIA-PACIFIC, EUROPE

Renault unions are raising hackles about the French carmaker producing a new electric mini-SUV in China and selling it in Europe, a clash that could become more common given how many companies have similar plans.

A Renault Megane eVision electric automobile, manufactured by Renault, is displayed during the automaker's E-Ways event in Paris, France, on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Renault's promotional blitz for its growing electric lineup may be too late for the maker of Europe's best-selling EV to stay atop the region's expanding market for battery-powered cars. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Benjamin Girette

A Renault Megane eVision electric automobile, manufactured by Renault, is displayed during the automaker’s E-Ways event in Paris, France, on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Renault’s promotional blitz for its growing electric lineup may be too late for the maker of Europe’s best-selling EV to stay atop the region’s expanding market for battery-powered cars. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Benjamin Girette

Labor groups are assailing Renault for exporting the Dacia Spring — a small crossover the automaker bills as Europe’s cheapest electric vehicle — to Europe from a plant in central China’s Hubei province. Workers have been on edge about a jobs-cutting plan the company announced just before it secured a state-backed loan in June.

“We are fundamentally opposed to making the Spring in China,” said Frank Daoust, a spokesman for the CFDT union. “This isn’t in keeping with government support for the car industry and jobs in France.”

The complaints may become more common. Automakers are planning a wave of similar exports, many of them EVs. The models include BMW’s iX3, which recently started production in Shenyang and Tesla’s Model 3 built near Shanghai. Several brands plan to base the manufacturing of their entire lineups in China, including Daimler’s Smart and Volvo Car Group’s Polestar and Lynk & Co., all three of which are jointly owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Renault’s plan is particularly tricky for political reasons. The company has drawn a small portion from the 5 billion-euro ($5.9 billion) loan that France backed earlier this year, and President Emmanuel Macron only made government funds available after the carmaker agreed to consult with unions on plans for two underutilized factories at home.

The FO labor union, which also represents Renault workers, called for the carmaker to stick to its goal to make France a global center of excellence for electric cars. The union said the Spring’s carbon footprint will be “disastrous” because of the emissions involved transporting the model to Europe from China.

“It’s inconceivable and irresponsible to make them anywhere but France,” the labor group said in a statement.

Renault will make the Spring at the plant it runs jointly with Dongfeng Motor Group and alliance partner Nissan Motor in the city of Shiyan, where the electric Renault City K-ZE is produced. Chief Executive Officer Luca de Meo unveiled the Dacia model last week along with the more upscale Megane eVision planned for 2022. Renault will build that EV at its Douai plant in northern France.

Before Renault closed the books on a record first-half loss, Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard warned French lawmakers of the threat China’s exports of electric cars posed. “We are going to face ferocious competition from within and outside Europe,” Senard said in June. “We have to turn around quickly to be able to counter these new entrants.”

Tesla is putting ‘self-driving’ in the hands of drivers amid criticism the tech is not ready #SootinClaimon.Com

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Tesla is putting ‘self-driving’ in the hands of drivers amid criticism the tech is not ready

Oct 22. 2020Inside the Tesla Model 3, the dashboard is mostly contained in a touchscreen in the center of the front console. There's no information directly behind of the steering wheel. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jhaan Elker.Inside the Tesla Model 3, the dashboard is mostly contained in a touchscreen in the center of the front console. There’s no information directly behind of the steering wheel. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jhaan Elker. 


SAN FRANCISCO – In a year when Tesla might have been forgiven for extending its timeline on a key initiative, Elon Musk is forging ahead with a vision for what he calls “Full Self-Driving.”

This week, a group of drivers was selected to receive a software update that downloaded automatically into their cars, enabling the vehicles to better steer and accelerate without human hands and feet. According to Tesla, hundreds of thousands of its cars will be able to drive themselves as soon as this year, probably making them the first large fleet of vehicles billed as autonomous owned by ordinary consumers.

Tesla is forging ahead despite skepticism among some safety advocates about whether Tesla’s technology is ready – and whether the rest of the world is ready for cars that drive themselves. An industry coalition consisting of General Motors’ Cruise, Ford, Uber and Waymo, among others, this week criticized the move by Tesla, saying its vehicles are not truly autonomous because they still require an active driver.

Self-driving is lightly regulated in the United States, and Tesla does not need permission to launch the new feature.

A point of contention among Tesla’s critics is that the company is moving ahead without a key piece of hardware. Nearly all self-driving carmakers have embraced lidar sensors, which are placed on the outside of vehicles and can detect the precise size, shape and depth of objects in real time, even in bad weather.

Instead, Tesla is trying to achieve full self-driving with a suite of cameras and a type of radar that are constantly connected to an advanced neural network. Tesla’s technology can detect vehicles and pedestrians in the road and some objects such as trees, but it cannot always see the true shape or depth of the obstacles it encounters, according to some safety experts. That might not allow the car to distinguish between a box truck and a semi as it approached the rig from behind, for example.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has decried lidar as “expensive,” redundant and “a fool’s errand,” calling anyone who relied on it “doomed.”

In response to an analyst question during the company’s analyst call on Wednesday, Musk said he would not equip the company’s vehicles with lidar even if it were “totally free.”

In addition, unlike autonomous vehicle companies such as Waymo and Cruise, which have been testing their self-driving cars in controlled pilot programs, Tesla has decided to put its self-driving technology into the hands of consumers. That means the risks of a malfunction will be absorbed by ordinary drivers.

Tesla did not respond to requests for comment. The company has said it will not activate full self-driving until it receives regulatory approval, though it remains unknown exactly what certification would be needed. Musk said on Twitter the self-driving beta rollout would be “extremely slow & cautious, as it should.”

The company reported its quarterly earnings Wednesday afternoon, posting a $331 million profit. Tesla sold $397 million worth of regulatory credits to other automakers in the quarter, similar to the pattern that has generated its past few quarters’ gains. It also touted its full self-driving rollout to the select group of users this week, which it said “will allow the remaining driving features” of its system “to be released.” 

Tesla added that “as we continue to collect data over time, the system will become more robust.”

“We’re starting very slow, and very cautiously, because the world is a complex and messy place,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes and probably release it to more people this weekend or early next week and then just gradually step it up until we have hopefully a wide release by the end of this year.”

The company’s stock rose nearly 3% in after hours trading to $435.50. Tesla built a network of connected cars. What happens when it goes down? Demonstrating the challenges of putting the features into users’ hands, in one such recent update, some Tesla cars could detect red lights and stop signs but would not proceed through the intersection until the driver confirmed via the accelerator or steering wheel stalk that the traffic light was green, according to Tesla.

“The fundamental challenge of neural nets is achieving sufficient reliability to use in a safety-critical system,” said Edward Niedermeyer, communications director for the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) campaign, a coalition of nonprofits seeking to help the public better understand driverless technology.

“I’m puzzled as to where the confidence came from almost four years ago that they’d be able to do this,” said Niedermeyer, who wrote the 2019 book “Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors.” “The reason you do these things is because it’s an extremely hard problem, and it’s not realistic to solve this problem with some cameras.”

Silicon Valley regards autonomous vehicles as the holy grail of transportation’s future, enabling customers to deploy their cars as driverless robotaxis, making the owners money even when they would be typically parked in the garage, in Tesla’s case. It could also shrink the cost of an Uber or Lyft trip to just cents on the mile by eliminating the need to pay a driver.

Several companies are making slow but steady progress on that goal, too. Waymo announced this month it would be launching driverless vehicles in the Phoenix metro area, becoming the first entity to bring the vision of fully autonomous cars to consumers as part of a dedicated ride-hailing service. Last week, Cruise said it would launch driverless cars in San Francisco, becoming the first company to debut unmanned vehicles in such a complex city environment and the country’s second-densest metropolis.

And on Wednesday, Cruise announced it was seeking the federal government’s permission to put its dedicated driverless vehicle, called the Origin, into use – ushering in the era of self-driving vehicles without steering wheels or pedals.Tesla floats fully self-driving cars as soon as this year. Many are worried about what that will unleash.

Tesla’s public timeline has been rapid. Musk promised in 2019 Tesla would have 1 million robotaxis on the road by 2020, a reference to the company’s full self-driving ambitions.

Musk said on the call with analysts that Tesla aims to make the feature widely available to owners by the end of the year.

The company’s self-driving technology will make use of the eight surrounding-view cameras attached to its cars. Those cameras collect critical data on how to navigate chaotic freeways, labyrinthine city streets and dense traffic.

Musk has said the new software being delivered this week will better capture the view outside the cars, more seamlessly integrate the footage Tesla collects, creating a kind of stitched-together, multidimensional view. It will collect data that the company’s engineers can label and help the computers better interpret. The cameras would replicate a core function of lidar, seeing what is happening around the cars.

In essence, Tesla is aiming to compensate for its hardware limitations by supercharging its software, almost to create a virtual lidar using Tesla’s existing suite of cameras, said Eshak Mir, a former Tesla Autopilot engineer who reviewed and worked with data aimed at training Tesla’s neural network.

“They’re trying to combine all the feeds from the cameras into one full video and label it in real time,” Mir said. “With that, you’ll be able to pick up a full sense of depth.”

There is no true industry hardware standard for a self-driving car. But before Tesla came along, there was little question that a sophisticated sensor in the vein of lidar was necessary for the redundancy and complex image processing required of self-driving vehicles. Some experts continue to hold that view.

Overcast skies, rain, snowstorms and especially bright sunlight can challenge mere cameras’ perception. “In normal daylight conditions, the cameras work perfectly fine,” Mir said.

“Just from my experience, cameras are very dependable, but at the same time there can be a challenge when there’s harsh conditions,” added Mir, who supports Tesla’s current approach.

But safety advocates objected to Tesla’s rollout of features that are still in testing, saying it is dangerous to blur the line between driver assistance and autonomy.

“Public road testing is a serious responsibility and using untrained consumers to validate beta-level software on public roads is dangerous and inconsistent with existing guidance and industry norms,” the PAVE campaign said in a statement issued through Niedermeyer. “Moreover, it is extremely important to clarify the line between driver assistance and autonomy. Systems requiring human driver oversight are not self-driving and should not be called self-driving.”

For the broader, lidar-equipped fleets, safety setbacks – including a fatal crash when a pedestrian was struck by a self-driving Uber in 2018 – have led to delays and slower timelines for autonomous vehicles as a whole. And some are questioning whether truly driverless vehicles are possible.

“They say that it’s just around the corner, but you don’t realize that the effort to get just around the corner gets more and more and more [complicated] as you get closer to the corner,” said Ted Pavlic, an Arizona State University assistant professor in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, who works in robotics and autonomous systems.

Companies developing dedicated robocars for ride-hailing purposes, such as Waymo, Amazon-acquired Zoox, Uber and Cruise, all use lidar in their vehicles. They consider lidar a critical element of redundancy capable of making rapid-fire observations in all manner of conditions, filling in gaps where the cameras fall short.

On a recent autonomous vehicle trip in downtown San Francisco, for example, the lidar sensor spotted vehicle traffic over a steep hill before the camera suite or view out the windshield showed it, and the car began making adjustments earlier than a human driver might have. Most testing of autonomous vehicles has been with lidar.

Waymo conducted 1.45 million miles’ worth of autonomous vehicle testing in California last year, the company reported to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Tesla vehicles drove a total of 12.2 autonomous miles, to record what it called a “demo run” around its Palo Alto headquarters. Tesla has argued that it “has a fleet of hundreds of thousands of customer-owned vehicles that test autonomous technology in ‘shadow-mode’ during their normal operation,” constantly improving through billions of miles of real-world driving. Shadow Mode allows it to test some of those automated features without actually activating them in the real world.

Still, Tesla has been dogged by safety concerns, including regulatory investigations and multiple crashes involving Autopilot that have resulted in fatalities and injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it is looking into more than a dozen incidents involving the Autopilot software. Tesla has also faced lawsuits from the families of victims in Autopilot-related crashes.

Tesla has repeatedly defended the Autopilot system, saying it is merely there to assist the driver, who is ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the car.

Autopilot, Tesla’s driver-assistance system that operates like an advanced cruise control function, has been criticized for giving users an exaggerated view of its cars’ capabilities. At this stage, the cars are capable of highway driving from on-ramp to off-ramp, self-parking and summoning – where they can navigate to the driver in a crowded parking lot, for example. In cities, Tesla’s vehicles can detect traffic lights and stop signs. It is not autonomous, however, and Tesla has faced criticism for giving users the impression the system is capable of driving the car itself – without supervision.

“Autopilot is not an autonomous system and does not make our vehicles autonomous,” the company noted in a disclosure to the state DMV. California’s vehicle codes, for example, state that autonomous test vehicles must be capable of “performing the dynamic driving task on a sustained basis without the constant control or active monitoring of a natural person.”

Pavlic, who works with autonomous systems, recently purchased a Tesla Model 3 but didn’t opt for the $8,000 “Full Self-Driving” package.

He said Tesla risks giving users an exaggerated impression of the cars’ capabilities with the over-the-air updates, various iterations of Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” marketing.

“It requires you to be very educated to be able to parse these things,” he said. “I would say I can definitely see how someone might think that Autopilot did more than it did . . . as they’re rolling out these new features.”

Tesla owners are no stranger to the challenges, observing how new and previous unpredicted sights can leave their cars confused.

Zlatko Unger, a 36-year-old Model 3 owner who lives in Redwood City, Calif., recalled taking his car to a horse park he frequents on a weekend in late July, when his car detected a hazard it displayed on its info screen.

“I noticed it picked up the piles of poop as [traffic] cones, and I was like, ‘Hey, this is not right,’ ” he said.

Car sales in China shine as rest of world reels from virus #SootinClaimon.Com

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Car sales in China shine as rest of world reels from virus

Oct 13. 2020A customer speaks with a sales agent at a Ford dealership in Shanghai on July 19, 2018. The automobile market in Asia's biggest economy is a lone bright spot as the pandemic dampens sales in Europe and the U.S. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Qilai ShenA customer speaks with a sales agent at a Ford dealership in Shanghai on July 19, 2018. The automobile market in Asia’s biggest economy is a lone bright spot as the pandemic dampens sales in Europe and the U.S. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Qilai Shen 

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · No Author · BUSINESS 
Demand for cars in China is going from strength to strength, making the automobile market in Asia’s biggest economy a lone bright spot as the coronavirus pandemic puts a damper on sales in Europe and the U.S.

Sales of sedans, SUVs, minivans and multipurpose vehicles jumped 7.4% in September from a year earlier to 1.94 million units, the China Passenger Car Association said Tuesday. That’s the third straight monthly increase, and it was driven primarily by demand for SUVs.

Passenger vehicle deliveries to dealers rose 8% to 2.1 million units, while total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, expanded 13% to 2.57 million, data released later by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed.

With auto sales in the U.S. and Europe still affected by covid-19, reviving demand in China is a boon to international and domestic manufacturers. It is set to be the first country globally to bounce back to 2019 volume levels, albeit only by 2022, according to researchers including S&P Global Ratings.

Automakers worldwide have invested billions of dollars in China, the world’s top car market since 2009, where the middle class is expanding but penetration is still relatively low. Brands from countries such as Germany and Japan have weathered the pandemic better than their local rivals — the combined market share of Chinese brands fell to 36.2% in the first eight months from a peak of 43.9% in 2017.

Auto stocks extended their recent gains Tuesday, with Great Wall Motor Co. and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. both advancing by the 10% daily limit, making them the best two performers on the CSI 300 Index of large caps.

Even as the Chinese auto market recovers, it may still record its third straight annual drop in sales, Xin Guobin, a vice minister at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said last month. That’s because of the heavy declines suffered at the start of the year, during the height of the outbreak.

Regardless, China’s importance is boosted by its focus on nurturing the electric-car ecosystem, a technology shift in which automakers have invested a great deal of time and money. Beijing wants new-energy vehicles to account for 15% or more of the market in 2025, and at least half of all sales a decade later.

Wholesales of NEVs, consisting of pure electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell autos, surged 68% to 138,000 units, a record for the month of September, according to CAAM.

Tesla Inc., which started deliveries from its Shanghai gigafactory at the start of the year, sold 11,329 vehicles, down from 11,800 in August, PCA said. The American carmaker ranked third in NEV wholesales last month, behind SAIC-GM Wuling Automobile Co. and BYD Co., PCA added.

PCA said it expects NEVs to help drive overall auto sales growth in the fourth quarter with the introduction of new, competitive models, while strength in the yuan will help lower costs locally.

Overall vehicle sales for the full year should be better than a previous forecast for a 10% contraction thanks to the recovery in demand, said Xu Haidong, deputy chief engineer at CAAM, without elaborating.

Ford brings the latest Mustang to Thailand #SootinClaimon.Com

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Ford brings the latest Mustang to Thailand

Oct 08. 2020

By The Nation

Ford Thailand on Thursday announced it was making its new Ford Mustang 2020 available in Thailand. The new sports car comes in two variants – a 5.0L V8 GT Coupe Performance Pack and a 2.3L EcoBoost Coupe Performance Pack.

“We are proud to bring this iconic American heritage sports car to Thailand from Mustang’s greatest ever performance line-up,” said Wichit Wongwattanakan, managing director, Ford Thailand.

“The new Mustang 2020 continues its iconic performance and athletic style, and truly deserves the crown of being the best-selling sports coupe globally for five consecutive years.”

The new Mustang will be available in four colours – Velocity Blue, Twister Orange, Rapid Red and classic Magnetic Metallic.

The Mustang 5.0L V8 GT Coupe Performance Pack goes for Bt4.99 million, while the Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost Coupe Performance Pack for Bt3.7 million.

The Mustang, produced to mark the 55th anniversary of this Ford classic, has limited availability and can be booked at authorised dealers in Bangkok and select provinces.

Govt to accelerate EV push with more incentives for investors, consumers #SootinClaimon.Com

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Govt to accelerate EV push with more incentives for investors, consumers

Oct 08. 2020

By The Nation

Thailand is mulling more tariff and excise tax cuts to boost use of electric vehicles (EV) and also create an EV manufacturing regional hub.

Many EV-manufacturing investors have already applied for privileges with the Board of Investment (BOI), but the high battery price was still making EVs too expensive for consumers, Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said on Wednesday.

The battery cost represents half of the total EV price. 

Currently, Thailand does not have the resources to manufacture batteries, so drawing foreign investors was difficult, Suriya admitted.

The solution to boosting use of electric vehicles was to cut tax on EVs and parts, he added.

EVs could be imported either as finished vehicles or as parts to be assembled in Thailand, he said.

“We may set a time limit on importing finished EVs, then wait for domestic demand to rise and prompt investment in [domestic] EV-parts manufacturing and charging stations,” the minister continued.

Wider adoption of EVs would help reduce air pollution, especially harmful PM 2.5 particles, he added.

To make Thailand a hub of EV production, the government must convince investors of Thailand’s potential to shift gear from manufacturing combust-engine vehicles. Investors must be supported to produce different types of EVs.

Over the past three years, the BOI has approved 13 EV-production projects with a combined capacity of 125,000 electric vehicles per year and total investment of about Bt156 billion.

The BOI is now considering extra incentives for EV production of pick-ups, buses, motorcycles, three-wheel vehicles and others, he said.

Existing incentives include waiving the 8 per cent excise tax rate until 2023, then collecting just 2 per cent from 2024 to 2025. 

However, EV prices remain high as of September with imports starting at Bt1.19 million.

To make the affordable prices of EVs, the ministry must push Thai production of EV and parts and batteries. 

The government may need to provide free charging and waive or reduce road and other taxes for EV users, he said, adding the proposals would be submitted soon to the National Electric Vehicle Policy Committee for approval.

The industry will also accelerate building of EV infrastructure, including the national vehicle testing centre under construction in Chachoengsao province and set to launch in 2021. Meanwhile a battery-testing centre would be complete next month and start to operating next year.

The ministry is collaborating with Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) on drafting 57 standards for EVs, 21 of which have been announced with the remainder to be completed next year, he added.

Mazda doubles sales in third quarter as demand grows #SootinClaimon.Com

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Mazda doubles sales in third quarter as demand grows

Oct 07. 2020

By The Nation

Mazda outlets in Thailand sold a total 10,664 autos in the third quarter – more than double the number achieved in the previous quarter.

Demand from new and existing customers had seen car sales recover from a Covid-driven slump in the second quarter, especially April and May, said Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk, president of Mazda Sales (Thailand).

Mazda sales in Q3 rose more than 100 per cent from the 5,256 units sold in Q2.

In September, Mazda sold 3,917 autos, its highest monthly total since January. The September total consisted of 2,049 cars, 1,082 SUVs and 786 pickup trucks.

Last month’s most popular model was the Mazda2 city car with sales of 1,616 units, followed by the Mazda BT-50 PRO (786 units), Mazda CX-30 (532), Mazda3 (433), Mazda CX-3 (269), Mazda CX-8 (159) and Mazda CX-5 (122).

Mazda sales for January-September totalled 26,072 units – 16,665 cars, 7,653 SUVs and 1,754 pickups.

The company is confident the sales momentum will continue in the fourth quarter and meet its annual target of 40,000-42,000 units.

Thailand’s auto industry expects total sales of about 750,000 units this year, down from just over 1 million (1,007,552) sold in 2019.

Mazda is preparing to launch new SUV and pickup models in Thailand before the end of the year.

EEC softening Covid impact with training for auto workers #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

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EEC softening Covid impact with training for auto workers

Oct 06. 2020Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office, says the ‘EEC Job and Skill Expo’ will be held soon.Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office, says the ‘EEC Job and Skill Expo’ will be held soon. 

By The Nation

The Eastern Economic Corridor Office is launching short training courses to boost auto-manufacturing workers’ skills and help them soften the financial impact of Covid-19.

Funded partly by government budget to stimulate the economy, the courses have so far benefited 9,500 workers, said Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office.

The office is collaborating with five vocational colleges spread across the EEC provinces of Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces.

Prior to the virus crisis, the office estimated 475,000 workers would be needed for EEC industries from 2019 to 2023. This year, it aims to train 20,000 to 30,000 workers.

The government and private sector are each paying 50 per cent to fund the reskilling and upskilling courses. 

Congestion pricing, the route more cities are taking #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

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Congestion pricing, the route more cities are taking

Oct 05. 2020Vehicles sit in traffic during rush hour in the Times Square area of New York on April 2, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by John Taggart.
Vehicles sit in traffic during rush hour in the Times Square area of New York on April 2, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by John Taggart. 

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Jonathan Tirone · WORLD, TRANSPORTATION 
Traffic is a headache, and not just for drivers. Jammed roads have become an increasing economic, health and environmental menace to societies, contributing every year to millions of premature deaths and costing vast sums in lost productivity (an estimated $87 billion in the U.S. alone). To policy makers, that’s raised the allure of an option that not only can de-clog the streets and improve the air but also fill the coffers. Might congestion pricing become the norm for cities?

1. What is congestion pricing?

Charging drivers to enter busy areas. It’s already used in Singapore, London, Milan and Stockholm, with New York and Los Angeles set to join the movement. Paying to drive into city centers during rush hour or, in London’s case from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., is a turnoff for many commuters that pushes them to seek cheaper alternatives such as mass transit, car pooling or cycling. London charges 15 pounds ($19) a day. The upsides for cities can include quicker bus journeys, more space for pedestrians, fewer road accidents and less pollution.

2. Does it tackle the jams?

Congestion fell 30% and pollution dropped almost a quarter the year after London started charging to enter an area of 8 square miles (21 square kilometers). Stockholm’s system, launched four years after London’s in 2007, cut traffic to and from a 13-square-mile cordon by 20% and reduced traffic delays by as much as 50%. Congestion pricing appears to discourage some individuals from driving downtown but is less effective on businesses that can afford the charges. Congestion in London has returned to pre-charge levels, partly a result of commercial vehicles fulfilling online shopping orders and a rise in demand for ride-hailing services such as Uber, underlining the need to adapt pricing systems.

3. How does it work technically?

Automatic scanners read the license plates of cars, which themselves have been turned into mobile transponders carrying an array of radio-frequency chips. Vehicles are increasingly connected to satellite constellations tracking locations and collecting data about greenhouse gas emissions. Licensing and registration databases can be linked to individual payment accounts. Systems are being developed that let authorities fine-tune prices based on levels of congestion or air pollution.

4. Where does the money go?

Charges can be used to offset the anticipated loss of billions of dollars in fuel taxes as electric vehicles become more commonplace. London’s congestion charge is forecast to raise 154 million pounds ($200 million) in 2020. Charges in Singapore and Stockholm have brought in more than $100 million a year each. Pollution incurs all sorts of costs and any policy that reduces it is going to provide some economic benefits, from reduced sick days to better quality of life. Moreover, a reduction in car traffic facilitates moves among citizens from Barcelona to Seattle to make life friendlier for bicycles and pedestrians in the wake of Covid-19 lockdowns.

5. Who’s against it?

Motorist lobbies such as the American Automobile Association and some commuters argue that middle-income earners in outlying areas without access to public transport bear the brunt. Skeptics point out that London still has some of the world’s worst traffic and that location-tracking exposes consumers to privacy and data risks. Critics also note that it’s an inequitable solution, since the price is the same for everyone regardless of means. Some motorists object to congestion pricing or any road charges on the grounds that driving represents personal freedom.

6. Is there another approach?

There’s the Paris model, whereby restrictions keep out the most polluting vehicles, a bar that’s steadily raised. The French capital banned cars built to pre-1997 emissions standards in 2016, then three years later extended the ban to those from before 2006. Restrictions on cars built before 2009 will kick in from 2021. The two models are not exclusive (London has started banning heavy polluting vehicles) but they reflect different political cultures, one more tolerant of state-enforced bans and the other more open to control via fees.

7. Who profits from congestion pricing?

Companies that supply congestion pricing technologies include Austria’s Kapsch TrafficCom, Dutch TomTom, Germany’s Siemens and Norway’s Q-Free. The U.S. government’s Global Positioning System and the European Union’s Galileo navigation project run satellite-positioning constellations. HERE Global, a mapping company whose owners include Audi, BMW and Daimler, expects congestion pricing could become the new normal.

8. What’s the future of congestion pricing?

Systems analysts at the World Bank observed that humans have since Neolithic times tended to budget about an hour a day for travel. While technologies such as automobiles and airplanes have extended the speed and range of travel, people still like to cap their commutes. That’s key for proponents of congestion pricing who want to make it a part of so-called multimodal transport systems that blend rail, road and air travel into seamless networks. And with the U.S. Census Bureau calculating that workers in the world’s biggest economy are close to breaking the one-hour threshold, the demand for ways to ease congestion is unlikely to abate.

Ford sales top expectations as industrywide deliveries surge #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Ford sales top expectations as industrywide deliveries surge

Oct 03. 2020

By Syndication The Washington Post, Bloomberg · Keith Naughton

Ford’s third-quarter deliveries topped expectations on the strength of pickup-truck demand as the overall industry surged close to a booming 17 million annual sales pace in September.

The automaker’s sales fell 4.7% in the quarter, beating analysts’ estimates for a 6.7% decline on the strength of Ford’s best third quarter for pickup sales since 2005. Deliveries of F-Series trucks rose 3.5% and Ranger sales increased by 8.2%. Industry-wide auto sales hit a pace of 16.8 million in September when medium and heavy trucks are included, the company said.

“It was really gratifying to see the recovery from the second quarter for ourselves and the industry,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s U.S. sales chief, said in an interview. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

Ford’s shares pared a decline of as much as 2.2% to trade down 0.4% to $6.72 as of 10:03 a.m. in New York.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker is predicting its first annual loss in a decade, partly because it is temporarily shutting two U.S. factories to retool for a redesigned version of the F-150 pickup, its most profitable product. LaNeve said Ford has a 60-days supply of its F-Series trucks, which is lower inventory than usual as demand remains high.

“In Q3, we were tighter than we normally are” on truck inventory “and we had such a great quarter,” LaNeve said. “We anticipate doing the same thing in Q4.”

The coronavirus pandemic and U.S. presidential election remain question marks hanging over the industry, but that hasn’t slowed the momentum of the recovery.

“The overall industry and the economy in general has recovered fairly sharply from the depths of Q2,” LaNeve said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty out there with the virus and many things, including how the election will affect the overall economy.”

Ford’s F-Series truck has been the top selling vehicle line in America for nearly four decades. But despite selling almost 900,000 units last year, Ford’s truck is playing catch-up with recent redesigns of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Ram and General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Silverado. The cash the F-Series hauls in is critical to new Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley’s turnaround plan.

Ford’s new CEO shakes up automaker’s senior management team #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Ford’s new CEO shakes up automaker’s senior management team

Oct 02. 2020Jim Farley, then president of Ford Motor Co. Europe, during a launch event ahead of the 87th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 6, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Luke MacGregor.
Jim Farley, then president of Ford Motor Co. Europe, during a launch event ahead of the 87th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 6, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Luke MacGregor. 

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Keith Naughton · BUSINESS, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS 
 Ford’s new Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley wasted no time in his first day on the job by setting a tone of urgency and shaking up the automaker’s management team.

Farley, who took over as CEO Thursday from Jim Hackett, has said he is looking for fresh thinking to pull Ford out of a slump that it expects will lead to its first annual loss in a decade this year. He named John Lawler, a 30-year company veteran who has headed Ford’s autonomous-vehicles unit, as his new chief financial officer, the carmaker said in a statement.

Farley said in the statement that his predecessor had “opened the door” to making Ford a “vibrant, profitably growing company. Now it’s time to charge through that door.”

Lawler immediately replaces Tim Stone, who served in that role for a little over a year and has accepted the CFO position at software company ASAPP Inc., Ford said.

Farley laid out a plan to offer a full lineup of electric vehicles, add more “affordable” models, expand commercial-vehicle services to develop recurring revenue streams and create businesses utilizing the self-driving system of its autonomous affiliate Argo AI.

He said he will allocate capital, resources and talent to Ford’s strongest businesses and hottest models. And he aims to put the company on sounder financial footing by targeting an 8% operating margin.

“We’re going to compete like a challenger,” Farley said.

The new CEO also plans to name new chief information and marketing officers, following the retirement of current CIO Jeff Lemmer on Jan. 1 and removal of CMO Joy Falotico, who will now focus on her other role of heading Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand.

Initial reaction from Wall Street was positive, with Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy, who has a “neutral” rating on the stock, praising Lawler as a “well-regarded Ford veteran” and anticipating more disclosure from Farley on his turnaround plan.

“We believe Farley has challenges balancing near-term fixes with long-term secular” changes, Levy wrote in a research note, “yet brings a sense of urgency.”

Shares of Ford rose 0.7% to $6.70 as of 9:49 a.m. in New York. The stock is down about 30% this year.

The leadership changes are accompanied by some shifts in Ford’s managerial structure, including the creation of three regional business units to oversee operations in China, Europe, and the U.S. and the rest of the world.