Connected Car News: Renesas, Fisker, Faraday Future, Vayyar, NIO, Menlo Microsystems, Phnergy, GreenPower, Greenlots & QuantumScape

In connected car news are Renesas, Fisker, Faraday Future, Vayyar, NIO, Menlo Microsystems, Phnergy, GreenPower, Greenlots, QuantumScape, Altia, Rally, OurBus, CenterPoint, TomTom and Unity.

Renesas Fire & Chip Shortage

Semiconductor-maker Renesas had a fired in its factory in Japan which could stop production for a month. Chip shortages are slowing,  Stellantis and Ford in North America, and by Volkswagen in Brazil.

There most likely will be supply disruption from the Suez Canal ship blockage for Audi.

Fisker Signs MOU with Crédit Agricole Group

Fisker Inc. designer and manufacturer of the world’s most emotion-stirring, eco-friendly electric vehicles and advanced mobility solutions – announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding* with Crédit Agricole Consumer Finance, part of the Crédit Agricole Group – the leading financial partner to the French economy and one of the largest banking groups in Europe – for the potential supply of Fisker Ocean SUVs. Under this Memorandum of Understanding, Agilauto will be able to purchase Fisker Ocean SUVs for use by eligible employees and selected private banking clients of the group, with delivery projected to commence from January 2023. (Photo: Business Wire)

FF Raised $100 M

Faraday Future (“FF”), a California-headquartered global shared intelligent mobility ecosystem company, announced that it has raised approximately US$100 million in debt financing commitments led by Ares, along with existing lender Birch Lake and other lenders joining the debt financing round. Birch Lake affiliates remain the Majority Notes Purchaser and Collateral Agent on the secured financing facility. This new funding allows FF to build upon the momentum of a well-developed vehicle program and begin production preparation at FF’s manufacturing facility in Hanford, California and advance the countdown of the delivery of the FF 91, which is planned for approximately 12 months after the close of its previously announced merger with Property Solutions Acquisition Corp (“PSAC”).

Currently, FF 91 pre-production cars are undergoing final testing, including testing on electric propulsion system performance, range, and vehicle performance in various weather conditions around the United States. The FF 91 I.A.I system is similarly undergoing a series of tests and upgrades.

FF is also rapidly rolling out its business in China, following the recent announcement that Mr. Xuefeng (“Chris”) Chen joined FF as the CEO of FF China. Chris will help grow and steer FF’s China business, thereby solidifying FF’s unique US-China dual home market advantage.

The preparation and start-up of the Hanford manufacturing facility will include new hiring, additional construction, and equipment installation and calibration to ensure the on-time production and delivery of FF 91. In addition, the funds will help further product testing, upgrade the Advanced Internet, Autonomous Driving and Intelligence (I.A.I) system, reboot supply chain efforts, build out the user ecosystem organization, and accelerate the FF China business operations strategy.

Vayyar Develops RoC

Vayyar, the global leader in 4D imaging radar, has developed the world’s first automotive sensor that covers the entire cabin of any passenger vehicle, with a single Radar-on-Chip (RoC).

Given the 60% spike in global consumer demand for SUVs over the past five years, Vayyar’s production-ready in-car sensor is designed to cover up to three rows. It can also accommodate the rapidly growing number of cars with sunroofs, thanks to uniform rear ceiling installation. Monitoring every seat and footwell, plus the trunk area, the sensor represents a breakthrough safety solution, protecting the most vulnerable vehicle occupants.

Up to 200 children die each year from heatstroke after being left unattended in cars. These tragedies can occur in minutes.

NIO Suspends Production

NIO Inc., a pioneer in China’s premium smart electric vehicle market, announces that the Company decides to temporarily suspend the vehicle production activity in the JAC-NIO manufacturing plant in Hefei for five working days starting from March 29, 2021 due to semiconductor shortage.

The overall supply constraint of semiconductors has impacted the Company’s production volume in March 2021. The Company expects to deliver approximately 19,500 vehicles in the first quarter of 2021, adjusted from previously released outlook of 20,000 to 20,500 vehicles.

ESP for Tires

E-Solution Professionals (ESP) has developed technology that allows vehicle users to calculate tire tread depth by using their smartphone camera.

The Monocular Tread Depth Reader is a technological breakthrough not only because accurate depth perception traditionally requires more than one camera but also because it’s difficult to train a computer to perceive depth easily. The ESP technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) and modern machine learning to create neural networks that enable it to calculate depth from a single camera lens.

The Monocular Tread Depth Reader was developed with help from Precision Automotive Equipment Australia and Hunter Engineering’s Quick Tread Edge drive-over scanner with an integrated LPR camera. It has been extensively tested at a Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia workshop.

Taran Marley, head of ESP’s AI division, Tirelabs, said the aim was to make it as simple as possible for people to test the tread depth of their tires, and to encourage them to visit their local tire shop and replace tires before their tread becomes dangerously low.

Menlo Microsystems MM5130

Menlo Microsystems, Inc. (Menlo Micro), known for reinventing the electronic switch with its Ideal Switch™ technology, has announced a significant performance milestone that will drive breakthrough improvements in RF signal performance across multiple industries. According to Menlo Micro characterization tests, the new MM5130 Ideal Switch product, released to production last year and now shipping in volume, has achieved an IP3 linearity of greater than 95 dBm, enabling significant reductions in distortion for RF systems.

Intermodulation distortion is a key industry metric in determining the linearity of an electronic switch. The third-order intercept (IP3) is the extrapolated point where the ideal linear performance converges with actual third-order distortion products generated by the nonlinearities inherent in the switch. This figure of merit is critical in determining how much distortion a switch or other component will introduce into an RF system, ultimately impacting the quality of the transmitted or received signal.

The MM5130 switch’s 95 dBm IP3 level delivers up to 10,000x improvement (about 20 dB to 40 dB) over existing RF electromechanical relays and solid-state switches. This ultra-high IP3 metric is traditionally reserved for only the highest performing RF mechanical switches and relays. When compared to solid-state devices, this level of IP3 is also difficult to achieve from currently available semiconductor processes on the market. Enhanced IP3 performance results in size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) improvements as power amplifiers and other RF components in the chain can be scaled back in power and reduced in size, ultimately enhancing overall system performance

Phinergy Metal Air Batteries LOIs

Phinergy  which develops metal-air technology that allows electricity to be generated from metals (aluminium and zinc) using oxygen from ambient air, today reports that the joint company under the ownership of Israeli company Phinergy and Indian energy major Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) have signed two Letters of Intent with Ashok Leyland and Maruti Suzuki India Limited, two leading Indian vehicle manufacturers.

Under the LOIs, the parties agreed to collaborate in order to assess commercial uses of the aluminium-air battery developed by Phinergy. The collaboration includes the development of prototypes, field trials and adaptation of the aluminium-air battery to the massive Indian market and in particular to the electric vehicles of the two vehicle manufacturers.

As part of the collaboration with Ashok Leyland, Phinergy’s technology will be integrated in electric buses, while under the collaboration with Maruti Suzuki, the technology will be integrated in electric passenger vehicles. These collaborations follow the collaboration between Phinergy and Mahindra Electric, another leading vehicle manufacturer in India, whereby a prototype for an electric rickshaw using an aluminium-air battery was recently completed.

The two LOIs were signed as part of an event to inaugurate the incorporation of the joint company owned by Phinergy and Indian Oil Corporation, an event attended by Israeli Energy Minister, Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Indian Cabinet Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan, Phinergy Chairman Aviv Tzidon, Phinergy CEO David Mayer, IOC Chairman Shri S M Vaidya, as well as Senior Executives from Mahindra Electric, Ashok Leyland, and Maruti Suzuki.

GreenPower’s Oders for Grant Transit

GreenPower Motor Company Inc. a leading manufacturer and distributor of zero-emission, electric-powered medium and heavy-duty vehicles, today announced that it has received an order for four wirelessly charged, FTA Buy America compliant EV Stars from Grant Transit in the state of Washington.

The Four GreenPower EV Stars ordered by Grant Transit will represent the first to include Momentum Dynamics’ wireless charging system, allowing for hands free charging by simply parking the vehicle over the charging station.  Grant Transit intends to leverage funding from the FTA’s $180 million funding for the 2021 Low-No Program to support the purchase.  As part of the process to secure the funding, GreenPower successfully completed a Buy America compliance audit at its southern California facility.

More Charging Outlets for Greenlots FLO

Thanks to the activation of a new roaming agreement with Greenlots, FLO® is excited to announce that its smartphone application now offers electric vehicle (EV) owners access to an even greater number of public charging stations across the United States and Canada.

Greenlots, a Los Angeles-based company and a member of the Shell Group, has strong presence and a wide network of EV charging stations around the world, particularly in the United States and Canada. As a result of the agreement, 2,250 level 2 and 383 level 3 public Greenlots stations in North America can now be accessed and activated via the FLO smartphone app. In conjunction with FLO’s other roaming partners, FLO members now have access to nearly 55,000 options for their charging needs.

QuantumScape Public Offering

QuantumScape Corporation  commenced an underwritten public offering of 13,000,000 shares of its Class A common stock being offered by QuantumScape. QuantumScape intends to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1,950,000 shares of Class A common stock. The offering is subject to market conditions, and there can be no assurance as to whether or when the offering may be completed, or as to the actual size or terms of the offering.

QuantumScape intends to use the net proceeds it receives from the offering to build a larger QS-0 pre-pilot line than recently announced; to cover its full share of equity contributions to its joint venture with VW for the previously disclosed 20GWh expansion of QS-1 joint manufacturing facility; and for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Altia Used for Ford Screens

Altia, an international leader in GUI design and development tools, announced its proprietary design automation technology has enabled production of the high-volume 4.2-inch and 8-inch digital productivity screens in the completely redesigned Ford F-150™ pickup trucks for 2021. Altia software allowed Ford Motor Company’s Tier 1 suppliers to accelerate a high-end graphics solution for the cluster’s microprocessor targets, meeting critical production requirements while upgrading the driver environment in the best-selling pickup truck in the United States.

Altia Design, the company’s rich UI design, simulation and model integration environment, has been employed in the design and development of cluster solutions for more than 10 million Ford Motor Company vehicles to date. For the 2021 F-150 pickup truck, Ford Motor Company’s Tier 1 suppliers autogenerated high-quality, production-ready graphics code using DeepScreen code generator. The suppliers also utilized Altia professional services to implement the proprietary technology that yielded the finalized cluster solution.

“Altia is extremely pleased to have assisted Ford Motor Company and their Tier 1s in the cluster redesign of the F-150. The capability of the Altia framework to drive a complex array of design demands makes it an excellent choice for this application,” noted Mike Juran, Altia chief executive officer. “Ford Motor Company was one of the first global automotive OEMs to utilize Altia’s prototyping technology in the 1990s. The versatility and cost-efficiency of our solution continues to prove itself with the 2021 F-150.”

The 4.2-inch and 8-inch digital productivity screens are the most commonly deployed display in the F-150 pickup trucks. The productivity screen supports readouts for trip distance and fuel economy as well as driver assist, safety/security, vehicle controls and much more.

Rally & OurBus Merge

Rally and OurBus announced  that they have entered into a combination merger through an acquisition transaction creating the leading technology company for mass mobility in the United States. Until now, each has disrupted a segment of the private bus industry, with Rally focusing on arranging event charters and OurBus on scheduled intercity travel. Each did so with the same ethos of improving the bus rider experience while increasing revenue to bus operators

OurBus has improved regional travel for millions of riders by creating an experience that people actually like. Available in 100+ US locations, they have changed consumer expectations for intercity bus travel, as reflected in their 4.4/5-star rating with over 8,000 reviews.

Rally has created the platform and demand for thousands of bus trips across 40 states and provinces with its “bus rideshare”. Their app aggregates like-minded individuals going to events both small and large, from weddings and corporate outings to arena sports and music festivals. The technology crowdsources bus stops and crowdfunds buses to create on-demand trips.

CenterPoint HomeServer Insurance

HomeServe and CenterPoint Energy are working together to launch an industry first product now available to CenterPoint’s Texas customers. Building on current repair service plan from HomeServe that covers problems with CenterPoint customers’ interior electric wiring, the new offering will allow residential customers with Electric Vehicles (EV) to add enhancement coverage for their home EV charging systems.

Starting at just $8.99 per month, the new no-deductible coverage will provide up to $500 in reimbursement for a Level 2 home EV charger that stops working due to normal wear and tear. The additional EV charger coverage is on top of the core Interior Electric plan elements, which includes up to $2,500 of annual coverage for repair or replacement of the high voltage wiring including switches, outlets and disconnect boxes that are damaged due to normal wear and tear.

“Americans are increasingly buying Electric Vehicles with the market expected to grow by over 20% each year between 2019 and 2030*. As more and more Americans bring these cars home, they are also faced with the challenge of ensuring their cars can easily be charged while parked in their driveways and garages,” said Tom Rusin, Global CEO of HomeServe Membership. “HomeServe is excited to be among the first to offer this new coverage that gives peace of mind to EV owners, ensuring quick repair or replacement of their home charging station if it breaks down.”

A HomeServe 2020 Electric Vehicle Charger Study found that 75% of EV owners use a Level 2 charger for charging at home and that almost three-quarters of prospective EV buyers (74%) are worried that their charger could break or malfunction. The survey also found that almost one-third of EV owners (29%) expect their utility to help with their home charging needs, and an almost unanimous number of respondents (97%) who use a Level 2 charger at home said they would be interested in an offer from their electric utility that included EV charger installation.

TomTom Navigation for Automotive

TomTom (TOM2), the leading independent location technology specialist, announced the arrival of TomTom Navigation for Automotive, a cloud-native hybrid navigation solution developed for the automotive industry.

TomTom’s navigation is used by more automakers than any other. The latest iteration is cloud-native and able to take advantage of super-fast and up-to-date routing, search and fresh maps, while still offering a fully functional offline mode. When no data connection is available, the solution switches to its onboard software and maps, making it available under all circumstances.

“With cloud delivery at the heart of the new TomTom Navigation for Automotive, we have combined the safety and comfort of an in-dash system with the always up-to-date and super-fast experience of a smartphone app,” said Antoine Saucier, Managing Director, TomTom Automotive.

Drivers will enjoy a new user interface designed around our principles of safety and ease-of-use. The intuitive interface can be displayed on the center stack, cluster screen, head-up display (HUD) and passenger screens in different sizes and aspect ratios. This integrated approach means important information such as turn-by-turn and lane-level navigation instructions, as well as traffic and hazard warnings can be projected on the vehicle’s HUD or cluster screen, increasing driver safety and comfort. The driver can also interact directly with TomTom’s navigation via easy-to-use voice assistance from Amazon Alexa, Cerence or Houndify .

TomTom’s next-generation navigation can be integrated with vehicle sensors, enabling it to display vital information linked to advanced driver assistance systems and refueling or recharging needs. Dynamic range mapping helps drivers to visualize their vehicle’s range – especially important for electric vehicles. If the predicted range is insufficient to make it to the selected destination, the driver is alerted to find a charging location and provided with a cost comparison of the available charging points that are on route and within range. The chosen charging point is then added as waypoint to the driver’s destination.

TomTom’s new navigation offers automakers a fast and cost-effective route to a class-leading navigation experience. The technology is easily integrated in any in-vehicle infotainment system, as has been demonstrated by multiple leading tier one suppliers. The adaptable solution can work with multiple brands, car lines – entry, volume or premium – and vehicle types, anywhere in the world. The solution is offered as one pre-integrated stack and delivered through easy-to-use SDKs and APIs.

TomTom Navigation for Automotive will be deployed across multiple brands and car lines by leading global automakers.

Unity RT3D partners with HERE

Unity, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content, today announced a collaborative agreement with HERE Technologies, the leading location data and technology platform, to partner on developing next-generation embedded automotive HMIs with state-of-the-art, RT3D rendering capabilities. The collaboration will also extend to work on next-generation location technology for autonomous driving, simulations, city planning and digital twins.

In order to showcase the combined capabilities of Unity’s real-time 3D platform and HERE’s location technology, the partners developed a proof-of-concept application of an embedded in-vehicle-infotainment (IVI) system. Created on Unity’s platform and featuring HERE 3D city data, it showcases a futuristic, wide-screen navigation experience of a 3D map of San Francisco and demonstrates what can be achieved with the addition of game-changing HMI workflow design improvements. To date, HERE has mapped in 3D more than 70 major cities in the US, Europe and Asia with plans to eventually offer global 3D map coverage.

While several dedicated HMI development solutions currently exist in the automotive industry, this collaboration will combine elements of automotive-grade map data and services with an advanced real-time 3D engine that brings dynamic, high-end design capabilities to the automotive user-experience in terms of maps, infotainment and more.

This collaboration underscores the companies’ commitment to developing the next generation of automotive HMIs. The HERE and Unity PoC application successfully runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon and in 2020, Unity announced collaborations with multiple companies across the HMI ecosystem, including Continental AG’s Elektrobit and NXP Semiconductors.

HERE is the leading provider of map content and location-based services to the global automotive industry. Today, the company delivers end-to-end solutions for connected vehicles, in-vehicle infotainment and automated driving. HERE is a private company owned by global brands: Mercedes-Benz AG, BMW AG, Audi AG, Mitsubishi Corporation, NTT, Intel Capital, Bosch, Continental, and Pioneer.