11/24 Bye, bye to Your Car

Bob Lutz has probably petrol in his veins. An automotive veteran who was vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors and who held senior executive positions with others, admitted that we are approaching the end of the automotive area. In an essay for Automotive News he follows the trends we see in today’s mobility. Getting efficiently from A to B replaces the proud car ownership of the last decades. You might book your self driving ride in economy to go shopping or in business class to run a meeting while you are driven between New York and Boston, but you will not own a vehicle anymore. Cars on the street will behave much more like today’s public transport getting in lines and virtually bolting on to the next car to ensure efficiency and safety. That Lutz’ vision is not far off shows other news from this week — Uber entered into a non-binding agreement with Volvo ordering 24,000 autonomous cars to be delivered between 2019 and 2021, the biggest sale in self driving cars so far.
Source: Automotive News, Reuters

In 2016 the then new Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller revealed his strategy for one of the largest automotive groups in the world. I ridiculed his “ambitious” target of 1 in 10 cars across the group should be electric or hybrid by 2025. This contradicted not only the targets set then by the German government but was laughable to the — perhaps overambitious — targets of startup Tesla. It took Volkswagen over a year to realise that the world is moving faster. Volkswagen announced that it will invest USD 40 bn into electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility by the end of 2022. Two months ago it was USD 20 bn by 2030… Tesla, in comparison, raised USD 12 bn so far and has several electrical models on the street and is pioneering self driving systems. Throwing money at innovation does not necessarily cut it.
Source: Reuters, An Opera Singer in Silicon Valley

Governments announced to major moves this week. The EU announced an end to geoblocking and the US’ FCC is challenging net neutrality. Why are those relevant? Both decisions show either complete lack of understanding of the digital world or an intended benefit to big internet players. Geoblocking enables websites to block users from a certain country based on their IP address to access their page. Most users know geoblocking from content pages like Netflix or iTunes but rarely from e-commerce sites. While ending geoblocking for content would be a big benefit to users, that’s not what the EU will end. It only ends geoblocking for e-commerce sites. This is a huge challenge for smaller e-commerce shops who now have to sell their products to any customer in Europe dealing with a horrific VAT scheme in the EU and the associated cost. At the same time the FCC chairman announced the end of net neutrality. Currently all traffic running through the networks around the world is treated equally. If the FCC proposal succeeds, website owners can pay internet service providers for faster access for their consumers, slowing down others. This favours similar to the EU’s decision big companies with deep pockets. 
Source: Politico, European Commission

Eight engineers got together in a garage in Cupertino and challenged Google. Well, not all of Google but everything Google does around the surface of the earth — from Google Maps to Google Earth. These eight people build simple and cheap satellites and launched over 300 of them into the orbit and called their company self-confidently Planet. Today they provide you with a daily image of any landmass of our planet. What you can do with that amount of data is actually fascinating — from analysing container traffic around the world to assessing natural disaster impact. FarmersEdge uses these images to help farmers monitoring the health of their crops from nutrient deficiencies to pinpointing pest issues early on. Smuggling along the Silk Route might have just become a bit tougher.
Source: Fast Company, Planet, FarmersEdge


  • It just came out this week that Uber had a data breach in 2016 affecting 57 million riders and drivers revealing names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, sometimes driver license numbers and potentially more.
  • Initial Hat Offering — Elon Musk’s The Boring Company which develops a network of underground tunnels in Los Angeles raised over USD 300,000 by selling hats.

Dec. 4–5, Berlin, Germany: TechCrunch Disrupt
May 24–25, Vienna, Austria: Pioneers ’18 MUSIC TIP

With so much about cars, a little music is a welcome change. But can you hear the taxi horns in Gershwin’s An American in Paris? The great Leonard Bernstein often conducted Gershwin’s music. This recording not only includes well known pieces such as Rhapsody in Blue but also less heard ones.

On Amazon
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