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App takes pain from parking

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Ford has unveiled details of two new mobility projects aimed at addressing the daily frustration of finding parking in a crowded city.

Together with mobile app valet service Cheyaoshi and smart parking developer Ding Ding, Ford is experimenting with real solutions to take the stress out of getting around.

“For millions of commuters in Asia Pacific, finding parking comes at the cost of wasted time and fuel,” said John Larsen, director, Ford Smart Mobility, Ford Asia Pacific. All this adds to longer commutes, worsening congestion and higher stress. Our mobile valet experiment with Cheyaoshi and our smart parking experiment with Ding Ding are a couple ways we are trying to find innovative solutions to help commuters.”

The need for better parking solutions is illustrated by a recent survey conducted on behalf of Ford across Asia Pacific. More than one in five survey respondents said their commute is the worst part of their day, on top of 34 percent who simply find it inconvenient – and for a third of respondents, it is getting worse. For more than 18 percent of respondents across the region, finding parking is the primary reason for a worsening commute. This makes it a prime target for Ford, which is investing in smart mobility experiments across the region as it works to once again change the way that people move.

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The problem is particularly acute in China, where nearly one-quarter of survey respondents blamed parking difficulties for a worsening commute. But China’s eagerness to adopt new technologies – more than 48 percent see advanced technologies like autonomous features and real-time traffic information as potential congestion cures – also makes it an ideal market for the parking experiments.

“The work we’ve been doing with Cheyaoshi and Ding Ding helps relieve some of the pain of parking today and also helps us determine the approaches that are most effective for commuters,” said Julius Marchwicki, director, Connected Vehicles and Services, Ford Asia Pacific. “These kinds of experiments deepen our understanding of what commuters want and need, and enable us to serve them more effectively as a mobility company.”

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At Ford’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Shanghai’s bustling Lujiazui financial district, four out of ten employees said in an internal survey that they spend an extra 10 to 20 minutes every day finding parking near the office. Together with Cheyaoshi, Ford found cheaper, available parking about a kilometer from the Ford office, and launched a valet program to make parking more convenient.

Participants used the app to have a valet meet them at the Ford office in the morning; the valet then parked the car, where it waited safely until the user summoned it using the app. At the end of the day, employees could then either have the car delivered to the office, or anywhere within a 2.5-kilometer radius.

Another partnership – the Ford and Ding Ding Parking Space Lock experiment – approaches the problem of urban parking through the sharing economy. Vehicle owners can use SYNC, Ford’s leading voice controlled infotainment system, to activate and deactivate a physical parking space lock on one of tens of thousands of parking spaces on Ding Ding’s platform, granting users exclusive use of conveniently located parking spaces. Once a driver has locked a parking space, they can also use the app to rent it out to other drivers for a share of parking fees, or authorize family and friends to use it for free. All functions are activated through SYNC giving users convenient hands-free control of Ding Ding’s functions. In addition, drivers of Ford vehicles can reserve exclusive VIP spaces on Ding Ding’s platform using SYNC, including in busy areas.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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Ford begins production of high-tech Ranger in SA

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Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria has officially commenced production of the new Ford Ranger, bringing a raft of product upgrades and refinements to one of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles and export models.

“Following the investment of over R3-billion in our local operations and extensive upgrades to our plants over the past 18 months, we are delighted to see the first of the new Ford Ranger models coming off our production line,” says Neale Hill, managing director for Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

“This is an extremely important and exciting year for the Ford Ranger, which will also see the launch of the first Ranger Raptor that is undoubtedly one of this year’s most highly anticipated new models,” says Hill.

“The 2019 Ford Ranger will deliver more power, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced refinement, and additional advanced technologies when it goes on sale in the coming months, and we are confident it will once again set the benchmark in the extremely competitive pickup segment.”

Selected range-topping models, including the Ranger Raptor, will be powered by the all-new 2.0 Bi-Turbo diesel engine assembled at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth. This unit produces 157kW and 500Nm of torque – up by 10kW and 30Nm compared with the current 3.2 TDCi – and delivers up to a nine percent improvement in fuel efficiency when combined with the advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Certain derivatives will feature a 2.0 Single Turbo version of this engine, producing 132kW and 420Nm of torque, mated to the same 10-speed transmission. Various other models in the line-up will retain the proven 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines and existing gearbox options – thus giving customers the widest choice yet in this category. As usual, the line-up includes Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab body styles to suit customer requirements.

Along with freshened design cues, range-topping Ranger models will raise the bar once again with industry-defining safety features on the Wildtrak such as Pre-Collision Assist and Active Park Assist. SYNC 3® with Navigation remains one of the Ranger’s technology highlights as a fully featured infotainment system with intuitive voice control.

Following the launch of the ‘standard’ new Ford Ranger models, the attention will be shifted to the locally assembled Ranger Raptor that is set to create an entirely new segment in the pickup market when it makes its eagerly anticipated debut.

“There is a lot of excitement and hype around the Ranger Raptor, and this exhilarating new model will occupy a white space in the pickup market when it goes on sale in the second quarter of this year, creating a much-needed performance model in this crucial segment,” Hill states.

“We can’t wait to get the Ranger Raptor to market, enabling our customers to experience unrivalled off-road performance, cutting-edge technologies and the most muscular design yet seen in this class.”

Some of the defining features of the Ranger Raptor include Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers exclusively manufactured by FOX, and an advanced Terrain Management System (TMS) that includes an exciting Baja mode for fast off-road driving. It also boasts a toughened reinforced chassis, powerful all-disc braking system and specially developed BF Goodrich tyres.

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