At the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany this week, Ford revealed its most comprehensive line-up of electrified vehicles, which it says will surpass sales of conventional petrol- and diesel-models by the end of 2022 in Europe.
Earlier this year, Ford announced that every new Ford passenger vehicle nameplate will include an electrified option – either a mild-hybrid, full-hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric – delivering one of the most comprehensive line-ups of electrified options for European customers. The company is launching 17 electrified vehicles in Europe by 2024, including eight in 2019.
Ford expects electrified powertrains to account for more than half of the company’s passenger vehicle sales by the end of 2022, creating a tipping point for Ford’s electrified vehicle sales versus conventional petrol and diesel sales. By this time, the company also expects to have sold 1 million electrified passenger vehicles.
“With electrification fast becoming the mainstream, we are substantially increasing the number of electrified models and powertrain options for our customers to choose from to suit their needs,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe. “By making it easier than ever to seamlessly shift into an electrified vehicle, we expect the majority of our passenger vehicle sales to be electrified by the end of 2022.”
Ford’s fully electrified Frankfurt show stand features the most extensive line-up of electrified vehicles that Ford has yet displayed, including:
- The all-new Kuga Plug-In Hybrid variant of the all-new mid-size SUV – Ford’s most electrified vehicle ever and the first Ford to offer mild-hybrid, self-charging full-hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains
- The all-new Explorer Plug-In Hybrid seven-seat SUV and the new Tourneo Custom Plug-In Hybrid eight-seat people-mover – each offering pure-electric driving capability alongside the driving range and freedom offered by a traditional combustion engine
- The new Puma EcoBoost Hybrid SUV-inspired compact crossover, featuring sophisticated mild-hybrid technology for reduced CO2 emissions, optimised fuel-efficiency, and a more responsive and rewarding driving experience, shown in stylish Titanium X specification for the first time
- The Ford Mondeo Hybrid wagon, featuring self-charging, full-hybrid, petrol-electric powertrain technology that offers a compelling alternative to diesel and offers pure electric driving for refinement particularly in city and stop-start driving scenarios
Ford’s new Mustang-inspired all-electric performance SUV will arrive in 2020, with a targeted pure-electric driving range of 600 km (more than 370 miles) calculated using the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), and fast-charging capability.
“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to electrification – every customer’s circumstances and travel needs are different,” said Joerg Beyer, executive director, Engineering, Ford of Europe. “Our strategy is to pair the right electrified powertrain option to the right vehicle, helping our customers make their electrified vehicle experience easy and enjoyable.”
Seamless charging solutions
Ford will partner with six leading energy suppliers across Europe to provide home charging wall box installation services and green energy tariffs for plug-in hybrid customers, enabling simpler, faster and more affordable charging of electrified vehicles.
Ford recently announced it is set to work with Centrica to offer services in the U.K. and Ireland. Ford’s energy partners will also make their installation services available to support Ford’s dealership networks across Europe.
Ford’s wall box solution will deliver up to 50 per cent more charging power than a typical domestic socket to reduce at-home charging times by up to one-third for customers of Ford’s plug-in hybrid models.
“Our partnerships with leading energy suppliers including Centrica allow us to offer a one-stop shop for charging, including supply, installation, and special green energy tariffs for our fast charging wall box,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing Sales & Service, Ford of Europe.
Ford is also introducing a new smartphone and tablet application that will enable its plug-in hybrid vehicle owners and operators to easily locate, navigate to and pay for charging. In partnership with NewMotion, Ford offers access to the largest public charging network with extensive coverage across Europe. The new app will deliver simplified access and payment for Ford customers at more than 118,000 charging points in 30 countries. Customers will be able to seamlessly utilise charging points across many markets, initiating and paying for charging services from a single account for a simplified ownership experience.
In addition, in combination with the available FordPass Connect on-board modem, the FordPass mobile app enables Ford plug-in hybrid drivers to remotely monitor their vehicle’s charge status.
Ford also is a founder member and shareholder in the IONITY consortium that aims to build 400 fast-charging stations in key European locations by 2020, with a charging capacity of 350 kW. This enables a significant reduction in charging times for all-electric vehicles compared with existing systems – ideal for long distance journeys.
Making it easier than ever to Go Electric
Ford’s new Go Electric experience also debuts at the show, helping de-mystify electrification for customers. Visitors to the Go Electric experience will discover interactive exhibits, immersive experiences and an exciting, world-first electric vehicle acceleration simulator.
At Go Electric, consumers will find a range of experiences designed to help them better understand electrified driving technologies from today and tomorrow, and discover which solutions are best for them.
Go Electric experiences include:
- A world-first electric vehicle acceleration simulator, replicating the thrill of unbroken linear acceleration delivered by all-electric performance
- An augmented reality journey explaining the different electrified propulsion options offered by Ford and how each works – from the 48-volt mild-hybrid technology of the all-new Ford Puma to Ford’s forthcoming Mustang-inspired all-electric performance SUV
- An interactive touchscreen experience designed to help customers understand which electrified technologies and products best suits their lifestyle
- A hands-on interactive exhibit using real charging hardware to help customers understand how quickly plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles can be charged in multiple scenarios
Show-goers will be able to visit Go Electric at the Frankfurt Motor Show until September 22 before the experience embarks on a European tour, moving to Italy, France, Spain and the U.K. through 2019 and early 2020.
Broadband gets a helping hand
Behind this week’s news that MTN fibre provider Supersonic has launched a fixed LTE service is an effort to rethink home connectivity, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK
This week, MTN made its biggest play yet into the market for fibre connections to homes, but its biggest impact may well be within the home.
The mobile operator’s fibre-to-the-home subsidiary, Supersonic, launched a Fixed LTE offering on a month-to-month basis, meaning that homes in areas not yet wired for fibre can receive high-speed broadband. More important, they can get that access at rates that seem unprecedented for mobile data.
There are two differences from regular packages, however. For one thing, the SIM card that comes with the package only works in specific routers that have to remain plugged into a power supply. For another, the data allocation is split half-half between regular hours and a Night Owl timeframe: the hours between midnight and dawn.
“It just needs users to adjust their internet behaviour a little,” says Calvin Collett, MD of Supersonic. “Conducting massive mobile phone updates or downloading an entire library of Netflix content shouldn’t be prioritised during the day, but should be scheduled for Night Owl data consumption.”
The biggest benefit, aside from pricing, is that one does not have to wait for fibre to arrive in a specific area. While Supersonic’s core business is fixed-line fibre-to-the-home, it is now set to leverage its parent company’s massive mobile data network.
“MTN’s LTE network coverage sits at 95%, after billions of rand was invested in network upgrades in recent years. There is absolutely no reason why those waiting for a fibre connection shouldn’t move to Fixed LTE.”
Collett argues that consumers are far more savvy and well informed of developments in the telecoms space than observers think. They carefully investigate the products and services they choose to spend on, and are looking for the best deals available.
The result is that Supersonic has quietly built up a side business in installing what is called a Mesh Wi-Fi network, consisting of a main Wi-Fi router connected to the standardfibre or LTE or router, and a series of additional access pointscalled plumes, placed in areas of low coverage through ahome.
The plumes – small pods that plug into any power point –connect to one another to expand the network across a wide area. Where traditional WI-FI extenders lose up to half the fibre bandwidth with every extension, the plumes maintain most of the speed regardless of how far the network is extended. All the pods connected to the same router form a single network with the same network name, eliminating the complications Wi-FI extenders usually introduce.
“The traditional Wi-Fi router has replaced the dial up connection, and we’re all happy about this – the infamous dial up tone is ingrained in the brains of anyone over the age of 30,” says Collett. “Wi-Fi revolutionised our way of life as the router gave us access to the internet without directly connecting to a modem.
“We’ve moved forward, transitioning from ADSL to fibre. While fibre allows for high speed internet access, it is still connected to your Wi-Fi router. Naturally, the further you move away from the hub, the poorer your internet connection will be. Those dead spots around the house can become frustrating when your Wi-Fi signal shows 1 bar and it takes 5 minutes to load a single web page. Mesh Wi-Fi is the solution.”
Collett says he specifically researched a product that looked good, offered app-based management and required no cables. His research led him to Silicon Valley, and the result is the Supersonic Plume Mesh network system.
The drawback is that installation can be complicated for the non-technical consumer. To plug the gap, so to speak, Supersonic sends out technicians who conduct a Wi-Fi sweep of a home and advise how many Plume devices will be needed for 100% coverage. Based on this the technicians make a recommendation for an optimal “smart Wi-Fi”solution. Once installed, though, the network can be monitored and managed from a Supersonic App.
We tried it out and found it was a tale of two experiences. The initial experience was frustrating, as the pods tried to find each other. This is a necessary evil, it seems, as the Plume Mesh network optimises itself over a period of several days. That means the experience at the edge of the network can be very poor at the time of installation. After a few days, however the network was flying.
With a 100Mbps line, the experience next to the main router was around 105 Mbps, both up and down. That in itself was something of a marvel. But the biggest impact was felt at the furthest point from the router: where a Wi-Fi extender had previously delivered speeds of below 10Mbps, download speeds of 80Mbps became not only commonplace, but almost taken for granted.
One of the most useful features of the Plume Mesh is the level of monitoring offered through the Supersonic app. One can observe exactly what devices are connected to which pods – each is given a name, typically of the room, that is visible only through the app.
The biggest surprise of the plume solution is that it has not become a standard solution for Wi-Fi networks everywhere. In an era when we have become deeply dependent on a decent Wi-Fi signal, it has become a necessity rather than a luxury. As a result, home connectivity should be taken far more seriously than merely fobbing consumers off on low-performance extenders.
MTN seems to have taken this message to heart, rethinking its own approach to home usage.
“Internet access has become the third utility behind electricity and water,” says Collett. “Our goal is to ‘own the home’ but not just by connecting a bunch of devices to a central point. It’s really about how these devices can pioneer habitual change in the home that’s convenient and saves valuable time and money.”
Click here to read about SuperSonic’s pricing.
Location data key to transforming SA’s transport system
Location technology can transform South Africa’s transport system – but don’t expect to see self-driving cars on our roads any time soon. What’s more relevant is the need for the public and private sectors to work together more closely to unlock the significant social and economic benefits that more efficient transport and mobility systems would bring to the country, including less congestion and fewer road accidents.
That was the message from Michael Bültmann, Managing Director, in charge of international relations atHERE Technologies, a global leader in mapping and location platform services, at an event hosted by the international law firm Covington & Burling in Johannesburg last week, to discuss how digitization could support better mobility, safety and integration in South Africa.
“Society needs to solve some fundamental challenges, and relevant location data can play a key role in creating a better future for mobility in South Africa. If we know where the goods and people are, and how and why they move, we have the basis for a system that matches demand and supply far more closely, and uses our transport infrastructure more efficiently,” saidBültmann.
“But no company, government or individual can do it all themselves. It’s all about collaborating. If we get real-time data use right, it would have a profound effect on the way the entire economy works: less congestion, fewer accidents, more efficient use of vehicles and public transport, less air pollution, greater quality of life, and potential savings of billions of rands in fuel, time and safer roads.”
Speaking at the event, the CSIR’s Dr Mathetha Mokonyama said that despite the billions of rands pumped into the country’s mass public transport network in recent years, 90% of commuter seats available are still provided by either cars or taxis.
“We have the right to dignity. If you want to see indignity, look at people getting up at 2am to get unreliable transport to a job that only pays R3500 a month. In our country, access to transport is critical for people to make a living, and our focus as a country should be to implement an equitable and just transport system that caters to all sectors of society,” he said.
“It was a pleasure to support the event that brought together so many viewpoints on the question of the effective use of data and location intelligence to enhance the mobility of goods, people and services,” said Robert Kayihura, senior advisor in Covington’s Johannesburg office. “While the harmonization of regulatory regimes around the continent will take time, a key takeaway from our discussions is the critical need to build a shared vision of the future through consistent public-private dialogue and collaboration in order to accelerate and ensure the sustainable and safe digitization of Africa.”
Paul Vorster, the chief executive of the Intelligent Transport Society of SA (ITSSA), said the effective sharing of data between metros, government and the private sector would ‘go a long way’ to improving the efficiency of existing transport infrastructure.
“The starting point is to improve what we already have. Once we know what we have – that is, data – we can start solving real problems, like knowing where the demand and supply are. But to do this, metros will need to learn from each other, and they often face political hurdles in the process,” he said.
Bültmann said increasing levels of urbanisation across the world were creating the need for cities to better predict, manage and plan future urban movement. Combining and analysing data from different, complementary sources could help South African cities to improve urban planning, relieve congestion and curb pollution for better quality of life.
The event was also attended by Presidential Investment Envoy Phumzile Langeni, the National Planning Commission’s Themba Dlamini; SANRAL’s Alan Robinson; and Dr Rüdiger Lotz, the Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy. The guests were welcomed by Witney Schneidman, the head of Covington’s Africa practice and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1997-2001) in the U.S. Government.