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Merc joins the battery push

A new interactive sculpture in Cape Town symbolises rapid advances in car technology, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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First there was IQ, or intelligence quotient, to test how clever we are. Then came EQ, for emotional intelligence, to test how well we engage with the world. Now, Mercedes Benz is introducing a new form of EQ, for electric intelligence, or how well our cars prepare us for the future.

That will be the branding for a new range of vehicles being developed now by the world’s leading luxury vehicle maker, as it aims to drive automotive technology beyond connected and self-driving cars.

Last week, it unveiled the Concept EQA, a compact, sporty electric car that is expected to have a range of 400km on one charge. It has one electric motor on the front axle and one at the rear, allowing for greater flexibility in driving settings. More important, though, it will have zero carbon emissions, and is part of Mercedes-Benz’s push into the electric car market.

According to Johannes Fritz, the company’s co-CEO in South Africa, battery-electric models will account for 15-25 percent of total unit sales by 2025. The big variation in forecasts is a result of uncertainty around both customer preferences and public infrastructure. 

Johannes Fritz, Mercedes-Benz South Africa co-CEO.

The common perception is that the lack of government interest in an electric vehicle future will hamper roll-out of a charging network, and that lack of public interest means there is little incentive for car makers to increase production.

To counter this perception, and advance its vision of EQ, Mercedes-Benz combined the unveiling of the Concept EQA with the opening of a unique pavilion at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Continue reading about the electric vehicle push in South Africa. 

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MWC: Cars begin talking to each other via V2X

Vehicle-to-everything communication is ready to roll out globally, says the 5G Automotive Association

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At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) announced that ‘Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything’ (C-V2X) communication technology was about to see its first commercial standard: LTE-V2X. In effect the 4G version of C-V2X, the initial version allows vehicles to communicate with each other and their surroundings. Together with 5G enhancements, it will facilitate broad scale improvements in road safety.

“These end-to-end integrated solutions bring enhanced safety, sustainability, and convenience to all road users,” said Thierry Klein, 5GAA vice chair and Head of the Disruptive Innovation Program at Nokia Bell Labs. “5GAA is very excited to be pioneering the revolution towards a smarter and more connected mobility world.”

C-V2X communication is the state-of-the-art, high-speed cellular communications platform that enables vehicles to communicate with one another, with roadside infrastructure, with other road users (such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists) using either direct short-range communications or cellular networks. While C-V2X network-based solutions are already widely deployed, direct communication solutions will be commercially available as of this year. As such the C-V2X platform delivers safety, mobility, traffic efficiency, and environmental benefits. C-V2X is designed with an evolutionary path to 5G and supports safe and efficient operations of autonomous vehicles.

Click here to read about 5GAA members spearheading C-V2X.

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Project Bloodhound saved

The British project to break the world landspeed record at a site in the Northern Cape has been saved by a new backer, after it went into bankruptcy proceedings in October.

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Two weeks ago,  and two months after entering voluntary administration, the Bloodhound Programme Limited announced it was shutting down. This week it announced that its assets, including the Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC), had been acquired by an enthusiastic – and wealthy – supporter.

“We are absolutely delighted that on Monday 17th December, the business and assets were bought, allowing the Project to continue,” the team said in a statement.

“The acquisition was made by Yorkshire-based entrepreneur Ian Warhurst. Ian is a mechanical engineer by training, with a strong background in managing a highly successful business in the automotive engineering sector, so he will bring a lot of expertise to the Project.”

Warhurst and his family, says the team, have been enthusiastic Bloodhound supporters for many years, and this inspired his new involvement with the Project.

“I am delighted to have been able to safeguard the business and assets preventing the project breakup,” he said. “I know how important it is to inspire young people about science, technology, engineering and maths, and I want to ensure Bloodhound can continue doing that into the future.

“It’s clear how much this unique British project means to people and I have been overwhelmed by the messages of thanks I have received in the last few days.”

The record attempt was due to be made late next year at Hakskeen Pan in the Kalahari Desert, where retired pilot Andy Green planned to beat the 1228km/h land-speed record he set in the United States in 1997. The target is for Bloodhound to become the first car to reach 1000mph (1610km/h). A track 19km long and 500 metres wide has been prepared, with members of the local community hired to clear 16 000 tons of rock and stone to smooth the surface.

The team said in its announcement this week: “Although it has been a frustrating few months for Bloodhound, we are thrilled that Ian has saved Bloodhound SSC from closure for the country and the many supporters around the world who have been inspired by the Project. We now have a lot of planning to do for 2019 and beyond.”

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