Trending Mobility Industry News

Here are some of the trending news topics in the automotive and mobility markets from around the world. We will be curating three interesting pieces of news from the automotive industry and providing insightful summaries to give our readers a better understanding of the latest developments in this field.

By presenting the most significant information in a concise and accessible format, we aim to provide an engaging and informative reading experience.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy learning about the exciting happenings in the world of automotive technology!

May 4, 2023

1. Sony makes game engine pillar of its EV strategy

Izumi Kawanishi, president and chief operating officer of Sony Honda Mobility, which plans to launch an automobile business, says the engine for the electric car will be a game engine.

Epic Games, the U.S. company that developed the Unreal Engine, the software used to create content for the PlayStation game console, is one of the largest game engine companies, and Sony has invested in Epic Games. Sony is using this engine to expand into markets other than game design, such as reproducing soccer matches in 3D and broadcasting concerts around the world using avatars created by famous artists in the Metaverse. 

Mr. Kawanishi sees automobiles as the next target market for this game engine. In Sony Honda Mobility’s “Afeela” EV, which the company plans to roll out in 2026, the game engine will be used to interface with many parts of the car that the driver sees, touches, and operates.

By using a game engine, the EV becomes a fusion of real space and the metaverse. The company expects that this will create new forms of entertainment and grow into a major source of revenue for the subscription business.

There is no doubt that the concept of being an automotive supplier is changing. The value and source of revenue for companies in the automotive business will no longer be limited to hardware but will include new suppliers such as programmers and content creators.

Also, the metrics to measure business performance will diversify. Sony, which sells movies and other entertainment content, uses the number of monthly active users as an important performance indicator. In the software and networking industries, some companies will also consider the average revenue per user to be an important performance indicator. These will also be important performance indicators in the automotive industry.

Ultimately, the automotive industry may be divided into tangible asset companies and intangible asset companies. In Japan, for example, Toyota is likely to represent the former and Sony and Sony Honda Mobility the latter.

Toyota’s tangible assets amounted to about 12 trillion yen at the end of last December, and its intangible assets amounted to only 10% of that amount. Sony, on the other hand, had intangible assets of ¥3.4 trillion, including goodwill, at the end of March, compared with tangible assets of ¥1.3 trillion.

By positioning the game engine as a “pillar” of its EV strategy, Sony aims to differentiate its vehicles and make them more attractive to consumers in the increasingly competitive EV market.

*image: Nikkei Asia

May 12, 2023

2. Taiwanese battery maker ProLogium eyes overseas base in France

Taiwanese battery maker Prologium Technology has announced that it will build a battery plant for EVs in Dunkirk, northern France, starting operations at the end of 2026 and increasing production over several years, creating about 3,000 direct jobs and 12,000 indirect jobs.

It plans to invest 5.2 billion euros ($5.7 billion) by 2030 to produce batteries for hundreds of thousands of vehicles when fully operational.

The group specializes in the development of “solid-state” batteries, which are considered more powerful, safer, and quicker to recharge than the lithium-ion batteries commonly used in electric vehicles.

Gilles Normand, vice president for international development, said that solid-state batteries weigh about 50 kg less and make a big difference in the performance of the cars that use them.

The company chose Dunkirk for the construction site because of the many electric vehicle plants in Northern Europe and its access to rail, road, highway, and deep-water ports.

Prologium, which was founded in 2006 and whose shareholder is Mercedes-Benz, said it plans an IPO in the future to finance the investment and is also seeking European incentives for green industries.

*image : Reuters

May 12, 2023

3. Will EVs Dent the Auto Repair Business?

Although the spread of electric vehicles (EVs) appears to be a threat to auto repair shops and parts dealers in town, there is still hope.

Compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, EVs have fewer mechanical parts that are prone to failure. They do not require air cleaners, antifreeze, spark plugs, or oil changes.

Nevertheless, EVs have multiple electric motors that generate a lot of heat and require additional cooling components. Greg Johnson, CEO of automotive parts giant O’Reilly Automotive, said that EVs and hybrids have more sensors on board, creating demand not only for the parts themselves, but also for the calibration tools needed by repair shops to make repairs.

In addition, the batteries in EVs are heavy, which means that some parts will be subject to even more wear and tear. According to one study, the 2022 tire repair rate for EV owners exceeded that of gasoline car owners. Repairs may be less frequent than for gasoline cars, but the cost itself tends to be higher.

It remains to be seen at this stage whether the shift to EVs will lead to a decline in repair-related business. AAA has analyzed that the annual maintenance and repair cost of EVs is $949, or about $330 less than that of gasoline vehicles, assuming that EVs are maintained according to manufacturer recommendations. However, IMR’s Bill Thompson said it is premature to examine the long-term real cost of EVs because they are still new and have not reached the end of their useful life at this point.

According to an analysis by Scot Ciccarelli, equity analyst at Truist Securities, even if EVs account for 55% of new vehicle sales by 2030, there will still be more than 270 million gasoline-powered vehicles left in the United States. Furthermore, the absolute number of vehicles will continue to grow each year because the number of old vehicles that remain on the road will outpace the scrappage rate, he noted.

Major U.S. auto dealers see this EV transition as a commercial opportunity. Parts and maintenance services are an important source of profit for dealers, but smaller shops do not have the knowledge or the capital to handle the complexities of EV repairs, and if the shops cannot keep up with EVs, the repair business will turn to automakers and their technologically savvy auto dealers.

*image: WSJ

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