Automotive news from the last week – 18 June 2022
18 June 2022
Autovista24 looks at some key automotive headlines from the past seven days. In this week’s round up, VinFast sets out its stall in Europe, Audi e-tron batteries get a rickshaw afterlife, Sony and Honda join forces, Norway’s new EV charging card and app, and Dacia changes the car showroom game.
VinFast sets out its stall in Europe
Vietnamese electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturer VinFast has announced it will open over 50 sales locations across Europe. Initially, the company will open 25 stores in Germany, 20 in France and five in the Netherlands. The first confirmed German locations include Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne, Oberhausen and Hamburg. Sites in France include Paris, Marseille, Nantes, Rennes, Nice, Montpellier, Aix-en-Provence and Metz. Amsterdam will likely be the first VinFast store to open in the Netherlands. Coinciding with the launch of the company’s VF8 and VF9 EVs, VinFast also outlined plans to align its sales policy exclusively with European markets, including a premium home-delivery and familiarisation service. ‘VinFast is not just here to sell cars. We are here to inspire change and accelerate the transition to EVs for the benefit of the environment,’ commented Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup vice chairwoman and VinFast global CEO. ‘We are here to support every customer on their journey with VinFast, from reservation to their experiences throughout the vehicle life.’
Audi e-tron batteries get rickshaw afterlife
German–Indian startup Nunam is bringing three electric-powered rickshaws to India’s roads. The three-wheeled, handlebar-steered vehicles will be driven by used batteries taken from the Audi e-tron test fleet. The ‘e-rickshaws’ are scheduled to hit the roads for the first time in a pilot project in early 2023, initially made available to non-profit organisations with a focus on strengthening job opportunities for women in India. ‘The old batteries are still extremely powerful,’ said Nunam co-founder Prodip Chatterjee. ‘When used appropriately, second-life batteries can have a huge impact, helping people in challenging life situations earn an income and gain economic independence in a sustainable way.’ Funded by the Audi Environmental Foundation, Nunam developed the three prototypes in collaboration with the training team at the German carmaker’s Neckarsulm site. The programme is part of a wider exploration in what Audi say spans ‘megatrends of sustainability, electromobility, internationalisation, and social responsibility.’
Sony and Honda join forces
Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March this year, technology provider Sony and carmaker Honda have signed a joint-venture agreement to establish a new company by the end of 2022. The business will commence sales of EVs and provision of services for mobility in 2025. The new company, Sony Honda Mobility, aims to bring together Honda’s vehicle manufacturing and after-sales service experience with Sony’s expertise in imaging, sensing, telecommunication, network and entertainment technology capabilities. Commenting on the deal, Yasuhide Mizuno, senior managing officer of Honda Motor Company said: ‘We are very pleased to sign this joint venture agreement, which represents the start line from which we embark on the major challenge of revolutionising mobility and creating new value. We plan to fully leverage the technological assets the two companies possess in different fields, such as Sony’s sensing technology and Honda’s original mobility development capabilities, to realise mobility and services that inspire and excite our customers. By bringing together the expertise of both companies, we aim to lead the way in a new era.’
Norway’s new EV charging card and app
Norway has one of the highest number of EV drivers in the world, and their access to charging infrastructure has just been simplified. Ladeklubben is an app launched by the Norwegian electric car association Elbil, and gives its 110,000-plus members access to 300,000 charging points. Built on EV-charging platform Deftpower, the app, and its associated charging card represent the first independent emobility provider (EMP). It is free of charge for Elbil members, who can start using the network anywhere in Europe through the service. Major charging networks are included, spanning Ionity, E.On, Kople, FastNed and Recharge, which is Norway´s largest public charging network. Christina Bu, secretary general of the Norwegian EV association Association outlined how simple the app made EV charging. ‘It is becoming far too difficult to keep track of all the apps [for different charging providers] according to the feedback we get from EV drivers. They will not spend time registering with many different charging companies, but using a RFID-card (smart card) to activate and pay for charging, they find practical. That is why we have established Ladeklubben.’
Dacia changes the car-showroom game
Dacia has launched an augmented reality app as a new sales tool. Dacia AR allows customers of the Romanian carmaker to see vehicles up to 1:1 scale and to even climb inside. As well as this, prospective Dacia owners can view any model in any desired specification and in a real-world environment, such as a car park, urban street or the countryside. The augmented reality is flexible, and users can zoom in and move around the car. Dacia believes the app will prove particularly useful when a dealer wishes to show a prospective customer a model that does not happen to be available in the showroom. The app is free and available on the App store and Google Play. In a recent podcast, the Autovista24 team assessed how augmented reality, virtual reality, and the metaverse could impact the automotive world.