Audi wants to use a new era in car development to push itself into the forefront of all things electric and – as proven by the e-tron GT quattro – it certainly seems to be on the right track. The 2WD e-tron GT’s launch has helped catapult sales in the region with Carsten Bender, managing director of Audi ME saying its uptick here is helped by the brand’s journey towards electrification. Having started in 2020, by 2026 it will have more than 20 all-electric models in the region and the brand is investing in several initiatives focusing on the development of a high-performance charging infrastructure in order to contribute to EV readiness in the region, including working with the UAE government to develop charging infrastructure: “We look forward through to developing solutions that will support EV customers in the UAE based around the latest technologies and charging solutions such as the Audi Charge Hub.”
Bosch has stolen a march on the big OEM competition in the mobility space, largely because it had to with electric and hydrogen development meaning huge investment by OEMs which could potentially (however unlikely) squeeze it out of the market. To that end it has created a dizzying array of hardware for vehicles as well as software solutions that use data from the vehicle to improve performance and connectivity. Its mobility solutions business is also investing 500 million euros into green hydrogen as part of a 3 billion euro fund for climate neutral technology. “We shape a new era of mobility – sustainable, safe and exciting,” says Bosch chairman Dr. Stefan Hartung.
Bridgestone wants to move beyond just tyres, providing holistic Mobility Solutions. These solutions include smart sensing tyres that capture and transmit critical data such as tread wear; road and environmental conditions. Stefano Sanchini, regional managing director, Bridgestone MEA: “While it is an honor to be recognized as one of the ‘Top 20 Innovative Manufacturers,’ it is even greater to be able to collaborate with the world’s leading minds to shape a more sustainable future and invest in the mobility ecosystem. We push the limits of engineering to create cutting-edge solutions that are created in sustainable ways, while providing reliable and eco-friendly performance. The tyre industry is incredibly innovative and is committed to reducing our impact on the environment. Through strategic partnerships and cooperative efforts between businesses and innovators, the industry has reached new heights in its quest for sustainable mobility. As a result, we hope to accomplish our objectives more quickly and commit to our long-term sustainability goals, while also fostering effective partnerships across the industry.”
Like Bridgestone, Continental no longer considers itself as a mere seller of rubber. The last decade saw it introduce a series of data driven solutions like ContiPressure Check to make driving safer and more efficient but it is planning to do more and embed itself in the next generation of smart cities and infrastructure. Last year the German manufacturer tested the Futuricum, a 19-ton truck equipped with the largest truck battery in Europe, which allows a range of up to 760 kilometres without freight. “As with all electric drives, the tyres for the Futuricum truck are exposed to higher torque during start off and acceleration,” explains Hinnerk Kaiser, head of Tyre Development Bus and Truck Tyres at Continental. “At the same time, the weight and weight distribution of the tractor are increased by the particularly powerful battery. Therefore, the tyres must not only have a low rolling resistance, but also withstand heavier loads than tyres for comparable vehicles with internal combustion engines. At the same time, they should last just as long and meet the same safety requirements as truck tyres for conventional drives.”
Always at the cutting edge of vehicle design, Daimler set a radical new agenda for the future of its trucks and vehicles at IAA 2016 and has subsequently began the roll-out of electrified versions of its ranges. Fuso is arguably the world’s leading producer of commercial electric vehicles through the eCanter but the Mercedes-Benz badged vehicles are quickly stacking up behind it, led by the eVito and superlative eSprinter. Following the splitting up of its mobility efforts, the recently created Daimler Mobility is built to be a leading provider of financial services, fleet management systems, and mobility solutions. With five million customers in 39 markets, it is focused on supporting the sale of luxury cars and premium vans, as well as actively helping customers switch to electric vehicles by offering leasing and financing products for all of the electric vehicles from Mercedes-Benz. “The clear focus on Mercedes-Benz cars and vans, which gives us the opportunity to continue our success story and become even more successful. Through this focus we’re making sure that we can adapt quickly within a rapidly changing environment. That way we’ll continue to be our customers’ first choice when it comes to mobility, financing and insurance services as well as the fleet business,” says Franz Reiner, CEO, Daimler Mobility.
Hyundai has one of the broadest and forward-looking strategies when it comes to pushing for more sustainable transportation. With the Korean OEM exploring the use of the IoT, hydrogen power, vehicle autonomy it is producing an array of smart mobility technologies. And in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) it is promising a future that connects the sky and ground. It also wants to create robotic Purpose Built Vehicles (PBV) for public transport and the Hub (Mobility Transit Base), a futuristic base to house and coordinate logistics and transport. “With new trends such as autonomous vehicles and shared mobility in the coming years as well as the surge of electric vehicles, travelling from point A to B will no longer be ordinary. It will have wide-ranging beneficial effects for not just the consumers but for also cities and towns,” says region VP Bang Sun Jeong.
Europe and Turkey are proving to be a major focus Ford’s push into an electric future. Starting in 2023, it will begin production of an all-new electric passenger vehicle, a medium-sized crossover, built in Cologne with a second electric vehicle added to the Cologne production line-up in 2024. In addition, Ford’s top-selling passenger vehicle in Europe, the Ford Puma, will be available as an electric version made in Craiova, Romania, starting in 2024. Ford has turned to its Turkish commercial vehicle specialist Otosan to revamp the iconic Transit range with four new electric models – the all-new Transit Custom one-tonne van and Tourneo Custom multi-purpose vehicle in 2023, and the smaller, next generation Transit Courier van and Tourneo Courier multi-purpose vehicle in 2024. “Our march toward an all-electric future is an absolute necessity for Ford to meet the mobility needs of customers across a transforming Europe,” said Stuart Rowley, chair, Ford of Europe. “It’s also about the pressing need for greater care of our planet, making a positive contribution to society and reducing emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.”
GM Africa and Middle East’s goal is to deliver the best and broadest range of EVs in the region across its Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac brands – with an EV for every customer and every wallet, from trucks and affordable sedans, to luxury vehicles and high-performance machines. GM’s EV leadership is driven by its world-leading modular propulsion system and a highly flexible, third-generation global EV platform powered by Ultium batteries. GM’s Ultium-based EVs, when produced, will be capable of 0 to 100km/h acceleration in approximately three seconds, along with a driving range of more than 600 kilometers on a single charge, depending on the vehicle with Emirates Post Group set to use the system as part of a deal with mobility subsidary BrightDrop. Luay Al Shurafa, president and managing director of GM for Africa and the Middle East, said: “The Middle East is one of GM’s most important international markets and a region of the world known for early adoption of technology. The future is now, and GM’s plans align with ambitious and visionary regional government goals to reach net zero.”
For IVECO, sustainable mobility, which respects the environment, society and local communities, is principally based on four components (CO2 emission reductions, pollutant reductions, noise reductions, and improved road safety) which ensures the commerical vehicle player has the best technological solutions adopted in the early stages of development and production of its vehicles. In the field of alternative drives, it was one of the first European manufacturers to develop and internationally market an entire range of commercial vehicles for the transport of goods and passengers using natural gas. These vehicles are today already compatible with biomethane, one of the energy resources with the best potential in terms of reducing CO2 emissions. With the Italy-headquarted company’s recently agreed partnership with fellow Italian firm Eni, IVECO also wants to create an integrated sustainable mobility platform for commercial fleets by offering innovative vehicles powered by biofuels and sustainable energy vectors – such as HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) biofuel, biomethane, hydrogen and electricity – and the related infrastructure. “We are continuing on our path towards decarbonising freight mobility, using all the currently available options and pursuing every potential area of development,” commented Luca Sra, president Truck Business Unit, Iveco Group.
From out of almost thin air, Lucid Air has emerged with providing a blueprint in the luxury segment in terms of supporting affordable performance electric vehicles – and it wants to keep its high standards up in the region. The Saudi-backed firm is also setting new standards with its advanced luxury EVs, and recently announced the limited-run Lucid Air Dream Edition will be produced in two distinct versions – the Dream Edition Performance and the Dream Edition Range – each highlighting a different facet of this exceptional electric luxury sedan. Supply issues may have slowed its progress into the market but it is certainly a disrupter to watch.