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Apple itches closer to i-car, hires former BMW executive for project

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Apple has hired Ulrich Kranz, a former senior executive at BMW AG’s electric car division, to help its vehicle initiatives, Apple confirmed on Thursday.

This is an indication that Apple’s i-car project will be delivered sooner than expected, people close to the company have said.

The technology giant hired Kranz about a month after he stepped down as chief executive officer of Canoo Inc, a developer of self-driving electric vehicles.

Apple has worked with BMW for many years, integrating the iPod with auto infotainment systems back in 2004 and more recently making the iPhone double as a car key.

In 2014, Apple began working on “Project Titan,” with upwards of 1,000 car experts and engineers developing an electric vehicle at a secret location near the company’s Cupertino headquarters.

Over the course of the last several years, internal strife, leadership issues, and other problems impacted the car project and 2016 rumors even suggested Apple shelved plans for a car, but the most recent information indicates Apple has overcome development problems and is moving forward with plans to develop a consumer-facing autonomous vehicle.

The Apple Car project has seen multiple leadership changes and hundreds of employees have been laid off during the course of development, but it is now under the leadership of John Giannandrea, Apple’s AI and machine learning chief, who took over the reins from Bob Mansfield after Mansfield retired in 2020.

Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed autonomous vehicles with Kara Swisher in an April 2021 interview, saying, “We [Apple] love to integrate hardware, software and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs. And we love to own the primary technology that’s around that.”

In December 2020 “people familiar with the matter” quoted by Reuters as saying that the car project was back, and that a passenger vehicle for consumers in or before 2024.

Before co-founding Canoo, Kranz was senior vice president of the group that developed the i3 and i8 cars at BMW, where he worked for 30 years.

Kranz is one of Apple’s most significant automotive hires, a clear sign that the iPhone maker is determined to build a self-driving electric car to rival Tesla Inc and other carmakers. Kranz will report to Doug Field, who led development of Tesla’s mass-market Model 3 and now runs Apple’s car project, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss a private matter.

Apple has become the world’s most valuable company, with a market capitalization of more than $2 trillion, by selling iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Macs and services. With investors and customers clamoring for new products, the company has targeted cars and augmented-reality headsets. An Apple spokesperson confirmed Kranz’s hiring.

Last year, Apple gave oversight of the operation to John Giannandrea, senior vice president of machine learning and artificial intelligence and Field’s boss. Several months ago, Apple rebooted its efforts to develop a full-fledged electric car, but development remains in the early stages, so a launch is likely at least five years away.

-Sources: Reuters and Bloomberg

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Abuja motor show holds November 15-20

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November 15-20 2021 has been fixed for the 21st edition of the Abuja International Motor Show.

The fair, according to BKG Exhibitions Limited, the organizers of the annual Abuja and Lagos motor shows, will be holding at the International Conference Centre Annex, Abuja.

Chairman of the organising committee for the event, Mr Ifeanyichukwu Agwu, said many existing and new auto assemblers as well as dealers of new automobiles would display their latest models at the fair.

He said this edition had been packaged to increase the attention of the government to the importance of urgently addressing the current challenges in the sector to use it to drive the national development programme as well as the auto gas policy of the government.

Agwu who is the Managing Director of BKG Exhibitions, is reported to have said “every effort has been deployed to ensure that the sector receives the needed support from both the government and the private sector to enhance its rapid development.

“We are packaging a show that will showcase all the existing and potential investment opportunities that abound in the Nigerian automobile industry, which we believe remains the best sector to invest in.”

 

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FG will release reviewed auto policy soon – Minister  

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The Federal Government says it will release a reviewed auto policy before the end of the year.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, stated this in Abuja recently while speaking with stakeholders.

The ‘meet the stakeholders’ forum’ was facilitated by BKG Exhibitions Limited at the minister’s office.

Adebayo said the government was working hard to put in place a workable auto policy before the end of 2021.

Responding to myriad challenges confronting the industry in Nigeria as raised by the team, the minister said, “I can assure you that we are not unaware of these problems and we have been doing our best to see how we can tackle these problems.

“I am sure you must be aware that at the moment; we are working on the auto policy and we are hopeful that before the end of this year we have an auto policy in place which will be presented to Federal Executive Council for approval.”

He further disclosed that the policy was part of discussions the Federal Government had with Original Equipment Manufacturers recently, assuring that the document would be out before end of the year.

Adebayo also said already the AfriExim Bank had accepted to fund the consultancy for the preparation of the policy.

He assured the BKG Exhibitions team led by the Managing Director, Mr Ifeanyichukwu Agwu of the ministry’s support.

The minister said, “The auto sector is a sector that our ministry is very interested in because we know that it portends a lot for the future of this country in terms of employment of our teeming youths; we will support its growth and development.”

He said the government was working hard to adequately address the challenges of the industry.

Earlier, the BKG MD had thanked the minister for granting them audience and giving a listening ear to the stakeholders in the industry.

According to him, the auto sector in Nigeria is very key to Nigeria’s economic development, stressing that it has the potential of huge employment generation and revenue earning through duties and other direct and indirect taxes.

Agwu said the inflation in the country could drop significantly through a thriving automotive sector.

According to him, Nigeria’s auto sector is huge and holds the highest number of auto brand representatives in Africa.

The BKG boss noted that countries such as Ghana are positioning to overtake Nigeria as the hub of the automotive market on the continent due to the Nigeria’s policy inconsistency and law backing policy of growing the industry.

Agwu said, “I don’t think that there is any country in Africa that has the number of auto brand representatives that Nigeria has, not even South Africa or Egypt. Yet, these people are selling to us.”

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Updated: Kia targets trendy young Nigerians with sophisticated, sporty Sonet, Seltos

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The arrival of the two compact sport utility vehicles, the all-new Kia Sonet and the high-tech Kia Seltos may just be timely for those waiting for special vehicles to rock the end of the year known for festivities and unique automobiles.

The two Kia models assembled in Nigeria were unveiled in Lagos last Friday to the motoring journalists are expected to significantly raise the market share of the Kia brand in the compact SUV segment, which is fast becoming the toast of many new car buyers globally including Nigeria, especially young trendy people.

The Sonet

Kia says the bold compact Sonet now available for customers in Nigeria has been developed ground-up to set new benchmarks in design, technology, dynamics and safety.

According to the firm, the vehicle offers first-in-class six-speed automatic, alongside a wide choice of powertrains

“The urban and athletic Sonet has arrived in Nigeria and poised to revolutionise the sub-compact SUV segment. Designed to be bold and unforgettable, the Sonet boasts of key features that place it in a league of its own within the compact SUV segment,” says Kia’s Marketing Manager, Olawale Jimoh.

Specifically, he says the Sonet coming with multiple powertrain options has impressive features encapsulated in a modern exterior and incorporates the Kia’s DNA of emotive styling along with a premium appeal creating a strong presence on the road.

The Sonet is said to provide comfort, convenience and safety as it has been fitted with the largest and the best in class 10.25-inch (26.03 cm) HD and it comes with other smart features such as multi-drive and traction modes, and grip control for automatic models.

Designed around the driver with a well laid-out, intuitive infotainment and cluster interface, the Sonet was built taking into consideration the end user’s experience, harbouring functional qualities in every inch of its ergonomic space, says Kia.

Managing Director/CEO, Kia Nigeria, Jacky Hathiramani, says, “Kia has manufactured a vision inspired by our young, ingenious customers who crave simplicity and seamlessness in their lives.

“The Sonet delivers on features that are simply not found in models belonging to the same compact SUV category. Packed with first-in-class, purposeful features and technologies. Our Nigeria customers will find in the Sonet a smart companion to navigate the needs of life.”

For the engine, Kia says with an efficiently petrol-powered engine, Kia Sonet offers its 1.5-litre MPI engine with the six-speed automatic transmission.

For safety, the firm says more than two-thirds of the Sonet’s body consists of high strength and advanced high strength steel, which creates a robust yet lightweight structure.

Kia says it has ensured that every drive with the Sonet is as hassle free and safe as possible, with a rigorous set of measures created in line with the automaker’s pillars of safety.

The Sonet will be available in a dual trim concept that includes a sporty GT-Line trim. Enhancing the Sonet’s athletic and energetic appeal, the GT-Line models offer sportiness both inside and out. Customers looking for a sharp, dynamic road presence have the choice to opt for this trim.

 

 

Seltos: Combining sophistication, comfort, efficiency

Kia says the new Seltos is one of the most high-tech cars in its class with a range of in-car features.

It is described as a technologically advanced and refined compact SUV equipped with a range of market and world-first features and designed to make driving safer and less stressful.

“The new Kia Seltos brings sophistication, assertiveness and cutting-edge technology and safety features to the global compact SUV segment,” says the Kia Nigeria

It adds, “The Seltos is characterised by distinctive design details, lending the compact SUV an air of understated sportiness. It combines forward-looking technical features, class-leading space and a suite of world-class safety features, and is powered by a choice of highly-efficient Smartstream petrol and diesel engines.”

Kia Nigeria MD/CEO, Hathiramani, speaks on the new SUV, saying, “The Seltos is an important car for Kia as it will play a central role in the expansion of our footprints, and especially in a priority market like Nigeria.

“We’ve adapted our strengths in design, quality and technology to fulfil the needs of customers in the Nigerian market. Seltos is aimed at youthful, tech-savvy buyers and is packed full of our most cutting-edge technology and safety equipment.”

Looking at its exterior design, this easily reveals the Seltos’ sporty and sophisticated nature through its long hood, a strong, character line on the front bumper, and sharp lines pressed into the bodywork.

It also sports a wide ‘tiger nose grille’, making the car instantly recognizable as a Kia, but with a difference.

The rear bumper with a metallic muffler effect accentuates this dynamic appearance.

For the interior design, the Seltos is designed with high quality, futuristic materials. With a target at youthful, tech-savvy buyers, the cabin is characterized by broad, sweeping shapes and highly technical details. Equipped with a range of technologies to maximize convenience, connectivity and ease of use, the bold design of the cabin incorporates a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The vehicle comes with the lounge-like and spacious interior and houses 8.0-inch head-up display system which unobtrusively projects relevant driving information on to a small-glass panel behind the steering wheel – such as turn-by-turn navigation directions and vehicle speed information.

The Seltos is equipped with a range of newly developed third-generation powertrains for high efficiency and powerful performance. All powertrains are engineered with Kia’s Smartstream technology for improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

Kia showcases the vehicle and its 1.6-litre T-GDI turbocharged petrol engine, producing 177 PS.

It says other options are a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, producing 149 PS; and a 1.6-litre diesel engine, producing 136 PS.

For the Nigerian market, the Seltos will be offered with an automatic transmission options to suit customers’ needs and driving style – a six-speed automatic transmission (6AT) and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) .

The car’s 10.25-inch advanced infotainment system is said to be packed full of technology and gives advanced split-screen functionality. This allows users to control or monitor numerous vehicle features at the same time, and customize the screen to display up to three applications simultaneously.

The driver can choose to have a single display (such as navigation) or combine different elements on-screen.

The vehicle has a full range of advanced active safety systems to keep its occupants well protected on every journey.

For instance, the Seltos’ body is made up of a blend of steel and aluminium, maximising torsional rigidity while keeping body weight low.

The vehicle is fitted with six airbags, as well as a suite of electronic vehicle safety systems such as Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management system as standard, incorporating traction control and electronic stability control.

It is also fitted with an Anti-lock Braking System, a Traction Control System, a Brake-Force Assist System and Hill-start Assist Control, as well as front and rear parking sensors, for assistance when parking.

 

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