Christmas has come and gone but the surprises haven’t ended as many car companies are ending the year with big announcements and bit new features. Look forward to a new all electric pickup truck thanks to Tesla and custom interior and exterior panels for your Mini thanks to a new 3D printing service from BMW. Additionally, there will be new connected car features for GM and Audi vehicles. Here’s what’s happening:
Aptiv—formerly Delphi—and Lyft have partnered up at the 2018 CES to premier a fleet of five autonomous test cars. Attendees had the opportunity to hail these cars using the Lyft app and ride to 20 various destinations across the Las Vegas strip. Aptiv is using a car based on the BMW 5-Series. The vehicles are equipped with Velodyne LIDAR, which is mounted on the front of the car beneath the grill. An additional LIDAR mounted on the wing mirrors and two radars mounted on either end of the car, which can retract when unused.
Toyota has just premiered a new concept car, which uses fully autonomous tech that is designed specifically for ride-sharing and ride-hailing services. It’s called the “e-Palette” and resembles a small shuttle bus. It has a modular interior design, which can be altered based on its purpose—whether ride-hailing, cargo transport, delivery, or any other purpose. It is being tested and prepared for use in the U.S. in the early 2020s, according to Toyota. It is fully electric and uses Toyota’s autonomous driving software.
BMW is taking luxury to a new level with their new virtual assistant via Google Assistant. This means you can use either your Google Home unit or your smartphone/IPhone to access key vehicle functions of your BMW via voice command activation. Through BMW Connected, owners can now ensure their doors are locked and windows closed while preparing a route for the onboard GPS. By simply saying “Ok Google, ask BMW…,” an owner can use Google Assistant to access their car.
Audi just announced a partnership with Amazon to bring Amazon Music integration to their drivers. This music service will now be available in 2017/ 2018 Audi A3, A4, A4 allroad, Audi Q7, R8, TT. The service will also be available in 2018 models of the Audi Q5 and A5. Amazon Music is a service similar to Apple Music and Spotify, which allows owners to browse through a vast collection of songs, albums, playlists, and more via their streaming service.
Elon Musk took to Twitter a couple of days ago to announce an after Christmas surprise—a Tesla Pickup. Responding to someone who had requested a pickup truck from Tesla, Musk said “I promise that we will make a pickup truck right after Model Y. Have had the core design/engineering elements in my mind for almost 5 years. Am dying to build it.” Musk also mentioned it would be comparable to a Ford F-150. This announcement comes in the wake of Tesla’s all-electric semi-truck and 2nd gen Roadster this November.
In other news
Looking to get a quick coffee or bite to eat while on the road? GM is now adding a new feature in their latest vehicles to make it happen. It’s called Marketplace. Drivers will be able to order and purchase their Starbucks and/or Dunkin’ Donuts while driving to pick them up. This new feature will be available in selected Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC models. Marketplace will offer drivers a safe and quick means for ordering from a variety of retail, gas, hospitality, and food vendors via their dashboard infotainment systems.
BMW’s Mini brand is taking a bold new step in innovation by now offering customization using 3D printing. Owners can design their own custom interior dashboard panels, turn signal surrounds, LED door projectors and sills. By ordering online, clients can requested these custom features from Mini’s production facilities in Germany to be delivered in roughly four weeks. This new service by Mini launches in March 2018 so get ready to roll out on your own vision of Mini.