Mitsubishi Electric’s AI camera promises price/performance breakthrough for autonomous cars

Hidetoshi Mishima (left) and his engineers (c) Bertel Schmitt

Today in Tokyo, Mitsubishi Electric announced a possible breakthrough on the rocky road to autonomous driving: An AI-powered camera that more than triples the detection range from 30 meters to more than 100.

Using Mitsubishi’s “Maisart” AI technology (it stands for “Mitsubishi Electric’s AI creates the State-of-the-ART in technology,” we were told with a straight face) the system could solve a conundrum that continues to plague the autonomous drive business: [Continue Reading]

BMW broke yet another sales record in a market that we are told is closed

BMW’s Kronschnabl presents yet another record year (c) Bertel Schmitt

Recently, Detroit’s previously strident rhetoric about the allegedly “closed market” Japan quieted down a bit. This after a series of articles with car importer after car importer showing that the “closed market” story is a blatant lie. Japan in fact has one of the world’s most open car markets, mostly due to American pressure. Zero percent tariff. 5,000 cars per year and model can be brought in with next to no paperwork. Try that in the U.S.A., where Detroit’s cash cow, the light utility vehicle, is protected by a 25 percent tariff, and a huge wall of other trade barriers.

Today, I could revisit the story, when Peter Kronschnabl, CEO of BMW Group Japan, presented his 2017 results, and yet another sales record.

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Monster gallery: The ladies of the Tokyo Auto Salon 2018

Of course it’s the cars that attract throngs of people to the Tokyo Auto Salon. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Each year in January, the world’s craziest car show takes place in Tokyo. The Tokyo Auto Salon is probably the last car show on earth that shows more girls than cars.  In America and Europe, ladies in pantsuits have long taken the place of booth babes. In China, where undress ruled until 2012, all car shows are buttoned-up.

The Tokyo Auto Salon appears to be the last hold-out against the Victorian age that seems to have car shows around the world in its iron grip. Click “Continue reading” for our huge gallery.

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50 years and 6 million units later, the Toyota Hiace still gets no respect

Not much of a birthday party. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Life isn’t fair. Tesla built a little over 80,000 units last year, end everybody is going gaga. Then there is a vehicle that is built more than 200,000 times each year, and it gets no respect. Tesla built some 250,000 cars since inception. That other vehicle was built more than 6 million times. In the last 48 hours, 10% of the 3,100 stories scanned by the DailyKanban Newsbot were about Tesla. None were about the Toyota Hiace. This morning, the Hiace celebrated its 50th birthday, and 12 hours later, even that festive occasion won’t rate a single headline. Meanwhile, the mediocre Tesla smartphone battery gets 845,000 hits on Google.

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Inspection scandal crimps chances for top spot

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and CCO Yasuhiro Yamauchi in Yokohama (c) Bertel Schmitt

A quality inspection scandal that taxes the comprehension of anyone outside of Japan throws a monkey wrench into Carlos Ghosn’s aspirations to make the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance the world’s largest automaker. [Continue Reading]

Nissan sells some 14,000 of the new electric LEAF in its first month

Nissan domestic sales chief Asako Hoshino: “Sold 9,600 LEAF in Japan.” (c) Bertel Schmitt

The new 2018 Nissan LEAF went on sale in Japan on October 1st, “and demand was strong to say the least,” rejoices InsideEVs. “Better still, Nissan knows what to do with demand – fill it! What is “simply amazing” is how Nissan shows it in September, then sells the pants off it in October. For October, the LEAF set a new all-time sales record with 3,629 deliveries! Making the LEAF the 19th bestselling car in Japan for the month.”

Wait until InsideEVs hears this:

Including pre-orders, the LEAF actually sold 9,600 units in Japan in October. Together with a little over 4,000 LEAFs sold in Europe, Nissan’s 2nd generation EV found around 14,000 happy buyers globally by end of October, and wait until it comes to the U.S., where it should be available in January.

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Andy Palmer: Beautiful Aston Martin to become luxury goods conglomerate, take on Bentley and Rolls-Royce

Andy Palmer: “Our brand purpose is ‘For the love of beautiful.’” (c) Bertel Schmitt

“We don’t want to be just a luxury brand like Chanel, or Tag Heuer. We go to the group level, we aim to be a little bit like Richemont, or LVMH,” Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer told me yesterday in Tokyo.

Richemont is a Swiss-based luxury goods holding with brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, and many more. Its French pendant is LVMH. Born out of the fusion of Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy, LVMH is known in affluent circles for brands like Dior, Fendi, Bulgari, Moët & Chandon, or Kenzo. [Continue Reading]

Good-bye Google: EU-Japanese dynamic mapping partnership emerges

Edzard Overbeek of HERE with Isao Iguchi and Shoji Tanaka of Mitsubishi Electric (c) Bertel Schmitt

Rumors of Germany’s digital mapping giant HERE seeking an intimate relationship with Japan’s Dynamic Map Platform Co.  have been thick for about a year. Today, the romancing couple did not quite go all the way, but it definitely went to second base. Meanwhile, Google’s importance in the automotive space shrinks to wallflower format.

In a small meeting room at Tokyo’s Daiba Hilton, Edzard Overbeek, CEO of HERE, and Isao Iguchi, Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi Electric, shook hands for the cameramen, and announced their “intention to link their technologies for autonomous vehicles into a powerful integrated offering for automakers.” Mitsubishi Electric is a prominent DMP shareholder. [Continue Reading]