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20 / INTO THE SECOND QUARTER The story behind the Mercedes Benz Vans’ Sprinter as it celebrates its 25th birthday.









Record single deal for coaches for MAN Truck & Bus Middle East in Saudi Arabia. LAUNCHES

10 / THE DYNAMIC TAHOE The all-new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe goes on sale across the Middle East as Kia Motors reveals its new military range. SAFETY

12 / FEELING REAL Volvo Cars talks to T&FME about why it is turning to cutting-edge virtual reality tools to test its newest safety features. MARKET ANALYSIS

16 / THE MOVE TO USED Experts on why Saudi and UAE car buyers are purchasing more used vehicles than ever before. EMOBILITY

22 / GETTING UBER GREEN Uber discusses why it wants to address the environmental impact of its business. SAFETY TECHNOLOGY

28 / A CONTROLLED BOOM Bosch looks back on the development of the original airbag and its own safety legacy. OPINION

30 / THE EV RACE IS ON The EV race is speeding up in the MEA region, says ABB’s regional head of electrification.


DECEMBER 2020 01


GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR RAZ ISLAM raz.islam@cpitrademedia.com +971 4 375 5483 MANAGING PARTNER VIJAYA CHERIAN vijaya.cherian@cpitrademedia.com +971 4 375 5472 EDITORIAL

DONALD GRUMPS BUT THE AUTO-INDUSTRY MUST MOVE ON What better way to end the calamity that was 2020 with a refresher on the geography and political chaos of the United States? Watching the slow – and, improbably, still unresolved – final counting of votes in counties and towns I never knew existed via CNN became my daily evening routine. As did scouring Twitter for the latest Trump rant with all the undulating punctation and scattergun exclamation marks that driving one handed on a golf buggy can inspire. What struck me as I watched one long-range shank at the courts end-up in the water after another was how much of my knowledge of the country has come from covering the automotive, trucking and construction industries over all these years. And, also, how many of those Rust Belt plant and factory workers of Illinois, Michigan, etc, are still on the frontline for deciding who is president of the United States. Of course, this was the narrative of the equally tumultuous 2016 vote; but nobody seems wholly convinced that the past four years have seen a discernable uptick in the industries that were once the conerstones of the US’ pre-eminance on the world

stage. Those of us that are close to these sectors know that the problem isn’t that manufacturing has moved elsewhere or that the global economy refuses to bend to one country’s will. Instead, it is because the political will hasn’t been in place to help re-shape the industries and companies left behind. Indeed, you could argue that the US’ automotive HQ is now in the suburbs of San Francisco and not Detroit. The tech firms of Silicon Valley are powering the future of the industry but they needed close links to education and encouragment for entrepreneurs to thrive. This is a story we have seen all around the world. Compare how UK and German industry have fared in the past 60 years. If you don’t keep strong links between the government, education, industry and the people, you will fail. Thankfully, it is a lesson we seem to have largely learned in the Middle East and hopefully the new administration will have too. The minor issue of a pandemic notwithstanding. Anyway, thank you 2020. Here’s hoping 2021 is a better year. If anyone wants me I’ll be at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

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The publisher of this magazine has made every effort to ensure the content is accurate on the date of publication. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the publisher and editor. The published material, adverts, editorials and all other content are published in good faith. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publisher in writing. Publication licensed by Dubai Development Authority to CPI Trade Publishing FZ LLC. Printed by Printwell Printing Press LLC.


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CSCEC secures $2.2bn loan to finance work on CBD project in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital



Saudi Arabia moves ahead with privatisation of water sector with WTTCO launch

ADVICE: Top ten ways to improve construction


ACT Crane & Heavy Equipment expands fleet with 16 new Demag cranes


GE’s Grid Solutions business wins major maintenance contract in Kuwait

04 DECEMBER 2020

Congratulations to everybody concerned with this uplifting - sorry, couldn’t resist! - story (Watch the first section of The Link lifted into place on One Za’abeel). This is undoubtedly one of the most impressive feats of engineering and lifting we have seen in recent years and a reminder what we do better than most of other places in the world. Namely, stretching the boundaries of what’s possible. The numbers alone are just staggering: 8,500 tonnes of steel (apparently that’s the same as 14 A380s!) lifted to the height of 100m over one of the busiest interchanges in Dubai. The technology, planning and logistics needed during a pandemic to do it are equally impressive. I think in the past we may have taken these kinds of project for granted but it is great to see the UAE push the envelope once again. I’m sure most of us veterans of the industry here are happy to preach that we can learn from the mistakes of the past but let’s allow ourselves a moment to enjoy our peers’ accomplishments on this. Well done all!


Caterpillar plays PAC-MAN in latest Trial Series video


ANALYSIS: Taking green building mainstream

Name withheld by request




NETWORK MAN secures record Saudi Arabian coach deal DELIVERY OF 80 UNITS OF THE NEW LION’S COACH IS ITS LARGEST EVER FLEET DEAL IN KSA BUSES MAN Truck & Bus says its recent delivery of 80 units of the New Lion’s Coach to a customer in Saudi Arabia is its largest-ever single deal in the Gulf state. Describing it as a milestone in MAN’s journey in the Middle East, the deal is the second major sale in Saudi Arabia this year, after securing its first private coach customer in the Middle East, Al-Salem, early in 2020. The MAN Lion’s Coach was voted ‘Coach of the Year 2020’,

and according to MAN, it combines “economic efficiency, comfort, and practicality with innovative technology and timeless design.” “This is a significant moment for us. We are happy with the confidence our customers have placed in our buses,” said Joerg Mommertz, SVP and head of sales area Middle East, Africa and Latin America, MAN Truck & Bus. “Our commitment is to make the ownership enjoyable & profitable for customers by offering the

best-in-class and we will work to deliver the best support.” The New Lion’s Coach has been praised for its exceptional handling behaviour and fuel efficiency on the road, as well as MAN’s typically comprehensive range of safety features. Rudi Kuchta, head of Business Unit Bus at MAN Truck & Bus added: “The MAN Lion’s Coach is the vehicle that has constantly impressed for a number of years thanks to its high reliability and

low fuel consumption – and a clear champion when it comes to total cost of ownership.” According to an MAN statement announcing the deal, the New Lion’s Coach is a solid vehicle you can ‘truly rely’ on: “The highly efficient coach exudes power and strength, yet actually saves on fuel and is based on a sustainable driving concept. Developed with the daily needs of customers in mind, every last detail of the MAN Lion’s Coach has a focus on efficiency.”


06 DECEMBER 2020





The Warsan facility is part of a 29 development project plan worth $1.8 billion to boost Dubai’s environmental sustainability strategy HH Sheikh Mohammed has announced a $1.09 billion wasteprocessing project, which can accommodate 1,000 garbage trucks per day and generates enough energy for 135,000 homes. To be located in the Warsan area of Dubai, the project will be capable of processing 5,666 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day and 1.9 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per year, and will have the capacity to generate 200 MW of energy annually. The Dubai Ruler added that the project will produce energy by processing waste, and that environmental sustainability is reflected in all initiatives and projects launched by government entities, independently or in partnership with the private sector. Phase one of the project will be completed by 2023 and the entire project will be completed by 2024. The Warsan facility is part of a 29 development project plan worth $1.8 billion to shore up the emirate’s environmental sustainability strategy. Implemented by the Dubai Municipality (DM), these projects are expected to add eight million sqm. of green spaces and parks to the Emirate’s residential and commercial areas. On the announcement of the project, HH Sheikh Mohammed tweeted: “We are pressing ahead with developing our city, improving the quality of our lives and making the future of the UAE.” meconstructionnews.com

A new generation of public bus stations has opened in the Al Ghubaiba area of Dubai according to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The facilities are billed as masterpieces of modern engineering design and are said to be integrated with multi mass-transit means including the metro, marine transport and taxis. The Al Ghubaiba Bus Station is said to occupy an area of 2,452sqm and hosts office spaces, customer service areas, retail outlets and restaurants, in addition to 50 slots for buses and 48 slots for vehicles. The station was inaugurated by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of

Dubai Executive Council, in the presence of Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA and other officials. The RTA notes that Sheikh Hamdan later toured the facilities, which include six buildings that offer state-of-the-art public transport

solutions. The design of the buildings are said to be environmentally sustainable and meet the needs of People of Determination. The station has a stand for 34 taxis and 60 docking stations for bicycles. The facility can handle up to 15,000 passengers per day at maximum and estimates usage by 10,500 passengers per day.

HAREKET HANDLES ITS HEAVIEST LOAD FLEET Turkish heavy lift and move contractor Hareket used Goldhofer SPMT axle lines to handle the heaviest load in its history when it moved two 6,200t passenger ships over a distance of 250m to a floating dock at the Tersan Shipyard in Turkey recently. Hareket Heavy Lifting & Project Transportation had earlier won the contract to move the two passenger ships, which are about 124m long, 22m wide and 35m high. To transport the ships to the floating dock, Hareket employed

a total of 200 heavy-duty axle lines from Goldhofer with 1,600 wheels. The equipment included 56 Goldhofer PST/SL-E heavy-duty modules with hydrostatic drive and electronic multiway steering plus 36 Goldhofer conventional THP/ SL heavy-duty modules. Abdullah Altunkum, member of the Hareket Board, said: “Although the distance to be covered with the two ships was not very long, the weight of the vessels and the handling were a major challenge for Hareket, and we are

proud to have managed it in such a short time.” The operation also included moving the ships sideways by more than 2m over the short distance of the route for correct alignment with the floating dock. While the self-propelled modules with their electronic steering systems could be steered using a single remote, a separate Hareket operator was needed to keep the steering of the conventional heavy-duty modules in sync. It nevertheless took the Hareket specialists only four days to relocate the two ships in the floating dock with a space of just 1.5m between them.

DECEMBER 2020 07



The worlds of automotive and art have been uniquely mashed together with the reveal of a Special Edition 2021 Land Cruiser in the UAE. Distributor Al-Futtaim Toyota, and Emirati pop art designer and entrepreneur, Fatma Mohammed Obaid AlMulla said they have partnered to celebrate local art and culture through the creation of the 4x4 art piece which was exclusively showcased at this year’s Dubai Design Week in Dubai Design District (d3). Al-Futtaim Toyota said it approached AlMulla in an effort to empower women in the country and in

particular Emirati women to celebrate their identity, as well as commemorate the Land Cruiser’s place in Emirati heritage. The vehicle boasts vibrant colours with the Emirati’s artist’s

distinctive flair throughout, explained Al-Futtaim Toyota. AlMulla added that the Land Cruiser represents more than just an impressive SUV to her. “I was raised in a house where the Land Cruiser has been driven by our family members for decades,” she said. “When Al-Futtaim Toyota approached me for the collaboration, it was like a dream come true. Through this art piece, I intend to challenge the social and cultural stereotypes and perceptions that cars and art designs are made or designed for a specific gender. I believe that women have the right to drive any car they choose.”

BEE’AH READIES 400-STRONG FLEET AS IT EXPANDS OPERATIONS IN EGYPT FLEET UAE-based Bee’ah has been appointed as the waste management and city cleaning partner for the new Administrative Capital in Egypt, marking Bee’ah’s expansion in the MENA region. Services will commence next March, with the target of achieving an 80% waste diversion from landfill rate through holistic and integrated waste management solutions in the city. According to a statement from Bee’ah, its aim is to instill a sustainable quality of life with the new project.

Across the new capital, Bee’ah will introduce advanced underground bin systems and over 30,000 waste collection points. Meanwhile, a workforce of over 1000 will serve an estimated 2 million people in the first phase of the city’s development. Additionally, over 400 vehicles will be deployed for city cleaning and waste management including the electric waste collection units, the company stated. These will be complemented by waste collection vehicles, mobile pest control system, vacuum

machines vehicles, rapid response vehicles, and more. The team will utilise WastePro+, the region’s first fully integrated digital solution to track and monitor waste throughout the entire waste cycle in real-time, increasing efficiencies and resourcesavings, Bee’ah added. HE Khaled Al Huraimel, group CEO of Bee’ah, said: “We will achieve an 80% waste diversion rate for the new Administrative Capital through advanced recycling facilities and best-in-class waste management solutions.”


UAE-based solar energy provider, SirajPower has signed a deal with grocery retailer and food distributor, Choithrams to aid them shift from conventional power to 100% renewable energy. Sustainable Business Forum (WSBF) acted as the sustainability partner for this project. Under the terms of the agreement, the solar rooftop project will include supplying Choithrams’ three warehouses in Dubai with a 2.7 MWp system capacity that will generate 4.5 GWh of annual energy production. Rajiv Warrier, CEO of Choithrams said that sustainability has always been a key initiative for Choithrams and shifting to 100% renewable energy is a crucial step in their sustainable journey. “We were keen to find the right local partner with proper knowledge and technical expertise for such a significant commitment, we selected SirajPower for these reasons,” he added. Meanwhile, Laurent Longuet, CEO of SirajPower, said: “Today, we celebrate another significant partnership with Choithrams, a company with a remarkable heritage that further diversifies our strong market portfolio and expands our presence in the FMCG/F&B sector. We are honoured to be entrusted by major groups across industries that recognise our expertise and our service excellence to achieve their sustainability objectives and join the green community.”


08 DECEMBER 2020




Abu Dhabi-based Alliances for Global Sustainability (AGS) has announced its partnership with Veolia to establish the most advanced food-grade polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling plant in the GCC region. The 14,000 tonne capacity plant is being backed by a number of entities including Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency, Tadweer and Kizad, and will be located in the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad). The recycling plant will be capable of using advanced sorting technologies, coupled with a high-performance washing line. AGS stated the project will fully integrate Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s ambitious waste management strategy which aims to divert waste from landfill, enhance recycling, and promote a circular economy. It will also have a state-of-the-art extrusion process for sorting, shredding and washing the PET, before it is melted into regenerated raw material that can be used for F&B packaging. The recycling plant will boost Abu Dhabi’s circular economy while providing innovative solutions to the global sustainability sector, AGS added. Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, CEO, AGS, said that through the development of this innovative facility, AGS aims to help consolidate Abu Dhabi’s position as a leader within the sustainability sector, while also further enabling a circular economy and encouraging habitual recycling: “The economic impact of developing and operating this facility will be realised through both job creation and further opportunities in the emirate’s waste management sector.” meconstructionnews.com

ECOSTYLE COMES TO MEA FLEETS TELEMATICS A new EcoStyle system described as a powerful enterprise grade and ready-for-retrofit telematics solution for customers has been launched in the Middle East-Africa (MEA) region. Available to fleet customers for the first time from MAN Truck & Bus, EcoStyle is a dynamic solution suite designed to support “improved levels of fleet efficiency and safety, and reduce environmental impact.” EcoStyle has been finetuned through millions of hours in service, said MAN, and predicts that the technology will help customers enhance their earnings.

The system enables fleets to monitor fuel consumption and driver performance with users able to access a suite of reports on the operation of fleet vehicles. Furthermore, integration with Google Maps lets customers can get detailed information about each vehicle in their fleet and get a “street level view”. MAN Truck & Bus has partnered with Microlise, a UK-based company that has developed and tested a system which lets customers track their vehicles in real-time. Noel Macaron, head of Truck Sales, Sales Area MEA&LA, MAN Truck & Bus, added, “The attractive proposition is that

MAN EcoStyle can be purchased for new MAN vehicles or even retro-fitted to existing ones. This telematics solution can help customers gain significant advantage in their business.” MAN Truck & Bus believes that through monitoring, debrief and regular coaching in good driving practice, customers can realise savings of 5% to 15% in fuel costs within their fleet: “Information such as harsh cornering, speeding and harsh braking can be monitored, giving customers the data that they can use to coach their drivers in best practice. In addition, improved utilisation can help to improve fuel efficiency still further.”


Steady progress is being made on the Shindagha Corridor Project, the $1.36 billion road project being developed by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), it has been announced. HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman

of Dubai Executive Council, said that the project is part of Dubai’s development strategy that places the interests of citizens and the comfort and happiness of residents and visitors at the top of its priorities. This is evident in the large investments the emirate allocates to infrastructure projects that serve

the needs of society members and the business community, while also enabling establishments to grow and prosper, he added, noting that the emirate’s infrastructure sector accounts for 46% of the total government spending in the emirate’s 2020 budget. Extending 13 kilometres from Sheikh Rashid Street through to Al Mina Street and Al Khaleej Street, up Cairo Street, the Shindagha Corridor Project combines all elements of integrated transport. It includes two large lifts at both ends of the bridge and three shared bridges for pedestrians and cyclists. One bridge is currently under construction on Al Khaleej Street, while two will be constructed on the Sheikh Rashid and Al Mina Streets at a later stage. DECEMBER 2020 09




Great lake tours 2021 CHEVROLET TAHOE HAS OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED INTO THE MIDDLE EAST MARKET The all-new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe which is now on sale across the Middle East, stamps General Motor’s authority on the SUV segment across the region, claims the manufacturer. The venerable SUV has been completely redesigned, including powertrain revisions and a new approach to driving dynamics. “The legend is bigger, bolder and better for 2021, boasting bestin-class interior and unmatched technology,” claimed GM in a statement, adding that the Tahoe was developed for the Middle East using ‘unprecedented’ feedback. “The Tahoe is a legend in the region with a loyal following that swears by its ability to balance performance and practicality,” said said Luay Al Shurafa, president

10 DECEMBER 2020

and managing director, General Motors Africa and Middle East. “The all-new Chevrolet Tahoe will re-forge that legend. We’ve listened to what both our regional and international customers love about the Tahoe and cranked everything up to deliver the most capable, most confident and most connected Tahoe ever, with even more choices than before. The upgrade has been used to make the most of GM’s engagement with its loyal local Tahoe following and this has led to an almost radical transformation of the base chassis, “combining the strongest aspects of its new full-size truck architecture with entirely new systems tailored for the needs of today’s SUV drivers and passengers.”

Chevrolet has also introduced the Tahoe Z71 as a standalone trim rather than as an additional package for the first time. Designed to tackle the toughest dunes and fiercest adventures, the Tahoe Z71 looks set to have a best-in-class approach angle of up to 34.9 degrees. A total of four trims are available (LT, LS, Premier as well as the Z71), with Chevrolet designers creating an entirely new look for the 2021 range. According to Chevy, the vehicles’ bigger, bolder stances and proportions offer customers more choices than ever before: “Each trim has been carefully refined for drivers to find the perfect blend of eye-catching design and premium comfort that best suits their lifestyle. Inside the

Official SUV of Action, the biggest change that customers will notice is Tahoe’s best-in-class spaciousness. “With 254 mm more thirdrow legroom, the all-new Tahoe is even more comfortable for all passengers, making every seat the best in house. Chevrolet designers have also unlocked up to 66% more cargo space behind the third row, making the 2021 Tahoe the practical fullsized SUV for every adventure. “With the additional space in the all-new Chevrolet Tahoe, designers added a best-in-class center fridge console1, outstripping similar offers on the market. Capable of sub-zero temperatures, the centre console fridge is powered by a dedicated compressor and can fit six 0.5L bottles with room





A BETTER DRIVE THAN BEFORE The new Tahoe’s powertrain makes it much more capable off-roader than before.

COLD-HEARTED The centre console fridge is powered by a dedicated compressor and can fit six 0.5L bottles with room left for road-trip snacks.

left for road-trip snacks.” Despite the 2021 Tahoe being a full-sized SUV, it’s been designed to ‘drive small’. With dramatic improvements to its driving dynamics, the all-new Tahoe now offers best-in-class drive dynamics. The biggest change is an all-new independent multi-link rear suspension architecture which enables

first-in-class Four-Corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension which provides load-levelling at all corners of the vehicle and up to four inches of ride-height adjustment. It is paired with the latest generation Magnetic Ride Control and together they ensure “that the 2021 Tahoe delivers the smoothest ride, on and off-road.”

Kia Motors is developing a new mid-sized range of military vehicles as part of its new standard platform for the next-generation of military vehicles. The company also said it is working alongside the South Korean government to strengthen the company’s capabilities in future military projects. Kia said the manufacture of prototypes of the mid-sized standard vehicles will be ready for testing by its government in 2021 and is on track for military deployment from 2024, “following standardisation and initial production tests.” This mid-sized standard vehicle development programme are part of a planned replacement of 2.5t and 5t military standard vehicles currently in operation. It also features the development of new 5t bulletproof vehicles. The standard vehicles will be equipped with a range of the latest commercial technologies, including high-torque 7.0l diesel engines and automatic transmission systems, ABS and Anti-Spin Regulator (ASR), Rear Parking Assist, Around View Monitor, satellite navigation and hot wire seats, explained the company in a statement. “Kia’s modular approach to developing new vehicles on the platform will enable the development of other derivatives in future, such as vehicles equipped with a range of weapons systems, and those designed with more specialised specifications and

technologies,” said the company, adding it has developed a conceptual brief for its new military all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and plans to introduce a prototype early next year. “The developed ATV will not only be deployed for military purposes, but will also be used in various fields, such as industrial and leisure sectors, drawing on bare chassis from the robust Kia Mohave SUV. Kia will continue to grow its reputation as an SUV brand by applying technology and know-how from military vehicle development to improve the durability of its road-going SUVs. “To contribute to the development of the military’s future combat systems, Kia is also actively carrying out advanced R&D, combining the latest automotive technology with military vehicles. The company is developing autonomous driving technology for military vehicles which could assist with delivering supplies.” Kia Motors has produced a range of vehicles for the Korean and overseas military, including 0.25-, 1.25-, 2.5- and 5t vehicles. To-date, Kia has supplied nine model types and 100 derivatives, and produced a total of 140,000 military vehicles. Kia said it is also exploring the potential for hydrogen fuel cell technology across diverse military applications, including fuel cell vehicles and emergency power generators.



5.3l V8






519Nm @4100






DECEMBER 2020 11



T&FME talks to Volvo Cars about why its groundbreaking use of VR is not a game when it comes to safety


ou’re driving on a gloomy day but the road is clear. As you round the corner, you suddenly see a large animal out in front and slam hard on the brakes, narrowly missing it. Again. As you pause for breath, happy that unlike the first few times you avoided a collision, the startled beast flickers and is gone. Road test complete, you take your headset off and get out of the car, checking for other traffic on the test route. Even the most technologically sceptical of us out there are probably plugged in, connected and attached to our phones, tablets or PCs in ways that were unimaginable barely 12 DECEMBER 2020

a few years ago. Last month, T&FME visited – appropriately it was a virtual tour - Volvo Cars’ research hub to see how tests like the one at the top of the story fuse cuttingedge technology like augemented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), computing horsepower and engineering used in our day-to-day lives to help create its worldleading safety development programmes. “Look, we’re not promising that your next Volvo will come with a CGI co-pilot or something,” says our guide Robyn Nel, “but what we are learning as much as we can about human behaviour through the use of technology – and all of that learning is going to go towards helping us create safer cars.”

The ability to simulate every scenario helps us to be much more efficient”

Much of this work is conducted at Volvo’s Gothenburg hub and within the campus’ Open Innovation Arena. Through a maze of screens, carved open car interiors and cabling, its teams are working with an array of technology to take simulated trips into an alternative reality. Combining the hallucinatory with the holistic, they are learning with every trip how to fix situations that would be impossible or pretty unsafe to look at in the real world, says Timmy Ghiurau, Innovation Leader, VR and AR Expert. Crucially, it means that they can test new safety features far earlier in development, slashing time and money. meconstructionnews.com


“The ability to simulate every possible scenario as early as possible in the process helps us to be much more efficient which means we can spend much more time to improve the technology to be better which means safer, ” he tells T&FME. “We can also have higher accuracy to understand user behaviour in the context of autonomous driving and interaction with safety systems. “When we’re developing self-driving cars and technologies around the collision avoidance for instance, it is really important that we cover all possible scenarios that could happen on the road. And it’s really important that we try to see the human behaviour in this aspect of though because some of these scenarios are either too dangerous to test in real life or they’re too rare – which would mean that you will need to drive forever to actually for this scenario to occur.” You may assume that could mean endless replays of pedestrians suddenly stepping in front of your vehicle, but in [ahem] reality, Ghiurau and the team are looking at a huge array of potential situations. “For instance, we can try and see how the car will react to a scenario – and how you will react – when a car in front of you has a mattress tied to the top and that mattress goes loose on the highway just a few meters in front of you,” he says slightly sinisterly. “Not only that, but we can actually simulate that scenario and can play it out over and over again with slightly different variations and different parameters to make sure that we cover those things. We can try bringing more users in the loop and we simulate it.” He adds: “We not only focus on the car sensors and how they detect it but also how you as a user respond to it and by doing that we’re trying to cover when the impossible might come up.” Unsurprisingly, Volvo has gone straight to the technology to power games consoles and PCs for inspiration. “We are really inspired by what the gaming community is doing,” says Ghiurau. “They’re always pushing the boundaries of technology of rendering VR and AI. We are also trying to challenge them with real-world use cases such as what we do in automotive– and it’s a good way of doing it since we don’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over.” Volvo realised early that it would need to look for other firms to partner with. “We started to identify the gaps within our processes and all the parallel initiatives within simulations and virtual experiences,” meconstructionnews.com

he explains. “After our needs were identified, we started to collaborate with our partners, listened for internal and external requests and we started to evaluate these technologies.” Volvo turned to one of the world’s leading game engine developers Unity (games using its engine tech include the popular Ori and the Will of the Wisps from Microsoft and Nintendo’s Mario Kart Tour) to create the 3D virtual world it needed. “We can learn from what has been done in games for tools that we’re using today,” continues Ghiurau. “Volvo Cars has been using simulator technologies for many years, however for the past five years we have been collaborating with Unity and

We can learn from what has been done in games for tools we’re using”

SAVING LIVES AND TIME Timmy Ghiurau tells T&FME that partnering with technology companies is saving time and money in the development of new safety technology.

VR AND AR INTO REALITY Volvo Cars is experimenting with a mix of technologies both in its facility and out on the road.

evaluating their simulation solutions in our toolchain. The game engine from Unity is a real-time 3D Tool and here at the Innovation Hub we can tie all these things together and create virtual environments. We bring our cars; their sensors. And then we have VR headsets where we can actually put the user into the simulation and track their eyes and interactions with our systems.” If that wasn’t enough sensory information, the team are using another state-of-the-art gaming tool, Tesla suits, which allow users to touch and feel inside a VR world. Ghiurau says the suits haptic technology lets you track how reacts physiologically when placed into often hazardous real-life scenarios. “The possibilities are endless especially for training situations where we need to perform the same movement,” he says. “We can actually record and simulate it over and over again. With the biosensing the suit is equipped with we can see the user’s stress levels or heartbeat and if we combine that with eye tracking it gives us a good impression of how the users are feeling in a certain traffic scenario.” Test subjects wearing the pulsating and tight-fitting suits may look like they are about to embark on a trip to outer space, but Ghiurau explains the sartorial inelegance is accelerating development of an array of safety technology: “We get the advantage of trying the latest things and incorporating it in our tool chain. It is pretty similar with a game, as I said, so we can take advantage of millions of bright brains. They’re part of a community that developed environments, props, streets and other scripts that we can reuse so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel which improves the efficiency process. “The main advantage is the extra immersion added through high resolution VR headsets as well as haptic feedback. By using the same tools from an early design stage - through the research and development process, user testing, and storytelling trough consumer facing applications - we are able to reuse assets through experiences and different simulation rigs. This means we can be faster and more efficient because we don’t have to wait for a real car in order to test our technology. Instead we can focus more on quality. ” Pointing to a screen, Ghiurau, shows us a digital car park with a Volvo (virtually) sitting in one of its bays: “We are trying a plug-in from Luminar’s LIDAR sensor and we can actually look at how we place the sensor DECEMBER 2020 13


on the car model and then how accurate it will get...we can add more elements in this parking scenario like a pedestrian in front of the car and our machine learning software can actually teach the car how to park itself. We can test numerous of scenarios like this. We can try every possible occurrence, but we can also put it on a driving rig where we actually do it in real time with the user in the middle.” Switching screens now, he shows two identical pieces of footage taken by cameras on a car. The only difference being that only one of the clips is real. “If you think about it, the car sees the world through a set of cameras and sensors, right? On the left here we can see the output from our cameras on a test track and we see the lane detection and object detection and on the right. The active safety team replicates an environment using Unity where the road is digital and the car is ‘natural’ so we can actually see if our perception and detection algorithms work.” The cameras don’t have to be strapped onto a vehicle either. One of the most impressive abilities shown by Ghiurau is the use of everyday phones and tablets to test the LIDAR system. “The latest phones and tablets include such a sensor in the device. With the latest iPad we can actually scan the environment around us and we stream the point cloud (think an image made of dots) into Unity directly. We’re trying to capture the environment around us and use it for a really

DEMOCRATISING DEVELOPMENT Ghiurau says Volvo Cars is always exploring new technologies. Development includes the creation of proofs of concepts before sharing the “new tools, methods and learnings” with the rest of the company.

14 DECEMBER 2020

GAMEFICATION OF TESTING The set-up at the Open Innovation Arena allows the team to produce an almost limitless array of simulations.

The possibilities are endless especially for training situations”

accurate augmented reality and overlay virtual objects anchored in the virtual space. This helps us to understand how the LIDAR sensors react to the environment in real time and prototype and do quick testing.” VR is becoming familiar to a growing number of households but Volvo is using headsets that have resolutions that match the human eye to sidestep the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic by allowing teams to share and collaborate on new car and feature designs in 3D across the globe. “Adopting more virtual tools and

methods is key to collaborate around research and development of such features, and being able to simulate virtually in a cost efficient and fast way,” enthuses Ghiurau. “We can connect with our office in US and can look at the same car; have workshops meetings... I can even see my own hands and see the environment around me at super low latency that enables us to actually drive a car. We can do design reviews; look at a car concept. I’ve got multiple people who can do this at the same time. No matter where they are.” One of the main purposes of the Open Innovation Arena is to test how drivers will interact inside an actual car interior without having to do the testing on the road. Standing besides a mock-up of a Volvo Car, Alexander Eriksson, senior design engineer - Human Factors, puts a fully (Tesla) suited and VRgoggled driver into a scenario where they are sharing control of a car with an automated system. The user experience expert explains that this is an easier way to test how humans will react with new technology, years before it’s ready to be used on a highway for real. Eriksson and his team are concerned with every minor detail of how people interact in a car environment from pulling on the seat belt or how they may react to vibrations from the vehicle. The point, he says, is to recreate an experience as close to driving, so that a response to a new feature, like the switching off an autonomous driving mode to manual, is as realistic as possible. “We can test how the users interact with the systems with the screens and also evaluate our car designs with the user experience,” he says. Ghiurau adds: “We have a lot of learning about human behaviour and user attention. It allows us to understand how the car can communicate with the driver in the safest possible way. We learn where the warning signs are most effective and what senses needs to be triggered by using sound, signs or vibrations). We also learn how different user’s with different age, gender and cultural background react to certain traffic scenarios.” If and when Volvo is ready to put autonomous vehicles on the road, it will have been Eriksson and colleagues’ research that will make it reassuringly safe for drivers. He explains: “With that (switch of modes) it’s important to find the right balance between getting a fast response but at the same time it cannot stress them out. Should the driver remain unresponsive, then the vehicle can take measures to take control. (What we meconstructionnews.com


get) is exactly how your brain works when you want to perform an action… then we can actually track movement and calibrate.” Arguably it is the work of Casper Wickman, Senior Technical Specialist – Human Centric Methods and Tools and team that is at the very sharpest edge of the technology being used in Gothenburg. One of his latest achievements was the invention and development of the Augmented Reality Car (ARCAR); enabling driving with an Varjo Mixed Reality Headset which overlays virtual content inside and outside the car. Volvo Cars is the first car maker to make this set-up possible and claims the seamless matching of high resolution cameras and computer generated imaging provides an almost limitless palette of pitfalls to be presented to a driver. “Since the VR headset allows us to mix virtual reality with reality we can simulate situations from accident reports and other Volvo real-world data but in a safe way,” explains Ghiurau. “The high resolution and quality of the assets adds to the immersion,and response times. We also have the ability to blend between realities in a seamless way.” Rather than be content in racking up thousands of virtual miles in the safety of the Open Innovation Arena, Casper Wickman

ARCAR OUT ON THE ROAD Together with Varjo, a technology start-up from Finland that specialises in high-end virtual reality and mixed reality headsets, Volvo Cars is now using cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality technology, including the ARCAR.

and team are taking the headsets and Tesla suits out onto the road in the ARCAR. “We can increase the severity of the driving situation. And with that, I mean that everything becomes much more realistic in terms of your responsibilities as a driver. In a simulator, you can just start over again and take it from the beginning but when you’re actually driving….that’s where the behavior of the driver becomes really realistic.” The ARCAR works with a driver being fed scenarios, such as a virtual deer running out onto the road ahead of them, by a tester and a laptop sitting on the rear seats of the vehicle: “A person can sit and stop the

We’re trying to cover when the impossible might come up”

applications and start sequences that we want to try out. Due to the high resolution of the XL1 headset, it’s possible for the driver to read all the information in the car and even use the mirrors and the real-world camera when operating it. With this method we can do this over and over again and tune the safety system into a safe system. There are other manufacturers using (simulator) technology but this is unique. Volvo is the only one combining technology like this.” While he can’t share the exact numbers, Ghiurau tells T&FME that Volvo Cars has seen significant savings, “especially in cutting lead time in increase efficiency. Some of these technologies already replaced super expensive traditional simulation systems.” The technology and approach being utilised could yet also pave the way for an array of other applications. “There are a lot of opportunities with this new technology to improve the mobility ecosystem overall, like city planning, more interactive mobility services, as well as traffic control, education, driving tests, etc. And, also, how the future of showrooms and dealerships could look like,” says Ghiurau. “We are looking into how these technologies can shape the future of dealerships, retail and the way our users will interact with our products.”


Varjo Mixed Reality Headset Last year, Volvo Cars, together with Varjo, became the first car maker to make it possible to drive a real car while wearing a mixed reality headset. The Varjo XR-1 Developer Edition headset uses video cameras to enable mixed reality and provides mixed or virtual reality at a high-definition resolution. With the Varjo XR-1 headset, the objects and environments created in Unity can be seamlessly integrated into the real world.


Teslasuit Through the application of forces, vibrations, or motions, haptic technology makes it possible to recreate the experience of touch when interacting with the virtual world. By wearing Teslasuit’s advanced full-body haptic suit, Volvo’s testers can ‘feel’ reproductions of the forces one would experience in a crash. The suit also enables Volvo’s engineers to test these reactions by studying how muscles, stress levels, and heart rate react under stress.

Unity Simulation Engines The simulation scenarios are created using the latest real-time 3D software from Unity, the company behind one of the world’s most popular development platfAorms for video game development. Using Unity, Volvo experts can create virtual environments and objects to use in simulations or put a fully accurate 3D model of any Volvo car design into any virtual environment, assessing the design in different lights, locations and weather. 

DECEMBER 2020 15



Just why are our buying habits changing, it can’t all be about cost? Can it?


arly in the summer, Glasgow Consulting’s Partner – Automotive & Mobility Practice expert Vishal Pandey gave a fascinating insight into the Saudi market via Automechanika Dubai’s webinar series. He returned last month with Tarek Kabrit, the CEO and Co-founder of Seez, an AIdriven, data-first automotive platform and Dubicars.com’s CEO Craig Stevens. Their task was to explain why the Saudi Arabian and UAE markets are shifting towards online sales at a time where there is also unprecedented levels of used car ownership – to the potential detriment of new car sales. 16 DECEMBER 2020

While this is obviously good news if you run an event for the aftermarket, historically unheard of ratios of 2:1 in favour of used vehicle sales also has ramifications for the auto-industry and gives us an insight into a wider social change underway in those two countries – and likely beyond. “There is clearly a growing preference for used cars and we see this trend growing pretty strongly over the next five to ten years,” says Pandey early into the conversation. “Looking at the Saudi market in 2020, there has been some exodus of expatriates out of the Kingdom (same as the UAE). We have also had women come into market after the driving

Cars that have a GCCspec that are more in demand for exports, especially for Africa”

ban was lifted. Then we saw VAT going from 5%-15% effective July 2020.” Throw these factors into a market which is already booming with young tech-savvy consumers, Pandey believes there is a clear push towards online sales amid this changing landscape. The Saudi and UAE consumer now know the value of researching on the web with six out of 10 people now willing to purchase online too: “They are going online to research as part of the decision-making process,” he explains. Pandey’s own research into consumer buying behaviour also suggests that COVID-19 is playing its part in accelerating the trend of used car sales outpacing new meconstructionnews.com


car sales in the neighbouring Gulf countries. Data also indicates that they are considering leasing and co-ownership options at a scale not previously seen in the region. “With COVID-19, e-commerce and e-retailing are in the limelight especially for used cars,” he reveals. Consumers are turning to sites like Seez to search for their next vehicle. The platform links used and new vehicle dealerships in the UAE, KSA and Kuwait to those potential buyers. Its CEO Tarek Kabrit agrees that the pandemic is clearly pushing online demand. “Our aim is really to use technology to enhance the transparency in the market for the buyer and to help advise them on what to look for and what to buy,” he says. “A key area of interest and focus for us is online car buying and we’re pushing heavily into that space. There’s been a new demand and growing demand into that sector particularly because of Covid-19 and it’s an area that we’re pushing hard on.” Dubicars.com’s CEO Craig Stevens adds: “I think this market was definitely moving towards a used car market. It started off two/three years ago... new car market ratios have fallen from four new cars to every one used car. We’ve seen that flip to two used cars to every one new car.” Stevens argues that part of the reason for this change is that the expats that are remaining in the UAE are becoming cost conscious car buyers. “I think people are starting to understand the value of used cars. So, Covid-19 has actually just accelerated that move towards to used cars. It was really fascinating that when we first went into lockdown, we did a poll straight away to find out what consumers were thinking and the number one on their list was sanitisation... I want to buy from somewhere where I am confident that the cars been sanitised...And that’s obviously where the dealers can do a great job versus the private market. “The second thing was then finance, but it was about flexible finance – buy now, pay later; give me some protection against redundancy. And then it was price. They were very much thinking of the moment, sanitisation and finance. We did the same poll this week and it’s completely flipped on onto its head. Now it’s all about price and so it’s [the demand] going back to the private market. It just shows you how people think differently in a very short period of time. When I looked at sanitisation, I think meconstructionnews.com

MORE USED CARS THAN EVER BEFORE The UAE and Saudi vehicles are seeing unprecedented volumes of used car transactions relative to new car sales.

it was seventh on the list. So, people have already got past that concern around sanitisation and now it’s about choice and price. Finance is still a key part of that.” Stevens says the net result in the UAE market, at least, is a surge of used vehicles: “There are some estimates that there are potentially up to a hundred thousand vehicles that are coming into the market through defleeting rental car companies and so on, and so forth. But that’s great for the consumer. It means they have a lot of choice.” Kabrit’s Seez is a firm that it is flexing its muscles in the digital space with much of its business involved in providing leasing


of potential buyers do not want to buy online-only

options for people “who choose not to buy” and instead lease a car over periods of one, two or three years: “Within that model we charge on a lead basis; we get paid when we send those leads. A second angle to our business is independent of that but does rely on the data we get which is a SaaS product. We sell that to the OEMs mostly: it gives them insight and predictive analytics on where the market is moving in terms of pricing, demand-supply and all of that.” Seez is also helping an unnamed government agency to digitise its car registration process, Kabrit says the work is helping the company develop a seamless online experience for consumers. Potentially, it could mean buyers never needing to enter a showroom. “We’re building on top of it to really have the full online journey because we need to register the car at the end – that’s the last step in the car buying process. A lot of dealers say we’re launching online buying, but really what they’re launching is an online booking platform: where you have a website; you put a down payment on the car. But you haven’t really bought the car yet. You’ve just booked at by that point. We’re working with a lot of these dealerships and the government to really go all the way down to literally registering the car.” While Stevens shares the vision of a fully digitalise retail journey, he argues that for used vehicles there remains a need for human interaction at some point.

ONLINE AND SAVVY VEHICLE SHOPPERS The Saudi and UAE consumer now know the value of researching on the web with six out of 10 people now willing to purchase online too.

DECEMBER 2020 17


A CHANGING SAUDI MARKET Changes to a younger market with more female drivers is having a profound effect on the used care market in Saudi Arabia.

“I think people still want to see the dealer and the dealership and they still want to touch and have a test drive. There is lots of activity offline. I think it’s very different from new cars. Our view is quite simple. We are completely impartial. We don’t sell our own product. We give the dealer all the tools they need and the private sellers what they need. We try and marry them as best we can but we don’t influence that decision at all. We don’t gain from that, so we are completely impartial in that sense.” While it can’t fully replicate face-toface interaction and the magic of being able to see and touch a vehicle, Tarek argues that the biggest strength of online is the convenience of it. He estimates, however, that a sizeable chunk of 30-40% of buyers will not want to do the whole process online. “When we talk about online buying, at least, our personal view is we don’t feel a large number of people are going to be buying a car purely online – as in sitting on their sofa and ordering the home delivery of a car. But when we talk about online buying, we envision an omni-channel experience where people will be able to move between online and offline seamlessly....and continue that journey just like you do with an Apple phone. You go to the Apple Store and you play around with it; then you go back home and research it online. You might order it on Amazon or Apple, or whatever. Really having that digital journey fully digitised will allow people to move between the two. That capability is what’s important.” In effect, wrapping the purchasing process up in technology can open up not just the way people buy but also the types of offering dealerships and distributors can make: “For the buyer, one of the perks is being able to start the journey online; go to the showroom; test drive the car. And there 18 DECEMBER 2020

I think people are starting to understand the value of used cars”

are few other perks, you get the extended warranty, you get servicing, you can return the car within three days if you don’t like it, which is a fairly big perk in a lot of cases.” Stevens agrees that dealers must start to understand that they need to be concerned with not just websites but the whole customer journey. He sees other room for improvement too, and happily lists them. “There’s also a lot of stock in the market, so dealers can move towards a velocity model; moving cars faster with lower margins and better prices. They can take share from the private sector and they can export export cars. I think the dealers must start to engage with the consumer very differently than just putting posters down the Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s about a proper digital engagement strategy for consumers for thing is learn how to properly do digital marketing. So, this isn’t about three photographs and one line of description. It’s about a proper online experience that gets you to the point where you want to transact.” The move online presents a major opportunity for dealers to capitalise on the UAE’s position, in particular, as a major export hub. With people from the continent

SEEZ’ CEO TAREK KABRIT ON NEW CAR SALES “We launch a data report once a year that covers a lot of that. So, for the more expensive cars, the top three were Mercedes, BMW and Lexus. And the lower segment, under 100,000 dollars, was Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi. “In Saudi we see similar trends with Toyota and Hyundai high on that list in terms of taste. Also the American brands are more popular in Saudi than they are in the UAE particularly Chevrolet and GMC.”

GOING ONLINE ONLY GOES SO FAR Stevens argues that car-buying online cannot fully replace the benefits of seeing and test-driving your next vehicle.



RE-EXPORTING INTO AFRICA Africa has become a major reexport market for supercars that are currently in the Middle East.

BEYOND ADVERTISING HOARDINGS Dubicars.com’s Stevens argues that dealers must start to engage with the consumer very differently “than just putting posters” down major highways.

DUBICARS. COM’S CEO CRAIG STEVENS ON THE UAE TOP BRANDS “The Japanese brands obviously dominate over here. Toyota itself is like 30% of the market. There’s no about it, Japanese brands dominate. However, the Korean brands are coming up thick and fast. We’re starting to see the Chinese brands make an impact now. “The American brands have now added some of the leasing deals and that will make an impact. So it’s definitely a Japanese market at the moment, but we are starting to see a huge change in a very short period of time.

buying more used cars from the Gulf than ever,what are the types of cars are they buying? When asked what is more common, US, European or Asian cars at the moment, Stevens replies: “Cars from the USA are in more demand in general but it is actually cars that have a GCC-spec that are more in demand for exports, especially for Africa.” Kabrit adds that his company had seen a similar trend albeit in slower volumes because of the economical and logistical obstacles raised by COVID-19. “The trend for typically GCC specs is there. The UAE is an export hub, so a lot of cars get pushed from there to Africa as Greg says.” “There is no doubt about it, Africa is a fantastic opportunity for the UAE,” adds Stevens. “If we just look at Ethiopia, they imported 800,000 used cars last year and the UAE’s currently only exporting 250,000 cars. Our Research into Africa shows that the African Market likes buying from the UAE. There are good trading relationships already in place. It’s quite

There is clearly a growing preference for used cars and we see this trend growing pretty strongly over the next five to ten years”

easy to export from here. It’s quite safe. But I think the dealers have to do a lot more online to give a buyer from Africa more confidence. They’re competing against the American market, the Japanese market which are quite a long way ahead in terms of technology. Africa is definitely a key area for some of the older European cars and certainly for some of the super cars that are over here. They have global appeal. They’re incredibly well specced and have incredibly low mileage. Some of them haven’t been driven at all and never left the showroom. “And of course, these are other collectors cars or certainly investors cars that have been shipped all over the book. So yeah, I think the UAE has done a phenomenal job so far in exports without really investing in the digital side so I can only see a great upcycle from that. I think if there’s a concerted effort, I think the UAE has a phenomenal opportunity and take on the Japanese and US market for exporting.”




T. 009716 7430176


F. 009716 7430107

E-mail: mh@creationfms.com Web: www.creationfms.net

DECEMBER 2020 19



T&FME looks back with Mercedes-Benz Vans MENA on 25 years of SME legend – the Sprinter


t’s incredible to think that it has been 120 years since MercedesBenz released its first van – but it’ll probably shock many fleet operators out there that the Sprinter has just passed its own 25-year milestone. Back in 1995, the German manufacturer reversed years of falling behind other light commercial brands such as Ford and VW with the launch of the first generation of Sprinter. At the time, few other vans could match the new arrival’s range of safety features and it quickly advanced to become the reference model for its entire vehicle category. Not only was it safe, it was great to drive too. In 1995 no other van offered more safety features at the time. The Sprinter included disk brakes all-around, an ABS anti-lock 20 DECEMBER 2020

braking system as standard, automatic brake differential, a driver’s airbag on request, three-point seat belts adjustable in height and seat belt buckles attached to the seat. Mercedes-Benz has continued to pack in active and passive safety components with systems to replicate passenger car handling – such as the ‘hard’ technology of anti-lock braking system (ABS)and airbags as well as the latest generation of driving assistance systems. Now in its third generation, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter continues to consistently raise the bar for all other vans, says Sarikaya, head of sales, Mercedes-Benz Vans Middle East and North Africa (MENA). “The comfortable suspension and passenger-car-like handling were features not to be underestimated. That’s because more

The Sprinter has enjoyed huge success in the MENA region since its introduction”

relaxed drivers remain alert for longer and therefore drive more safely,” says Sarikaya. When asked by T&FME to elaborate what the model’s legacy in the van segment is, he replies with a list of achievements and techinal landmarks. “For 25 years, the Sprinter has revolutionised both the transports of goods and passengers around the world. Safety and build quality have remained the Sprinter’s core attributes since its introduction in 1995. Throughout the past 25 years, we’ve continued to introduce new safety features – many only previously seen on passenger cars, such as disk brakes all-around, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Crosswind Assist and Active Brake Assist (ABA). “By offering state-of-the-art modern meconstructionnews.com


safety technologies, previously reserved for passenger car models, Mercedes-Benz Vans are safe, stable and feature predictable handling plus many safety assistance systems available, both as standard and optionally.” The light commercial vehicles segment has enjoyed a surge in interest over the past decade in the region. A mainstay of small construction and delivery companies in Europe and the US, vans have not always been viewed as an economic or practical option for owners in the Middle East. The increasing urbanisation and growth in online sales are pushing forwards sales of the vans where an adaptable and fuel efficient vehicle has an advantage over a converted pick-up or truck. “Across the region, customers are realizing the efficiency benefits of having dedicated vehicles for specific operations. Regulations have also evolved with emissions and safety becoming a crucial point. Vans become then an optimal solution for many tasks that, in the past, were performed by another type of vehicles. “The Sprinter has enjoyed huge success in the MENA region since its introduction, proving popular for a wide number of applications such as ambulances, school buses and passenger transport,” explains Sarikaya before adding that the company’s own data is confirming a clear increase in demand for Light Commercial Vehicles across the Middle East and North Africa, especially in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. He adds: “The UAE is a market which is usually fast to adapt, however, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are also showing more and more demand within the e-commerce logistics sector – which we know has grown rapidly due to Covid-19. Because of the nature of this use, customers must be able to rely on their van. To help reduce costs and, most importantly, vehicles downtime, the service intervals for Sprinters with diesel engines have also been increased to 20,000km.” “E-commerce has grown steadily across the last few years, accelerated even further by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This has clearly shown that vans are the ideal vehicles for the job. The delivery fleets of many companies have grown in size to meet demand – both online-only companies and those that have recently branched out into the e-commerce field.” According to Sarikaya, vans make even more sense in a post-COVID-19 world meconstructionnews.com

where fleets have had to effectively act as key workers to keep local economies going. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led us to regard delivery staff as ‘key’ workers, individuals who are essential to our daily lives. Firms are increasingly hiring manpower to meet the demand for rapid and dependable delivery of goods of all shapes and sizes – all of who will need reliable and comfortable vehicle options that can move products safely and quickly.” Despite the Sprinter’s –and vans in general – proven versatility and track-record in the region, some sectors haven’t yet taken to the vehicle. “The local road freight sector is one that is still relying significantly on car-derived vehicles or small trucks – both of which aren’t PIONEERS ON PARADE Mercedes-Benz Vans’ Sprinters have pioneneered safety features for trade and professional drivers for a quarter of a century, says Sarikaya.

With each generation, the Sprinter has remained at the forefront of innovation to take safety to a new level”

able to offer the capacity to adapt to different tasks,” explains Sarikaya before adding that their reluctance to switch could be having a detrimental effect on their fleet. “For this use, panel vans offer an increased capacity for businesses, allowing drivers to move more cargo without having to return to distribution centres regularly throughout a working day.” Another area Sarikaya seems an even more obvious application although it was also slow to adopt. “Until recently, the mobile workshop sector had not seen the benefits of the box body or a panel van over the open pick-up body,” he comments. “In recent years, we’ve seen several companies adopting medium and large panel vans for this line of work.” Vans like the Sprinter are incredibly important to SMEs around the world and Sarikaya says that Mercedes-Benz is working with its network of general distributors across the region to reach out to similarly-sized firms in their local makets. “We channel a lot of energy into segmenting customers to ensure we’re offering each the appropriate solutions and benefits for their business,” he says. “By looking at the individual requirements of each SME, we’re able to understand what their business needs from their van. Together with van partners in both the MENA region and other markets, we’re able to offer conversions solutions to SMEs which suit their application.” A heavy focus for the messaging remains the concept that the Sprinter is a very versatile and easy to use means of transport, either for goods or people. “In our region, you can take a van pretty much anywhere you can go in a car. With its larger dimensions, vans can be a much more efficient tool for fleet owners – they are engineered with versatility in mind. Maintenance costs are also much more manageable, predictable and lower than a larger truck. Regarding passenger transport, vans offer safe, stable and predictable handling and increased passenger comfort when compared to a bus.” With our conversation coming to a close, T&FME asks Sarikaya to list the reasons why some fleets do not want to buy a van. “The disadvantages are difficult to name as it depends upon the desired operation, but as an example, vans have a less cargo capacity than a truck or bus. However, to overcome this an efficient route planning and drivers rostering strategy can be used to maximise vehicle usage.” DECEMBER 2020 21



The ride-hailing and transport disrupter talks about how it wants to make journeys greener 22 DECEMBER 2020




he future economic growth of cities depends on a rapid transition to more sustainable modes of transportation. Experts expect demand for mobility (for people and goods) to double or triple by 2050. Current ambitions from governments and the private sector, even if fully realized, will fall short of 2°C scenario targets, according to the SBTi. A study of various scenarios by the IPCC shows that the sector will need to reduce emissions by at least 60% to align with societal climate goals such as the Paris Agreement. Over the next three decades, we need to find every way possible to move more people and things more efficiently and with only a fraction of today’s climate impact. Under any scenario, the ability of cities to reach their climate goals in the transportation sector depends heavily on reducing reliance on fossil-fueled personal vehicles. Privately-owned vehicles consume about half of all transportation energy globally. In the US, people move more than 92% of miles (for ground travel) by private car. In particular, single-occupancy vehicle (driver-only) use by private car owners, among the least efficient modes of transportation, accounts for nearly 40% of all passenger miles. Americans rely on single-occupancy vehicles even more to get to and from work. Driving alone dominates the US commute, covering almost 3 of every 4 passenger miles. Government reports from even a decade ago demonstrate that single-occupancy vehicles have the highest (worst) carbon intensity compared to other mobility options. The number of trips taken with Uber remains relatively small compared to other modes of transport. The latest US government figures show that, on a distance-weighted basis, trips taken with taxi, Uber, and other rideshare app companies account for less than 0.5% of all passenger ground-transportation miles, and less than 0.6% of all commuter miles. These figures appear consistent with greenhouse gas emission estimates for rideshare. According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), rideshare trips account for about 0.54% of California’s transportation-sector emissions. Travel patterns can vary by geography, of course. The story can be different at meconstructionnews.com

STILL RELATIVELY SMALL While the Uber only has a small share of passenger journeys it has recognised that it needs to address its environmental impact.

the city level. According to a study of ridesharing by Fehr & Peers, the share of total vehicle miles travelled from cars on our platform and Lyft’s reach only to single digits or the low teens in the downtown areas of 6 major US cities. On a trip-by-trip basis, the impact of a ride booked on the Uber app may seem similar to the impact of driving a personal car – or it may even seem worse, given the vehicle deadheading (moving empty, without passengers) that’s necessary to provide on-demand, point-to-point service. For this reason, when calculating Uber’s climate-related emissions impact, we conservatively include emissions resulting

The number of trips with Uber remains relatively small compared to other transport”

for all the vehicle miles we can record in the normal course of business, including those moved without passengers. This allows for a more robust comparison between rides enabled by our platform and rides taken in personal vehicles, both during single-occupancy and average-occupancy use. For example, we use real-world Uber trip data to calculate our impact metrics, while only average approximations are available for personal vehicles. Furthermore, the utility of on-demand trips taken with Uber is very different from those taken in privately owned vehicles. On a trip with Uber, the rider does not need to consider issues such as parking, refueling, car maintenance, insurance, and more, as they do when taking a trip in their own car. However, we find estimated metrics from privately owned vehicle population averages useful for benchmarking our progress since personal car use remains the overwhelmingly preferred mode of transportation for American consumers, accounting for more than 92% of all passenger ground travel in the US. We applaud the efforts of cities around the world aiming to do the improbable: move more people with much less impact. An assessment of ambitious climate action plans conducted by WRI shows that a number of major global cities aim to make significant cuts to transport emissions over the next 2 decades. Uber aims to develop technology solutions

CALIFORNIA GREENING According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), rideshare trips account for about 0.54% of California’s transportation-sector emissions.

DECEMBER 2020 23


that can help cities achieve these goals. Goals are important, but we know actions matter most. Uber will take a holistic approach to reducing emissions, starting with 4 key actions: Expanding Uber Green to make it easier for riders to choose to travel in hybrids or EVs; Committing $800 million in resources to help hundreds of thousands of drivers transition to EVs by 2025; Investing in our multimodal network to promote sustainable alternatives to personal cars; Being transparent and accountable to the public along the way. We recognise the long-standing challenges faced by cities to provide more mobility options while bearing the

60% The private sector needs to reduce emissions by 60% to align with climate goals

considerable environmental consequences of transportation. All vehicles on the road – including those used by drivers on the Uber platform – contribute to emissions and congestion in cities. Rides taken with Uber remain a small fraction of total transportation – but as we grow, we want to help the rides we facilitate use public resources, especially roads and air, as efficiently as possible. The current state of transportation is unsustainable. Resulting emissions, congestion, and other externalities create challenges for cities globally, and have done so for decades. Both the Intergovernmental Panel on

Climate Change (IPCC) and International Transport Forum (ITF) report that transportation emissions have grown faster than any other end-use sector over the last 3 decades. CO2 emissions from the transportation sector account for nearly one-quarter of the global total. Despite a recession-induced lull since 2007, over the last 50 years in the US, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) roughly doubled on a per-capita basis and nearly tripled in total (State Smart Transportation Initiative). We recognise the long-standing challenges faced by cities to provide more mobility options while bearing the considerable environmental consequences of transportation. All vehicles on the road – including those used by drivers on the Uber platform – contribute to emissions and congestion in cities. Rides taken with Uber remain a small fraction of total transportation – but as we grow, we want to help the rides we facilitate use public resources, especially roads and air, as efficiently as possible. 2020 changed outlook

DON’T STOP THE VOTE. STOP THE CAR As any casual news watcher will tell you, the recent US election ended in controversy and recriminations over the way votes were taken. To its credit, Uber did its bit to ensure people – regardless of what barriers they faced – had access to voting. In September, it announced a commitment to help get people register to vote, and during the actual voting Uber Eats & Pizza to the Polls sent out a fleet of over 250 food trucks across 25 cities to “deliver free food and good vibes.” The food trucks gave out free Shake Shack, Milk Bar and local favourites while

24 DECEMBER 2020

playing music and celebrating civic engagement. With social distancing reducing the capacity of existing polling places, and health concerns making many buildings (including senior centres, nursing homes, and some schools), unavailable as voting centers, the company worked with some local governments to set up new polling sites, including two in the LA districts of Redondo Beach and Burbank. “As we look ahead to this year’s election, we are committed to doing our part to make sure every citizen has access to vote,” Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said ahead

of the final voting. “We hope that by giving people the ability to easily register to vote, request an absentee ballot and get to the polls via the Uber and Uber Eats apps, independent workers — and everyone who uses our platform — will have a stronger voice in our democracy. And in addition to providing resources on the Uber and Uber Eats platforms to help individuals register to vote and get to the polls, we are proud to announce that we are also giving employees the day off, feeding people in line to vote, and looking into other ways to unite the communities we serve on Election Day.”

“Everything changed in 2020. Months of rolling shutdowns cost millions of people their livelihoods and pushed cities and businesses into survival mode,” says Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO, Uber. “Longstanding inequities have worsened, with many of the same communities that have been plagued by air pollution now vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. “Yet during lockdown, blue skies replaced smog above city skylines. Pollution levels fell and wildlife returned. The pandemic has caused many cities to rethink their infrastructure, transforming parking into parks and creating more space for walkers and cyclists. We’ve had a glimpse of what life could be like with less traffic and cleaner air—in cities built for people, not for cars. “But carbon emissions will return to “normal” soon. When two-thirds of the world’s population was under lockdown in early April, carbon emissions fell 17% compared to last year. By June, the drop was only 5%. Instead of going back to business as usual, Uber is taking this moment as an opportunity to reduce our environmental impact. It’s our responsibility as the largest mobility platform in the world to more aggressively tackle the challenge of climate change. We want meconstructionnews.com


to do our part to build back better and drive a green recovery in our cities. “While we’ve taken some important steps in recent years, from expanding micromobility options to offering public transit in the Uber app, we know we’ve got a long way to go. That’s why we’re working with the World Resources Institute, Transport & Environment (T&E), and others to become a stronger partner in the fight against climate change by leveraging our innovation, technology, and talent to expedite the global transition to clean energy. “Uber is committing to become a fully zero-emission platform by 2040, with 100% of rides taking place in zeroemission vehicles, on public transit, or with micromobility. We’re also setting an earlier goal to have 100% of rides take

We use real-world Uber trip data to calculate our impact metrics”

place in electric vehicles (EVs) in US, Canadian, and European cities by 2030. In fact, we believe we can achieve this 2030 goal in any major city where we can work with local stakeholders to implement policies that ensure a fair transition to EVs for drivers. In addition to our platform goals, we’re also committed to reaching net-zero emissions from our corporate operations by 2030. All told, hitting these goals would put us a decade ahead of Paris Climate Agreement targets.” Khosrowshahi believes the world is

at a critical juncture, and we all have a role to play. Uber is aiming high, he says. “We’ll seek to build the most efficient, decarbonized, and multimodal platform in the world for on-demand mobility. While we’re not the first to set ambitious goals in transitioning to EVs, we intend to be the first to make it happen. Competing on sustainability is a win for the world, and today we challenge other mobility platforms to transparency, accountability, and more action. “This is a start, and we expect to be judged against our actions. The ultimate success of our business will rest on our ability to transition our platform to clean energy in partnership with drivers, industry innovators, and governments. It’s the right thing to do for our customers, our cities, our shareholders, and the planet we all share.”

TARGETING NET ZERO Uber is committed to reaching net-zero emissions across its corporate operations by 2040.

NEED FOR MORE MOBILITY ACTION CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wants Uber to challenge other mobility platforms to transparency, accountability, “and more action.”


DECEMBER 2020 25




Bridgestone reveals INEOS Grenadier line-up BRIDGESTONE’S BESPOKE DUELER A/T 001 TYRE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN TWO SIZES DURING THE 4X4’S 2021 LAUNCH TYRES The Grenadier, the much awaited 4x4 from INEOS Automotive, will be equipped on its standard specification with tailor-made Bridgestone Dueler A/T 001 tyres. Bridgestone describes the bespoke tyre as a “versatile all-terrain tyre that balances on and off-road characteristics for a comfortable journey, Bridgestone’s Dueler A/T 001 enables drivers to keep going in all conditions, regardless of terrain.”

The tyre’s tread design provides enhanced traction and braking. It also features tread grooves designed to ensure better water evacuation, as well as low noise on tarmac, all without compromising on-road performance, the manufacturer claims. With the 4x4 built to take on the world’s most remote places, Bridgestone have produced a specifically tuned tyre with increased maximum load capacity to allow for the weight of the

FROM THE GROUND UP INEOS Automotive is building a vehicle from the ground up with “the end user at the heart of the design,” noted Steven De Bock, VP Consumer Business Unit, Bridgestone EMIA.

vehicle and increased weight capacity for drivers. A new compound is claimed to deliver enhanced performance in snowy terrains and achieve Three Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMS) certification; and optimised ride and handling when the vehicles are in fully laden conditions – including towing. The Grenadier will go into production in late 2021, with first customer deliveries in early 2022. Bridgestone’s bespoke Dueler A/T 001 tyre will be available on the vehicle in two sizes: 265/70 R17 116S XL and 255/70 R18 116S XL. A short documentary series from INEOS Automotive, ‘Building the Grenadier’, has been commissioned to showcase the development of the new, rugged 4x4. Episode Six of this series, titled “Kicking the Tyres”, deep dives into the vehicles’ wheels and tyres. “We love working with automotive newcomers who force us to continuously innovate and improve what we do,” commented Steven De Bock, VP Consumer Business Unit, Bridgestone EMIA.


Global heavy lifting and move specialist Mammoet, will now be delivering its in-house magazine Mammoet World to customers digitally directly to their desktops or mobile devices. The company said in a statement that the move is in line with its constant adoption of the latest technologies and digital tools in all aspects of its business and over the coming months Mammoet World, which the company has printed since 2001, will deliver information in “a more responsive, visual and interactive fashion across its website and social media platforms”. Speaking about Mammoet World’s online launch, Paul van Gelder, Mammoet CEO, said: “We’d really like (customers) to get to know our people as individuals; what makes them tick, what they’ve achieved, and to benefit from that directly.”


26 DECEMBER 2020





FPT, Iveco and Snam have signed an agreement to promote green solutions internationally. FPT Industrial, the powertrain arm of the CNH Industrial group, and IVECO, the group’s commercial vehicles brand, have together signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with energy infrastructure operators Snam for the international development of hydrogen and biomobility in transport with biomethane and natural gas. Under the MoU the three parties will collaborate along the entire supply chain – from engines with FPT Industrial and commercial vehicles from IVECO to distribution infrastructure and services with Snam, via Snam4Mobility) – to promote mobility with natural gas (bioCNG and bioLNG) and hydrogen. This will include business models aimed at offering end-to-end solutions for light- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, as well as buses. According to statement from FPT, the aim is to develop integrated sustainable mobility to promote further use of alternative drive vehicles, with a shared strategy of collaborative development of vehicles and distribution network. In this way, the collaboration will also focus on compiling studies designed to plan and experiment with innovative refuelling solutions, technologies and infrastructure for fleets and professional customers. The three parties will also plan to collaborate on sustainable mobility projects in the field of public transport and public utility. Further initiatives will be undertaken for this at a regional, national and European level.


FUEL TECH A senior official at Sohar Port and Freezone in Oman has said that it is planning to host a large-scale green hydrogen generation hub powered by solar power plants. The planned facility will create carbon-free hydrogen from low-cost solar power, stored for use on demand. Among a long list of potential applications, Hydrogen is viable for heavy duty transport applications, such as trucks, rail and ships, as well as industrial applications that require both electricity and heat. According to the whitepaper, SOHAR Port and Freezone Going Green, issued by Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO of Sohar Port, they are working with the Port of Rotterdam, a 50% JV partner in Sohar Port alongside the Government of Oman, for the strategic delivery of the

DRIVING DIVERSIFICATION Geilenkirchen said green hydrogen could drive manufacturing, “a priority sector in our diversification efforts.”

‘green hydrogen’ initiative. Besides, Sohar Port is also collaborating with German energy specialist Hydrogen Rise, among other international research institutions, in the quest for ‘cost-competitive solutions for the adoption of hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas’, he said. “We have a unique opportunity

to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future. We have major plans for scaling up the use of clean hydrogen with the first hydrogen plant in Oman. The idea is to make the most of our industrial port by turning it into a hub for lower cost hydrogen, replacing traditional hydrocarbons,” he added. He further stated that green hydrogen as the potential to decarbonise a range of heavy industries long associated with carbon emissions. He also talked about how making green steel with renewable hydrogen could be a revolution in innovation and an option for Oman to invigorate manufacturing. Geilenkirchen added that so-called green steel made with renewable hydrogen could become a multibilliondollar export industry.


Global off-the road (OTR) tyre heavyweight, Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT) has announced that it will soon go into the testing phase with its new 57-inch giant Earthmax SR 468 tyre developed for rigid dump trucks. The Indian multinational said the prototype of the huge tyre is ready and has been made in the 40.00 R 57

size, with tests to commence shortly by BKT engineers, which will go on until at least spring next year. The new tyre joins BKT’s large Earthmax family of radial tyres for off-road vehicles equipped with all-steel structures which provide greater resistance to the casing and hence against damage. According to BKT, a special feature of the Earthmax SR

468 is the tread design and the compound developed to limit heat generation. The E-4 depth of the tread provides extreme resistance in highly challenging conditions, said the manufacturer. BKT said in an announcement that the new tooling required to manufacture the Earthmax SR 468 was delivered to its plant in Bhuj, Gujarat, in January, but was installed only after full operations resumed following a temporary shutdown due to Covid-19. The new machines to manufacture the new tyre were installed by BKT engineers with online support from the supplier. Rajiv Poddar, joint managing director, BKT, said: “Despite the pandemic and the extreme difficulties caused by the situation, we achieved the impossible: going ahead very determinedly but with a similar focus on people. BKT always finds new ways to grow, even in the most complex situations.” DECEMBER 2020 27



Bosch looks back on 40 years of developing the airbag


collision, a loud bang, and the worst-case scenario has been avoided – that’s the easiest way to describe the benefits of an airbag. Playing a key role in this protective “detonation” is the airbag control unit. It functions as the control centre for the lifesaving inflatable cushion. Forty years ago, Bosch joined forces with the Daimler-Benz AG to start production of the world’s first electronic airbag control unit – giving a decisive boost to passenger protection. “Bosch is a pioneer in automotive electronics and safety,” says Bosch board of management member Harald Kröger. “The electronic airbag control unit shows what we mean by ‘Invented for life.’” Since the start of full-scale production in December 1980, Bosch has manufactured more than 28 DECEMBER 2020

250 million airbag control units, constantly refining the technology all the while. The company’s accident researchers estimate that since the market launch of Bosch’s airbag control units, the front, side, and head airbags they deploy have helped save some 90,000 lives around the world. This makes them a key component of vision zero: no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. Using internal and external acceleration, yaw-rate, and pressure sensors, a state-of-theart airbag control unit identifies the type of accident as well as its severity and deploys the airbag and belt tensioner as needed. In just ten milliseconds – ten times faster than a person can blink – the trigger algorithm interprets the sensor data to determine whether the driver has simply hit the brakes, bumped into a parked car, jumped the curb, or if the vehicle

250M Since the start of full-scale production in 1980, Bosch has produced more than 250 million airbag control units

has had a severe collision or is at risk of rolling over. If the situation is dangerous, the system ignites the pyrotechnic gas generator. Within 30 milliseconds, the airbag is fully inflated and can protect the driver and passengers. Today’s vehicles come with as many as nine airbags installed, which can be deployed individually depending on the accident scenario. Following a collision, the system also sends a signal to cut off the fuel supply, or, in electric vehicles, to disconnect the high-voltage battery. In addition, the system forwards information about the accident to other vehicle systems – for example eCall, which automatically calls emergency services after an airbag has been deployed. Since 1977, Bosch engineers have worked with automakers on the first electronic airbag control unit, putting it through more than meconstructionnews.com


PRECISION MEETS SPEED During last month’s digital edition of electronica, the world’s leading trade fair for electronics, Bosch announced a new generation of high-g acceleration sensors. The SMA7xy sensor family improves safety for car drivers and passengers. When the acceleration sensors detect a collision, the passive safety systems such as airbags can now be deployed earlier, and the restraining effect can be precisely set for the given accident scenario. In this way, the consequences of accidents can be further mitigated. The new SMA7xy family comprises of multiple sensors for airbag systems based on Bosch’s market leading MEMS technology. The sensors from the new SMA7xy product family enable extremely fast signal processing. Compared to the sensors of the preceding generation, Bosch has doubled the bandwidth, and thereby increased crash signal processing speeds by one hundred percent. The acceleration sensors are located either directly in the airbag ECU or in satellites located at the A- B- or C-pillar or at the front bumper. The sensors detect impact or a car rollover event within fractions of a second and send this information to the airbag ECU, which then deploys the vehicle’s passive safety systems in time. The peripheral-type sensors of the SMA7xy family come in many variants, with two package options, four sensor axis configurations, several measurement range options and well over 80 different PSI5 modes. One option is the SOIC8, a well-established housing that is “widely used and exceptionally robust, whilst the LGA System-inpackage (SiP) houses integrated passive components,” says Bosch.


6,000 crash tests in 60 vehicle models. Today, more than 1.8 million crash simulations are necessary to prepare an airbag control unit for large-scale production in a vehicle model. The first airbag system, which went into production in December 1980 and then had its market launch in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, consisted of three components – a voltage converter, an energy reserve, and a control unit – with a total of 170 parts. These controlled only an airbag and belt tensioner for the driver and optionally for the front passenger. Today’s twelfth-generation airbag control units have just half as many parts and can manage up to 48 restraint devices, including various front and side airbags, knee airbags, and belt tensioners. In the future, as the number of sensors in vehicles rises, applying the information they gather could ensure that airbags, belt tensioners, and other vehicle functions interact even better. Such an interaction might look something like this: the system swiftly



Today, more than 1.8 million crash simulations are necessary to prepare an airbag control unit for large-scale production”

recognizes an impending accident and, for example, automatically puts the occupants into a sitting position that reduces their risk of injury before the actual collision. It can deploy airbags and belt tensioners to provide the best possible crash protection for every person in the vehicle. Increasingly, automated driving is one area where these possibilities are relevant, since at higher levels it opens up entirely new interior concepts and more room to move about, even for drivers: they may swivel their seat, turn to face the passengers, or get cozy in their seat. As seating arrangements in the vehicle become more flexible, it is ever more crucial to have very specific control of airbags and belt tensioners. In turn, this increases the complexity of the demands on the airbag control units that Bosch is already working on today. Even after 40 years, this particular bag of tricks is still far from empty.

THREE WAS THE SAFEST NUMBER The first airbag system in 1980 consisted of three components – a voltage converter, an energy reserve, and a control unit – with a total of 170 parts.

DECEMBER 2020 29



The EV race is speeding up in the MEA region, says ABB’s regional head of electrification, Loay Dajani


new era was born when the ABB FIA Formula E championship came to Saudi Arabia in 2018. The Diriyah E-Prix takes place at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, outside Riyadh. Staging an international motorsport event in such a sensitive location is a testament to the muted sound levels and zero-pollution powertrains of the all-electric race cars. Further, the decision to hold races for fully electric cars in an oil-rich region of the world demonstrates a recognition that sustainably sourced electric power can help improve air quality and reduce climate impact. We saw the kingdom demonstrate commitment to a more sustainable transport future when the Saudi Energy Minister, Khalid Al-Falih, spoke at the Saudi Energy Forum (SEF) in Riyadh. He discussed ways 30 DECEMBER 2020

to harness electric vehicles (EVs) to accelerate the Kingdom towards achieving the Vision 2030 reform plan targets. Introduction of electric cars into Saudi Arabia is unlikely to jeopardise the country’s oil sector, he added. Across the Red Sea, policy makers in Egypt are moving swiftly in the same direction. Minister of Public Enterprise, Hisham Tawfik, has said Egypt will produce 25,000 electric cars annually from Spring 2021. The Egyptian EV will be produced by El Nasr Automotive Manufacturing Co., which will re-open specifically to manufacture EVs – creating thousands of new jobs and signalling the start of an entirely new value chain. The government has also taken the right steps towards stimulating demand by offering conditional customs exemptions on new and used EV imports. In the United Arab Emirates – a nation that has long embraced EVs – the Dubai

The greatest challenge in scaling up EVs is in getting power to where it needs to be, quickly and reliably”

Supreme Council of Energy issued a new directive in September 2020 that will raise the number of EVs and hybrid vehicles to at least 10% of the country’s total import of vehicles by the end of 2024. The move is in line with the Smart Dubai initiative, which includes a ‘carbon abatement strategy’ and aims to make Dubai the smartest city in the world. The political will is clear: from Abu Dhabi to Cairo to Riyadh, the region’s most populous Arab states are committed to a future of clean air, lower carbon emissions and energy efficiency: they are committed to the age of the electric vehicle. With policy heading in the right direction, where are we right now with the technology? This year also saw the first World EV Day, which took place in September. The event was designed to celebrate and raise awareness around EV technology and encouraged participation from countries meconstructionnews.com


DUBAI’S EV GREEN CHARGER INITIATIVE The EV Green Charger Initiative was launched in support of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world and promote green transportation in the city. The aim of this project was to set up an electric vehicle charging infrastructure for the public across Dubai. At the time of the launch of the initiative there were a very limited number of electrical vehicles in Dubai mainly because there wasn’t an electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), as the electricity provider for Dubai, took the lead in setting up electric vehicle charging stations to encourage the public to switch over from petrol to electric vehicles: helping to achieve Dubai’s carbon abatement strategic target of carbon reduction by 16% by 2021 and reduction in other emissions. DEWA has successfully installed 240 electric charging stations in different areas of Dubai such as government offices, airports, petrol stations, shopping malls, commercial offices, clinics and hospitals, residential complexes and establishments. Green Charger is one of three smart initiatives launched by DEWA to support the Smart Dubai Strategy, to make stakeholders happy, minimise environmental impact, and enable a smart city. DEWA also supports the Dubai Plan 2021, for a smart and sustainable city, and is aligned with the UAE Vision 2021 to make the UAE amongst the best countries in the world. Green Charger will also help achieve the Carbon Abatement Strategy where Dubai has a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 16% by 2021.


and individuals around the world, with an invitation for people to pledge that the next vehicle they drive will be electric. The greatest challenge in scaling up EVs is in getting power to where it needs to be, quickly and reliably. This goes to the heart of two technological stories: storage and distribution. For EVs to deliver on what policy makers in the Middle East are aiming for, we need a national network of ultra-fast charging stations and high performance in-vehicle storage. ABB is investing heavily in research and development that is geared toward constantly improving its market-leading charging solutions. It has, for example, just launched its first Vehicle to Grid charging pilot with a solution which will set the global benchmark for bi-directional charging, a key step in enabling the next step in our e-mobility ecosystem.

ABB PLAYS ITS PART Dajani says ABB is proud of the role it has played in electrical distribution over the past 100 years, “enabling end-to-end e-mobility solutions to the transport of tomorrow, today.”

Technology advancements

The advances made, particularly in fast charging are incredible: in July 2020, ABB announced that as of Season 9 it will also supply fast charging technologies to the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. Together with engineers from motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, and Formula E, ABB’s Electrification teams are currently working on the specifications and requirements to develop an innovative and safe solution for charging the lighter, faster and more energy-efficient Gen3 cars through portable charging units that can charge two cars simultaneously. There have been some key milestones on our EV journey to date, where ABB has been a key player in changing the e-mobility landscape, starting with the acquisition of the Epyon DC fast charging company in 2011, which became the nucleus for all future development. With ultra-fast charging now upon us, the final piece of the jigsaw

The political will is clear: from Abu Dhabi to Cairo to Riyadh, the region’s most populous Arab states are committed to a future of energy efficiency”

is power-grid infrastructure. This is where the real challenge lies. National EV charging infrastructure must reach every town, and city – and the highways that link them. It must also reach out deep into neighbourhoods to provide charging posts in front of every home and apartment block. This is where we need to be. ABB has already made advances in developing local infrastructure in places like Saudi Arabia. Most recently, in September 2020, it agreed to supply a new residential compound in Riyadh with EV charging infrastructure and will install its first round of charging infrastructure in the new compound for up to 140 housing units. The network will ensure that residents can charge their vehicles where they need to – in their own homes. Now more than ever, we realise the need for clean air and healthier lifestyles that are sustainable. Building a national infrastructure is a major task but policymakers and the private sector should continue working together to build a safe, smart and sustainable future.

THE RACE TO FAST CHARGE ABB’s work in Formula E follows years of progress in fast charging. In 2018 it launched its 350kW-capable technlology and it acquired Chinese specialist Chargedot in 2020.

DECEMBER 2020 31




First passengers take a ride on Virgin Hyperloop

ovember saw Virgin Hyperloop pass a major milestone after the state-of-the-art transportation system hosted its first-ever human passengers. Riding on the system were Josh Giegel, cofounder and CTO, and Sara Luchian, director of Passenger Experience, at Virgin Hyperloop, with the pair tkaing a trip inside the 500m DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, Nevada. The test ended a run of over 400 unoccupied trials with Giegel and Luchian travelling in the newly unveiled custom built XP – 2 vehicle, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and a prototype of the larger production vehicle which will be able to seat up to 28 passengers. Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, said: “For the past few years, the Virgin Hyperloop team has been working on turning its ground-breaking technology into reality.” “With today’s successful test, we have shown that this spirit of innovation will in fact

change the way people everywhere live, work, and travel in the years to come,” he added. Virgin Hyperloop had previously announced a partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) to support the development of hyperloop technology and sustainable transportation through advanced AI research. Witnessing the landmark occasion, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Virgin Hyperloop and Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, said: “I had the true pleasure of seeing history being made before my very eyes – to witness the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years come to life. We are one step closer to ushering in a new era of ultrafast, sustainable movement of people and goods.” “DP World and Dubai are at the forefront of technological innovation in the transport and logistics industry. The world has been changing quickly and we wanted to be involved in the potential this mode of mass transportation presents, to connect markets and economies, keep trade

flowing and help build the global economy’s next phase to accelerate growth,” he added. Virgin Hyperloop further explained that the pod has undergone a rigorous and exhaustive safety process, and the XP-2 vehicle demonstrates many of the safety-critical systems that will be found on a commercial hyperloop system. It is also equipped with a state-of-the-art control system that can detect off-nominal states and rapidly trigger appropriate emergency responses. Sara Luchian said: “Hyperloop is about so much more than the technology. It’s about what it enables – the trips you’d be able to take from Paris to Berlin, Lisbon to Madrid, or Warsaw to Prague. To me, the passenger experience ties it all together. And what better way to design the future than to actually experience it first-hand?” Meanwhile, fellow passenger Giegel, added: “When we started in a garage over six years ago, the goal was simple – to transform the way people move. Today, we took one giant leap toward that ultimate dream, not only for me, but for all of us.”


32 DECEMBER 2020


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