TTAC News Round-up: GM Plans to Sell You Things Inside Your Own Car

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ttac news round up gm plans to sell you things inside your own car

General Motors is teaming up with IBM to implement Watson’s artificial intelligence so that it can advertise while you are trying to drive. Your dashboard is about to become a billboard.

That, Uber delivers a truckload of beer using a self-driving vehicle, Mini’s Countryman gains size and compatibility with electricity, and Hyundai’s earnings tank… after the break!

OnStar is getting an Advertising AI

The Detroit News reports that General Motors and IBM Corp. are partnering to produce the auto industry’s first cognitive mobility platform, allowing GM to send personalized marketing offers to millions of drivers beginning early next year.

“Personalized marketing” is code for rampant targeted advertising beamed directly into your car.

The companies said OnStar Go will use the artificial intelligence capabilities of IBM’s Watson — the computer that was a contestant on Jeopardy in 2011 — to offer deals and advice in the vehicle dashboard. GM says the system could help a driver avoid traffic, assist in paying for gas, or order a cup of coffee while en route to pick it up.

However, as none of those things are even remotely difficult or time consuming in the first place, this just seems like a good way to ensure OnStar users making use of specific products and brands. Initial partners include MasterCard, ExxonMobil, Glympse, iHeartRadio and Parkopedia. So expect to use your in-car payment methods to be MasterCard only and your fuel-finding app to recommend ExxonMobil stations above all others.

Watson will even be able to learn a driver’s preferences, and companies working with IBM and OnStar can tailor location-based offers to specific vehicles. The companies said the system would be available in more than 2 million vehicles in the United States that feature 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of 2017. It also will be available to millions of GM-brand app mobile devices.

World’s First: Uber drops off beer not already inside someone

Bloomberg is reporting that a tractor trailer full of beer drove itself down Colorado’s I-25 last week with nobody behind the wheel. Uber Technologies Inc. and Anheuser-Busch teamed up on the delivery, which they said is the first time a self-driving truck had been used to make a commercial shipment.

Escorted by the police, the 18-wheeler chugged along for 120 miles while a truck driver relaxed in the sleeper cab. The delivery is largely a publicity stunt to show the public that Otto, the self-driving vehicle group that Uber acquired in July, could successfully put an autonomous truck on public roads without it resulting in disaster.

“We wanted to show that the basic building blocks of the technology are here; we have the capability of doing that on a highway,” said Lior Ron, the president and co-founder of Uber’s Otto unit. “We are still in the development stages, iterating on the hardware and software.”

Anheuser-Busch estimates it could save $50 million a year in the U.S. if it deploys autonomous trucks across its distribution network — even if drivers continued to ride along and supplement the technology. Obviously that dollar figure would jump if they just laid everyone off.

That won’t happen just yet. The truck can only drive autonomously on the highway, meaning drivers shouldn’t have to worry about finding a new profession anytime soon. “The focus has really been and will be for the future on the highway,” Ron said. “Over 95 percent of the hours driven are on the highway. Even in the future as we start doing more, we still think a driver is needed in terms of supervising the vehicle.”

Mini’s not-so-small Countryman goes plug-in hybrid

As previously announced, the new 2017 Mini Countryman is available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time. Mini is also offering up their all-wheel-drive as optional for every drivetrain. But the AWD system on the terribly named Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 hybrid will differ from the rest. Since the three-cylinder combustion engine powers the front wheels and the electric motor works on the rear, only one system is active at any time until conditions require all-wheel drive. The car operates in three distinct modes, one of which will hold the battery at a 90 percent charge until the driver wants to use it.

The Countryman’s length has stretched an additional 7.7 inches, and its width has increased by 1.3 inches. The base front-wheel-drive Minis come with a 134 horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. More expensive Cooper S crossovers have the option of an eight-speed auto and a 189 hp 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder power source.

The top-trim hybrid Mini produces 221 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque, but manual transmissions go out the window when you go electric. Under the best of conditions, the hybrid can travel 24 miles on electric power alone, though that mode is limited to a friendly 77 mph. Recharging the lithium-ion batteries at a 3.6-kilowatt wall box takes roughly the same time as a long movie. Charging using a standard 110-volt outlet will be a movie marathon, however.

Hyundai’s third quarter is even worse than expected

Hyundai Motor’s third-quarter profit fell to its lowest point in nearly seven years, well below already low forecasts. Fortune said the company attributes the poor showing to production-crippling strikes and weak demand in emerging markets.

South Korea’s largest automaker said its July-September earnings fell 10 percent from a year earlier to 1.06 trillion won ($937 million). Analysts had forecast 1.3 trillion won in earnings according to FactSet, a financial data provider.

Hyundai said its sales in January-September declined 2 percent from the year before, falling both at home and overseas. With the sport utility vehicle market growing everywhere, Hyundai has had difficulties producing SUVs and crossovers. They’ve also had difficulty with production in general.

Workers walked out of annual wage negotiations for 212 hours, from July to September, severely disrupting manufacturing to the tune of 95,000 vehicles.

[Images: General Motors; Uber; BMW Group; Hyundai Motors]

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2 of 41 comments
  • Tandoor Tandoor on Oct 27, 2016

    Many states are like Missouri and have multi-tiered beer distribution. Producers can't distribute or retail. Distributors are a protected monopoly with territories. They have a good racket going with lobbyists and the works. No self driving truck is ever going to deliver beer in Missouri.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Oct 27, 2016

    We don't even let the dealer put their sticker on the car unless they opt to pay us for the advertising. None have agreed to pay us so we have no stickers on the cars.

  • Tassos This is yesterday;s news, or even the day before. I reported it here yesterday, and commented on it. Do wake up.
  • 2ACL As far as manufacturers with US operations go? Current Focus or Fiesta. Honda e.As for those with no US operations, I've been intrigued by the Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered and Vauxhall Corsa Electric.
  • Tassos SNAAB shot itself in the foot when it BASTARDIZED its unique brand by BADGE ENGINEERING its vehicles with GOD DAMNED GM, OPEL, CHEVY, LANCIA and who knows what other automotive RIFF RAFF. I know of no Saab Enthusiast (they do exist) who felt sorry when the stupid maker went BANKRUPT.
  • 28-Cars-Later Example is located in Coldwater Michigan, so..." needs work -- including new brakes."Brakes, brake lines, probably fuel lines. Probably should hit the master cylinder too unless there are seal only kits for it."It has an automatic transmission."Likely needs a new one of those as well."an exhaust leak"Add an exhaust to the list."an inaccurate speedo."Wow and TMU to boot!These days five to six bills isn't too horrible but this example could turn into a headache really quick due to parts availability. The right buyer for this is a small time tradesman, the HVAC guy who was just leaving my house is rolling a late P80 Volvo 850 sedan in manual which he treats like a truck. Said he'd love a wagon if he ever came across one... if you're local to Coldwater Michigan this is a nice work beater. Annual inspection/registration tax probably costs nearly as much as the car.
  • 2ACL Amazing price, but that's (IMO) a reflection of the interest in an old 2.0T repmobile made interesting only by being a wagon. The Epsilon 9-3 was a sanitized take on the Saab formula. That's not to say it lacks interesting variants, but this isn't one of them. If it had a stick, maybe. But this generation's automatics are sealed and known to become temperamental if not serviced. If the owner can't provide proof of regular servicing, run.