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Michael Nielsen, IRU’s Chief Advocacy Officer resigns suddenly

Michael Nielsen, IRU’s Chief Advocacy Officer resigns suddenly

In an emailed message IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto today informed the IRU membership that Michael Nielsen, recently promoted to IRU’s Chief Advocacy Officer and on the move from the IRU Brussels office to Geneva, had left the organization with immediate effect. Previously Nielsen had was responsible for the IRU’s Brussels EU liaison office.

De Pretto indicated he would oversee the advocacy role on an interim basis. In Brussels spokesman Stuart Colley added that “we wish Michael well in his further career. IRU is obviously bigger than one man.”

  • Michael Nielsen left IRU today.
UK business travellers are embracing the sharing economy

UK business travellers are embracing the sharing economy

More than half of company travel policies now allow the use of ride sharing services. Millennials (those aged between 18 to 34) show the greatest appetite for ride-sharing and home-sharing services and are most likely to harness technology whilst traveling.

Millennial business travellers are driving technological change as consumer travel habits continue to impact the business travel experience and corporate travel policy, according to the GBTA Global Business Traveler Sentiment Index, in partnership with American Express.

The research, which includes a survey of 405 UK business travellers, examines satisfaction with all aspects of business travel, and pinpoints the increasing use of technological innovation.

Key UK findings from the research include:

– 51% of company travel policies now allow use of ride share services, suggesting that many companies have ensured their policy reflects the new providers and technologies available.

– Over the next three months, just over one-in-ten (11%) UK business travelers think they will increase their use of ride share services, such as Uber and Lyft. This is primarily driven by younger travellers – over a quarter (28%) of Millennials say they will increase their use of ride share services. None of those over the age of 55 surveyed have plans to increase usage.

Home sharing usage is not yet as widespread as other shared services. Just 28% of company travel policies allow home sharing services, such as Airbnb and HomeAway to be used.

However, almost one in ten respondents (9%) think they will imminently increase their use of home share services. The age divide is, again, evident: 22% of Millennials say they will do so, compared to only 1% of those over 55 years old.

Millennials lead the pack in using social networking sites for business communication

– A majority of UK business travellers (62%) think technology won’t replace face-to-face meetings when conducting business.

– Women (71%) and older workers (73% of those aged 55+) are most likely to think technology won’t replace face-to-face meetings compared to half (53%) of men and 57% of Millennials.

– One-third (35%) think social networking sites help meeting up with colleagues and business contacts when travelling. This comprises over a half (53%) of Millennials, compared to only a third (34%) of those aged 35 to 54 and a mere 15% of those over 55.

– Wi-Fi is considered vital to work productivity by four-in-five (81%) business travellers – and there’s room to improve on-trip connectivity.

– Hotel rooms have the highest satisfaction rating (79%) for Wi-Fi availability and reliability. Just under one-half (46%) of respondents are happy with Wi-Fi on trains and just over one-third (35%) are satisfied with airline Wi-Fi, meaning connectivity presents a clear opportunity for travel providers to improve the journey experience

– During flights, most travellers (57%) don’t work, with many citing on-board hindrances to productivity; one-quarter (24%) tend to do work that requires the internet whilst

flying, whereas the work of one-in-five (20%) does not.

– Millennials (31%) are twice as likely as the over 55’s (15%) to be reliant on internet-based work whilst flying and are roughly twice as likely to cite hindrances to work whilst flying than their elders.

– UK business travellers – like their peers worldwide – are much more confident about the health of their industry than the overall health of the economy

More results:

– 43% of UK business travellers rate the health of their industry as excellent – but only 22% would rate the overall health of the economy as such.

– This reflects the global trend: averaged across all markets, a higher proportion of business travellers rated their industry’s health as excellent (a global average of 51%) than their own domestic economy (global average of 35% rated this as excellent).

Fabienne Cauli, Vice President, Global Client Group, EMEA & JAPA, American Express Global Commercial Payments, commented: “This Index provides a benchmark of business travellers’ changing priorities and expectations – and it’s fascinating to see how this is evolving, thanks, in part, to generational change in the workplace. Younger travellers show clear appetite for using sharing economy services, and have high expectations when it comes to connectivity. These issues are only going to become more prominent in the years ahead, as Millennials represent an ever-growing proportion of the workforce.”

Catherine McGavock, GBTA Regional Vice President, EMEA, commented: “UK business travellers have made clear their views on many aspects of business travel and, whilst 70% of them are generally satisfied with their overall business travel experience, they have pinpointed some areas which those servicing the travel market could improve, for example, when it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity. Recent years have seen unheralded changes in consumers’ technological and service expectations and we’re now in an era where people expect to be able to work and communicate via the internet wherever they are.”

The GBTA Global Business Traveler Sentiment Index, in partnership with American Express, was carried out between March 31 and April 13, 2016, by the GBTA Foundation. An online survey was conducted among a sample of 3,500 business travelers in eight markets: Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the UK, specifically, 405 UK business travellers were surveyed. Eligible respondents were employed part- or full-time and had taken four or more business trips in the past 12 months. For more information, please visit:


• Over the next three months, just over one-in-ten (11%) UK business travelers think they will increase their use of ride share services, such as Uber and Lyft.

Volvo Cars and Autoliv create joint-venture for autonomous driving

Volvo Cars and Autoliv create joint-venture for autonomous driving

Volvo Cars, the global premium car maker, and Autoliv Inc, the worldwide leader in automotive safety systems, have signed a letter of intent to set up a new jointly-owned company to develop next generation autonomous driving software.

The planned new company will have its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an initial workforce taken from both companies of around 200, increasing to over 600 in the medium term. The company is expected to start operations in the beginning of 2017.

The joint venture will create a new entrant in the growing global market for autonomous driving software systems. It marks the first time a leading premium car maker has joined forces with a tier one supplier to develop new ADAS and AD technologies.

The new company, which has yet to be named, will develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for use in Volvo cars and for sale exclusively by Autoliv to all car makers globally, with revenues shared by both companies.

The joint venture will bring together two global leaders in automotive safety, underlining the contribution ADAS and AD can make to road safety and speeding the development and introduction of fully autonomous cars.

Volvo Cars has an established reputation for making some of the world’s safest cars, having invented the three point safety belt and consistently developed and introduced world leading active and passive safety systems. It has a medium term vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

Autoliv is the world’s leading supplier of safety systems to car makers worldwide and has led the way in the development and introduction of active and passive safety technologies to the world’s car makers for more than 60 years.

Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said: “By combining our know how and resources we will create a world leader in AD software development. This means we can introduce this exciting technology to our customers faster.”

Jan Carlson, chairman, chief executive and president of Autoliv, said: “There are no two companies that can claim to have done more for automotive safety worldwide than Autoliv and Volvo. This new company is a recognition of the fact that autonomous driving is the next step to transform road safety.”

Both Autoliv and Volvo Cars will licence and transfer the intellectual property for their ADAS systems to the joint venture. From this base the company will develop new ADAS technologies and AD systems. It expects to have its first ADAS products available for sale by 2019 with AD technologies available by 2021.

Autoliv will be the exclusive supplier and distribution channel for all the new company’s products towards third parties, except Volvo Cars which will source directly from the new company. Its management will comprise of representatives from Autoliv and Volvo Cars.

  • Dennis Nobelius, managing director of Volvo Switzerland and formerly vice president vehicle line 90 at Volvo Cars, will be the chief executive of the new joint venture.
Uber and Lyft are getting pushback from municipalities all over the US

Uber and Lyft are getting pushback from municipalities all over the US

Uber and Lyft, and others, want hailing a ride to be as common as catching the bus. But their aggressive expansion plans are being stymied in many places in the U.S. by lawmakers because of safety concerns, pressure from taxi companies or a desire to level the playing field for incumbents, writes CNBC.

Some methods lawmakers are using to thwart their expansion include introducing requirements on driver fingerprinting, vehicle inspection, insurance, fees, and limits on where drivers can pick up and drop off passengers.

Much to the chagrin of taxi and limousine companies, ride-hailing services — whose popularity has irrecoverably slashed the value of a once-prized taxi medallion in places like New York City — have proven addictive to America’s urban population, particularly at the often heavily subsidized prices they offer riders.

Today, 34 U.S. states and more than 69 cities have passed legislation governing ride-hailing companies, also known as transportation network companies (TNCs). Another six states have enacted legislation mandating minimum insurance requirements.

Even still, some lawmakers and taxi and limo companies are pushing for more stringent regulation on things like driver fingerprinting, pick-up locations and fees. Future regulatory battles around worker classification and autonomous vehicles promise to keep things interesting.

The two private companies are spending millions to lobby politicians, reach voters with ads and lure riders with promotions. At the same time, competition in the already aggressive ride-hailing business keeps getting tougher.

This Autumn Alphabet’s Google is jumping into the market with a service built on its popular Waze app.

To streamline the hurdles ahead, both Uber and Lyft would like to see more states enact TNC-friendly legislation governing key markets. Fingerprint-based driver background checks — which some lawmakers believe are vital safety measures and taxi and limousine owners want to level the playing field — remain a big sticking point.

Uber and Lyft have argued that fingerprint-based background checks do nothing to improve safety and act as a disincentive for drivers to sign up, reducing the quality of their services. Both prefer their own self-administered background checks, which they say draw on more up-to-date information and are less onerous for drivers.

CNBC lists some places in the U.S. where friction between the companies and government is particularly acute: Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Florida and New Jersey.

  • Increasing friction between US municipalities and Uber, Lyft.
Transdev joins Corporate Partnership Board ITF

Transdev joins Corporate Partnership Board ITF

Transdev, provider of multi-modal transport services, has joined the Corporate Partnership Board (CPB) of the International Transport Forum (ITF).

The ITF is an intergovernmental organisation with 57 member countries that facilitates global dialogue for better transport. It acts as a think tank for member governments and organises a Summit of transport ministers every May. The CPB is the Forum’s platform for engaging with the private sector and to enrich global transport policy discussion with a business perspective. Uber, for instance, is another well-known member of the CPB.

Subsidiary of the Caisse des Dépôts and Veolia and word leader in mobility, Transdev will participate in three CPB projects in 2016/17: a study on shared urban mobility for a large metropolitan area; a project on the equity and access of new transport services for an ageing society, and a project on travel time access to population and jobs in a particular city which will allow authorities to identify effective first/last mile solutions for access public to transport.

Transdev will also participate in ITF’s Decarbonising Transport Project. This project will enable and help countries and other actors to take their CO2-reduction roadmaps and corresponding actions and translate them into real results, grounding them on socio-economic data and ensuring that the transport-related UN Sustainable Development Goals (including road safety) are achieved along with the decarbonisation of the transport sector.

“This is a win-win partnership. Transdev is really proud to become a member of the ITF’s Corporate Partnership Board. The ITF is a reference in the area of mobility and deals with key questions that challenge Transdev in daily business. Reflection on shared mobility and autonomous vehicles, propositions for new mobility services to prolong or increase access for older citizens, or gaps between commitments and delivery on climate change mitigation are issues we all have to face together. This partnership will help Transdev to valorise its vision of the future of mobility, but also to exchange ideas and act on subjects directly with top experts and decision makers”, said Nicolas Samsoen, Transdev’s Chief Strategy Officer.

José Viegas, Secretary-General of ITF, welcomed Transdev to the CPB and expressed his pleasure at working with them on a number of topics of great importance to the transport sector as a whole: “Transdev has world-class experience in public transport. Their knowledge and expertise will be an invaluable asset to the work of the Corporate Partnership Board, and thereby the International Transport Forum”, said Viegas. “Transdev’s international perspective in their activities and experience will contribute to enrich the scope of our projects and widens the areas of excellence covered by our partners.”

The members of the ITF Corporate Partnership Board are: AB InBev, AeroMexico, Brisa, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO Group), ExxonMobil, Ford, Google, Here, IBM, Incheon International Airport, Inrix, Kapsch TrafficCom, Michelin, Nissan Motor Corporation, NXP, PTV Group, SNCF, Total, Transdev, Uber, Venice Port Authority and Volvo Group.

More information about the ITF Corporate Partnership Board, including recent work on autonomous driving, car sharing, big data and logistics performance at www.itf-oecd.org/CPB.

  • Transdev joins Corporate Partnership Board ITF
Northumberland taxi drivers working much harder than before

Northumberland taxi drivers working much harder than before

New research by insureTaxi gives a fascinating insight into the working habits of Northumberland’s taxi drivers, the Northumberland Gazette reports. The Northumberland taxi drivers are working much harder than they were three years ago. The survey of more than 1,000 public and private hire drivers across the UK was commissioned by the UK’s largest taxi insurance broker insureTAXI.

It found that on average, taxi drivers in Northumberland travel 27,222 miles a year and take an average of 96 fares a week – up 36 fares since similar research was carried out in 2013. Over a third (37 per cent) of respondents in Northumberland said they have increased their working hours over the last three years, with nearly half (48 per cent) citing increased competition as the reason for clocking up more time on the road. More than half of drivers (57 per cent) in Northumberland said they’re working longer hours to make ends meet at home. In an average week, taxi drivers in Northumberland are now working 43 hours and earning £306, making the average hourly rate £7.12; eight pence under the current minimum wage.

On top of this, the research revealed they can expect an average tip of 45p for each fare. Considering the number of fares taxi drivers take on average a week, this means they could earn around £43.20 in tips each week. But while the research paints a largely positive picture of taxi drivers’ earning potential, there are a number of costs that taxi drivers regularly incur.

On average, taxi drivers in Northumberland spend £89 a week on fuel, £91 a month on general vehicle maintenance and £1,524 a year on their taxi insurance, totalling an average of £7,244 of expenditure each year. The rising cost of being a taxi driver is a concern for a number of taxi drivers in Northumberland, with 40 per cent stating it’s the biggest threat to their profession.

Over a fifth (22 per cent) think the increase in competition is the biggest threat, while 13 per cent of non-Uber drivers think Uber is the biggest threat. Three-quarters of taxi drivers in Northumberland don’t think leaving the EU will have a negative impact on their job. For those who are worried about Brexit, concerns included people losing their jobs and not needing taxis to go to and from work or meetings; people not going out as due to money worries; and a fear that it would lead to increased petrol costs.

• Northumberland taxi drivers working hard(er) to make ends meet.

Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations and Toyota Motor Corporation collaborate on Japanese taxi of the future

Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations and Toyota Motor Corporation collaborate on Japanese taxi of the future

The Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) are announcing that they have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to study on areas for collaboration, so as to develop and introduce the Japanese taxi of the future. Last month the relationship between the two worsened after Toyota announced it would be working with Uber. This exercise looks very much like public fence-mending.

Toyota’s relationship with the Japanese taxi industry began in 1936, when the Toyota Model AA had been first used as a taxi. From then on, both parties have established a longstanding and important partnership tradition, which has since been carried on by the current Crown Comfort. As a result of the continued patronizing of Toyota’s vehicles for use as taxis―where an annual 100,000km have been covered in some areas, Toyota has been able to continue to enhance the reliability and durability of its vehicles, so as to provide customers with a safe and pleasant ride. The Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations and Toyota have been important partners in helping to build up Japanese taxis into the world’s safest, most pleasant, world-class public transportation service, and will continue their efforts to strengthen the Japanese transportation infrastructure.

In the hopes of enhancing the urban scenery in Japan, Toyota is developing a next-generation taxi, where the design reflects the spirit of Japanese hospitality. This next-generation taxi is scheduled to become available in 2017. The Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations and Toyota are joining hands in this pursuit, to enhance the convenience for a broad range of customers including the elderly, families with children, and foreign tourists. At the same time, they are aiming to build an inclusive community that welcomes all, and simultaneously, to contribute to the promotion of Japan as a tourist haven.

The two parties will establish a task force that will meet regularly to discuss how to concretely realize the items listed below.

Overview of the memorandum of understanding (MOU)

  1. Popularize taxis that feature universal design (UD) principles and can easily be used by all.
  2. Draw up vehicle specifications that will enhance the hospitality, safety, and convenience that will help make customers happy, and assess the following points necessary to build other peripheral systems.
    1. Enhancement of advanced safety systems
    2. Enhanced user convenience
    3. Co-operating on providing services in multiple languages
  3. In the Tokyo area, both parties will look at ways to collaborate on the two points mentioned below, in terms of developing and leveraging future automated driving technologies, which will cater to increasingly diversified groups of drivers which includes the elderly and foreigners among others. This has the overall effect of supporting taxi drivers to ease their workload.
    1. Use taxis to collect and analyze of information on the road traffic environment, and apply those results to the development of the Mobility Teammate Concept, which embodies Toyota’s vision of automated driving.
    2. Collaborate on experimental business approaches that make use of the automated driving technology which is derived from using the Mobility Teammate Concept.
  • The Toyota Crown is the Japanese industry’s traditional workhorse.
Deliveroo raises $ 275 million; competes with Uber Eats

Deliveroo raises $ 275 million; competes with Uber Eats

How much money does it take to compete with Uber? That’s the question The New York Times (NYT) raises in an article today: “Deliveroo, a food delivery start-up based in London, is about to find out after it raised $275 million on Friday to take the company’s fund-raising to almost half a billion dollars since it was founded in 2012.”

With the latest funding Deliveroo enters into the so-called ‘unicorn’-club of privately held companies around the world with valuations exceeding $1 billion, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s fund-raising who spoke to the NYT on the condition of anonymity. Deliveroo helps restaurants take orders and deliver food with a few swipes on a smartphone.

It also gives Deliveroo increased financial firepower to keep Uber at bay. Uber recently started offering UberEats, a food delivery operation, in a small number of European cities. In US cities the company has been active with UberEats for a longer period. That pits Uber directly against Deliveroo, whose operations now extend across 12 countries, mostly in Europe.

“There’s a reason why some of the big players are now entering into this market,” Will Shu, an American former investment banker who helped found Deliveroo, said in an interview with the Times. When it comes to the online food delivery market, he added: “We’re no longer in the first inning, but we’re nowhere near the ninth inning, either.”

Residential batteries: the story that doesn’t start or end with Tesla

Residential batteries: the story that doesn’t start or end with Tesla

Tesla is an eye-catching company active in clean energy applications – not only pure electric cars, but also home battery systems, writes Dr. Xiaoxi He, Technology Analyst, IDTechEx. With its launch of Tesla’s Powerwall on April 30, 2015 and every progress update on its Gigafactory’s building, Tesla has continued to fuel interest in home battery systems.

Residential batteries, together with battery applications in commercial, industrial and utilities, are considered to be the next big opportunity in batteries besides electric vehicles. Indeed, this will become a $6bn market by 2026 as predicted by the new IDTechEx Research report ‘Batteries for Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Utility Applications 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, Players and Opportunities’ (www.IDTechEx.com/res).

On April 30, 2015, Tesla officially launched its residential and commercial/utility-scale energy system products ‘Powerwall’ and ‘Powerpack’ in Los Angeles, with the price well below earlier expectation (the production of 10 kWh Powerwall was stopped due to the relatively low price-performance ratio).

This kind of battery system was not the first approach in the battery systems. As early as 2013, SolarCity already launched an energy storage system called DemandLogic, which was used to reduce businesses’ peak demand, provide backup power during outages and potentially save energy costs. This system also used Tesla battery technology – the same lithium-ion battery packs used in Tesla cars. However, the price of DemandLogic battery system at that time was expensive and was mainly for medium-scale applications.

Tesla always wanted to launch a residential battery storage system that can be accepted by household. The launch of Powerwall could incorporate SolarCity’s plan in residential energy storage. The merge between Tesla and SolarCity further proved it.

In a typical fashion Tesla managed to attract tremendous attention, yet Tesla Energy is neither the first nor the best product of its kind. In fact, in many ways, Tesla is a follower. For example, the German startup Sonnen started to sell residential battery as early as 2011, whilst in the same year in Japan, Sony and Sharp launched their products after the Tohoku earthquake with focused attention on the critical importance of back-up residential energy storage in emergency situations.

Today the residential battery sector is not only being chased by battery makers. Instead, a cross-industry business is taking shape as evidenced by the large number of recent acquisitions, joint-venture and investment. Battery business for consumer electronics has gradually reached a plateau and automotive companies are moving into residential/grid battery areas to de-risk their investment and further reduce battery costs with the help of economies of scale.

The market is therefore fragmented with companies in various areas jumping in such as solar cells integrators, automotive players, cell makers, battery manufacturers, chemical suppliers, trading companies, power utilities, etc. It is obvious residential batteries can generate both economic values that can be monetized and values that are not directly monetized in households and electricity networks. An important consideration is whether they can demonstrate positive economic return based on current price range and value streams, which is a significant factor when predicting the future deployment. Technology is not the major driver, as analyzed in this report. A large number of key questions are answered in the report.

IDTechEx provides independent research, business intelligence and advice to companies across the value chain based on our core research activities and methodologies providing data sought by business leaders, strategists and emerging technology scouts to aid their business decisions.

  • Comparison of current and future residential battery products in the market. Source: IDTechEx Research report ‘Batteries for Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Utility Applications 2016-2026’
Taxelco acquires Taxi Diamond in Montreal

Taxelco acquires Taxi Diamond in Montreal

Taxelco has purchased Taxi Diamond, the biggest taxi fleet in Montreal. This transaction, which combines the strengths of two innovation-focused players, will allow Taxelco to step up its modernization strategy to meet the needs of Montrealers looking for safe, fast, and efficient professional taxi service which is available round the clock everywhere on the island of Montreal.

The complementary service offerings under the Taxelco umbrella will meet the needs of all customer segments across Montreal. Taxi Hochelaga operates in the east-end of Montreal and specializes in paratransit. Taxi Diamond is the biggest taxi fleet available in the central and western areas of the city and is also the leading provider for corporate and institutional clients. Téo Taxi is the first all-electric taxi service in Canada offering a unique experience to users and drivers.

This acquisition will allow Taxelco to implement its ‘know-how’ on a large scale, with 1,720 vehicles offering the same reliable service to Montrealers under three different brands. “A year after acquiring Taxi Hochelaga, and eight months after launching Téo Taxi, we’ve gained key strategic knowledge and learned quite a few lessons,” pointed out Alexandre Taillefer, senior partner at XPND Capital and Taxelco founder. “Through innovative management of our operations, we put customers first while at the same time providing a favorable work environment for our taxi drivers.”

“New technology and better taxi fleet management are the keys to transforming the industry,” said Marc Petit, the CEO of Taxelco. “We want to offer the owner-drivers and independent contractors who work with Taxi Hochelaga and Taxi Diamond a modern, clean, and environmentally friendly fleet so that they can provide Montrealers with consistently top notch service that is safe and efficient.”

Taxi Diamond’s experienced management team will remain in place. Like Taxi Hochelaga, Taxi Diamond will retain its agency model and drivers will continue to be self-employed. Taxi Diamond’s service code will be improved and standardized with Taxelco’s.

“This acquisition unites two companies recognized for their forward-looking approach” said Dominique Roy, the CEO of Taxi Diamond. “Taxi Diamond has always relied on innovation to set itself apart from the competition and it has now one of the best call centers in the industry. We were also the first taxi company to launch a mobile app, equip vehicles with GPS, and accept electronic payments. We are very happy to be joining Taxelco.”

Taxelco was launched by XPND Capital in 2015. It owns Taxi Diamond, Montreal’s leading taxi company, Taxi Hochelaga, and the latest arrival, Téo Taxi, the most innovative player in the taxi business. By electrifying the industry fleet and optimizing the use of information technology, Taxelco seeks to position Montreal as a green and avant-garde urban hub where transportation methods drive economic development and mirror the city’s unique and innovative character.

  • Is Taxelco taking over the entire Montreal taxi industry?