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EV/AV Report: December 14, 2020

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— In this week’s electric and autonomous vehicle report, Volkswagen’s chief executive estimates the automaker’s autonomous vehicles to hit the market sooner than you may expect, Apple makes adjustments to its autonomous vehicle project and a Montreal-based not-for-profit announces an East Coast charging network. 

Vibes at Volkswagen

Herbert Diess, the chief executive of the Volkswagen auto brand, expects autonomous vehicles to be ready for sale between 2025 and 2030, according to a report from Reuters.

In an interview with German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, Diess cited the improving performance of computer chips needed in autonomous cars while developments in artificial intelligence are also speeding the process.

“It is foreseeable that the systems will soon be able to master even the complex situation of autonomous driving,” Diess told the magazine.

In 2015, Diess left his role on BMW’s board of management. He has since helped Volkswagen on the path to reform after its diesel scandal, wherein the automaker cheated diesel-emissions tests, resulting in legal action against the automaker in more than 20 countries.

Apple adjustment

Apple has reportedly made some changes to its self-driving car unit, as the unit is now lead by the company’s artificial intelligence chief, John Giannandrea.

According to an article from Bloomberg, the Apple project Titan is run day-to-day by Doug Field. However, Field’s team of engineers has moved to Giannandrea’s artificial intelligence and machine-learning group.

With Apple’s former senior vice president of hardware engineering, Bob Mansfield, now retired from the company, it appears Field will now report to Giannandrea, who has taken over.

Giannandrea runs Apple’s Siri and machine-learning technologies and is now also in charge of the company’s autonomous driving efforts.

Apple’s car ambitions began in 2014, with a goal of creating a self-driving car, but efforts were scaled back in 2016, as the project hit speed bumps.

As of 2019, Apple has 66 cars in its car testing fleet, according to data from the California DMV, an increase compared to 2018. When it came to autonomous test miles though, Apple decreased its numbers in 2019 versus the year prior.

Montreal through the Maritimes

Earth Day Canada, a Montreal-based, national environmental non-profit organization, has announced the launch of an electric vehicle fast-charging network across Quebec and New Brunswick.

The network, called EcoCharge, will consist of 100 DC fast-charging stations located at 50 IGA grocery store locations, for drivers who want to power up while stocking up.

EcoCharge is the only charging network by a non-profit organization, and it is also the only one that offers to donate a portion of charging proceeds to charity.

Specifically, all charging fees collected on the 22nd of each month⁠—an homage to Earth Day, April 22⁠—will be donated to a local charity in the host’s jurisdiction.

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