Japanese telecom giant NTT and subway operator Tokyo Metro will jointly use big data to help ease congestion during next year's Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The firms said on Monday that an artificial intelligence program will analyze location data from mobile phone carrier NTT DoCoMo, and passenger data from Tokyo Metro's ticket gates.
NEWPORT, Calif. — The 2020 Subaru Outback marks the sixth generation of a vehicle, first introduced for 1994, that is in no small part the lynchpin to its company's current success. The Outback's sales have increased in every generation, with more than 700,000 sold in the most recent generation that started with the 2015 model year. Subaru doesn't expect things to slow down as it introduces the all-new 2020 Outback, which has undergone a major overhaul despite its familiar sheetmetal. The Outback has moved to the Subaru Global Platform (SGP), joining the Impreza and Forester on lighter, stiffer, and stronger underpinnings. If the 2019 Forester is any indication of how the SGP can improve a vehicle, this would mean the new Outback will also be calmer, quieter and more refined. Staging from the Inn at Newport Ranch on Northern California's "Lost Coast," with a day full of driving both on- and off-road, we were about to find out for ourselves if this would live up to our expectations. Our first driving stint was in an Outback Touring equipped with the lesser of two available engines. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer-four, with 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, feels perfectly adequate for the driving we did at or near sea level, and climbs competently on steep grades. While it didn't perform passing maneuvers with a sense of urgency, we still felt comfortable overtaking slower vehicles when we had to. For daily driving somewhere like the California coast, or the suburbs of the Detroit, the more economical 2.5 (26 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 combined) would be our choice to live with. This is mated to a CVT, one programmed to "shift" like a traditional automatic, staying out of its own way, and providing a nice linear pull — without a rubber band type of feel — when you need to climb a hill. Paddle shifters on the back of the wheel give you a sense of more control, if that's something you need. We rarely used them. If you live at higher elevations, need to tow up to 3,500 pounds, or just really miss the days of a turbocharged Outback, there's now a 2.4-liter turbo-four available in the resurrected XT models. You sacrifice some fuel economy — 3 mpg across the board, 23/30/26 mpg — but get a significant power boost, with hardly any turbo lag and satisfying response. We're certain customers who've graduated from the likes of a WRX to something that can better accommodate kids and dogs will appreciate the boost. As we had hoped, the SGP platform quiets down the ride considerably – we didn't notice any squeaks or rattles, and tire roar was only apparent on rougher pavement. Wind noise is low, too, even without the acoustic glass on the front doors — a feature standard on the Limited XT and Touring XT models. On narrower, curvier mountain roads, the Outback handles surprisingly well. The steering is particularly good, with just-right weighting, and offers the perfect amount of resistance as you dial in more angle. The ratio is quick enough that juking from corner to corner ad infinitum is done with very little hand-over-hand shuffling or unnecessary grabwork. There's just enough feedback to give you a sense of what's going on between the tires and the road surface while filtering out most of the vibration. This Outback is seriously easy to drive, and more important, it's enjoyable. Additionally, it behaves much more like a passenger car than its size and height would suggest — and it's easy to forget that the Outback is essentially a lifted wagon when it competes against the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and even the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Despite its ample 8.7 inches of ground clearance (more than most compact SUVs), there's minimal body roll, which means less stress for passengers who don't have to brace against it. When we did just that on some dirt roads, the all-wheel drive, brake-based torque vectoring and other stability systems help keep the Outback pointed where we wanted to go. Despite its sedan-like behavior, it's not confined to the pavement, and feels at home on terrain where other soft-roaders would lose their footing. A good part of our day was spent off-road, climbing mountain trails overlooking the coastal plains below. Between the Outback's standard hill descent control and all-wheel-drive grip, climbing steep, muddy trails was essentially drama free. When we couldn't see over the crest, we displayed the feed from the front camera (a feature standard to the Touring trim) to see which direction the trail led. It's no trail-rated Jeep, though, and is limited by specs like its 18.6-degree approach angle. Deeper ruts led to some scraping at the front fascia. Subaru reps told us that their team is discussing a quick-release lower front fascia that could help avoid such scrapes, but no final decision has been made. In this Outback, the EyeSight driver aid system has been improved to include lane centering assistance, bringing it to parity with the Touring Assist we tested out on a WRX in Tokyo last year. Subaru refers to the system here as EyeSight Driver Assist Technology with Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering. We found it to work well, with some limitations. While it will certainly make congestion or stop-and-go traffic less stressful, on sharper curves, the lane following system would reach some limit, chime at us, and turn off momentarily. It's certainly not the best or most robust driver aid suite we've used, but we're glad that not only has the technology improved, but that it comes standard in all Outbacks. In contrast to the outside, the interior has been massively overhauled. Front and center, literally, is a huge, vertical 11.6-inch touchscreen, which is standard in all but the base trim. It fits surprisingly well into the cockpit's overall design, and moreover we appreciate that it bucks the "floating tablet" trend. It's straightforward to use, and if you don't like Subaru's native UI, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. The screen's size and orientation make it easy to glance over and see the information you need. Subaru maintained hard buttons for a number of functions, including redundant temperature controls, for which we are thankful. This is the second Subaru vehicle to use the company's DriverFocus monitoring tech using facial recognition and biometrics. This driver-facing camera keeps a digital eye on you making sure you're not getting groggy or distracted, and will chime a gentle reminder to keep your eyes on the road. What's even niftier, DriverFocus will also recognize the faces of as many as five registered drivers, and welcome the individuals with their own settings as they slide in behind the wheel. The new Outback provides a number of other conveniences, like a hands-free proximity tailgate that opens up when you approach the rear logo with the key fob on your person. With hands full, you can even nudge the flap on the cargo cover with your elbow to get it to retract. Cubbies abound, and the front cupholders are massive. The Outback also retains the nifty "Swing-n-Place" roof rails, and adds tie-down spots at the ends. And this is a bigger Outback than before, at least inside. It's only 1.4 inches longer and 0.6 inches wider overall than the outgoing model. Inside, there's a little over 3 more cubic feet of cargo space than before, rear legroom increases by 1.4 inches, and headroom increases by 1.8 inches in front and by a fraction of an inch in the rear. This go-around, Subaru offers a version of the Outback called the Onyx Edition, with the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine, and is targeted toward younger buyers (in a car whose average customer is 45 years old). It features blacked-out (well, dark-gray-ed out) wheels, grille, mirrors and badging. Inside, it features water-repellent interior trim called Startex, which actually feels quite nice for a synthetic material, though certainly not as plush as our Touring model's Nappa leather. While other Outbacks have a donut in reserve, the Onyx has a full-size spare tire. It also features an upgraded version of the X-Mode system, with a setting for sand and mud, and has the 180-degree front monitor featured on the Touring trim. The Subaru Outback starts at $27,655, including destination, for the base trim with the 2.5-liter engine, and goes up from there. Premium starts at $29,905, and adds the 11.6-inch head unit, all-weather package, power driver seat and dual climate control. The Limited adds 19-inch wheels, leather seats, blind-spot monitoring and reverse auto braking for $34,455. Touring costs $38,355, and adds Nappa leather, ventilated seats, DriverFocus, power folding mirrors and 180-degree front monitor. The XT turbo models start with the Onyx Edition at $35,905. Limited XT costs $38,755, and the line-topping Touring XT has a price of $40,705. We came to California expecting a better, more refined Outback with updated tech features. We would have been happy with that. But the 2020 Outback isn't just competent, it's actually a pleasure to drive – a tall wagon with stellar handling, which makes it a standout against the crossovers it competes against. It does that while maintaining the utility and charm we've come to expect from the brand. Just as it did with the Forester, Subaru applied a practiced, winning formula for the new Outback, then refined it. When Subaru sales keep climbing, bolstered in no small part by the Outback, we won't be surprised.
TOKYO — Japanese automaker Nissan, reeling from the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn, reported Tuesday that annual profit nosedived to less than half of what it earned the previous year, and forecast even dimmer results going forward. Nissan Motor Co.'s profit for the fiscal year ended March totaled 319.1 billion yen ($2.9 billion), down from 746.9 billion yen the previous fiscal year. Yokohama-based Nissan said profit for the fiscal year through March 2020 will drop to 170 billion yen ($1.5 billion), as its earnings are slammed by restructuring and product development expenses combined with currency-related losses and rising material costs. "This is a very critical situation," Nissan's chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa, told reporters at its headquarters in Yokohama. He said efforts were underway to reshape Nissan's business, especially in North America, where profits have dropped because of incentives and overproduction. Nissan's sales for the fiscal year that ended in March totaled 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion), down 3% from the previous fiscal year. Vehicle sales for the fiscal year slipped 4% to 5.5 million vehicles. Saikawa promised that Nissan's business will be turned around over the next two or three years. He blamed an overly aggressive sales growth strategy spearheaded by Ghosn, though Saikawa himself has faced criticism over his leadership since he became CEO. Saikawa apologized to customers and shareholders for the shoddy results, giving a short bow rather than the usual deep bow held for nearly a minute by Japanese executives apologizing for corporate wrongdoing. Ghosn, who led Nissan and its alliance with Renault SA of France for two decades, was arrested in November on financial misconduct charges. He has been accused of under-reporting retirement compensation, having Nissan shoulder investment losses and diverting Nissan money for personal gain. He says he is innocent. He says the compensation was never paid or agreed upon, the losses were never suffered and the payments were for legitimate services. The scandal over Ghosn's arrest and dismissal added to Nissan's problems. It logged 9.2 billion ($83 million) in costs for the fiscal year through March from alleged underreporting of Ghosn's compensation. Some analysts say the brand has been tarnished. It is unclear when Ghosn's trial will start, as preparations in Japan take months. Prosecutors wanted Ghosn kept incarcerated during the preparation, but he was released on bail in March, rearrested and then released again in April. The latest release forbids Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, from contact with his wife, a restriction that prosecutors have defended as necessary to prevent evidence tampering. Saikawa brushed off speculation that Renault may be pushing for a merger, saying that Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, who recently joined Nissan's board, agrees that fixing Nissan comes first. Renault owns 43% of Nissan. Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, owns 15% of Renault. Saikawa also brushed off a reporter's question about his resignation. He said he planned to hand over the reign to another leader "when the timing is right." For now, he said, he needs to focus on a turnaround.
Android Auto users are in for a treat as Google just unveiled a complete overhaul of the interface. We can safely say it looks a whole lot better than the current system, and we're excited to try it out.
To begin, there's a new launcher. Instead of the five buttons along the bottom, now there's an array of apps to choose from in a vertically scrolling interface. This looks a whole lot more like the app drawer on your actual phone, and should make choosing your desired navigation or audio app much more intuitive. The launcher looks more like Apple CarPlay, but scrolls vertically instead of sliding from page to page horizontally.
The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport initially showed us its new sheetmetal at the Geneva Motor Show, but we got a chance to check out the vehicle in the flesh at the company's research and development center in Ann Arbor, Mich., today. Nearly everything we learned about the Outlander Sport (known as the ASX in other markets) before applies to the North American version of the vehicle.
However, one aspect we were uncertain of was the continued presence of the manual transmission. We asked, and Mitsubishi is officially dropping the stick shift version of the Outlander Sport with this update. It was previously only available on the base trim level, exclusively paired with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Mitsubishi was one of the last holdouts to offer a manual transmission option in the small crossover market, and now they're officially out. Three-pedal versions of the Outlander Sport represented just 2% of total model sales, so the business case just wasn't there anymore.
People in Uki City, Kumamoto Prefecture, have renewed their preparedness for natural disasters one day before the third anniversary of the deadly quake that hit the region.
About 80 people, including Buddhist monks from nearby temples, gathered at a public hall in the city on Saturday. They first observed a moment of silence to mourn the victims.
TOKYO — Panasonic shares fell almost 6.5 percent on Tuesday after the electric vehicle battery maker reported a drop in quarterly earnings and cut its full-year outlook, just as EV partner Tesla branched out in battery tech. The Japanese firm on Monday chopped 9 percent from its operating profit outlook after booking a 19 percent drop in October-December, blaming weak demand for auto components and factory equipment in China, where the economy is slowing. Both figures were far below analyst estimates. Later on Monday, EV maker Tesla said it had agreed to buy U.S. energy storage company Maxwell Technologies for $218 million in an all-stock deal that could help the electric car maker produce batteries that hold more energy and last longer at a time when it needs to cut costs and faces growing competition. Maxwell executives told investors in January that it had developed and patented a "dry electrode" technology that could significantly increase the driving range and reduce the cost of electric vehicle batteries. In a presentation, Maxwell said it expected strategic alliances "within six months" centered around this technology. The company also makes ultracapacitors, which discharge energy faster than batteries and are seen as complementing battery technology. Ultracapacitors, combined with the energy of batteries, can enable rapid response times, function across a broader temperature range and lengthen battery life by up to two times, according to a blog post on Maxwell's website. Volvo-owner Geely Holding Group last May announced a deal with Maxwell and described the company's ultracapacitor technology as helping to deliver "peak power" for hybrid cars. "Tesla needs Maxwell's solvent-free battery electrode manufacturing for a viable path to lower battery costs," said Craig Irwin of Roth Capital Partners. "Real competitors are coming now, so Tesla needs to move fast." Maxwell sells ultracapacitor cells to General Motors and Volkswagen AG subsidiary Lamborghini. Panasonic is the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla, which in turn is Panasonic's biggest EV battery client. The Japanese electronics firm also makes types of ultracapacitors. Industry analysts in Japan pointed to Panasonic's outlook as the main source of investor concern on Tuesday, saying the Maxwell deal's impact on Panasonic was as yet unclear."The latest earnings have revealed how tough the situation is for Panasonic," said analyst Masahiko Ishino at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.
The Maxwell deal comes as Panasonic is set to lose its exclusivity with Tesla, whose Chief Executive Elon Musk said the U.S. EV maker plans to source battery cells locally for a new car factory in Shanghai, "most likely from several companies.
TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp and Panasonic Corp are launching a joint venture next year to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries, leveraging the heft of one of the world's largest automakers and battery makers to expand their EV push. Toyota will own 51 percent of the joint venture, and Panasonic the rest, the two companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday, confirming previous reports. The joint venture, which builds on an initial lithium-ion battery partnership struck between the two companies in late 2017, reflects the aim of the Japanese companies to become a bigger global player in the battery industry, which is vital for the development of affordable EVs. The two companies will pool part of existing battery-related equipment and engineers to the joint venture. Panasonic will also transfer its manufacturing capabilities in Japan and China for its thin, rectangular prismatic batteries. The two companies will transfer a total of 3,500 employees. Batteries produced by the joint venture will be sold to various automakers. The capital size of the venture has not been decided yet, the two companies said. While Panasonic is one of the world's biggest EV battery suppliers, it is facing rising competition from South Korean makers Samsung SDI Co and LG Chem, and CATL of China. Panasonic is currently Tesla's exclusive battery cell supplier, but Reuters reported that the U.S. EV maker has been in discussions with other companies including China's Tianjin Lishen to supply batteries for its new Shanghai car factory. Toyota and Panasonic already operate a joint venture called Prime Earth EV Energy, which manufactures batteries mainly used in gasoline hybrid vehicles. The new joint venture also shows that Toyota is expanding further into development and production of EV batteries just as many rivals have been stepping away from their development due to the heavy costs involved.