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China tech spending to hit $273B amidst US trade war, slowing economy

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Chinese businesses will focus their technology budget on transforming operations and improving efficiencies as they brace themselves for an uncertain geopolitical climate and slowing local economy. This year, they are expected to spend 1.73 trillion yuan (US$256.61 billion) on technology purchases this year, up 4 percent in terms of the US dollar year-on-year, and another 1.843 trillion yuan (US$272.84 billion) in 2020, according to Forrester. 

The research firm noted that the ongoing trade war with the US and a slowing local economy will drive China’s technology decision makers across the different verticals to accelerate their digital transformation in “pragmatic ways”. The tense geopolitical environment also will lead the Chinese government to reconsider some investments, as well as pushing technology vendors to revisit their research investments and go-to-market strategies, said Charlie Dai, Forrester’s principal analyst for enterprise architecture.


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“The trade clash with the US is pushing China to strategically prioritise domestic R&D innovation and accelerate developments in key areas, such as core chips and software, that provide the foundation for China’s national economic and social development plan,” Dai explained, adding that these initiatives would likely take years to materialise and drive government tech investment in the short to medium term.

Forrester said hardware investments would slow but remain dominant, fuelled by rapid adoption of digital services that has led to an almost doubling of mobile internet data traffic to 26.6 exabytes. This growing consumption will encourage Chinese telcos to continue investing in network infrastructure. China Mobile, for instance, has deployed 7,100 5G base stations in five cities, with plans to add another 12 cities by the end of 2018 and connect 300 million IoT (internet of Things) devices. All three local carriers have also revealed plans to launch commercial 5G networks by 2020. 

In addition, the adoption of cloud services and hardware refresh cycles has been fuelling investments in data centre equipment and computers. The number of racks in large data centres grew 68 percent in 2017 and 463 new facilities had been planned or were under construction. These will drive spending on computer and communications equipment to US$65 billion and US$51 billion, respectively, this year.

Forrester also expects tech outsourcing and consulting services to see continued strong growth, as Chinese organisations lack the skillset to support plans to embrace emerging technologies, including integration and customisation services. 

They also will look to expand their public cloud deployment to their entire tech stack, said the research firm. It noted that all five leading cloud players grew by more than 100 percent last year, with Alibaba Cloud and JD.com launching or expanding their private cloud offerings. 

These activities will drive outsourcing services growth by 12 percent this year, while tech consulting services will climb 8 percent, Forrester said. 

In terms of software, robust spending here will be fuelled by demand for cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, and e-commerce. These four key areas helped the software sector grow 14 percent last year, according to the research firm. 

“AI development is a national strategy in China, and both the government and digital firms are driving the rapid adoption of AI technologies from machine learning to computer vision,” Dai said. “China [also] is rapidly embracing IoT in industries like telecommunications, manufacturing, and retail. We forecast a compound annual growth rate for of IoT in Asia-Pacific of 24.4 percent over the next five years.”

The analyst added that e-commerce continues to grow exponentially in the country, with China seeing record sales of US$30.8 billion on Alibaba’s Singles Day last year, up another 27 percent year-on-year. 

Dai further noted: “To establish digital ecosystems for customer engagement throughout the lifecycle and accelerate value co-creation, [Chinese] firms will seek partnerships in vertical AI, cloud-native, hybrid cloud management, insight platforms, and security.” 

Forrester said 58 percent of local companies have expressed plans to invest in AI and cognitive technologies this year, while 52 percent said they will look to improve their use of data and analytics, and 50 percent will increase their cloud adoption.  

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Ram unveils limited 1500 TRX Ignition Edition, Longhorn SouthFork, and 1500 (RED) Edition

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The 2022 Ram 1500 TRX is getting a trio of limited-edition models with custom features and unique exterior appointments. The 1500 TRX Ignition Edition, 1500 Longhorn SouthFork, and 1500 Ram (RED) Edition recently made their first appearances at the State Fair of Texas. The latter is particularly worth mentioning as Jeep, Fiat, and Ram cemented with U2 frontman Bono’s (RED) organization to fight global health crises.

“Ram customers demand even more, and our new models deliver that with a selection of exterior and interior appointments and content for greater personalization,” said Mike Koval Jr., Ram Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis.

The 2022 Ram 1500 TRX Ignition has the TRX Level 2 Equipment Group. The package includes custom Ignition paint and body graphics, a panoramic sunroof, a spray-in bed liner, a bed step, cargo tie-downs, a cab-mounted LED brake light, and bespoke 18-inch machine face black wheels. Under the hood is the same 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 motor pumping out 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.

Other goodies include orange interior stitching, embroidered TRX logos on the seatbacks, copper carbon fiber trimmings, a heads-up display, and an orange center console badge. The Ram TRX Ignition starts at $91,585 (plus $1,695 destination), and only 875 units will arrive at US dealerships near the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Ram 1500 Longhorn SouthFork is all about luxury. It replaces the Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary model and has an impressive lineup of standard kits like a multi-function tailgate, metal pedals, a deployable bed step, LED bed lighting, a spray-in bed liner, and a cargo divider.

It also has a Mountain Brown interior, bucket seats, suede door bolsters, and leather interior trim. The Ram 1500 Longhorn SouthFork starts at $61,620 (plus $1,695 destination) and arrives at dealerships later this year.“Buyers demand a good-looking truck with easy-to-use features. They tell us their Ram trucks are an extension of their personality, and they want to stand out from the crowd,” added Koval.

Finally, the 2022 Ram 1500 (RAM) RED Edition is available in a crew cab body style and starts at $63,250 (plus $1,695 destination). The (RAM) RED model has red RAM letters on the front grille and a (RED) badge on the center console lid. Engine choices include a 5.7-liter V8 with 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque or Ram’s 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V6 with 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque.

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2022 Honda Passport arrives with a fresh face and new rugged TrailSport trim

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Honda is fortifying its SUV lineup with the redesigned 2022 Passport five-seat crossover. The new Passport comes with an outdoorsy TrailSport trim with chunkier bumpers, a wider track, and 18-inch wheels with chunky tires. Standard across the board is a more rugged façade (derived from the Honda Ridgeline) and a mild splattering of technology updates.

Honda has yet to show the standard 2022 Passport, so let’s focus on the off-road-ready TrailSport version. “Some may not realize the true rugged, off-road capabilities of our light trucks,” said Dave Gardner, executive vice president of National Operations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Now they’re getting tough, rugged looks to match, and the addition of TrailSport will further enhance the off-road capability of our vehicles in the future.”

The 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport has chunkier front and rear bumpers, a unique grille, and silver skid plates. It also has special Orange TrailSport badges on the grille and tailgate. In addition, TrailSport has a 10 millimeter wider front and rear track for a burlier stance and better stability. It also offers more room to accommodate all-new machine-finished 18-inch wheels wrapped in TrailSport-specific off-road tires.

Under the hood remains a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Power goes to a nine-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. However, standard in Passport TrailSport and Elite is Honda’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. The drivetrain can automatically send up to 70-percent of engine torque to the rear wheels in rugged terrain. It can also send 100-percent of that torque to either the left or right rear wheels to keep you going.

All AWD Passport models have 8.1-inches of ground clearance and can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. All trims also get 50.5 cubic feet of cargo space and a power tailgate. Passport also has under-floor storage compartments in the back to keep wet clothes and dirty boots from mingling with your precious cargo.

Meanwhile, every 2022 Honda Passport has standard Honda Sensing. The package includes a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Additional standard safety equipment includes LED headlights, smart entry with push-button start, a rear-seat reminder, and a rear seatbelt reminder.

Inside, the 2022 Honda Passport gets an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Furthermore, the EX-L trim has perforated leather seats and contrasting stitching, while Passport TrailSport has amber interior ambient lighting, rubber floor mats, orange stitching. Pricing remains forthcoming, but the new Passport arrives at dealerships this winter.

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Aura EV Concept is a collaboration of brilliant British minds

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The Aura EV Concept is a long-range, all-electric speedster boasting 400 to 500 miles of driving range. It may not have the supercar-styling of a Bugatti Chiron or McLaren Elva. Still, the Aura EV is more about substance than style and results from a collaboration between four British companies: BAMD Composites, Conjure, Astheimer, and Potenza Technologies.

The four companies also got help from the UK Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles, with a common goal of creating the first homegrown long-range British EV. And when it comes to electric vehicles, aerodynamics is critical in squeezing out every ounce of driving range from the batteries, and the brainiacs behind Aura EV know this all too well.

But the future of Britain’s EV industry should not only have a more extended range. It needs to be sustainable as well, reducing every ounce of carbon footprints along the way. Aura EV has a lightweight composite body derived from natural fibers. In addition, its svelte yet minimalist silhouette is the result of computational fluid dynamics to make it as slippery as a fish in the water. And if those covered rear wheels are any indication, Aura EV can slice the wind almost effortlessly.

Unfortunately, some details are pretty scarce, but we were lucky to receive more information about Aura EV. According to sources, the car has two 44 kWh battery packs. One of them is on the floor, while there’s also a battery pack under the hood, enough to propel Aura EV to 400 miles (643 km) on a single full charge. If you came here looking for numbers, we’re sorry to disappoint. We’re expecting performance to be peppy for your weekend excursions, but don’t expect it to outrun a Rimac Nevera or Lotus Evija.

One of the central premises behind Aura EV is to reduce people’s perceptions of range anxiety, enabling buyers to adopt the EV lifestyle without further hesitations. Other quirks include a custom steering wheel with a self-positioning screen and a hi-tech human-machine interface with 3D visualization. Meanwhile, Aura EV’s Android-sourced battery and charging software can monitor the state of charge within 0.5-percent for superior accuracy, ensuring drivers will never unexpectedly run out of juice or wait unnecessarily at a charging station.

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