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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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2021 VW ID.4 electric range gets EPA confirmed – Here’s how it compares

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Volkswagen’s new all-electric crossover, the 2021 ID.4, has sailed through US EPA testing with no upset in its range results, an important milestone as the automaker tries to make a splash in the affordable EV segment. Arriving at dealerships imminently, the ID.4 is America’s first taste of VW’s MEB platform, its purpose-built architecture for battery-electric vehicles.

That’s a departure from the previous pure-electric models that VW has offered in North America before. The discontinued e-Golf, for example, may have been an EV but it was based on the same platform as the standard, internal combustion version of the car.

MEB, though, was designed from the outset with electric drive alone in mind. Flexible enough to scale down to compact urban hatchbacks and up through luxury sedans to large SUVs, it can also be set up with front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive, and with differing battery pack sizes to balance range, weight, and price. For the first examples of the 2021 ID.4, Volkswagen opted for an 82 kWh battery and RWD, with the single electric motor good for 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque.

That, the automaker predicted, would work out to 250 miles on the EPA’s test cycle. Sure enough, when the US Environmental Protection Agency published the 2021 ID.4’s numbers – for both the limited-availability ID.4 1st and the ID.4 Pro S, which have the same battery pack – it clocks in at the expected 250 miles.

It’s enough to put the ID.4 firmly in the midst of its electric vehicle segment. Tesla’s numbers remain the range to beat, with the Model Y rated between 291 and 316 miles by the EPA, while Chevrolet’s Bolt EV – a little smaller than the ID.4 – drops in at 259 miles. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, also just about to arrive at US dealerships, had its range figures certified by the EPA earlier in the week; it will do between 211 and 300 miles, depending on model and drivetrain configuration.

Over at Hyundai, the 2021 Kona Electric is similarly priced to the ID.4, and rated at 258 miles on a charge. Audi’s e-tron and e-tron Sportback, along with the Jaguar I-PACE, are more expensive than the VW, and fall short of its quoted range too – at 220, 218, and 234 miles, respectively – though badge prestige might offset any disappointment there. Volvo’s new 2021 XC40 Recharge and its 2021 Polestar 2 cousin are rated by the EPA at 208 and 233 miles, respectively.

These first two ID.4 models, of course, are only the start of Volkswagen’s assault on the EV space. As well as other configurations of the crossover – including all-wheel drive variants due next year – there’ll be other vehicles based on the MEB platform as the automaker chases its ambitious electric sales goals. Meanwhile, the sticker price of the ID.4 itself is expected to dip too. Though the current cars are being shipped over to the US from Germany, from 2022 VW plans to build the electric crossover in the US as well; the localized, North American-made ID.4 could start from around $35,000 before any credits or incentives.

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Bugatti Chiron Sport Les Légendes du Ciel pays tribute to aviation legends

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Few are aware of Bugatti’s glorious aviation history. Paying homage to ‘The Legends of the Sky’ is a limited run Bugatti Chiron Les Légendes du Ciel based on the Chiron Sport. Only 20 examples of Les Légendes du Ciel are slated for production, and Bugatti is asking $3.42 million (€2.88 million) for each car.

“Bugatti has had close associations with aviation since the company was established more than 110 years ago,” said Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. Company founder Ettore Bugatti was always fascinated by aviation. Bugatti began developing aircraft engines in 1915. But in 1938, Bugatti began working on the Model 100, a racing aircraft designed to compete in the Deutsch de la Meurthe Cup Race.

“Many successful Bugatti racing drivers, such as Albert Divo, Robert Benoist, and Bartolomeo ‘Meo’ Costantini, flew for the French Air Force, the French aviator legend Roland Garros privately drove a Bugatti Type 18 to be as fast on the road as in the air,” added Winkelmann. “It is therefore almost an obligation for us today to pay tribute to the legends of that time and dedicate a special edition to them.”

As expected, the Chiron Sport Les Légendes du Ciel is brimming with vintage aviation-inspired memorabilia. You’ll find a bevy of aircraft and propeller logos on the seat headrests, front fenders, and center console. The door panels, meanwhile, bear a sketch of a Bugatti Type 13 race car and a Nieuport 17 airplane, the latter of which is a French biplane built in 1916.

All 20 examples of Chiron Sport Les Légendes du Ciel are finished in bespoke Gris Serpent matte gray paint. Other exterior highlights include a gloss white racing stripe, a gloss black front grille surround, and the blue, white, and red colors of the French flag on the side sills.

Meanwhile, the interior is resplendent in fine Gaucho light brown leather and premium aluminum trim. Optional equipment includes comfort seats and a ‘Sky View’ glass roof.

The limited-edition Les Légendes du Ciel Bugatti Chiron Sport remains powered by a gargantuan 8.0-liter W16 turbocharged engine producing 1,479 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque. Production of this exclusive model will start near the end of 2020.

2021 Bugatti Chiron Sport Les Légendes du Ciel Gallery

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Fourth Ram Truck “Built to Serve Edition” pickup lands in Q1

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Ram Truck has announced that the fourth edition of its armed forces-inspired and limited-edition “Built to Serve” trucks is ready to go. The Built to Serve Edition Ram 1500 pickups honor the five branches of the US Armed Forces. Ram is offering the fourth edition of the pickup with 1000 models in Tank and 1000 units in Flame Red.

The interior is inspired by the military and features Medium Greystone accents and standard content that encourages owner customization. The fourth edition of the truck series will be in showrooms in Q1 2021. The trucks are meant to be a way to honor all those who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Ram continues to launch a new Built to Serve Edition model representing one of the land, sea, or air military branches approximately every three months. Each of the five military service branches has been or will be honored with two specially selected exterior paint colors that “evoke the spirit, the mission, and history of that service.”

Built to Serve Edition trucks are offered in the following colors and production numbers:

  • Gator (1,000 units) and Diamond Black Crystal (1,000)
  • Ceramic Gray (1,000) and Patriot Blue (1,000)
  • Anvil (1,250) and Billet Silver Metallic (1,500)
  • Tank (1,000) and Flame Red (1,000)
  • Spitfire (500) and Bright White (500)

The special edition trucks have a unique treatment on the front end with an all-black grille and surround, black bumpers, and premium lighting with black bezels. The trucks also feature black badges, black wheel-to-wheel sidesteps, and dual four-inch black exhaust tips. Interiors are accented with unique corresponding color stitching in light frost, light ambassador blue, light diesel gray, medium greystone, or orange. The trucks also have several other special touches, and trucks with the 4×4 off-road group feature number of skid plates and all-terrain tires.

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