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It beggars belief no Five Eyes country has a major 5G vendor: Turnbull

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Turnbull in the House of Representatives before his enforcement retirement


(Image: APH)

Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s 29th and most recently knifed Prime Minister, has bemoaned that the members of the alliance — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States — do not have a horse capable of winning the 5G race.

“In many discussions with my western counterparts, I raised the concern that we, and in particular the Five Eyes, had got to the point where there were now essentially four leading vendors of 5G systems — two Chinese, Huawei and ZTE, and two European, Ericsson and Nokia,” Turnbull told Henry Jackson Society in a speech in London on Tuesday evening.

“With the benefit of hindsight it beggars belief that the countries which pioneered wireless technology — the United States, the UK, Germany, Japan and with WiFi, Australia — have got to the point where none of them are able to present one of their own telcos [as] a national, or a Five Eyes, champion in 5G.”

Turnbull said Australia’s ban on Huawei and ZTE instituted in August, was not done at the behest of another nation or for protectionist reasons, but because it defended Australia’s sovereignty and as a “hedge against changing times”.

“It is important to remember that a threat is the combination of capability and intent,” Turnbull said.

“Capability can take years, decades to develop. And in many cases won’t be attainable at all. But intent can change in a heartbeat.”

One of the reasons given by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) for recommending the ban was the diminished distinction between edge and core networks in 5G.

“The distinction between core and edge collapses in 5G networks. That means that a potential threat anywhere in the network will be a threat to the whole network,” ASD Director-general Mike Burgess said in October.

“In consultation with operators and vendors, we worked hard this year to see if there were ways to protect our 5G networks if high-risk vendor equipment was present anywhere in these networks.

“At the end of this process, my advice was to exclude high-risk vendors from the entirety of evolving 5G networks.”

As the United Kingdom considers whether to follow in Australia’s footsteps or not, Turnbull reiterated the ASD’s warnings.

“If a state-sponsored adversary has enduring access to staff, software, or hardware deployed into a target telecommunication network, then they only require the intent to act in order to conduct operations within the network,” Turnbull quoted the ASD as saying.

“Traditionally, cybersecurity is premised on raising the cost for an adversary to such an extent that the adversary will not find it worthwhile to compromise a network. When an adversary can persistently and effortlessly pre-position, the effective cost of activity is greatly reduced.”

Also: Australian political parties also hit by state actor in parliamentary network attack: PM

The former Australian Prime Minister said he had spoken with US President Donald Trump many times about 5G.

In recent times, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that the US could have issues with nations making use of Huawei equipment.

Pompeo warned that the presence of Huawei makes it difficult for an important American system to coexist.

Last month, Trump called on US companies to develop 6G, and “win through competition, not by blocking out” more advanced competition.

Trump has been weighing up signing an executive order that replicates the Australian ban on Huawei and ZTE by blocking US companies from purchasing equipment from foreign telco vendors that are regarded as a national security risk.

Touting his cybersecurity credentials, Turnbull pointed out that under his stewardship, Australia has appointed its first minister for cybersecurity, its first cybersecurity coordinator, and its first cyber affairs ambassador.

“I had made sure cyber was a cabinet concern and I wanted to make sure the issue of cyber security, crime, and attacks was elevated to a boardroom issue as hackers became more sophisticated,” he said.

Australia has been without a dedicated minister for cybersecurity following the removal of Turnbull.

TPP-11 is a favour to America

Turnbull also detailed the process of how the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP 11) came to be following the dumping of the original TPP agreement in the opening week of the Trump presidency.

The then-Australian Prime Minister and then-New Zealand Prime Minister John Key both formed the opinion the deal should proceed despite America’s absence, and the first leader they worked on was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“In the course of a long walk along the cliffs of South Head, I was able to persuade Shinzo that the deal was not dead, and the TPP could continue without the US,” Turnbull said.

“Working together, we lobbied all the other TPP nations and one by one we persuaded them that the deal should continue. And so it has, the TPP-11 is now a reality.”

By keeping the agreement going, other nations can join it in future, Turnbull said.

Read more: Colombia looking to join new TPP

“Far from snubbing the Americans by persevering, we did them a favour,” he said.

Holding fast to a view he put forward in April 2018, Turnbull said a post-Brexit United Kingdom could join the TPP, and further said he believes America will join the trade bloc.

“I did my best to persuade Trump not to pull out of the TPP, and stressed to him its strategic significance, an argument I might add he said he had not heard before, and one that I believe eventually will persuade his, or a subsequent, administration to join it,” he said.

“This deal didn’t come easily though and is an example why in a modern world we should swim against any tide of protectionism.”

The TPP entered into force in Australia on December 30, and has been signed by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile.

In February last year, New Zealand published the content of the TPP 11 deal, with the intellectual property chapter outlining safe harbour and fair use regimes, as well as pushing civil and criminal penalties for piracy.

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Mercedes-Benz unveils T-Class and EQT all-electric concept based on new Renault Kangoo

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We weren’t expecting Mercedes-Benz to unveil an MPV or small van, much less an all-electric microvan, but here it is. First off, the Mercedes EQT concept looks fantastic. It mends the styling attributes of a practical people carrier and a small luxury conveyance. Mercedes-Benz will debut two versions of the T-Class: Internal combustion (gasoline and diesel) and the EQT all-electric version.

“We are expanding our portfolio in the small van segment with the forthcoming T-Class,” said Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “It will appeal to families and all those private customers, whatever their age, who enjoy leisure activities and need a lot of space and maximum variability without forgoing comfort and style.”

Let’s start with the Mercedes T-Class, the one arriving with a slew of gasoline and diesel engines in Europe. Based on the all-new, third-gen Renault Kangoo, the T-Class is riding on Renault’s CMF-B platform, capable of supporting internal combustion and all-electric powertrains.

Measuring 4,945 mm in length, 1,863 mm wide, and 1,866 mm high, the T-Class has seven seats, two sliding doors, and second-row seats that can accommodate up to three child seats. The concept is wearing premium white Nappa leather upholstery, but we’re expecting the production version to get wear-resistant nylon materials in lower-trim models.

Of course, MBUX infotainment will come standard, and Mercedes promises the dashboard and control layouts of the concept will make it to production. It will arrive with a slew of advanced safety features and driving aids like automatic emergency braking, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, trailer stability control, and crosswind assist, to name a few.

Meanwhile, the EQT all-electric version is a hardware clone of the Renault Kangoo E-Tech Electric model, and it’s the ninth member of Mercedes-Benz’s all-electric EQ family. The concept bears tasty exterior bits like a black panel grille with 3D star-effect lighting, futuristic LED taillights, and a full-width LED light bar in the rear. It also has 21-inch aero wheels wrapped in low-profile tires and a unique bottle-shaped panoramic glass roof.

Admittedly, the production EQT will be a toned-down version of the concept seen here. Then again, Mercedes-Benz claims the packaging, body style, and practical features will remain unchanged, and that’s good news. Powertrain options for the EQT remain unannounced, but we have an idea.

Most likely, the EQT will have a single electric motor pumping out 101 horsepower, drawing juice from a 45 kWh battery pack as the Renault Kangoo E-Tech Electric. The driving range is around 165 miles using the WLTP cycle.

The Mercedes-Benz T-Class and EQT will make their official debut later this year. Production is at Renault’s MCA factory in Maubeuge, France, where both the T-Class and EQT are built alongside the Renault Kangoo and Kangoo E-Tech Electric.

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Porsche makes a huge promise for its most important EV

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The Porsche Taycan showed the German sports car company was taking EVs seriously, but it’ll be the arrival of the new Macan EV which really tips the scales toward electrification. Porsche isn’t quite ready to unveil the all-electric Macan quite yet, but it’s already making some big promises about the EV version of its best-seller.

It’s fair to say the Macan has been a huge deal for Porsche. Though the automaker may be best known for its 911 sports car, available as a coupe, a convertible, and a Targa, it’s crossovers and SUVs which have padded the bottom line for some time now.

In Q1 2021, for example, Macan led Porsche sales in North America, closely followed by its bigger Cayenne sibling. Indeed, Porsche sold more examples of the Macan in those three quarters than it did 911 and 718 models combined. In short, if you’re going to make an all-electric version of your most popular nameplate, you need to get it absolutely right.

Porsche’s answer to that challenge is built on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE), an electric-only architecture the automaker co-developed with VW Group stablemate Audi. Indeed, the Macan EV will be the first Porsche product to use PPE. Focused on luxury performance electric vehicles – rather than mainstream EVs as VW Group’s MEB is focused on – there’s plenty of flexibility in how PPE can be configured.

For example, Porsche and Audi have already talked about the capability of rear-wheel drive single motor setups, and all-wheel drive dual motor versions. Body styles, too, can be configured in multiple ways, with up to a 100 kW battery pack nestled into the wheelbase. In the case of the Audi A6 e-tron – a barely-disguised nod to the upcoming luxury electric car the automaker has planned for a few years out – that means a sedan, but PPE can just as easily be adapted for crossovers, SUVs, and other designs. Audi, for example, will use the platform for its Q6 all-electric SUV that’s expected to be unveiled at the end of 2022.

The all-electric Porsche Macan, meanwhile, is being planned for 2023, the automaker says. It’ll use 800-volt architecture – like the Taycan and Taycan Cross Turismo – for faster charging times along with greater performance. Indeed, Porsche isn’t holding back on its speed commitment, promising “the all-electric Macan will be the sportiest model in its segment.”

For the moment, physical prototype Macan EV models are just headed out to the road. Porsche’s development so far has been virtual, using simulations to model the design of the crossover EV more effectively. That includes the aerodynamic work which is so important for electric vehicles, to cut drag and improve range.

In parallel, however, there’ll also be another conventionally-powered version of the Macan – using gas engines still – that will be on sale alongside the Macan EV.

“Demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, but the pace of change varies considerably across the world,” Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board at Porsche, explains. “That’s why we’re going to launch another conventionally powered evolution of the current Macan in the course of 2021.”

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Subaru Solterra electric SUV confirmed as brand’s first AWD EV

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Subaru has revealed details on its new, first all-electric model, and if you were worried there wouldn’t be enough EV SUVs around to choose between, the Subaru Solterra should settle those concerns. The new name is a combination of the Latin words for “Sun” and “Earth,” the automaker says, in a nod to its “commitment to deliver traditional SUV capabilities in an environmentally responsible package.”

That is, of course, pretty much what every automaker says about their new electric vehicle. What could make the Subaru Solterra special is the e-SUBARU Global Platform it debuts.

It’s the handiwork of a collaboration between Subaru and Toyota. Subaru contributed its experience with all-wheel drive, while Toyota brought the electrification part to the recipe. We should see the Solterra launch in 2022, across the US, Canada, China, Europe, and Japan.

The automaker is tight-lipped on just what to expect from e-SUBARU, though we do have some prior knowledge. On Toyota’s side, the architecture is known as e-TNGA, and it’s designed from the outset to be especially flexible. Toyota, for example, is talking about using it for front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive configurations.

Only a handful of dimensions are fixed: the length and width of the motors, for example, and the battery pack which is mounted under the cabin. Everywhere else – including front and rear overhangs, overall vehicle width, and wheelbase – there’s flexibility to adjust size, depending on the requirements of segment, cabin space, and room for cargo.

Toyota plans to tap that flexibility for a whole series of EVs, not just the C-segment SUVs that both it and Subaru have already confirmed are on the roadmap. For Subaru, so far only the Solterra has been announced. It also seems likely that – given the brand’s reputation for AWD – it’ll skip any front- or rear-wheel drive versions.

What isn’t uncertain is that Subaru is onboard with the idea that electrification is the future. Back in January 2020, the automaker predicted that by mid-2030 it would be building electric vehicles only.

Still to be confirmed about this first example of Subaru’s EV strategy are details like power and range, not to mention pricing. In the US, Subaru is still at the start of its federal tax credits for EVs, relatively speaking, given currently it only offers PHEVs not full-electric models in its range. That could help take some of the sting out of any price premium that the new electric platform might demand. We’ll know more as the Solterra gets closer to launch.

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