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FTZ rules eased for foreign investment

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
THE State Council has decided to ease regulations for enterprises investing in free trade zones to promote reform and opening up, a notice said yesterday. According to the decisions endorsed by Premier Li Keqiang, China will allow wholly foreign-owned entertainment venues to provide services in FTZs and permit foreign investors to invest in Internet access business. China will remove the restriction that at least 70 percent of equipment in foreign-funded urban-rail traffic projects should be made in China. Wholly foreign-owned companies were allowed to open gas stations and to design, produce and repair aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 6 tons. Investment proportion curbs on helicopters with a takeoff weight of at least 3 tons were also lifted. Foreign investors were also allowed to be controlling shareholders in international shipping agencies. China’s FTZs, which have grown from the first in Shanghai to 11 across the country, are a way of testing new policies, including interest rate liberalization and fewer investment curbs.

VR device for Xiaomi, Facebook

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
FACEBOOK and Xiaomi will release a virtual reality headset in the Chinese mainland market even though the US-based social giant’s service is not accessible here. The VR device, Mi VR standalone, will be the first Facebook device officially sold in the mainland market which has the world’s biggest number of Internet users. The device will feature both Xiaomi and Facebook’s Oculus logos in China. It’s the Chinese version of Facebook’s Oculus Go, which costs US$199 in the US market. Both sides, which announced the VR device yesterday, declined to reveal more information like revenue sharing or price and timetable of the release domestically. The standalone headset doesn’t require a personal computer or mobile phone to work with.

Intel vows fixes for chip security flaws

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
INTEL has big plans to steer toward new business in self-driving cars, virtual reality and other cutting-edge technologies. But first it has to pull out of a skid caused by a serious security flaw in its processor chips, which undergird many of the world’s smartphones and personal computers. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich opened his keynote talk on Monday night at the annual CES gadget show in Las Vegas by addressing the hard-to-fix flaws disclosed by security researchers last week. At an event known for its technological optimism, it was an unusually sober and high-profile reminder of the information security and privacy dangers lurking beneath many of the tech industry’s gee-whiz wonders. Some researchers have argued that the flaws reflect a fundamental hardware defect that can’t be fixed short of a recall. But Intel has pushed back against that idea, arguing that the problems can be “mitigated” by software or firmware upgrades. Companies from Microsoft to Apple have announced efforts to patch the vulnerabilities. And Krzanich promised fixes in the coming week to 90 percent of the processors Intel has made in the past five years, consistent with an earlier statement from the company. He added that updates for the remainder of those recent processors should follow by the end of January. Krzanich did not address the company’s plans for older chips. To date, he said, Intel has seen no sign that anyone has stolen data by exploiting the two vulnerabilities, known as Meltdown and Spectre.

Virtual aides battle for dominance

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
VIRTUAL aides battled to rule “smart homes” on the eve of the official opening of the Consumer Electronics show gadget gala in Las Vegas. Samsung, LG Electronics, Panasonic and others touted a future in which homes, cars and pockets brim with technology that collaborates to make lives easier. Google and Amazon are key players in the trend, with their rival Assistant and Alexa voice-commanded virtual aides being woven deeper into consumer electronics and vehicles. Samsung meanwhile is playing catch-up with its Bixby assistant. “The biggest theme is the fight for the connected home between Google and Amazon,” Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy said during a day of back-to-back CES press briefings. “The notion that there is this new layer that can replace apps and operating systems means the stakes are high.” If voice-commanded assistants become the new norm for interacting with computers and the Internet, being the virtual aide of choice could be a powerful and profitable position. “Competition is heating up for the smart assistant ecosystem, and the question is who is going to be the smart assistant of choice in 2018,” Gartner analyst Brian Blau said at CES. Apple and Google have big leads, since their rival digital assistants are already on millions of smartphones and computers, according to Blau. “That is why Amazon is being so aggressive; they need millions of more endpoints for Alexa in people’s hands,” Blau said. “The loser, if any, is Cortana, because nobody is talking about them,” he added, referring to Microsoft’s digital assistant. But, Moorhead countered, Microsoft is likely playing to its strength by angling to be the dominant digital assistant in workplaces and Cortana is already on some half a billion computers powered by Windows 10 software. Consumer electronics titan LG proclaimed this year a “tipping point” for smart homes during a press event that featured an ignoble on-stage fail. A cute, table-top smart hub called CLOi went awry, with the voice-commanded, small snow-person shaped device quickly ignoring an LG executive. “CLOi doesn’t like me evidently,” quipped LG US marketing vice president David VanderWaal. “Even robots have bad days.” Such moments are playfully referred to as “the curse of the live demo” in Silicon Valley. LG is developing technology designed to enable its appliances, televisions and other devices adapt to users and collaborate to handle tasks. The artificial intelligence platform is “open” to utilizing software made by other companies, LG chief technology officer I.P. Park said. “The world has become just too complex for just any single company to insist on a proprietary, closed solution,” Park said. LG collaborators include Google and Alexa creator Amazon, according to the South Korea-based consumer electronics titan. Google Assistant is being integrated into LG products including televisions, headphones and smart speakers.

Pole-dance robots to jazz up CES

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
THEY grind and gyrate around a pole, with moves like a real stripper. But these dancers are robots, brought in to offer a new entertainment twist to the crowds descending on Las Vegas this week for the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. The robo-strippers are the creation of British artist Giles Walker, who said he designed the vaguely humanoid machines as an expression about surveillance, power and voyeurism. No one would confuse the robots with real strippers, with a head made from a jettisoned surveillance camera and the rest from bits of scrap material from mannequins and car parts. “I wanted to do something sexy with rubbish,” Walker said at the Sapphire Gentleman’s Club, a few blocks off the Vegas Strip, at a media event on Monday night which was not part of the official CES program. Artificial intelligence? Don’t even think about it. These strippers are powered with recovered windshield wiper motors and the artist’s sense of feminine style. Peter Feinstein, the club’s managing director, said he invited Walker and his robots to add variety at a venue which has long hosted attendees to one of the world’s largest tech shows. “This is our 18th year for the club, and we felt we needed to come up with something new and unique,” Feinstein said. At the club, where human dancers were also performing, the robots got mixed reviews. “I think it’s a good idea,” said one male customer who asked not to be identified, but added that he preferred the real thing. “This is just the first step. They’re not there yet.” One of the club’s dancers who gave her name only as Rouge said she was not worried about the competition. “I think there are a lot of people with weird fetishes so I am sure somebody will get turned on by that. But nobody can beat the beauty of someone, and our talent with our brains, the way we talk, the way we use our bodies,” she said.

CICC lifts China’s 2018 growth forecast to 7%

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
A leading Chinese investment firm raised its forecast for China’s economic growth in 2018, citing stronger external demand and strength in consumption and manufacturing investment. China International Capital Corp raised its forecast for China’s 2018 gross domestic product growth to 7 percent year on year, up from a previous estimate of 6.9 percent, said a report from the company. An expected tax cut in the United States will boost external demand for China, contributing to faster export growth, according to Liang Hong, chief economist at CICC. Stronger-than-expected external demand growth in 2018 will add to the inflationary pressure, and the consumer price index is predicted to rise 2.6 percent year on year in 2018, up from 2.5 percent in the previous estimate, according to the report. CICC is also optimistic about China’s domestic demand, citing growth potential in consumption and investment. “Consumption growth will likely pick up on the back of rising disposable income growth, especially that of lower-income households that have higher consumption propensity,” Liang said. Meanwhile, manufacturing investment growth is expected to accelerate, driven by a notable rebound of corporate investment returns, Liang said. CICC also expected acceleration in property investment growth and resilience in actual infrastructure investment activity this year. For 2019, CICC expected the real GDP growth to remain robust at 6.9 percent. With higher hopes for growth and inflation, CICC forecast that China’s central bank will raise the benchmark deposit and lending rate by 25 basis points this year. China’s GDP grew 6.9 percent year on year in the first three quarters, above the government’s yearly target of 6.5 percent. The official GDP figure for 2017 is set to be released next week.

Didi eyes own bike sharing site, set to buy Bluegogo

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
CHINA’S leading ride hailing application Didi Chuxing said it would launch its own bicycle sharing platform in the near future, and at the same time, it is set to acquire local bike rental startup Bluegogo. Bluegogo riders can continue to use the service through Didi’s application, and new riders as well as existing ones will have security deposits waived. In an e-mail statement yesterday, it says it plans to work with partners and collaborators to offer more shared mobility options for riders in the ride-sharing and bike-rental sectors. It will gradually roll out a deposit-free shared bike rental service for Didi users, although no specific timetable has been given. Bluegogo’s riders can transfer their deposits and account balance to Didi riding or car-hailing coupons starting from January 17, and for those who do not wish to shift to Didi’s platform, Bluegogo is still working out a solution. Didi’s proprietary bike rental platform will connect with ofo, Bluegogo and a number of other service providers. Dozens of bike-sharing startups have mushroomed in Chinese cities over the past two years, where riders can unlock public rental bikes using their smartphones and pay a small amount for each bike ride. But smaller players are facing difficulties amid stricter urban traffic management rules and stiff competition. Didi’s takeover of Bluegogo is the latest step in the car-hailing giant’s plans to expand into the booming bike-sharing sector. Didi has been an active investor in ofo, and remains ofo’s biggest shareholder after participating in two rounds of fundraising last year. It is also eying electric vehicles and other transport sectors. Didi last month said it has raised US$4 billion in funding from domestic and overseas investors as the company seeks to boost global expansion and new energy vehicle initiatives. Tech giants are eager for a foothold in the bike rental market in order to gain access to user behavior and other data.

Global economy likely to expand 3.1% in 2018

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
THE world economy is likely to grow more than 3 percent this year after it expanded a better-than-expected 2.9 percent in 2017, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences said in its world economic report released yesterday. The academy estimated the world economy to grow 3.12 percent in 2018 and 3.31 percent in 2019, while China’s gross domestic product may expand 6.7 percent this year. The academy based its forecast on a recovery in the US, Japan and the eurozone, as well as stable expansion in emerging markets like China which contributed one third to the global growth. “The world economic performance is set to improve with developed countries gradually moving out of the shadow of the 2008 global financial crisis,” said Quan Heng, director of the Institute of World Economy under SASS. The growth in the US is predicted to be 2.4 percent for this year, and the eurozone may grow 1.94 percent. Japan may achieve a growth of 1.1 percent amid strong imports and consumption demand. The report, however, cautioned that potential geopolitical crisis, uncertainties of interest rate rises in the US and its tax reform, trade conflict, and industrial transformation are set to impact the world economy profoundly this year.

Corporate profits seen to rise slowly

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
CHINA’S corporate profits are expected to grow more slowly this year compared to last year, with the country’s gross domestic product likely to slow as well, according to UBS. A-share companies are forecast to see a 7.6 percent growth in earnings in 2018, a sharp drop from the 20 percent surge in the first three quarters in 2017, mainly due to the influence of a GDP slowdown, UBS’ latest research showed. Meanwhile, the authorities are set to intensify financial supervision this year as they implement stricter regulations and risk control. China’s GDP growth may slow to 6.4 percent, down 0.4 percentage points from last year, according to UBS. “We expect economic growth to extend this year, but at a lower pace, mostly as the government is trying to take the steam out of the real estate market,” said Gao Ting, chief strategy analyst of UBS Securities China. Investments in real estate are seen to drop to 3-5 percent this year from 7-9 percent in 2017, according to UBS. Also, investments in infrastructure are set to slow slightly, while the consumer market is slated to stay robust with the Consumer Price Index seen to rise to 2.5 percent from 1.6 percent. The target point of the A-share index is 4,450 points this year, while the earnings per share of MSCI China may rise 12 percent, slower by 4 percentage points than in 2017, according to UBS.

Liquor and drug shares boost index

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:01
SHANGHAI stocks edged up yesterday for an eighth straight trading day, with investors pursuing shares of liquor firms and pharmaceutical companies. The Shanghai Composite Index rose slightly by 0.13 percent to 3,413.90 points. Food and beverage shares were the biggest gainers, with Xiangpiaopiao Food Co Ltd hitting the maximum daily limit of 10 percent. Anhui Kouzi Distillery Co Ltd rose 5.17 percent to 47.80 yuan (US$7.33) and Chongqing Brewery Co Ltd added 4.86 percent. Kweichow Moutai Co Ltd gained 4.04 percent to a record high at 782.52 yuan, giving the firm a total market value of 983 billion yuan, close to a trillion yuan. Pharmaceutical shares also gained, with Shanghai Jiaoda Onlly Co Ltd surging by the daily limit of 10 percent, and Zhejiang Medicine Co Ltd adding 7.66 percent.

Reliving their childhood

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
Toys are on show at Asia’s largest toy fair, which kicked off in Hong Kong yesterday. The 44th annual Toy and Games Fair, the world’s second largest toy show, brought together 2,100 exhibitors from 45 countries and regions to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

New home sales plunge 44% despite supply rally

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
NEW home transactions fell below the 100,000-square-meter threshold for the first time in four weeks despite continuously recovering supply, the latest market data showed. The area of new homes sold, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, plunged 44.3 percent to 69,000 square meters during the seven-day period ending on Sunday, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report released yesterday. The city’s outlying Nanhui in the Pudong New Area doubled its weekly sales to around 18,000 square meters, the most among all districts. It was immediately trailed by Qingpu, where some 14,000 square meters of new houses were sold, a week-over-week drop of 30 percent. The average cost of new houses fell 9 percent from the previous week to 47,498 yuan (US$7,313) per square meter. Seven of the 10 most sought-after projects cost no more than 50,000 yuan per square meter, according to Centaline data. A residential project in Nanhui’s Lingang port area managed to sell 116 apartments alone for an average price of 24,559 yuan per square meter, making it the most popular project of the week. A development in Qingpu trailed closely behind with seven-day sales hitting 89 units at an average cost of 42,838 yuan per square meter each. Notably, two projects whose units cost more than 100,000 yuan per square meter each managed to squeeze into the top 10 list though they only sold eight and two units, respectively, according to Centaline data. On the supply side, about 96,000 square meters of new homes were released to the local market last week, a weekly surge of 21.3 percent. “It was the highest weekly supply since the fourth quarter of 2017, and those in the low to medium-end categories remained the mainstream products,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Shanghai Centaline. “Looking forward, as supply continues to rebound, buying sentiment might improve as well over the next couple of weeks as the Spring Festival holiday won’t fall until the middle of next month.”

Shanghai consumers score high in Q4

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
SHANGHAI consumer confidence hit a record high in the fourth quarter of 2017 amid positive economic growth, but investor confidence fell slightly in the same period, a survey showed yesterday. The Index of Consumer Confidence in Shanghai, a quarterly gauge compiled by the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, rose 2.5 points from the third quarter to 123.9 points in the October-December quarter, up 12 points from the level in the same period last year. A reading above 100 points indicates optimism. "The index reached a record high, indicating that the Shanghai economy achieved notable structural transformation amid China's steady economic growth," said Xu Guoxiang, director of the university’s Applied Statistics Research Center. He said the overall structure of Shanghai’s economy is becoming more balanced, and economic growth is gradually recovering, boosting consumer confidence in the city. The component indexes showed intention by residents to buy homes rebounded by 8.1 points from the previous quarter to 59.1 points but dropped sharply by 14 points from the same period last year. Consumer intention to buy cars rose 1.6 points from the July-September period. “Overall, the survey showed that consumers are optimistic about the general economic situation,” Xu added. However, the Index of Investor Confidence dipped 3.53 points from the third quarter to 113.42 points in the fourth quarter, but on a year-on-year basis it expanded 8.18 points.

Lanzhou eases caps on housing market

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
LANZHOU in Gansu Province has eased property curbs amid a nationwide clampdown on housing speculation, raising concerns that other cities may follow suit which will further inflate price bubbles in the sector. The provincial capital, with a population of 3.6 million, lifted property tightening measures in the suburbs while relaxing some restrictions on home purchases in downtown areas, according to a notice posted on the website of the city’s housing authority late on Friday. The country’s real estate market has been on a two-year tear, giving the economy a major boost but stirring fears of a bubble. More than a hundred Chinese cities have rolled out tightening curbs in a bid to halt housing speculation. The Lanzhou government had imposed property tightening measures in the suburb areas only just four months ago. While the city did not provide explicit reasons for the move, analysts said they were likely aimed at addressing high inventories. Yan Yuejin, an analyst with Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute, said the suburbs had been under pressure as inventories remained high in face of rigid government curbs. Analysts also said Lanzhou’s easing may be followed by other second-tier cities where property destocking has not made much progress. “Lanzhou’s move signals the market that there is room for some overly-strict tightening measures to be adjusted,” said Zhang Dawei, an analyst with Hong-Kong based property agency Centaline. Lanzhou also eased home buying curbs in its downtown districts, the housing authority said.

Excavator sales surge nearly 100%

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
SALES of excavators in China jumped 99.5 percent last year from a year ago as producers tapped the rise in construction activity and also on a rally in the mining industry, official data showed. Domestic producers sold 140,303 excavators in 2017, the best year since 2011. A total of 130,559 were sold domestically, up 107.5 percent from a year prior, and 9,672 were exported, up 32 percent annually, said the China Construction Machinery Association. Increased sales were helped by a rebound in the mining sector along with expanding construction, said China Securities Journal which cited an unnamed analyst from Essence Securities. China produced 3.14 billion tons of coal over the first 11 months last year, up 3.7 percent from a year ago, said the National Bureau of Statistics.

Realty and coal firms lift shares

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
SHANGHAI stocks edged up yesterday after gains by coal and real estate counters. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.52 percent to end at 3,409.48 points. Investors were drawn to real estate shares in anticipation that regulations over property markets in Lanzhou in Gansu Province and Hefei in Anhui Province may ease. This policy easing seeks to proactively maintain the stability of the real estate market, Zhongtai Securities said in a note. ShangHai ShiMao Co Ltd surged by the daily limit of 10 percent. Greenland Holdings Corp Ltd and China Fortune Land Co Ltd both gained over 8 percent. Investors were cheered by a new plan, released by 12 ministries and commissions, that aims to merge and reorganize coal enterprises and coal and power pool projects. Yanzhou Coal Mining Co Ltd surged 9.65 percent to close at 17.39 yuan, Shanxi Coal Internationl Energy Group Co Ltd rose 8.08 percent and Shanxi LuAn Environmental Energy Development Co Ltd gained 7.55 percent.

Tech gurus look to CES for cutting edge innovation

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
AFTER a rollercoaster year for the tech world, many industry leaders are looking to the cutting edge for salvation. As tech industry players converge in Las Vegas for the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, an overriding theme is that gizmos, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and superfast Internet connections hold answers to many if not all ills — the new religion. One of the world’s largest trade shows, CES is drawing an expected 170,000 people and 40,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries showing wares in robotics, digital health, artificial intelligence, sports and more. Technology will continue to improve communication, enchanting us with bolder and brighter screens, exhibitors say — but it additionally vows to end urban congestion, treat cancer and depression, and help us live fitter and more productive lives. Jensen Huang, CEO of the computer chip and artificial intelligence group Nvidia, said advances in machine learning have opened up vast possibilities, including the ability of software writing software. “This means we can solve previously unsolvable problems,” Huang told a media event on Sunday, ahead of the official opening of the trade event today. Some exhibitors envision a world where self-driving cars could be summoned any time of the day, eliminating struggles to find parking or petrol stations. Machines would tend to the tedium of traffic, which would run smoother since vehicles would wirelessly “talk” to one another to optimize travel efficiency. While tech is being touted as a solution to many ills, there is also a darker side, noted analyst Bob O’Donnell of Technalysis Research. “Tech is being seen as the cure for everything, but it can also be the cause of societal issues,” O’Donnell said, citing concerns over cybersecurity and a recently revealed flaw in computer chip technology that could leak data. “Most people in tech are optimistic, but they may be naively optimistic.” Robin Raskin, who heads the CES segment called Living in Digital Times, pointed to advances in health and medicine in recent years, particularly new technologies to assess cancer and treatment possibilities. Startups and major firms are also using new apps and technologies to tackle diabetes and depression. One startup on Sunday unveiled eye-tracking technology to analyze ailments including autism, concussions and Parkinson’s disease. RightEye co-founder and chief executive Adam Gross heralded the technology as “a game-changer” for the health care and sports industries, emphasizing the ability to quickly and accurately generate “amazing insights” into health, vision and performance. In collaboration with doctors or trainers, the information could be used to guide therapies or exercise routines. Technology will automate and augment the treatment of disease in the years ahead, predicted Consumer Technology Association research manager Lesley Rohrbaugh. “You can talk with a health care provider through an app, and get remote monitoring,” Rohrbaugh said, speaking at CES.

Geely intends to sell 27% more vehicles in 2018

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
Chinese carmaker Geely plans to sell 1.58 million vehicles this year, an increase of 27 percent from last year’s sales.The company’s ambitious sales goal in 2018 exceeds an expected market growth of 3 percent because the automaker is confident of its current and future products, the company said yesterday. Geely also aims to sell 2 million vehicles annually by the end of 2020.The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicted earlier in December that China’s auto market is set to rise 3 percent this year.An industry report released in November by Nomura Holdings Inc indicated car sales under Geely’s brand Lynk & Co will also contribute to the sales increase in 2018.“Geely remains our sector’s top pick as the company launched its brand called Lynk & Co in 2017. We are even more bullish on Lynk & Co’s potential and competitiveness. We expect Lynk & Co first model’s sales volume will reach 12,000 units in 2018 from 7,500 units in 2017,” Nomura Holdings Inc said in the report.Geely said that its sales volume for 2017 totaled 1.24 million, up 63 percent from 2016. This figure exceeded the company’s earlier sales target of 1.1 million units. In 2016, Geely sold 765,851 vehicles, up 50 percent year on year.The company attributed the sales growth in 2017 to strong demand for its sport-utility vehicles and sedans, and this momentum will continue this year. Geely’s Bo Yue SUV, a crossover SUV named Emgrand GS and sedan Emgrand GL performed strongly last year, according to the automaker.“We have implemented a strategy of utilizing our strength in the sedan market whilst pivoting to sport-utility vehicles in order to create models that are leaders in all segments,” Geely said in a statement. “The balanced development of sedans and sport-utility vehicles has led to stable growth across key segments and has enhanced competitiveness, performance and image.” Geely is also expanding its nationwide sales and service network from over 850 dealers to meet the needs of a new generation of consumers. Most of the dealerships are expected to open in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, according to the company.

Chinese startup to deliver ‘intuitive and intelligent’ car

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:01
A Chinese startup unveiled its vision for the automobile of the future on Sunday, promising to deliver an “intuitive and intelligent” car to global markets starting next year from around US$45,000. The electric-powered concept car shown by Byton at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is touted as a computing device on wheels, equipped with a “digital” lounge featuring a panoramic display acting as a hub for navigation, entertainment and even monitoring the health of its occupants. Backed by more than US$200 million from investors including Chinese tech giant Tencent, Byton — whose name was chosen to suggest “bytes on wheels” — is among the latest entrants to a crowded field of startups and established players looking to emulate Tesla in the race for a new kind of vehicle which can be adapted for autonomous driving. “This is a product which is tailor-made for the future, which is autonomous and shared,” said Daniel Kirchert, president and co-founder of the Nanjing-based startup. Byton, led by former executives from Tesla, BMW, Apple and Google, said it expects to launch in China by 2019 and in the United States and Europe by 2020. “This will be the most advanced vehicle in the market as of 2019,” said chairman and chief executive Carsten Breitfeld, a former BMW executive, at a presentation in one of the first media events at the huge electronics show. The Byton car will use facial recognition to unlock and adapt to the driver and offer a range of other ways to interact including voice control with Amazon Alexa, touch and gesture. It will include 5G connectivity to the Internet cloud and improve its functions with artificial intelligence. “It will improve your experience the more it knows you,” said Kirchert. While other concept electric cars have been promoted at prices of US$100,000 or more, the new Byton will face competition from the Tesla Model 3 and offerings from major automakers. Byton said the car will have a range of more than 500 kilometers before needing a recharge and will be able to “top up” its battery in 15 to 30 minutes. It will be offered with “level 3” autonomy which enables some functions without a driver and be capable of “level 4” for near-autonomous function from 2020, according to the company. China already leads globally in EV sales, passing the US in 2015. Sales of new-energy vehicles — including EVs, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles — may have topped 700,000 units last year on their way to 1 million this year, said Xu Haidong, assistant secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Almost all those cars are Chinese brands.

Getting ready for annual tech fair

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 17:01
Crew members set up an exhibition booth of Huawei prior to the CES 2018 at the Las Vegas convention Center on Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada. The four-day CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show, will end on Friday. The show features about 3,900 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to over 170,000 attendees.