Toyota brings the store to you with self-driving concept vehicle

President of Toyota Motor Corporation takes a selfie after he introduced the e-Palette Concept Vehicle, a fully autonomous, battery-electric vehicle with open control interface to allow partner companies to install their own automated driving system, during a press event for CES 2018 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)
Updated 08 January 2018
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Toyota brings the store to you with self-driving concept vehicle

LAS VEGAS: Self-driving buses aren’t new, but Toyota’s concept vehicle unveiled Monday aims to be more than just that — a mobile platform for bite-sized stores, e-commerce, ridesharing and medical services, for a start.
The Japanese auto giant’s president Akio Toyoda unveiled the new initiative at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, seeking to get ahead of rivals offering single-use autonomous transporters.
“In the future, the store will come to you,” he said.
The “e-Palette” vehicle platform features a boxy electric-powered minibus designed to handle deliveries or even bring retail services to consumers, but can also be used for ridesharing and other purposes.
“It is a flexible platform that can be adapted to a range of services,” Toyoda said, including ridesharing, retail, medical services or entertainment.

The media demonstration showed how the vehicle could deliver packages or even enable consumers to try on shoes or apparel.
The new initiative is part of an effort to transform Toyota from an automaker to a multifaceted “mobility” company, Toyoda said.
Partners in the project, which is set to be deployed “in the early 2020s,” include Amazon, Uber, Pizza Hut and China-based Didi. Rival Japanese automaker Mazda will also participate in development.
The project is still in the conceptual stage. A concept vehicle is still being developed and will be tested in the 2020s. A version is also expected to make an appearance at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Japanese automaker is partnering with Amazon, Uber, Pizza Hut, Mazda and Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi on what it is calling the e-Palette Alliance.


Russia fund boss sees no drop in foreign investment to Saudi Arabia

Kirill Dmitriev said FII is a great platform to drive opportunities and transformation. (SPA)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Russia fund boss sees no drop in foreign investment to Saudi Arabia

  • We believe Saudi Arabia has a lot of investment potential and supports the process of transformative and historical reforms in the Kingdom, said Dmitriev
  • From the Russian perception, Saudi Arabia is a great partner, said RDIF’s head

RIYADH: The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) believes that the events of the past few weeks have made little impact on Saudi Arabia’s attractiveness to global investors, and is preparing to invest “billions of dollars” in the Kingdom.

Kirill Dmitriev, the RDIF chief executive, told Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh that the event was a big success and “a great platform to drive opportunities and transformation.”

He added that the FII’s opening day had been well attended by chief executives from across the Middle East, Europe and the US, with a “big Russian delegation.”

Dmitriev expressed his regrets at the tragedy in Istanbul, in which journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate, and welcomed the actions taken by the Kingdom to investigate the case. 

“It is too early to talk about any kind of shortfall in Western investment in Saudi Arabia, despite the tragic events in Istanbul. The Saudi market is more attractive now than it was three or four years ago, and I don’t think there has been any change over recent weeks,” he said.

“We believe Saudi Arabia has a lot of investment potential and supports the process of transformative and historical reforms in the Kingdom. In particular, we support Vision 2030, which is significant not only for the economy and people of the Kingdom but for the Middle East region and the whole world.”

Earlier at the FII, Dmitriev told a gathering of business executives and policy-makers that the goal of the RDIF was “economic development through partnership.” He said such partnerships include links with Saudi Arabia’s PIF and Aramco, with which RDIF has embarked on a number of initiatives in energy and infrastructure.

Last year, the three established a platform for Russian-Saudi energy investment, which aims to identify attractive investment opportunities in Russia. This was accompanied by a joint platform for technology investment, Dmitriev explained.

“From the Russian perception, Saudi Arabia is a great partner. It is not just about energy and oil, but about the historic vision and transformation,” he said.

RDIF has been actively collaborating with PIF since 2015. They have invested over $2 billion together and are now considering over 10 new projects totaling more than $1 billion, Dmitriev said.

“The industries benefitting from these investments range from sectors including … petrochemicals, industrial manufacturing, logistics, infrastructure and technology,” he added.

“Currently, we are discussing the opportunity to jointly implement some projects in Saudi Arabia in different sectors. The projects are related to the localization of petrochemical production, the provision of service contracts and the subsequent creation of joint ventures. RDIF and our partners can bring billions of dollars of investment to the Kingdom.”