We spoke with Chief Designer Klaus Busse, about the Alfa Tonale and the DNA of Alfa design – Part 2

Klaus Busse told us about the sensuous essence of Italian Car design, and how it is embodied in Alfa Romeo…

This is the second part of our series about the visit to the FCA Centro Stile in Torino. It started with an intriguing interview and talk with Klaus Busse, head of Design for Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, offering us interesting insights into the sculptural design philosophy and language of the iconic sporting Milano brand. This talk continues here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel 

Shaping the body of an Alfa is also performing the art of sculpture…

HktB: “When we look at earlier design, and I want to take you here to the first Giulia, you see this modernism with the aerodynamic concepts brought into the brand and also the first dashboards of this Giulia, with their, as the Germans say it, “neue Sachlichkheit”, a strictly modern, pure, rectangular style, with a horizontal ribbon speedometer flanked by a small rev counter and column gearchange. In later years, with the later updates of this Giulia, this was again replaced by floor gearchange, a wood rimmed three spoke steering wheel, and two classic round dials for speed and revs in their individual clusters.

The shape of the three spoked wheel of the Tonale is also inspired by the historic Montreal…

Back to tradition, again we would say. What can you say about this tension between absolute, purified modernism and a more traditional (sporting) tradition in the styling language of the brand?

B: This is a beautiful question, thank you for this. Of course, we have the same challenge here. When I say Italian design process, let’s start with the classical approach and then I will come back to the modern aspect. The classical approach at Centro Stile, even though we have virtual reality, we do virtual reality reviews with the teams around the world, we scan, we mill, we digitize, we use computers, out of these 200 people, a big amount of people is dealing with computers, one way or the other.

Marrying the sporting styling language with today’s materials and connectivity…

But, when we design an Alfa Romeo, we always do it by hand. Meaning, that once the sketch is created, and we have the model in front of us, out of clay and clay material, hand modeling is still the king. Because, unless you shop online, when you buy any of your clothes, you look at it and you touch it. Because touch is for us humans such an important thing. And the other thing is, when you look at the car itself, we want to create something than feels good to the hand. I always say to joke, the best way to experience an Alfa Romeo is to hand wash it.

You discover an Alfa by touching, and hand washing it…

As a matter of fact, any car, when you hand wash it, you experience it. And there are some brands that take a lot of pride in super sharp edges, and it is not a very nice experience hand washing that car. It is not criticism; I am just pointing that out. Our way is to have the very sensuous experience touching an Alfa Romeo. And you can only achieve that if you hand model the car. Now we support it with computer, because we want to be fast in our process and we want to have high quality. Clearly, the creation process is manual, and that is a very Italian thing.

Also the seats are a work of dedicated sculpture…

This is the land of sculptures. You go to Florence, Rome, there are beautiful sculptures. Then of course, when it comes to technology, like the lighting technology, we can use the modern technology to emphasize graphics which were not possible in the past. You go from halogen reflector to projectors that are very, very slim, so that’s on the exterior where the technology helps us.

Coming to the interior, there is a lot of discussion about connectivity, screens these days. So for us, the question for Alfa Romeo is always, considering we build a drivers’ car, with the handling of the car being equally important, so what room do we dedicate to screens and connectivity experience, and what you don’t see in this concept car and in an Alfa Romeo, is these big screens, the “tombstone” that almost blocks your view, that almost screams for attention.

Big screens do not block the drivers’ vision…

For Alfa Romeo, we do use these screens, we have of course large screens in this vehicle, we also have 12 inch cluster, etc, etc, we have all that, but we keep it more like it’s here to support you, but it is not saying “look at me, look at me”…

The graphics themselves, what we use, is of course state of the art, in terms of connectivity, in terms of HMI, so for is, this is the connection we try to find between the classic approach to handmodelling, sculpting, and the historic approach to design, but then combining it with state of the art technology, how we assist the driver, and bring an enjoyable experience to being in the car. It is a long answer to your question, but it was a very very good question because it comes very close to what we are dealing with every day, how do you combine these two worlds.”

Directed towards the driver, while he keeps his eyes on the road…

The conversation was far from over, but then covers different subjects, with we will soon continue to cover in a following part in this series…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW Art Car #18 of Cao Fei makes Belgian debut at Brand Store in Brussels…

BMW driving art is again to be seen in the capital of Europe: In its flagship Brand Store, BMW organizes until June 1 an Art & Design Expo. The 18th BMW Art Car, a BMW M6 GT3 with multimedia design, has been created by the Chinese female artist Cao Fei, is the focus point of this show. It is even to be enjoyed and admired with the use of an app bringing the car to you on your smartphone with enhanced reality. A stunning experience, of which we show here some photos, but which has to be seen to be believed.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

In the Brussels BMW Brand Store you can join the stunning journey to discover this Art Car in augmented reality…

This virtual animation is also created by the artist, and forms an integral part of the car. “We are now entering a new era where the mind can steer objects directly and thoughts can be transferred, like unmanned controls and artificial intelligence.” comments Cao Fei.

Follow this path in the showroom and zero in with your Ios device on this graph to experience the augmented reality…
Download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device, follow the screen instructions and enjoy!

The work of Cao Fei illustrates the fast and stunning changes in China and its society. With her BMW Art Car she spans a road which stretches over thousands of years, honouring the spiritual wisdom of Asia, which now enters the third millennium with breathtaking speed. The film can of course also be viewed on YouTube, using the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_GNSyeIpOY&feature=youtu.be.

A video which focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through…
Finishes with presenting the augmented reality…

The multimedia artist approaches the concept of a BMW Art Car in her own unique way, with which she builds a parallel universe.

Her work consists of three components: a video that focuses on the millennial time which a spiritual person travels through, augmented reality with colourful light particles (via a special app called BMW Art Car # 18) and the BMW M6 GT3 racer in the original colour carbon black.

As a tribute to the carbon fibre structure of the BMW M6 GT3 applies Cao Fei a lot of non-reflective black paint, which means the possibilities in the digital world are endlessly applicable.

The application of video and augmented reality creates an environment in which the BMW M6 GT3 plays an essential role. Cao Fei uses in her video spiritual movements that express themselves in colourful flashes of light.

Point your device on the graph and a whole enhanced world opens to you…

When the app is used in the vicinity of the car, these light accents are transformed into an augmented reality installation that floats above and around the BMW M6 GT3. In this way, the viewer becomes interactively involved in the artwork.

Just download the app BMW ART CAR #18 on your mobile (IOS) device and follow the instructions on your screen.


The BMW Art Car Tradition runs back already decades… more about this in a special report!

Practical info:

The exhibition runs until May 31, at BMW Brand Store Brussels, Waterloolaan 23,24, 1000 Brussel

Admission free.  Open from Monday to Saturday, from 10 AM until 18.30 PM. http://www.bmwbrandstore.brussels

We spoke with Chief Designer Klaus Busse, about the Alfa Tonale and the Fiat Centoventi: two stunning concept cars, showing two unique sides of Italian design… part 1.

Klaus Busse talked with us in depth about the Alfa Romeo Tonale…

Our series about the visit to the FCA Centro Stile in Torino starts with an intriguing interview and talk with Klaus Busse, vice president of Design for Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, offering us interesting insights into the sculptural design philosophy and language of the iconic sporting Milano brand.

Of course this is not all. This in depth talk and interview covers more aspects about the Tonale, and furthermore also the Fiat approach to automotive product design…so we decided to split this interview into a series, focusing in more detail on the various aspects. So stay tuned on these columns for further reports in this series!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

The original wooden styling sculpture of the legendary Multipla stands proudly in the entrance hall of the Torino based FCA Centro Stile…

Having walked through the impressive entrance hall of the Centro Stile, we started off with a question about how this styling centre is set up.

B:  “It is of course every day a joy for me to walk through the several studios of our Centro here. Every brand has a separate studio, and you met earlier here with Scott Krugger, the head of design for Alfa Romeo. (Note: this will be our next interview in this series). Every brand has their own head of design. We have 200+ individuals working here, from around the world. It is a very international team, we look at ourselves as the “espresso beans”, because as you know, espresso beans also come from around the world, but with the Italian process it creates an Italian iconic drink, and with the Italian process of design, we hopefully, you will agree, we are able to create Italian iconic design, even though the designers are not coming only from Italy, but from around the world.

We went first to the room of Alfa Styling department

Q: We are here seeing today shoulder to shoulder two different cars on our visit: the Tonale and the Centoventi…

B: I can tell you here first a few words about the Tonale itself, and notably also of the Fiat Centoventi. (Note: which we will also discuss later in separate interviews). It is a very rare thing for us to go to a show with two concept cars, and the beautiful thing we were able to do with the Alfa Romeo and the Centoventi, is that we were able to show the two sides of Italian design, the way we see it. So we have in front of us here with the Tonale the classic sculptural beauty of Italian design, and with the Centoventi we have the Italian approach to product design, applied to the car. So you see the two extremes of Italian design in the automotive sphere.

In the Fiat Centro Stile room, we stood eye to eye with the Centoventi… more about it later in this series!

With the Tonale, the challenge was, since it is again an SUV, and we have already an SUV with the Stelvio, to create something that is typical Alfa Romeo, but has nothing to do with the Stelvio in terms of the shapes. The Stelvio is a very muscular car, with emphasis on the wheels and the voluptuous shapes, here on the side you see we have a different construction of the car, we have a completely different front, so the challenge was that with our second entry to the SUV market, we do not create a copy of the big brother, like you see with other companies, who are just adopting a same design and adapt it to different sizes. We wanted to create something completely different with the Tonale.

The horizontal “eyebrow” line is clearly seen here…

Q: Will this car be a trendsetter for the future Alfa design?

The one thing you will not hear me talk about today is the future. I will talk about the present, about the Tonale, but I will not lift the veil more. All I can say is that I think we found something which is a beautiful progression. I saw that my team put the 8C model here, and maybe that allows me to highlight where I see the progression what the team has done here, when we look at the front. The 8C, the 4C, the Stelvio, the Giulia, all of these cars have basically have this hood line, it is a flowing design, and it nicely encompasses the grille. This face was applied to all current generation vehicles.

The muscle lines on the hood converging into the Scudetto, as seen here in the 8C, is now completely given up in the Tonale…

With the Tonale, we completely gave up this kind of interpretation, you still see the muscles of course leading to the Scudetto, but we went to a much more horizontal design. So we went from a vertical design to a horizontal design, and that of course is a completely different construction of the front, and this much I can tell you, we would not do this just for one car…

Klaus Busse dedicated a drawing to your servant… with the horizontal line clearly visible…

Because here, the 8C created a family of cars, and in this case again, it might create a new family of cars…

 As said stay tuned for the next part of this interview, where we will talk in depth about tradition and modernity embodied in today’s Alfa design language…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

The visit to the Centro Stile of the FCA Group in Turin proved immensely interesting…

We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group Chief Designer Klaus Busse and his team…

What we saw and heard on our visit to the Torino based Centro Stile was nothing short of absolutely stunning. We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group head of design Klaus Busse and his team, both from Alfa Romeo and Fiat styling.

The beautiful instrumentation and interior of the Tonale, with Klaus Busse watching in the background…

Needless to say that we are the coming days eager to report on all this extensively, and indeed you can expect to read our findings in several reports…

Alfa DNA styling revived on the drawing boards provides the mould for the new Tonale design…

The next few photos just lift a tip of the veil of the vast material we collected and photographed…

Rewriting democratic mobility and opening many new doors in design: the Centoventi Fiat

We just want to thank here the magnificent efforts of the dynamic PR team of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium, notably Dominique Fontignies, PR & Communication Director and Wim Willems, Press Officer, for sharing the knowledge of these experts and their creations with us.  

Full of revolutionary, practical solutions: the interior of the Centoventi…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Focus on the high-voltage battery system of the Audi e-tron: 95 kWh of energy

The Audi e-tron houses its batteries in a floorpan housing, which is waterproof and crash resistant…

When talking about the production of the impressive Audi e-tron on the Brussels site, the batteries are an intriguing part of the driveline. We take a closer look at it here, and show you some very interesting drawings provided by Audi Media…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The large lithium-ion battery in the Audi e-tron provides for a range of more than 400 kilometers (248.5 mi) in the WLTP driving cycle. The battery operates with a nominal voltage of 396 volts and stores 95 kWh of energy.

Electric drivetrain in detailed view (ctrl + to enlarge)

The battery system in the Audi e-tron is located beneath the cabin and is 2.28 meters (7.5 ft) long, 1.63 meters (5.3 ft) wide and 34 centimeters (13.4 in) high. It comprises a total of 36 cell modules in square aluminum housings, each of which is roughly the size of a shoe box. They are arranged on two levels, known as “floors” – a longer lower floor and a shorter upper one. At market launch, each module is equipped with twelve pouch cells having a flexible outer skin of aluminum-coated polymer. In the future, Audi will use both technically equivalent prismatic cells in its modular concept, also in terms of a multiple supplier strategy.

Integrated crash structure of the lithium-ion battery housing

The cell modules in the Audi e-tron can reproducibly discharge and charge electricity over a broad temperature and charge status window. The can be densely packed to achieve a very high output and energy density in the volume available.

Cooling the lithium-ion battery during DC charging via the NT cooler

A cooling system of flat aluminum extruded sections divided uniformly into small chambers has the task of maintaining the battery’s high-performance operation over the long term. Heat is exchanged between the cells and the cooling system beneath them via a thermally conductive gel pressed beneath each cell module. In what is a particularly efficient solution, the gel evenly transfers the waste heat to the coolant via the battery housing. The cooling system is first fixed to the bottom of the battery tray with adhesive. To protect the cooling system against stone and road debris, a base plate is installed, also to improve aerodynamics. At assembly, first the batteries/modules on both floors are placed into their locations, then the gel (also called gapfiller) is applied.

Charging of the lithium-ion battery

The battery and all of its parameters, such as charge status, power output and thermal management, is managed by the external battery management controller (BMC). This is located in the occupant cell on the right A-pillar of the Audi e-tron.

Liquid cooled lithium-ion battery, in exploded view one can clearly see the elements, the BJB (Battery Junction Box), the BMC or Battery Management Controllers, the cooling system, and last but not least the modules.

The BMC communicates both with the control units of the electric motors and the cell module controllers (CMC), each of which monitors the current, voltage and temperature of the modules, 3 modules at the time. In the whole battery system, therefore 12 CMC’s are present. The battery junction box (BJB), into which the high-voltage relays and fuses are integrated, is the electrical interface to the vehicle. Enclosed in a die-cast aluminum housing, it is located in the front section of the battery system. Data exchange between the BMC, the CMCs and the BJB is via a separate bus system.

Lithium-ion battery module with twelve pouch cells

Sophisticated measures have been taken to protect the high-voltage battery of the Audi e-tron. A strong enclosing frame of cast aluminum nodes and extruded sections, plus an aluminum plate 3.5 millimeters (0.1 in) thick protect against damage from accidents or curbs. Inside, a framework-like aluminum structure reinforces the battery system. Also comprised of extruded sections, it holds the cell modules like a typecase.

Detail of the pouch type cell

Including the housing with its sophisticated crash structures comprising 47 percent extruded aluminum sections, 36 percent aluminum sheet and 17 percent diecast aluminum parts, the battery system weighs around 700 kilograms (1,543.2 lb). It is bolted to the body structure of the Audi e-tron at 35 points. This increases its torsional rigidity by 27 percent and contributes to the high level of the safety of the Audi e-tron, as does the cooling system bonded to the outside of the battery housing. Compared to a conventional SUV, the Audi e-tron offers 45 percent higher torsional rigidity, a key parameter for precise handling and acoustic comfort…

During production and assembly, utmost care is taken that screws which fix the modules into place do not cause insulation faults, and before the battery unit is cleared for further assembly, the differences in voltage between the cells and the modules are carefully controlled that it meets Audi Premium Standards. Finally leak tests are also carried out, both on the cooling system and the battery. Not less than 8 final tests are performed, before the battery is then partially (re)charged and fit for further assembly in the car.

 Hans Knol ten Bensel

DS designers reveal their art and creativity to the public…

A design studio which works amidst a wide audience, where their 3D models and drawings are made under the eyes of interested viewers? That is what the bold man and women of the DS Design Studio are doing.

These designers are the creative pillar of DS Automobiles, a young car brand whose designs for DS 7 CROSSBACK and DS 3 CROSSBACK are already a benchmark. DS DIVINE, DS E-TENSE and DS X E-TENSE are also the results of a creative process that came about within DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS

These designers are now leaving their usual work space and setting up over the three floors of DS WORLD PARIS at 33 Rue Francois 1er, Paris.

The DS World Paris is the elegant setting where the public can admire the iconic “DS” or “Déesse”, the godess on wheels, but now also the men and women of the celebrated DS design department will be at work under their eyes…

There, the men and women of DS Automobiles design under the direction of Thierry Metroz, DS Design director, will be revealing the innovative projects they’re working on and sharing their secrets through “CONFIDENCE The art of the senses”.

More than an exhibition, this is a residency of artists, brought to life by DS Automobiles designers who are on hand to explain their jobs, present their work and talk with visitors.

Indeed, the men and women of DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS are on hand throughout the event to explain their work and answer visitors’ questions.

Some confidentiality restrictions have been lifted so they can reveal additional secrets. The work of the 60 people who make up the DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS is presented by the different teams: exterior design, interior, ProLab, VLab, modellers, colour and material workshops and upholsterers.

The brand wants them to share their inspiration and most recent work to cast a new light on the design and build of a car.

So, if you are interested to see these design artists at work, we give you here some practical information: “CONFIDENCE The art of the senses” is held from 22 March to 23 April 2019 at DS WORLD PARIS, 33 Rue Francois 1er, Paris.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Jaguar F-Pace: a thoroughbred feline fit for all roads and uses…

We all know that SUV’s are all the rage, and are becoming ever more popular. No small wonder then that this stylish Jaguar SUV, launched in 2015, is the bestseller of the iconic brand. But then, you may ask with us, is this popular SUV still remaining a true Jaguar, combining pace (performance) with grace and space? Will the growl of its powerful engine lift your spirits, will its chassis seduce you with its graceful handling and comfort, will the beautiful body and interior put you in the exquisite mood and ambiance which only a Jaguar can convey? Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Feline contours

Looking at the photos you will agree, this F-Pace has the looks so unique to Jaguar. The waistline which ends in a higher tail contour, reminiscent of the rear end of the Jaguar E-type, where its high mounted rear bumpers also followed the waistline, the well rounded curves, the proportions of the wheel arches, well integrated in the fluent lines of the whole body, the subtle central bulge on the engine hood, all this is well and truly Jaguar.

In the interior, the digital age and the utmost attention to passive safety has put its own boundaries and accents, and so, alas, you will not find a wood rimmed steering wheel, nor does it lay thinly rimmed in your hands, the trend of times has commanded otherwise. But once the digital instrumentation lights up on the screens, one sees the familiar big round dials, and the classic lettering in the instruments, white on black, of, well, vintage Jaguars. As readers know, your servant is the proud owner of a Mk II 3,4 litre Jag, and yes, I felt well at home in this one.

The latest generation digital infotainment screens and functions are also intuitive and the proverbial breeze to use, and rank among the very best you will find in any car nowadays. The centre console is wide – again a celebrated Jaguar tradition- and houses the ergonomic rotary gear selector of the excellent 8- speed ZF auto box, and one just has to turn the column to choose the right function, and it will discreetly descend into its mount when you stop the car and engine, so neat and practical, and (luck has it) so unique to Jaguar. Going from “D” to “R”everse is just a short twist on the column selector, and that is soo clever!

Abundant, smooth, growling power…

The heart of any car is its engine, and in a Jaguar it simply HAS to be powerful, with abundant torque and pulling power, from low revs onwards, and on top of all that it has to develop that deep, feline sound. No small feat for a Diesel engine. But then, this is a V6 (yes, to me, a Jaguar is only a Jag with a SIX cylinder engine, sorry…) and it has 3 litre of displacement. So there are 300 HP available, at 4000 rpm. Of this, the Jaguar E-Type could only dream. With on top of all that 700 Nm of torque in store for that necessary feline punch, and this at merely 2000 rpm. So the outright performance is truly Jaguar, and indeed, the classic E-type could hardly match its 0 to 100 km/h acceleration of 6.2 sec. It would also have needed the right rear tyre size and final drive ratio to reach the same top speed of 241 km/h which this F-pace is capable of.

The thermal efficiency of a (large) Diesel is legendary, and shows abundantly here too that they belong into the larger SUV’s when there is no electrified or hybrid propulsion present in the drivetrain. It took just a restrained driving style with the engine humming along around 1000 rpm at urban legal speeds, to reach consumption averages between 7,4 and 7,8 liters/100 km in dense urban traffic. A petrol engine of similar size and power does not come even close to these figures in such a 4,7 metre SUV with a kerb weight of 1884 kg. The ingenium technology in these all aluminium engines offers low friction, and all this truly pays off.

We couldn’t resist making this line drawing version of the inconic Jaguar badge on the front grille. This F-Pace is indeed a true Jaguar…

Handling like a thoroughbred

As shares some of its architecture with the XE and XF, it handles very car-like. Of course, you can choose between driving modes that stiffen the suspension and boost steering response, but even in normal settings the F-type handles like a dream, displaying also very little body roll for an SUV of this weight and size. With the larger engines, the F-type offers standard 4WD, and this sends all the power to the rear wheels most of the time, with occasionally 20 pct sent to the front. On slippery surfaces, up to 50 % of the pulling power can be sent to the front wheels.

 A key ingredient to these impeccable road manners is its lightweight construction. Don’t forget that 80 pct of the body, excluding the doors, bonnet and plastic tailgate, is made of aluminium. Then there is the near perfect 50/50 weight distribution, an integral link rear suspension, and the aluminium double wishbone suspension at the front which is closely following the F-type setup. Electronics will analyze steering movements up to 500 times per second, body movements up to a 100 times per second. Do we need to say more? This Jaguar is in all its sportiness graceful and comfortable, never too hard, even in this sport mode.

Everyday practicality

The F-type is an SUV, and that means born and built for the modern day mobile couple and family. It easily seats five adults, has a minimum trunk volume of a very decent 650 liters, space for ski’s, toddler isofix seat anchors, electric tailgate, you name it. All thinkable driver assistance options can be had, the infotainment supports Apple and Android Car Play, the sound system is nothing short of superb.

Conclusion

The F-Pace is Jaguar’s bestseller, and for all the right reasons. It has feline, beautifully curved and timeless looks, both inside and out, displays uncanny panache behind the wheel, handles well balanced and displays all the growling Jaguar power you could ever wish for. Don’t forget also, this car is voted World Car of the Year 2017 en World Car Design of the Year 2017; Thi year, the model range has been extended with the
300 SPORT and Chequered Flag. In the diesel version it is as frugal as modern times command it, and if you decide to go green all the way, then Jaguar as the latest I-Pace, which is also a formidable looking car with many (E-) promises.

Needless to say we are very keen to lay our hands on one, but for the time being, and indeed for many years to come, this F-Pace will fulfil everything you could possibly wish of a Jaguar, and this better than ever.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne: A genial automotive manager has passed away…

 

He was born in Chieti, on the Italian Adriatic coast, as the son of a carabiniere or state police officer, on June 17, 1952. His father was a wise man, with a keen sense of money and savings, and he had invested enough to retire early. He decided to give his family a bright future in Canada. When young Sergio was 14, they moved across the ocean to Toronto.

His studies gave him a broad view…

Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of FCA, was not altogether a pure “auto” person, rather on the contrary. This prepared him to become an outstanding manager. Just look at what he studied. He started at the University of Toronto with philosophy, earned himself a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Windsor, in Ontario, and finally obtained a law degree in 1983 at the Osgoode Hall of York University. He began his career as … a tax specialist.

Luca De Meo, CEO Fiat Automobiles, and Sergio Marchionne, then CEO Fiat Group Automobiles, with the Fiat 500 (2007)

Broad business experience made him an ideal crisis manager…

This keen sense for numbers and figures made him the ideal manager to work out successful turnarounds and save companies from the brink. He moved to a metals trading firm and was also very successful in a trade services company. A broad experience in trading and business together with an excellent mastery of English, French and Italian gave him many possibilities, and having forged himself an enviable reputation of a crisis manager, he was spotted by the Agnelli family, seen as the right person on the right place to save the ailing Fiat company. The fact that he had a broad non-automotive experience was rather seen as an asset. He was appointed CEO of Fiat in 2004, and started with the necessary reforms to lighten the debt burden as soon as possible. He knew soon enough about the existing deal between G.M. and Fiat, and first tried to force G.M. into purchasing Fiat. General Motors had other plans, so Marchionne obtained 2 billion USD in compensation from G.M. to allow them to step out of the alliance. Money he put to good use to rejuvenate the model range, with the 500 being the all-time star.

Mike Manley and Sergio Marchionne with the new Jeep Renegade (09/2014)

A second success with Chrysler/Jeep…

Marchionne knew that automakers with global ambitions also need to have a solid base in the US market, and amidst the 2008 crisis he made clear to the US Treasury that he would be prepared to take control of Chrysler and revive it using the excellent state of the art Fiat group technology he had at his disposal.

He also knew very well that the Chrysler creditors and unions were putting hard pressure on the US Treasury, so he decided to up the ante to the beleaguered US government to ask them to hand over Chrysler to him… for free.

He succeeded, and the good results are known to everybody. Especially the dramatic turnaround of Jeep made the FCA Group now a profitable giant.

He was planning to retire in 2019, but fate has decided otherwise, as a result of unexpected complications after a shoulder surgery on July 5.

Fate has it too that his last official public appearance on last June 26, was to hand over in Rome at a ceremony in the grounds of the Carabinieri High Command, in the presence of Commander-in-Chief Giovanni Nistri, the liveried Jeep Wrangler.(see the accompanying photo).

He is succeeded by Mike Manley, (see photo above),  the head of Fiat Chrysler’s North America operations and its Jeep and Ram truck brands.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

A feast for the senses: we visited BMW Artville in Knokke

BMW’s very first Art Car which also actually raced: the BMW 3.0 CSL created by Alexander Calder… 

Summer is the time to let the creative spirits flow, and enjoy nature and art. An ideal time to regenerate body and mind. Besides enjoying the outdoors, enriching experiences like a visit to exhibitions and art galleries are always firmly on the agenda of your servant. Therefore a visit to the BMW Artville in Knokke (see our previous report in these columns) was a must, and we let you enjoy it here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Jan Fabre takes centre stage…

An “autoportrait”  sculpture of Jan Fabre himself adorns the BMW Artville beach…

As we announced already in our previous report, artist Jan Fabre showed a very intriguing “performance” film, displayed on five different screens simultaneously, titled “Schande übers ganze Erdenreich”. The performance of priestess Stella Höttler is very gripping indeed. For photos of this performance film we refer to our previous report in these columns. The two turtles she carries in both hands during her ecstatic performances are for Jan Fabre the “oracle stones” because their shields carry the weight and the memory of centuries. Especially the shield is an object of fascination that breathes life into dream images. The shield and its geometric patterns were already used in the Oracle of Delphi…

A landmark on the Knokke beach: BMW Artville 

In this performance, “Schande übers ganze Erdenreich”, the perforer implores the gods to teach mankind to treat the inheritance of the world more kindly.

Jan Fabre is fascinated by the relations man-animal and animal-man and by the analogy in their nomadic nature. As an artist, he wants to put into language the mystery of the cycle of death, decay, birth and renaissance. In this quest, he uses as his inner compass the synergy between his personal instinct, intelligence and intuition. He constantly searches the changing face of existence.

This is also seen in his series of fourteen new skulls, clad in ballpoint ink, which hold the skeletons of a bird or animal in their mouth. It evokes the “Blue Hour” of Jean-Henri Fabre, where at daybreak the blue night is chased away. Just as the night is eternally changed into day, life is also a constant stream of (re)birth and death.

‘BMW Artville – Jan Fabre curated by BOZAR’ announces two future projects of the artist in BOZAR. “Schande übers Ganze Erdenreich!” takes place in the framework of the Theodoor van Loon exhibition (December 2018-January 2019). The art works from the cycle “The Hour Blue” are the harbinger of Fabre’s solo exhibition “The years of the Hour Blue” (May-September 2021).

The BMW Art Car Collection

On BMW Artville, BMW Belux presents two cars from the BMW ART CAR Collection. We stood admiringly eye to eye with the BMW 3.0 CSL created by Alexander Calder (1975).

Alexander Calder’s design was executed by car painting specialist W. Maurer…

Using the creativity of an artist on a (racing) car was the brainchild of racing driver, art lover and auctioneer Hervé Poulain, who actually raced this car in Le Mans, together with the American Sam Posey and Jean Guichet. After 7 hours, the car had to give up due to a defective prop shaft. The car was never raced again and has been on diplay since then.

The unique collection of BMW Art Cars consists today of 19 cars, designed by the following artists: Alexander Calder (1975), Roy Lichtenstein (1976), Frank Stella (1977), Andy Warhol (1979), Ernst Fuchs (1982), Robert Rauschenberg (1986), Ken Done (1989), Michael Jagamara Nelson (1989), Matazo Kayama (1990), César Manrique (1990), A.R. Penck (1991), Esther Mahlangu (1991), Sandro Chia (1992), David Hockney (1995), Jenny Holzer (1999), Olafur Eliasson (2007), Jeff Koons (2010), John Baldessari (2016) en Cao Fei with her BMW M6 GT3.(2017). Artists for the BMW Art Car Project are chosen by a panel of international judges.

According to Thomas Girst, who has been in charge of the BMW Art Cars project since 2004, the purpose of the project has changed over time: “In the beginning the cars were raced. There wasn’t much of a public relations effort around them… Since then, some of the Art Cars have been used in advertisements to show that BMW is a player in the arts.”

Besides the stunning i8 roadster, BMW Belux Corporate Communications Officer Saschia De Rudder kindly showed us two forthcoming BMW models in preview, which formed also a highlight of this artful experience on the sunny Knokke beach and stylish BMW Artville premises… We just let you enjoy the photos here!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

 

The genius who designed the D Type Auto Union: Robert Eberan von Eberhorst

We treat you this time, dear reader, on a following story about famous men who changed motorsport and/or made such an important contribution to the development of the automobile, that the automotive world has never been the same again since then. Such a man was the Austrian nobleman Robert Eberan von Eberhorst. He made his mark as a formidable engineer not only before WW2, but also throughout the war and also in the fifties, and one of his post-war creations, the Aston Martin DB3 sports racing car, is still raced in historic sporting events, right until this day…

But there is so much more, just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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