Klaus Busse is the talented head of design for Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Chrysler, and he is also quite active on social media. We read today a post from his hand on his Instagram page about the presentation of the Tonale at the Geneva Show two years ago, together with some stunning photos showing how the Tonale was sculpted out of plaster and other materials to become a real looking car, to be shown as a styling model at the salon.
The photos show how elements of the car were formed and made by hand. Some pieces were 3D printed, I believe, but personally I find it truly amazing how these craftsmen put the car together, and finished it to become a design model with gleaming paint and shiny elements, the result being indistinguishable from a “real” car.
I found the photos so interesting that I want to show them here to you on these pages.
On the fourth of May 2019, I visited the Centro Style in Turin, and met Klaus Busse. You see me standing proudly beside the Tonale prototype, and also in a group photo with Klaus Busse himself on the left.
Sweet memories, and of course your servant would love to witness once how these craftsmen work to create such an unbelievably finished prototype…
The brand new Renault 5 Prototype has already stolen the hearts of many, as was the case with the original R“Cinq”. François Leboine, Director of Design Concept and Show-Cars at Renault explains here how to succeed in the retro-futuristic exercise carried out on the cute Renault 5 Prototype.
Revive good memories, “provoke a smile”, that’s what François Leboine wanted with the Renault 5 Prototype. Responsible for concept cars and show cars at Renault, he looks back at the development of the prototype’s headlights, which, he confides to us, embody all the work done on the car. To do this, he used a well-oiled method that he agreed to unveil to us.
“If I had to choose a particular element that symbolizes all the work done on the Renault 5 Prototype, it’s definitely the headlights.”
Before starting any creative process, you need material, explains François Leboine.
The first step, called analytical, was to gather archives to analyze, understand, decompose the original vehicle. To grasp its very essence. Photos, sketches by the original designer Michel Boué, period magazines, fascicles and brochures, made it possible to study the mythical R5 from all angles. A vehicle loaned by Renault Classic also helped to better understand certain elements such as the famous headlights.
We really capitalized on the history of Renault and the R5 in particular, which had this special sympathy with people and this perfectly recognizable mischievous look.
Then the designers draw the first sketches on paper, like cartoonists who try to capture what makes a face’s personality.
“The sketches captured the fundamental elements that needed to be retained to reproduce the mischievous look of the original R5,” explains François Leboine.
Getting the proportions right…
Then, the designers moved on to a graphic palette to define proportions, contours, the distance between the headlights, to find the expression, the smiling look of the 1970s R5.
After analyzing graphic characteristics and working on proportions, designers operate what is called a shift: a method that consists of taking an object and tilting it into another world. “They’re going to use all the graphic work from previous research, mixing it with the mood board research and codes from today’s objects to project the design details into a futuristic world.”
Inspired by the worlds of aeronautics, architecture, product design and even electronics…
Thanks to this method of shifting visual codes, the prototype’s headlights have become true technological and futuristic elements. As for the fog lights that were often added at the time, they took a leap into the future. They were transformed into daytime running lights fully integrated into the front bumper.
“It was really important that the Renault 5 Prototype was not just a slavish copy of the past, but that it really was a vehicle that contained the elements of the future.”, explained François Leboine.
The final test: meeting the public
Finally, comes the encounter, the ultimate step for designers. The one that allows them to know if their work is successful. “Everything we’ve done, it’s the reaction of the people around us which determines if we’ve hit the bull’s eye, if we’ve brought the R5 back to life or if it was a failure”, says François Leboine.
The reaction of the internal people was already telling us that the car was going to be a success, but in the end it exceeded our expectations.
The Renault 5 Prototype has indeed received a very warm and unanimous welcome. Whether on the headlights or on the whole vehicle, the treatment of the lines and the futuristic details were very much appreciated. With the Renault 5 Prototype, the emblematic model of Renault’s heritage now has a worthy heiress. A modern car, full of charm and in tune with the times. Renault’s DNA respected, a successful projection into the future: mission accomplished
We can only agree…
Within 5-6 weeks, we will be able to take the wheel again, also anxious to get acquainted again with Renault’s latest E-powered products and hybrids… Stay tuned!
Keeping your offspring busy in these (Easter) times is quite a task, and Jeep and Fiat are there to help.
Fiat launces a cute #fiatforkids initiative. The Colorbook 500 – in Fiat’s usual playful, entertaining style – is designed specially for children to spend a few hours drawing and coloring in the three generations of the 500. Fiat is offering four plates of their iconic Cinquecento. Your offspring can colour the three generations of the 500, the landscape it is passing, or draw the view from the window of the car.
But there is more for kids in store during Easter time. They will look for “Easter Eggs” in hidden places in the garden, terrace or in the home, much to their surprise and delight. The Jeep designers have made “Easter Eggs” an integrated step in the creation process of each vehicle, and a distinctive, very special design feature.
‘Easter Eggs‘ are hidden decorative motifs that Jeep stylists conceal in Jeep vehicles, meant to be discovered throughout time by their owners.
These hidden gems are unique and unexpected, they change from one Jeep vehicle to another and can be found both on the exterior and on the interior. Originally, Easter Eggs were an offhand addition of a graphic to an otherwise standard part of the vehicle but over the course of the years, they developed into something typical of Jeep design.
They are also styling cues that recall the brand’s design heritage – such as the seven slot grille or iconic Jeep models like the Wrangler.
Often they can also be found in small functional areas, such as storage compartments, to be discovered by customers during the daily use of their vehicle.
Today, the practice continues with every new Jeep model and customers will shortly have an opportunity to discover the Easter Eggs hidden in the soon-to-be launched Jeep Renegade and Compass 4xe…
June 24 will mark Alfa Romeo’s 110th anniversary, and to celebrate this, the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo has designed a new logo.
The number itself forms the logo. The first two “1” figures are presented in a perspective that gives the number an impression of transition from the past to the present, climaxing in the “0”.
One of the most characteristic and recognizable elements of the Alfa Romeo logo can be found within the “0”, the “Biscione”. The establishment date and this year, 1910-2020, will complete the bottom of the circle.
The anniversary will of course be celebrated with a number of events throughout the year, from the Mille Miglia and the Goodwood Festival of Speed via the celebrations at the Museo Storico.
After Rétromobile, which took place in Paris from 5 to 9 February, Alfa Romeo will be celebrated again on 15 and 16 February, as part of «Flanders Collection Cars», an expo of collection cars held in Ghent. We show you here an Alfa GT Junior in one of the squares of this proud Flemish town…
Several publications will also be issued to illustrate the most significant moments of Alfa Romeo in the 20th and 21st centuries. More to come, also in these columns!
Kia recently showed a stunning electric coupé with novel proportions. This Futuron made its public debut at the 2019 China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. Its low-profile SUV coupe body makes a strong statement of intent for Kia’s future cars, which will be – as the manufacturer puts it – confident, sporty and modern, yet also elegant. At 4,850 mm in length, 1,550 mm tall and with a 3,000 mm-long wheelbase, it has an elevated ground clearance is matched with a low, lean body to create a dynamic, confident posture.
It is indeed a sports car… on an SUV platform. Clever.
Because this makes – like for instance in the Audi e-tron – room for the
batteries to be lodged beneath the cabin floor. The advantage is also that the elevated
stance of the car is therefore matched with a low center of gravity.
And that slightly more elevated stance is just what
you want in an urban car, even if it has the sleek shape of a coupé.
Just read further…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
is powered by four powerful in-wheel electric motors. This e-AWD
system delivers as you can expect lively responses to driver inputs.
But the important hallmark here is its fluid, intriguing design. The front fender flows backwards from the front of the hood before plunging into the cabin itself, establishing a connection between the driving seat and the road ahead. The concept’s roof is a diamond-shaped panoramic glasshouse which sits atop the 360-degree core, in the best traditions of UFO and flying saucer design. It floods the cabin with natural light, and it also extends down the bonnet to give drivers an unparalleled view ahead. The glasshouse also incorporates a network of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors capable of providing Level 4 autonomous driving features, enabling hands-off and eyes-off driving in most conditions.
Furthermore, the 360-degree theme is evident in the
lighting that illuminates a sharp character line encircling the Futuron’s body.
A new “tiger” face…
The newly-designed front of the car, like that of the
Imagine by Kia Concept first revealed earlier in 2019, expresses a new design interpretation for Kia’s future
With a wider ‘tiger face’ shape, the grille
incorporates the Futuron’s headlamps, an innovative ‘Star Cloud’ design which
gives the car a dazzling new night-time identity.
Flexible cabin space…
The layout of the electric powertrain and
incorporation of Level 4 autonomous
driving systems has enabled the creation of a spacious and flexible cabin
unlike any other vehicle on roads. The two
front seats are created out of flexible materials and can offer an upright
‘driving’ position, or a reclined ‘rest’ position, similar to the flexibility
afforded to first-class airline passengers. With the activation of the
Futuron’s autonomous driving features, the two front seats recline as the
steering wheel retracts. The ‘zero-gravity’ seating position this creates helps
to reduce fatigue on long journeys.
One of the most prominent features of the cabin is the
‘cockpit’ area surrounding the driver. The graphical user interface (GUI) of
the cockpit flows out of the driver-side door and wraps around the steering
wheel in a seamless arc. This merges the instrument cluster directly with the
audio-visual display at the center of the dashboard and is linked to the
display integrated within the surface of the steering wheel itself.
The GUI is operated by artificial intelligence
technologies, displaying useful information about the car various autonomous
driving, powertrain and navigation features, which creates a unique user
This is, according to Kia, what driving into the
(urban) future is all about. Just look at the photos here…
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
Hans Knol ten Bensel
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
conversation was far from over, but then covers different subjects, with we
will soon continue to cover in a following part in this series…
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
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.
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.
The multimedia artist approaches the
concept of a BMW Art Car in her own unique way, with which she builds a
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.
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.
exhibition runs until May 31, at BMW Brand Store Brussels, Waterloolaan 23,24, 1000
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Because here, the 8C created a family of cars, and in this case again, it might create a new family of cars…
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…
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.
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…
The next few photos just lift a tip of the veil of the vast material we collected and photographed…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.