BMW and Daimler cooperate on automated driving…

 

(Premium) car manufacturers, unite: recently, BMW and Daimler announced in Berlin that they are launching five joint ventures that will offer mobility services such as solutions for car sharing, the search for parking spaces, and many more.

On February 28, the two manufacturers announced their intention to enter into a second new partnership. Daimler is planning to work together with BMW in the future on the next technology generation for driving assistance systems and on systems that enable conditionally automated driving on highways and automated parking functions. Why does this alliance make sense? The answer is simple: Because automated driving is a future-oriented technology that will radically transform our industry — and because in the long run we will be not only stronger but also more successful as partners than we would be alone.

What is already possible today: partial automation

The vision of autonomous driving is not only as old as the automobile itself — it’s also a central component of the strategy at Daimler. The vehicles you can see at your Mercedes-Benz dealer today can already do a great deal. Thanks to the Daimler active distance assistant DISTRONIC, the active steering assistant, the active lane-change assistant, and many other innovations, Daimler has already come very close to our goal of automated driving.

By means of currently available systems, a Mercedes-Benz can, for example, maintain the correct distance to vehicles ahead and drive partially automated on highways and country roads, as well as in cities. These systems also assist the driver with lane changes, evasive manoeuvres, and braking. And many models can be driven in and out of parking spaces via remote control from a smartphone — with the Remote Parking Assist.

At Mercedes-Benz, these features are called Intelligent Drive. With this, they have reached the level that engineers call SAE Level 2 or “partial automation.” This means that the car can already react automatically in many predefined situations — however, a human driver must always monitor traffic as well as the vehicle’s surroundings and be ready to react if necessary.

But above all, they have learned that the development of these systems is a bit like climbing a mountain. Taking the first few meters from the base station to the summit seems easy. But the closer you come to the goal, the thinner the air around you becomes, the more strength is required for each further step, and the more complex become the challenges you have to resolve in order to make progress.

From Level 3 to the summit

Further progress can be made more successfully and efficiently if the manufacturers are not alone. Daimler also believes that BMW is the perfect partner. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Daimler has now signed, deals with the development of several automation stages up to Level 4. Level 4 means “high automation”: The driver does not even need to be ready to take over control of the vehicle — he or she could even be sleeping. The aim of our partnership is to develop systems that make automated driving scalable and take it to the next level in a variety of contexts — in China and in the USA as well as on the German Autobahn A8, which connects the BMW Tower in Munich with the Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart.

A shared platform instead of isolated solutions

One thing is clear: BMW and Mercedes-Benz are competitors. The partnership will not become a new joint venture. Instead, we are planning to work together with BMW to develop a scalable and reliable platform that will bring optimal benefits to the customers of both brands. As part of this cooperative venture, we are also open to further partnerships that can contribute to the success of this platform.

It makes sense to distribute the technological and financial challenges of automated driving across a number of shoulders. It’s also clear that other existing partnerships and ongoing projects are not affected by intended cooperation between BMW and Daimler. For example, as Daimler has planned and already announced within the framework of our cooperation with Bosch, this year we will launch the first pilot for testing self-driving vehicles (Level 4/5) in urban surroundings in San José in Silicon Valley.

A long tradition of development at both manufacturers…

In spite of all the differences between BMW and Mercedes-Benz, they are also similar in many areas. For example, the men and women from Munich also have many years of experience in the areas of driving assistance and automated driving. BMW has worked on highly automated driving for a long time, and opened its Autonomous Driving Campus in Unterschleißheim – a suburb of Munich – in 2017, where BMW is consolidating all of its areas of expertise related to automated driving. The automation technology that the experts there are now working on will go into series production for the first time in the BMW iNEXT model in 2021.

At Daimler, long a leader in active safety systems, it programmed its systems largely in-house right from the very beginning. 2019 will see the launch in San José, Silicon Valley, of its first pilot programme, with Bosch, on self-driving vehicles (Levels 4/5) in urban environments. This will be the next milestone within the existing cooperation between both partners and the cooperation will continue as planned. Early next decade, Daimler will bring to the market not only highly automated (Level 3) vehicles but also fully automated (Level 4/5) vehicles. It is the only to the OEM in the world to be so well-positioned to apply autonomous driving in every relevant context, from passenger cars and vans to buses and trucks, and is therefore relying on scalable solutions to deliver automated driving.

The Memorandum of Understanding ensures that BMW and Daimler will pass the next milestone on the road to automated driving together. Their goal is to make the new technology generation available to our customers as early as the mid-2020s. It is all only logical: the suppliers who develop and produce elements of this automated driving architecture are for both manufacturers roughly the same… and it is crucial for these supplier/manufacturers to develop a broad (home) basis for their global ambitions…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

The mobility needs of Brussels: a tale of a city in motion

Here follows the second part of the interesting BMW conference held at the BMW Brand Store in Brussels, and here we focus on the presentation of Els Ampe, alderman Public works, Mobility and Dutch speaking matters in Brussels, on the mobility needs of the city of Brussels. She presented here on this photo the pedestrian space project in the centre of Brussels, adding  civic pleasure and wellness to the streets in Brussels…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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How we prepare ourselves (in Belgium) for the mobility of the future: the BMW view…

Recently BMW Group Belux organized a very interesting conference at their Brand Store in Brussels, where Eddy Haesendonck, President & CEO of BMW Belux (here on the right) gave us a status update on the world wide figures and trends of the BMW Group, followed more specifically by the figures and trends in Belgium for BMW Group Belux.

But the focus at this meeting was also on the outlook he presented, namely on how we prepare ourselves for the mobility of the future. This is where we will focus on mostly in this report.

Interesting was also the presentation by Els Ampe, (see first photo)  alderman Public works, Mobility and Dutch speaking matters in Brussels, on the mobility needs of the city of Brussels. More on this in the second part of this report, which we will present soon here too in these columns.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “How we prepare ourselves (in Belgium) for the mobility of the future: the BMW view…”

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

 

 

Magnetti Marelli: the breathtaking story of automotive genius…

At the presentation of the latest Jeep Wrangler in Austria, we had an elegant and interesting conversation with Cristina Calasso, Marketing Communication Product Marketing at Magneti Marelli, who lifted for us a veil of the magnificent activities and interesting history of Magneti Marelli, a company which stood at the cradle of the automobile.

A Marelli Magneto built in the ’20s. 

She brought us also into contact with her colleague, press contact Maurizio Scrignari, and we subsequently asked him more about the history and growth of the company. So watch out in our column for more about all this soon…

Magneti Marelli is now an important producer with headquarters in Reutlingen, Germany, dedicated to the development, production and sale of automotive exterior lighting products for all major OEMs worldwide. 

All this fits into a new and interesting path we want to walk with you dear reader, into the world of the supplier’s industry. We all know that supplier firms co-engineer and make (up) more than 50 % of our modern cars, yet we pay only scant attention to them. All the more reason to open for you these new horizons on our coveted site.

In this column we start with telling you somewhat more about the actual involvement of Magneti Marelli in the engineering and production of the latest generation Jeep Wrangler…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Magnetti Marelli: the breathtaking story of automotive genius…”

We drove the BMW i3s REx: E-joy, style and cleverness on wheels…

E-driving is not only cool, it can also give you lots of driving pleasure. BMW has proved this point now already over 100.000 times last year with its E-fleet, more specifically i, BMW iPerformance and MINI vehicles with fully electric or plug-in hybrid drive systems. Of course, the i3 being its most popular icon. Indeed, this cleverly designed and styled car has grown into just that: a symbol of clever and durable mobility.

We drove for you the nimble and lively “s” version, and we loved every meter we drove it.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the BMW i3s REx: E-joy, style and cleverness on wheels…”

BMW expands its battery and “E”-production in China…

The “E” units are installed and assembled…

The BMW Group continues to drive the expansion of electro-mobility as part of its Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT.

To achieve this, the company and is adapting its production structures to growing demand for fully and partially electrified vehicles.

Just seven months after opening its battery factory in China, the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture laid the foundation for a comprehensive expansion of the plant. At the “High-Voltage Battery Centre Phase II”, BBA will produce the new, more powerful batteries of the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology for the fully-electric BMW iX3. Starting in 2020, the BMW iX3 will be built at the neighbouring BBA plant Dadong.

Production of battery cells… 

One fact which probably you did not know: China is the BMW Group’s largest single market and understandably the pacesetter for e-mobility worldwide. With six electrified models currently available, the BMW Group offers Chinese customers the widest range of options in the premium segment.

In 2017, the BMW Group more than doubled its sales of electrified vehicles in China from the previous year and expects this growth to continue in 2018. Earlier this year, production of the new BMW 5 Series Plug-in Hybrid got underway at the BBA plant Dadong. Expansion of the battery factory underlines the BMW Group’s commitment to China.

Loving care and attention to detail, also in China…

Production of fully-electric cars to be integrated into existing structures…

The BMW Group is indeed pioneering in electromobility. You could see this already in our columns, dear reader, at the interview of Mr. Robert Irlinger. Just type “Irlinger” in the search window, and read on…

The company’s Leipzig plant began building the fully-electric BMW i3 in 2013. Today, the BMW Group produces cars with combustion engines on the same lines as plug-in hybrids at ten locations worldwide.

The mounted battery cells are installed and tested at the end of the production line…

Three battery plants in Germany, the US and China supply local production of electrified vehicles with batteries. In the future, production of fully-electric vehicles will also be integrated into existing manufacturing structures.

In addition, two enhanced flexible vehicle architectures will be suitable for all drive forms, thereby reducing complexity in production. This gives the BMW Group maximum production flexibility and enables it to respond quickly to market and customer demands worldwide. It also ensures optimal utilization of production capacity, avoids high investments and creates job security.

Ii is all happening in CVhina: the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture

The BBA Brilliance Automotive joint venture was founded in 2003. Over the past 15 years, it has become one of the most successful premium automobile manufacturers in China, encompassing production and sales of BMW automobiles in China, as well as local development tasks.

 

In 2017, the BBA automotive plants in Tiexi and Dadong produced almost 400,000 vehicles for the Chinese market – an increase of around 30% year-on-year. The maximum capacity of the two plants will reach 520,000 units per year from 2019.

Some more astonishing facts: since 2009, the joint venture has invested more than 52 billion RMB (approx. 6.7 billion euros) in the BBA plants, and employs more than 16,000 people.

In 2014, the BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. extended their joint venture contract early and laid the foundation for deepening the successful cooperation. The extended contract is valid for ten years (from 2018 to 2028).

The future will hold many further E-surprises…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

Factory reproduction of 300 SL body parts: the three starred diva is now immortal…

Ersatzteile für den Mercedes-Benz 300 SL „Gullwing“ (W 198, 1954 bis 1957): Zahlreiche wichtige Teile sind in originaler Werksqualität erhältlich. Foto der Präsentation auf der Techno Classica 2018. Replacement parts for the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957): Numerous key parts are available in genuine factory quality. Photo of presentation at Techno Classica 2018.

Replacement parts for the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957): Numerous key parts are available in genuine factory quality. Photo of presentation at Techno Classica 2018.

We were browsing for information about the participation of Mercedes in the next Mille Miglia, and we stumbled on other remarkable news, which shows how painstakingly professional Mercedes is caring about its products and notably its classic and historic cars.

Form now on, key body parts for the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198) are again available in factory quality. They can be ordered by their part number from any Mercedes-Benz sales partner, just like that!

Mercedes-Benz Original-Ersatzteile für den 300 SL „Gullwing“ (W 198, 1954 bis 1957). Nachfertigung von Karosserie-Blechteilen gemäß den hohen Werksstandards der Daimler AG. Das Foto zeigt einen Kotflügel im Presswerkzeug. Mercedes-Benz genuine replacement parts for the 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957). Reproduction of metal body parts in accordance with the high factory standards of Daimler AG. The photo shows a wing in the pressing tool.

Mercedes-Benz genuine replacement parts for the 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957). Reproduction of metal body parts in accordance with the high factory standards of Daimler AG. The photo shows a front wing in the pressing tool.

The metal parts are produced for Mercedes-Benz Classic by a certified supplier, whose expertise includes the highly complex construction of tools from optimised 3D data from original bodies. Metal parts produced on these tools are then worked into their final shape by hand using wooden mallets – another special process.

Mercedes-Benz Original-Ersatzteile für den 300 SL „Gullwing“ (W 198, 1954 bis 1957). Nachfertigung von Karosserie-Blechteilen gemäß den hohen Werksstandards der Daimler AG. Das Foto zeigt die Maßprüfung an der Öffnung für den Scheinwerfer. Mercedes-Benz genuine replacement parts for the 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957). Reproduction of metal body parts in accordance with the high factory standards of Daimler AG. The photo shows the dimensional inspection at the aperture for the headlamp.

Mercedes-Benz genuine replacement parts for the 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957). Reproduction of metal body parts in accordance with the high factory standards of Daimler AG. The photo shows the dimensional inspection at the aperture for the headlamp.

The precise 3D tool data also provide the basis for quality inspection by means of painstaking false colour comparison. The measuring tool receives the data as a reference and uses false colours to visualise the measured deviations between the desired state and the actual state, thus making it possible for the measurement results to be unambiguously and quickly interpreted.

Mercedes-Benz Original-Ersatzteile für den 300 SL „Gullwing“ (W 198, 1954 bis 1957). Nachfertigung von Karosserie-Blechteilen gemäß den hohen Werksstandards der Daimler AG. Das Foto zeigt die Prüfung der Heckdeckel-Wölbung: Der Mercedes-Stern liegt flächenbündig auf. Mercedes-Benz genuine replacement parts for the 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957). Reproduction of metal body parts in accordance with the high factory standards of Daimler AG. The photo shows the inspection of the curved section of the boot: the Mercedes star is flush with the surface.

Mercedes-Benz genuine replacement parts for the 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957). Reproduction of metal body parts in accordance with the high factory standards of Daimler AG. The photo shows the inspection of the curved section of the boot: the Mercedes star is flush with the surface.

The body parts meet the high standards of Daimler AG and can be ordered by their part number from any Mercedes-Benz sales partner. Their surfaces are electrophoretically painted, which assures the highest technical and visual standards. The prices include VAT.

  • Front panelling left (A198 620 03 09 40), 11,900 euros
  • Front panelling right (A198 620 04 09 40), 11,900 euros
  • Rear panelling left (A198 640 01 09 40), 14,875 euros
  • Rear panelling right (A198 640 02 09 40), 14,875 euros
  • Rear-end center section (A198 647 00 09 40), 2,975 euros
  • Rear-end floor (A198 640 00 61 40), 8,925 euros

We let you further have a look at the photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The star and the four rings: a marriage which happened 60 years ago…and led to the post-war renaissance of Audi

Prototyp eines kompakten Mercedes-Benz Personenwagens (W 119), 1962. Exterieur, Sicht von rechts vorne. Zu einer Serienfertigung kommt es nicht. 955 Mille Miglia: Mercedes-Benz senior engineer Ludwig Kraus (far left) with Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Denis Jenkinson, Stirling Moss and Dr. Hans Scherenberg (left to right).
Prototype of a compact Mercedes-Benz Passenger car(W 119), 1962. It will not make it into series production. 

In the spring of 1958, decisive motor history was written: In april of that year, the then Daimler-Benz AG acquired a majority in Auto Union GmbH. All the remaining shares followed on 31 December 1959.

By 1960, Auto Union was therefore a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler-Benz. This meant that all the brands of Auto Union, which included Audi, now could be revived.

And so Daimler did, to let the public forget the two stroke image of Auto Union and DKW. Of course, they had one small car adventure with the two stroke engined DKW Junior, wich actually proved quite popular.

But Mercedes rather more loved the four cylinder engines and the nobler Audi image, which would fit perfectly. So they made efforts – which we will explain here further – to bring a revolutionary four srtoke engine into the existing Auto Union/DKW  F103, and started work on the development of an all new Audi.

Daimer strategy changed however, and so they sold on 1 January 1965 the majority of the shares of Auto Union to Volkswagen, and offered  them Audi on a plate…in the form of a already extensively developed Audi four dour model, and they even sold the engineer who developed this car with it!

Das Mercedes-Benz Werk Düsseldorf ist das größte Transporterwerk der Daimler AG. Rund 6.600 Mitarbeiter produzieren dort heute den Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Historisches Foto der Montage des Transporters T1 aus den 1980er-Jahren. The Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf is the largest van plant of Daimler AG. Around 6,600 employees produce the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter at the plant. Historical photo of T1 van assembly in the 1980s.

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf is the largest van plant of Daimler AG. Around 6,600 employees produce the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter at the plant. Historical photo of T1 van assembly in the 1980s.

In the meantime, from 1961 onwards, the major Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf was constructed on a site previously operated by Auto Union. With a workforce of some 6600 and an annual output of around 150,000 vans, Düsseldorf is now Daimler AG’s main factory for vans. All the closed variants of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – i.e. panel vans and crewbuses – roll off the production line there. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “The star and the four rings: a marriage which happened 60 years ago…and led to the post-war renaissance of Audi”

Volvo wins international prizes with its XC60 and XC40…

Volvo XC60 wins World Car Of The Year 2018
Volvo XC60 wins World Car Of The Year 2018…

The new Volvo XC60 midsize SUV has been named World Car of the Year 2018 at the New York Auto Show, and it also scooped the prestigious North American Utility of the Year Award earlier this year, while the XC40 small SUV was named European Car of the Year at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month.

The World Car of the Year win is the first in this competition for Volvo Cars, and you can understand that this brought some very smiling faces…

XC60 T8 Inscription
The powerful XC60 T8 Inscription…delivering 407hp and acceleration from 0-100 km in just 5.3 seconds.

These two accolades come hot on the heels of Mr Samuelsson’s World Car Person of the Year recognition, awarded by the same panel of international media in Geneva earlier this month. Mr Samuelsson was given this inaugural award in recognition of his work in driving the success of Volvo Cars in recent years.

Volvo Car Group President & CEO Håkan Samuelsson at the European Car of the Year award ceremony
Volvo Car Group President & CEO Håkan Samuelsson proudly posing with the coveted prize at the European Car of the Year award ceremony.

The 2018 European Car of the Year award for the XC40 follows other recent recognition, including the Car of the Year award by leading UK automotive publication “What Car?”

The XC40 is the first model on Volvo Cars’ new compact modular vehicle architecture (CMA), which will underpin all upcoming cars in the 40 Series, including fully electrified vehicles. Co-developed together with Geely, CMA provides the company with the necessary economies of scale for this segment.

New Volvo XC40 - exterior
New Volvo XC40 has pleasing proportions and will be offered with a wide range of drivetrains.

In 2017, the company announced its commitment to electrify all Volvo Cars launched from 2019. In line with this leadership position in electrification, a hybridised as well as a pure electric powertrain option for the XC40 will be added later.

Hans Knol ten Bensel