Final testing of the BMW 4 series Coupe: driving pleasure redefined!

Following a series of exhaustive test drives held as part of the development process to prepare it for series production, the latest incarnation of the two-door model is now embarking on the final phase of dynamic testing.

After having their driving qualities honed at the winter testing centre in Arjeplog, Sweden, at the BMW Group’s test centre in Miramas in France, on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit and at various other race tracks, the prototypes are now returning to their roots: engineers will put the final touches to the chassis technology of the new BMW 4 Series Coupe on the motorways and country roads around the BMW Group’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) in Munich.

Like its overall vehicle concept and design, the 4 Series Coupe’s chassis technology is a more individual composition than ever before.

The proportions, aerodynamic properties and weight distribution of the two-door car provide the ideal basis for a chassis set-up focused unerringly on exhilarating dynamic performance.

A direct comparison with the new BMW 3 Series Sedan highlights the new model’s unique profile particularly clearly. The new BMW 4 Series Coupe is 57 millimetres lower than its four-door counterpart and its centre of gravity is 21 millimetres closer to the road as a result.

This all combines with the increased negative camber at the front wheels and the 23-millimetre wider rear track to sharpen the car’s handling characteristics by a significant degree. 

The range will now be spearheaded by a BMW M model in the shape of the new BMW M440i xDrive Coupe.

Powered by a straight-six engine delivering 275 kW/374 hp, it will also feature 48V mild-hybrid technology, with a 48V starter-generator and a second battery employed to both ease the load on the engine and act in unison with it. Besides improved efficiency, the principal benefit here is punchier power.

The power is channelled to the road via an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and the car’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system. The M Sport differential is also on hand to make sure that drive power is deployed to optimum effect in demanding driving situations. The locking effect is generated by an electric motor.

The final round of testing on the car’s home ground will allow the engineers to fast-track their latest findings into the fine-tuning process at the Research and Innovation Centre.

Needless to say it will be a unique experience to drive one… we can’t wait, and indeed, there is sun on the horizon after Corona times!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

FCA opens its plants again…in safety!

On April 28, FCA reopened the Sevel plant, together with R&D activities and pre-series production of electric and hybrid models in Turin and Melfi.

The plant is actually dubbed the Atessa factory, and is operated by Sevel, a 50-50 joint venture between Fiat Chrysler and PSA. About 6,000 people are building daily some 1200 LCV’s, as we told already earlier in our columns, and it is Europe’s largest LCV assembly plant.

Of course, this reopening has been carefully prepared, and is the result of rigorous analysis and preparation carried out in collaboration with leading virologists and other experts and agreed with all trade unions.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Delivery of safety kit at the entrance of the factory…

Playing it safe…

Before employees returned to work, the Company repeated cleaning and sanitization activities carried out at the plant when production was suspended on March 17.

Those activities covered 18 rest areas, 52 toilets, 29 changing rooms with more than 7,400 lockers, 2 medical rooms and 4 cafeterias.

Prior to the start of production, all Sevel employees were sent a link via WhatsApp and email to a web page explaining measures to be taken in each production area, together with video tutorials.  

The measures include maintaining a minimum distance of one meter between individuals, instructions for washing hands with soap and water or sanitizing gel, instructions for refilling a cup or water bottle from public dispensers, new rules for the company cafeteria and correct management of meetings. Employees were also provided with instructions on how to recognize and respond to Covid-19 symptoms and preventive measures to be taken in an emergency.

Workers at work with gloves masks and safety equipment…

Areas reconfigured…

Production and office areas have also been reconfigured based on specific health and safety requirements to enable the redistribution of workers and to increase distancing between those working in close proximity on the assembly line. In production areas, movement of personnel between areas has been limited to the minimum level possible and based on specific needs. Similar measures have been implemented in common areas, while the plant’s 85 offices have been fitted with protective barriers between employees or workstations have been relocated. Work breaks have been organized by area and phased throughout the course of each shift.

In the coming days, training on safety standards will be made available via e-learning, standard internal communications channels and by sector managers with the support of specialized medical personnel.

Everyone a personal safety kit…

Today, every employee at the Sevel plant was given a personal kit containing surgical masks and gloves (to be replenished daily), as well as a pair of safety glasses to be worn when cleaning their individual workstation. The number of masks supplied also means that those employees who commute via public transport will have an additional mask for their travel to and from work.

Finally, rigorous checks were also put into place at all entrances to the Sevel plant, as provided under the agreement signed by FCA and the trade unions. Everyone entering the premises on foot or by car, had their temperature checked by thermal camera or remote thermometer operated by first aid and medical staff wearing adequate protective equipment.

Further FCA plants opened…

The Atessa plant is not the only FCA factory opening its doors again. FCA resumed also activity at its Melfi plant in southern Italy for the final stages of the development of Jeep’s new hybrid car, with some 750 workers a day expected to take up work, and also at Turin’s Mirafiori plant some 250 workers will continue work on the new electric 500.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

New Toyota Yaris Cross is turning heads…

It is there: the new Yaris is the second model to be based on Toyota’s GA-B platform, has Toyota’s 4th-generation hybrid technology and is designed and developed for Europe.

The car will be produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing France (TMMF) in the Onnaing factory, near Valenciennes in France, and plans to achieve a B-SUV segment share of more than 8%.

Production is cheduled from 2021 onwards, with annual volume exceeding 150,000 units, alongside the new generation Yaris hatchback.

It now makes its world debut in April 2020, well ahead of European market introduction in 2021. Read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

True hybrid, true SUV

Toyota’s first used a hybrid system in a B-segment car with the original Yaris Hybrid in 2012. It now is in its fourth generation…

As a member of the Yaris family, Yaris Cross is built on Toyota’s new GA-B compact car platform. It also shares the “big-small” design and packaging concept that characterized the original Yaris.

Adding Yaris Cross to the line-up will give Toyota an SUV range that spans the B, C and D segments.

New hybrid powertrain

As said, the Yaris Cross benefits from Toyota’s fourth generation hybrid technology.

The Yaris and Yaris Cross are the first models to use Toyota’s latest 1.5 hybrid system, developed directly from the larger 2.0 and 2.5-litre powertrains used by recent new models such as the Corolla, C-HR, RAV4 and Camry.

This now features a new 1.5-litre, three-cylinder Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, precision-engineered to reduce friction and mechanical losses and optimise combustion speed. The result is high torque at low engine speeds and excellent fuel efficiency. The engine’s thermal efficiency is rated at 40%, which is greater than comparable diesel engines and ensures strong fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.

The new hybrid system has a maximum output of 116 DIN hp. Special attention has been given to power delivery, making the system very responsive to drive. In terms of emissions efficiency, the front-wheel drive model starts from below 90 g/km CO2 and the AWD-i version from below 100 g/km*

Compact

The Yaris Cross has the same 2,560 mm wheelbase as the new Yaris hatchback, but is 240 mm longer overall, with 60 mm added to the front overhang and 180 mm to the rear, securing more interior space. The ground clearance is 30 mm higher and the vehicle is taller and wider overall – by 90 and 20 mm respectively.

Practical

There’s a power back door, an adjustable deck height to give the flexibility of either a secure underfloor compartment or increased trunk space for larger loads.

The deck board itself can be split in two, giving customers both increased space and an underfloor storage area. The trunk is also equipped with a new flex belt system to secure items and stop them shifting during driving.

Intelligent all-wheel drive

The so-called AWD-i is an electric system, being more compact and weighting less than mechanical AWD units, helping the Yaris Cross Hybrid AWD-i achieve lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than any of its all-wheel drive B-SUV competitors.

The system directs drive torque to the rear axle when pulling away and when accelerating. In normal driving, the Yaris Cross operates with front-wheel drive, but when low-grip conditions are detected, all-wheel drive is engaged automatically.

Advanced Driver Assistance System

With its GA-B platform, it benefits from Toyota Safety Sense active safety systems and advanced driver assistance functions.

Designed in Europe and Japan…

The design process of Yaris Cross brought together a wide team from studios in both Europe and Japan. To describe their ideas and inspiration in more detail, please find below the words of one member of the team – Lance Scott, Design General Manager at Toyota’s EDD studio in Nice, France.

“When we started this process, we understood that whilst style is the number one purchase reason in the B-SUV segment, customers were also keen to have a high level of practicality. Not easy things to reconcile, especially in a compact package.

From the very beginnings of the design concept, we had the European customer in mind, but needed to understand more about them. So we went out and interviewed real customers to understand their lifestyle, what they liked, what their daily activities were and how they enjoyed themselves.

As a team, we came up with the key words ‘Robust’ and ‘Minimalistic’, which we felt would express both compactness and agility, as well as the robustness and strength of an SUV.

When we started to sketch ideas for the exterior, the iconic image of a diamond consistently came to mind. Subsequently we coined the phrase ‘nimble diamond’ to express the hard, strong and premium image of the gemstone combined with the agile and fun to drive personality we felt the car needed to convey.

From the top view, or plan view as we call it, we ‘cut’, or ‘shaved’ the body to give us a diamond shape that allowed us the space to emphasise the fenders. This diamond body shape combined with the 4 bold fenders gave us an energetic shape which was both strong and sophisticated.

Clearly, we want the car to be immediately perceived as a SUV, so we emphasised a higher ground clearance, a strong horizontal axis giving a great balance and poise, big squared wheel arches and of course big wheels … up to 18”!

The face was also a very important aspect for us. We wanted to keep the strong DNA of Toyota’s SUV line-up but at the same time give Yaris Cross an identity of its own.

At the rear, we again focused on giving the car a good stance with the wide fenders illustrating how it looks planted on its wheels. Combining the horizontal rear tail lamps and rear screen clearly shows family identity with Yaris, yet the wider and more squared tailgate hints at the luggage space’s larger flexibility for daily usage.

For the exterior colour, we started to think about something that could express an active and high-quality image that our target customers would really appreciate. Looking at future colour trends we can see that there is a growing tendency for gold and other precious metals, but we wanted to offer something a bit more natural and urban. Adding a subtle hint of green to the gold direction, whilst also de-saturating the colour to emphasis the metal like appearance, gave us this fresh urban yet active appeal that highlighted the surface form of the exterior. The final result is a colour we call Brass Gold”

Interesting all this, we will be keen to see this new B-segment SUV in the flesh soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

DS Automobiles lets you look behind the scenes via your home screen…

In these Corona lock-down times, online presence and using social media is vital for car manufacturers to reach out to their customers, and DS automobiles is no exception. What’s more, they show you some stunning behind the scenes footage on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn and of course, last but not least, Youtube.  

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Indeed, DS Automobiles invites you to take a look behind the scenes of the design team through two web series developed by DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS.

After “CONFIDENCE The art of the senses” that revealed the secrets of the DS DESIGN STUDIO PARIS to the general public, the brand builds on this with two web series created during the lock-down.

In a first series of videos you will meet fifteen people who are involved in the design process, the development and the commercialization of a product.

These experts film themselves while talking about their profession and explaining the challenges this never-before-seen situation entails. From product determination to customer delivery, through design, engineering, production and sales, DS Experts reveal their work in short videos broadcast on DS Automobiles’ social media.

A second series of videos are dubbed the «Did You Know? » Series and for a good reason: it gives anyone interested an opportunity to learn about little-known facts about DS Automobiles products and services.

An interview with Pascal Béziat, headed the development and industrialization of the DS3 Crossback…

At the moment of writing, a number of videos are already online:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DSOfficial/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ds_official/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DS_Official

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ds-automobiles/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DS

Just have a look, and be amazed with us over this very interesting insight into DS Automobiles, a prestigious example of French “savoir faire” in car building …

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Audi restarts European production in coming weeks…

Health comes first: Perspex panels protect employees when working together in assembly.

Audi will gradually initiate the restart of production at its plants in Europe during the coming weeks.

As everybody knows, in mid-March, the company announced the temporary suspension of production at its European sites.

The background to the decision was supply bottlenecks and a drop in demand due to the corona pandemic. Now the Volkswagen Group will coordinate the upcoming regulated restart in the worldwide Audi production network together with suppliers and service providers.

The main focus in this restart is of course a comprehensive package of measures that targets on the safety of employees.

Health protection in focus: Perspex panels ensure safety on the assembly line.

In this respect, Audi is following the guidelines of the Robert Koch Institute and the regulations of the health authorities of the respective country.

Altogether an admirable undertaking, which will bring us all soon again on the right path…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

“A joint European Act”

Following the suspension of production at all AUDI AG plants in Europe, it is now a matter of taking the first step back towards normality: “We will manage the restart as a joint European act,” said Board of Management Member for Production Peter Kössler. This is because supply chains and production and logistics processes are closely interlinked within the Group and with partners at the international level. Kössler continued: “The focus is on the employees, because they need a safe working environment. Audi teams of experts have therefore adapted processes with a view to health protection in consultation with the specialist departments and works councils. I would like to thank all Audi employees and our partners around the world for their flexibility and joint efforts in times like these.”

Foils attached to the vehicles separate employees during parallel work on assembly.

The restart includes, for example, clear rules on distance and hygiene, a modified shift system to avoid contact, and the obligation to use mouth and nose protection in areas where distances of 1.5 meters are not possible.

The company has also created physical barriers at critical workplaces. In door pre-assembly, for example, two employees work simultaneously on the same transport rack and stand directly opposite each other. Here, the employees themselves have developed a transparent barrier made of plastic sheeting.

“Corona-ready”…

Managers of production sections and groups, together with experts from occupational safety, health care, industrial engineering and the works council, have looked at each individual workplace, analyzed it and developed suggestions for improvement. Only with the agreement of all those involved is a workplace considered “corona-ready.” The workgroup also took a close look at the working environment: group spaces, factory gates, parking spaces and internal factory traffic, as well as catering and factory restaurants. Audi has developed appropriate solutions for all areas.

Vehicle production at the Audi sites will be gradually ramped up from the end of April onwards according to a fixed plan. Engine production in Győr already started gradually ramping up again this week. For those employees at the factories in Germany who will only be able to resume their work fully in later phases of the restart, short-time working regulations will continue to apply until then…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Groupe Renault has a new strategy for the Chinese market…

Groupe Renault unveiled its new strategy for China, building on two of its key pillars: Electric Vehicles (EV) and Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV).

For the Internal Combustion engined car market in China, Groupe Renault has entered into a preliminary agreement with Dongfeng Motor Corporation under which Renault transfers its shares to Dongfeng. DRAC (Dongfeng Renault Automotive Company) will stop its Renault brand-related activities.

Of course, Renault will continue to provide after sales service ot its existing customers in this market, and Renault and Dongfeng will continue to cooperate with Nissan on new generation engines like components supply to DRAC and diesel license to Dongfeng Automobile Co., Ltd. Renault and Dongfeng will also engage in innovative cooperation in the field of intelligent connected vehicles.

Booming LCV market…

The LCV market in China reached 3.3 million in 2019 and is forecasted to maintain a steady upwards path. Renault Brilliance Jinbei Automotive Co., Ltd. (RBJAC), launched in December 2017, is Groupe Renault’s sword arm for its LCV business in China. Jinbei is a well-established Brand with 1.5 million customers in China and close to 162,000 sales in 2019.

With Renault expertise and technologies, RBJAC is modernizing Jinbei models and extending the line-up with a total of 5 core models by 2023. The joint venture will also export in the future.

The joint venture operates in Shenyang, Liaoning Province and aims to deliver 150,000 units of upper medium commercial vehicles and new energy commercial vehicles annually by 2022.


The Alliance launched a mid size Jibei SUV…

In addition, the company will roll out a series of new models in local market, including the Renault-branded Trafic, the Master (including BEV version) and the Jinbei-branded F70, the F50 BEV version as well as some LCV (light commercial vehicle) models under the Jinbei brand.

A massive Chinese EV market

With 860,000 electric vehicles sold in China in 2019, China is by far the largest EV market in the world. EV sales are expected to reach 25% of the Chinese market by 2030.

Groupe Renault was a pioneer on EV and has sold close to 270,000 electric vehicles world wide since 2011. It gives a strong competitive advantage in China as shown by the successful launching of Renault City K-ZE, the first joint venture EV car competing in A segment with the best local automakers.

Groupe Renault expect to reinforce its partnership with Nissan and Dongfeng within eGT to make K-ZE a worldwide car. A derivative for Europe based on “Dacia Spring” concept will be sold from 2021.

JMEV is known as an agile and efficient EV player since its creation in 2015. With Renault support in terms of quality and technologies, JMEV will cover 45% of Chinese EV market in 2022 with 4 core models.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Bentley cars are measured to absolute perfection…

Our everyday cars achieve standards of finish which some time ago were only the realm of expensive and exclusive cars.

So what about the supercars of today? Are they finished at a still higher level? Indeed they are, and they are the playground of the engineers of large(r) groups like for example Volkswagen to test out and achieve what is technically possible now in car engineering and production.

On these exclusive cars they can experiment and reach levels of engineering perfection and finish which they can apply in these smaller production series with higher margins.

Within time, these new techniques will then again find their way into the production methods of larger volume cars, and the cycle starts again, with the supermodels and exclusive cars again in their turn putting the boundaries further.

We turn our attention here to Bentley. Bentley Motors is the most sought after luxury car brand in the world. The company’s headquarters in Crewe is home to all of its operations including design, R&D, engineering and production of the company’s four model lines, Continental, Flying Spur, Bentayga and Mulsanne. 4,000 people work there, and it is an example of high-value British manufacturing at its best.

We introduce you here to the 26-strong team capable of measuring every component of each Bentley model when in full factory operation…

Just read further !

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Metrology team…

Deep in the heart of the Bentley factory in Crewe is a large, airy and air-conditioned workshop that visitors, even out of a government lockdown, will never see. It’s packed with the kind of precision instruments you’d expect to find in a space agency facility or university science lab. It’s here that Head of Metrology Michael Stockdale and his 25 colleagues measure every part of a Bentley to the highest standards of precision.

Metrology is the science of measurement, and it’s fundamental to the quality, performance and longevity of every Bentley that each component is made to consistently precise dimensions. Stockdale and his colleagues can measure every part of each model Bentley makes, from the smallest washer to body panels and interior trim, and ensure that no component strays from the close tolerances prescribed for it. “We have the tools to measure everything from the graining of leather to the surface of a cylinder bore, down to fractions of a micron” explains Stockdale.

Having measured components individually, they are measured again as sub-assemblies and once more as part of the finished vehicle. Thus, the Metrology team plays a vital role in ensuring that near perfection is repeatable.

Flying Spur retractable bonnet mascot system measured to as low as 0.15 mm tolerance

Measuring and enforcing the highest standards of dimensional accuracy is especially important for a vehicle, where multiple components become sub-assemblies. To take just one example, the retractable Flying B mascot that adorns the bonnet of the Flying Spur, which smoothly deploys and retracts only because each component in its complex control assembly is made to close and consistent dimensions. It is illuminated and linked to the keyless entry system as the driver approaches the car, yet it must also retract automatically in the event of an accident. To achieve this precise choreography and to ensure that it sits perfectly centred within its plinth, elements of the Flying B system have tolerances as low as 0.15 millimetres.

Sophisticated tools measure in fractions of a micron

Laymen use ‘a hair’s breadth’ as a description of the tiniest imaginable measure, but such a term would be too imprecise for Bentley’s Metrology team. As Stockdale points out, a human hair can be anything from seventeen microns to over one hundred and fifty microns thick. In contrast, there are instruments within Metrology that can measure down to 0.5 microns.

A micron is one millionth of a metre, and a human red blood cell is 5 microns in diameter. Not every component of a Bentley needs to be measured to tolerances of less than a micron, but there are some.

As an example, Stockdale cites the crankshaft at the heart of Bentley’s 6.0-litre W12 engine, the most advanced 12-cylinder engine in the world which powers the new Flying Spur. Spinning at up to 6,000 rpm, the crankshaft converts the immense downward forces generated by the pistons into rotary movement that powers the wheels. Though invisible to the naked eye, each of the twelve machined bearing journal surfaces in which the crankshaft sits features minute grooves that hold a microscopic film of oil.

By using a high accuracy Perthometer (a tool designed to measure surface finishes) the Metrology team can verify that those minute grooves are within their defined tolerances, in turn ensuring that each W12 engine produces both the immense power and lifelong durability its owners would expect.

A Flying Spur carved from solid aluminium

As well as measuring individual surfaces and components to microscopic levels of accuracy, the Metrology team measures entire vehicles. The department is home to what are termed ‘cubing’ reference vehicles; an entire vehicle body machined out of solid aluminium that acts as a template against which panels and interior components are measured.  The cubing Flying Spur is the ideal Flying Spur against which all others are measured, every millimetre of its body scanned using high accuracy digital cameras to create a complete and precise map of the car.

“Imagine an issue at the prototype stage where the panel gap between grille and bonnet is a millimetre too large, “explains Stockdale. “Does the fault lie with the grille, or the bonnet? The cubing reference vehicle provides the answer, because it’s made to the precise dimensions of the CAD data.”

Optical laser scanning

Different materials call for different measuring techniques. The unique three-dimensional diamond quilted leather inserts in the doors and rear quarter panels of the Flying Spur cannot be measured by a tactile device because to touch the surface would distort the reading. Instead, an optical laser scanner is used to chart and check the precise contours of each diamond.

The cabin of the Flying Spur posed a fresh challenge, because of the range of functionality built in for every seat. The rear seats alone offer 14-way adjustment, five massaging modes and the two outer seats are both heated and ventilated. Everything from the seamless fit of the one-piece headlining, wood trim and sumptuous leather upholstery depends upon achieving close tolerances between a variety of different materials, from wood and metal to fabric and leather.

Precise temperature control

Materials expand when warm and shrink when cold, so it’s essential that measurements are taken at a consistent reference temperature. Within the Metrology area, air conditioning keeps the area at a steady 20°C. But for components that demand the highest levels of precision, there’s an inner sanctum called the High Accuracy Measurement area, where a dedicated climate control system ensures that the temperature never deviates by more than half a degree Celsius. Within this area are three gigantic granite blocks to which components can be clamped for the ultimate in stability, essential for an accurate reading. But first, the components to be measured have to soak in the atmosphere – literally. “A large component like an engine block might have to soak at a consistent temperature for up to a week, so we can be sure that it’s 20°C all the way to the core” explains Stockdale.

An unseen contribution

Visitors to Crewe will never visit the Metrology department, nor will the owner of a Flying Spur, Continental GT or Bentayga ever be able to point to the handiwork of its team in their vehicles. Yet the way a Bentley looks, performs and lasts owes everything to the accuracy with which each of its components measures up to the ideal. And for that, the Metrology team are the hidden heroes, custodians of the continuing quest for dimensional perfection. Every Bentley that leaves the factory is a tribute to their unseen contribution.

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Volkswagen uses 3D printing to produce face shields to fight Coronavirus…

In response to the corona crisis, the Volkswagen Group has started to produce face shield holders by 3D printing. This is part of a joint transnational initiative with Airbus and the 3D printing network “Mobility goes Additive”, which includes about 250 companies.

The products developed by Airbus will be used in Spain and will be flown from Hamburg to Madrid by Airbus. In addition, there are a number of other initiatives by Volkswagen Group brands to produce medical supplies.

Production is in progress not only at the large 3D printing centers in Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt, but also at other plants of Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, MAN Truck & Bus, Porsche, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Group Components and Volkswagen Motorsport. The Group currently uses more than 50 3D printers at its plants continuously adding additional printers for this project.

Lamborghini, SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Passenger Cars are also working on other medical supplies: Volkswagen Navarra (Spain) has already started last week to produce face shields and has handed about 1,000 units to the Navarra Government.

In collaboration with the Technical University in Prague, ŠKODA has developed a 3D printing process to produce reusable FFP3 respirators. The Czech Ministry of Health is now distributing these to doctors, hospitals and nursing staff.

Skoda is printing in 3D reusable FFP3 respirators…

Lamborghini is converting departments of its super sports car production plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese in order to produce surgical masks and protective plexiglass shields. The masks will be donated to a hospital in Bologna.

Lamborghini is stitching face masks…

SEAT is currently working on several initiatives to collaborate, including the production of a mechanical ventilator that will be assembled in Martorell and various models of face masks which are still pending official approval. See our story elsewhere. Volkswagen South Africa is also printing masks and face shields which are pending official approval.


Lamborghini Research and Development technicians and engineers are producing 200 medical face shields per day…

To date, Volkswagen has already donated several hundred thousand medical face masks for the public health system in Germany. The Volkswagen Group has also decided to donate additional medical supplies such as face masks and protective clothing for medical centers and hospitals with a total value of about €40 million. This is intended as a contribution to maintaining the functioning of the health system in Germany. As a global group, Volkswagen is also using its international supplier and logistics network to provide support for the procurement of medical equipment and supplies.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Seat fights Corona virus by building ventilators…

SEAT is supporting healthcare by making automated ventilators, using….adapted windscreen wiper motors!

150 employees from several areas of the company have done the unique job to come out after merely a week on the definitive model after designing not less than 13 prototypes.

A ventilator is currently undergoing prolonged testing as part of the approval process

The SEAT Leon line at the Martorell plant is almost unrecognisable. Today, cars are no longer being made; instead, automated ventilators are being produced to collaborate with the healthcare system in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

If you want to see a YouTube film on this initiative, just klick https://youtu.be/35Ix4fCMxjM

The key lies in the windscreen wiper. The project is taking shape with gears printed at SEAT, gearbox shafts and the adapted motor of a windscreen wiper.

The aim was to make ventilators of the highest quality, and the result is the OxyGEN. Designed in collaboration with Protofy.XYZ, they are being assembled at the SEAT facilities.

Reshaping the assembly line

150 employees from different areas have changed their usual workstation to put together the ventilators where parts of the SEAT Leon used to be assembled. 

“Taking an assembly line that manufactures subframes, a car part, and adapting it to make ventilators has been a lengthy, difficult job involving many areas of the company, and we managed to do it in the record time of one week”, says Sergio Arreciado from the Process Engineering area of SEAT. Each ventilator has more than 80 electronic and mechanical components and undergoes a thorough quality control with ultraviolet light sterilisation.

The project is taking shape with gears printed at SEAT, gearbox shafts and the adapted motor of a windscreen wiper.

Thoroughly tested…

A ventilator is currently undergoing prolonged testing as part of the approval process. Meanwhile, the line continues to operate thanks to many employees who have worked tirelessly on this project. “Just knowing that we’ve tried to help save a life makes all this work we’ve done worthwhile”, says Francesc Sabaté of R&D at SEAT.

Joint effort. 

The result of this project has been possible thanks to the solidarity of its employees and the collaboration of many companies and entities that SEAT would like to thank for their involvement, especially the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Healthcare Products. Other companies which have participated in the project have been Protofy.XYZ, CMCiB, University of Barcelona, Recam Laser

Doga Motors, Luz Negra, Ficosa, Bosch, IDNEO, Secartys and LCOE.

This just shows how resilient our (automotive) companies and industries are…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes puts 3D printers and F1 team at work against Corona virus…

A part of the professional machinery: the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process.

In usual times, the 3D printers at Mercedes-Benz produce automobile components. Now Daimler is making its machines, know-how, and trained specialists available for the production of medical equipment.

As many as 150,000 components are 3D-printed annually at Daimler’s car production plants. In usual times these components are primarily used in prototype construction and small-series production. This capacity is now used in full for the production of medical equipment. See the film on https://youtu.be/GjTNernMVfk. 

The Formula One Team is developing and producing breathing aids.

Many of the competing F1 teams have joined their forces and are now working at high speed to produce breathing aids. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team is working together with six other Formula One teams in order to help. So-called CPAP breathing aids, which have been developed in record time by the University College London and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, are already in use in hospitals; the company’s experts are currently producing more of these machines.

Typical desktop printer: FDM process for smaller applications. Representation of a bionic component structure – an advantage of additive manufacturing.

In France, the PSA Group and Valeo are contributing volunteer workers, factory space and technical expertise to help France ramp up domestic production of ventilators to help coronavirus victims.

The Mercedes factory printer is running: layered application of the sinter fill powder on a professional SLS machine.

This venture, led by ventilator maker Air Liquide Medical Systems, seeks to produce 10,000 units by the middle of May.

PSA said it would build mechanical components of the ventilators in its factory in Poissy, west of Paris. There 50 volunteers will be involved, a further 50 at PSA’s technology center in Velizy. Final assembly of the units will be in Air Liquide’s nearby factory in Antony.

At Mercedes, the printing is finished. The component is “unpacked” and cleaned.

Valeo will lend its expertise by putting some of its purchase department staff in charge of supplier management and working out the procurement process. It will provide R&D support, and expertise in plastics and mechanical and electronic technologies. Valeo production engineers will help set up processes and training.

The effort is widespread: some 100 other French companies have been enlisted to provide parts and technical support.

Worldwide efforts…  

Other carmakers and suppliers in China, Europe and the US have announced plans to build medical equipment and face masks. Among them are BYD, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, GM, McLaren, Tesla and Volkswagen.

For example, Lamborghini has started making face shields and face masks at its plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy.

Hans Knol ten Bensel