BMW explores ultimate performance with E-power…

It had to happen. BMW cultivates pleasure of driving. And this also goes for their E-cars. Even more so, as they have excellent torque and therefore massive pulling power. And what’s more, you can use several motors at once.

So it was only a matter of time that a trial car with superpower is created. Here it is: BMW Group presented its “Power BEV” during its #NEXTGen event in Munich.

Just before we go further, just explain here a bit more on the #NEXTGen event: From 25 to 27 June 2019 the company invites selected international journalists, analysts and further stakeholders to “BMW Group #NEXTGen” at BMW Welt in Munich. With this event, The BMW Group chooses a new direction with regard to how it presents its future technologies, services and products.

But back to the car now. Indeed, BMW explores with this “Versuchswagen” what is technically possible. A BMW 5 Series was taken off the production line, and then fitted with three fifth-generation electric drive units, resulting in a maximum system output in excess of …530 kW/720 hp. This transforms the 5-Series into a supercar: with this power, it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in comfortably under three seconds.

But it is not only about straight line performance, it is also about handling. A true BMW also puts a smile on the driver’s face through corners, and so the engineers got to work on the chassis and suspension.

Separately controlled motors provide unseen agility…

To this end, the chassis and powertrain engineers worked together particularly closely to maximise the car’s performance. Key to its dynamic superb qualities is that the two electric motors at the rear axle are controlled separately. This brings e-torque vectoring into play, which enables maximum drive power to be translated into forward propulsion even in extremely dynamic driving manoeuvres.

Two separate engines in the back…

The result is more effective and precise control than with a limited slip differential, because actively targeted inputs are possible in any driving situation. By contrast, a limited slip differential always reacts to a difference in rotation speed between the driven wheels, and therefore is slower to react.

As said, the drive system comprises three fifth-generation drive units, each of which brings together an electric motor and the associated power electronics and power take-off within a single housing. One is mounted at the front axle and two (a double drive unit) at the rear axle. Another notable aspect of this generation alongside its eye-catching power is that it is entirely free of rare earths. An electric motor of this type will make its series production debut in the BMW iX3. The iX3 will only have one motor, though, rather than three.

A series production car forms the basis…

Experienced test drivers handle the power and extract the possibilities of high performance handling…

As said, a current BMW 5 Series production model serves as the donor car for the Power BEV. Integrating a drive system of this type into a production car represents a serious technical undertaking, but it has been achieved here with absolutely no restriction in passenger compartment space. This makes it far easier to assess this drive concept alongside alternatives.

It has also allowed the engineers to look even more effectively into the possibilities opened up by two separately controllable electric motors at the rear axle with e-torque vectoring.

And that means, in future series-production vehicle projects, that the right technology can be selected for the model at hand. Customers will therefore be provided with the most appropriate technology for their choice of vehicle concept. Wow! Needless to say, we are now looking to the E-future with a very broad smile! Driving pleasure will be certainly part of it!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also the seats are a work of dedicated sculpture…

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

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

Big screens do not block the drivers’ vision…

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Practical info:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

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

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

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

We went first to the room of Alfa Styling department

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

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

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

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

The horizontal “eyebrow” line is clearly seen here…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We participate at a Alfa Romeo Tonale and Fiat Centroventi workshop…

We will have this week a workshop visit the Centro Stile of the FCA Group, where we will also be able to have an interview and talk with the designers who created the stunning Alfa Romeo Tonale and Fiat Centroventi. Both cars are very important harbingers of things to come, both for Alfa and Fiat.

The Tonale concept car is the Italian brand’s first plug-in hybrid compact SUV, and after its global debut in Geneva, it was first seen in Italy at the 58th edition of the “Salone del Mobile.Milano”.

The Tonale will be one of the stars discussed and seen at the workshop…

The Tonale concept car embodies all Alfa Romeo’s trademark language of beauty: it is a compact UV for urban use with a sporty personal In keeping with the Alfa Romeo manifesto, every detail is designed around the driver, with driving pleasure delivered through ergonomics, use of premium materials and, above all, unrivalled dynamic handling. Furthermore, the Tonale concept car is the Alfa Romeo take on electrification.

The front end displays the trademark trefoil and the distinctive Alfa Romeo shield, which acts as a bold focus point. Completing the design of the front end and accompanying this iconic element are “3 plus 3” light clusters which in turn evoke the proud look of SZ and Brera.

The rear of Tonale is characterized by an enveloping rear window completed on the top by a suspended wing that exalts continuity with the clear sunroof. As for every Alfa Romeo, design is characterised by a distinctive touch. The rear light clusters are more like a graphic sign than an optical lighting element, a sort of signature created directly by the hand of an artist.

On the sides, the full and elegant volumes recall the Duetto or the Disco Volante Spider, while the “Linea GT” of Tonale reinterprets the pouncing stance and feeling of safety conveyed by the award-winning GT junior.

Several celebrated style elements are picked up in its design to become a tangible manifestation of the brand’s history in a performance which elicits a modern approach to new Alfa Romeo anatomy. The “teledial” wheel, for instance, is an element which hints to the traditional DNA of Alfa Romeo. The design of 21-inch rim of Tonale invokes the concept of a rotary telephone dial through a light architectural structure for a clear, high-impact interpretation of the circular theme. This style choice dates back to the 1960s, when it was sported by the iconic 33 Stradale.

The cockpit of Tonale is boldly designed around driver but also to accommodate passengers in comfort. The contrast of premium materials, such as cool solidity of aluminium that meets the warm softness of leather and Alcantara, enhance the emotions of both driver and passengers. Inside, there are translucent panels and a backlit central tunnel. The DNA mode selector, one of the key elements of Alfa Romeo, is perfectly at ease on the tunnel.

Comes the Concept Centoventi…

Fiat Concept Centoventi is fundamentally a “blank canvas” ready to be painted to suit the customer’s tastes and needs at any time of his life or day, without no customisation restrictions linked to the specific time of purchase. In fact, it will be produced in just one livery, which customers will be able to personalise using the “4U” program, with a choice of 4 roofs, 4 bumpers, 4 wheel covers and 4 external wrappings. So, just like modern devices, this vehicle can be updated with the greatest freedom and imagination in its colours, interior configuration, roof configuration, infotainment system and even battery range. And this is one of the concept car’s strong points: owners no longer have to wait for new special editions or facelifts, as they can “change” their cars any day they like. It is made even more revolutionary by the presence, at the launch, of 120 additional accessories that will generate a genuinely new business model, as well as a community of Fiat Concept Centoventi fans.

In other words, Fiat Concept Centoventi is the response to a real design and business challenge, which embodies the functional spirit of the brand and pays tribute to its 120 years of history, at the same time, with a modern take on some trademark style elements that hint to the Panda of the 1980s. Fiat Concept Centoventi is inspired by Italian design and embodies Fiat’s “less is more” concept, which means getting rid of everything unnecessary and complex in a car to provide more space for people (More You), for attention to the environment and the community (More Care) and for the brand’s DNA in terms of values and looks (More Fiat). By playing these three cards, Fiat Concept Centoventi revolutionises the idea of electric mobility, in town and out, successfully overcoming the tougher and tougher challenges – in terms of traffic, regulations and costs of ownership – while simultaneously making the most of the new opportunities offered by electricity.

Soon we will treat you in these columns with a fascinating tale about what we heard, saw and experienced at the Centro Stile in Turin… stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.5, 194 HP: a flagship with style and panache

Mazda styling is reaching top levels nowadays, and the Mazda 6 clearly shows it. Just have a look at the fluent contours and the ideal proportions and balanced surfaces of this large sedan, and be convinced with us. The Mazda 6 body has recently been revised and has gained further in maturity and elegance, with also the interior having had a stylish make-over. Under the hood, the G 2,5 and other SKYACTIV powertrains have been further perfected, and driving dynamics have also been improved. We took this elegant sedan for a test, and it showed its many qualities. Just read on…

 Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.5, 194 HP: a flagship with style and panache”

DS designers reveal their art and creativity to the public…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Springtime in Geneva: a new open-top concept for the Lexus LC flagship coupe

Three years ago, Lexus caused a stir with the debut of the LC coupe at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Since then, its design team has been exploring how the brand can evolve, leading to the creation of the new Lexus LC Convertible Concept, an appealing open-top roadster that makes its first European appearance at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show on 5 March.

The designers had one major goal for the concept, and that was ‘ultimate beauty’. From the rake of the windscreen to the smooth contours of the rear deck lid that houses the retractable top, every line was drawn to evoke an emotional response. The result is, as Lexus calls it,  a halo vehicle for the entire Lexus brand.

Retaining the styling language of the LC Coupe

“This concept takes the unmistakeable design of the LC coupe and interprets it as a future convertible,” said Tadao Mori, Chief Designer of the LC Convertible Concept. “It blends all the best aspects of the original coupe with the dynamic design of an open-air convertible.”

Long, low and lean, the LC Convertible Concept retains the LC coupe’s athletic proportions. The shape evolved naturally from the original LC design, yet it has its own, distinct identity.

More than just a grand tourer, the concept has a performance pedigree, its potential expressed in its short overhangs, 22-inch wheels and wide stance.

Beyond the visual appeal of the sheet metal, the cabin is an attractive space for driver and passengers alike. The tailored seats are upholstered in crisp white leather with yellow accents providing a splash of colour without disrupting the subtle elegance of the overall design.

The Lexus LC Convertible Concept measures 4,770mm long, 1,920mm wide and 1,340mm high, and has a 2,870mm wheelbase.

Just wait until March 5 to see it in the flesh!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

Kia takes a very bold look at its electric future…

The upcoming Geneva Salon is as always a festival of creativity, with car manufacturers pulling all the stops when it comes to design and new visions. So concept cars abound, and Kia is no exception. Its European branch has unveiled new images of its bold new all-electric concept car, which is to be presented on the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show.

Gregory Guillaume, Vice President of Design for Kia Motors Europe, comments his design here. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Kia takes a very bold look at its electric future…”