Europe pioneers the electrification within Nissan Ambition 2030 vision…

We will drive for you at the end of this year the latest Qashqai, and look forward to have a go next year at their new (EV powered) products; In the meantime, there is some interesting Nissan news.

Did you know that by 2026, this is merely within some four years, more than 75% of all Nissan passenger cars sold in Europe will be electrified?

Nissans “CHILL OUT” concept foreshadows the future 100% electric crossover to be built in Sunderland, and there is a new battery recycling facility planned in Europe…

Just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Unveiled the Nissan Ambition 2030, the brand’s new long-term strategy that goes beyond mobility.

Earlier this year, Nissan launched the EV36Zero concept, the world’s first fully integrated EV production ecosystem, which connects mobility and energy management to help achieve carbon neutrality for Nissan. The future hub is centered around the production facility in Sunderland, UK, and will include the production of an EV, a new giga production facility and use of 100% renewable electricity. Initially, £1 billion will be invested.

The AMIEO Region, centered on the EV36Zero, will play a leading role in realizing the “Ambition 2030” vision, which will help Nissan achieve carbon neutrality across the entire lifecycle of its products by fiscal year 2050. Here are some key points:

By the end of fiscal 2023, Nissan will offer electrified versions of all models offered in Europe, and by fiscal 2026, more than 75% of all Nissans sold are expected to be electrified.

The now-unveiled CHILL OUT crossover concept, as announced in Sunderland in July as part of the EV36Zero project, uses the Renault-Nissan Alliance CMF-EV platform to deliver the European handling and performance customers expect. The model has a sleek and modern design, is both attractive and aerodynamically optimized, fun-to-drive, has advanced safety technologies and has a practical and comfortable interior, according to Nissan.

Nissan plans to expand battery recycling and reuse facilities outside of Japan with a new location in Europe during fiscal year 2022. This infrastructure will support a circular economy for energy management. Nissan plans to fully market its ‘vehicle-to-everything’ and ‘home battery’ systems in the coming years.

Building on the success of the Nissan LEAF, Nissan will soon introduce innovative e-POWER technology in the all-new Qashqai and X-Trail. With the 100% electric crossover Ariya and the future all-electric Townstar Van on the way, an electrified European model program is in the works.

‘In the past period, Europe has been leading in the transition to electrification. Our goal for the next decade is to accelerate this development, with new products and technologies that will enhance the driving experience for Nissan’s customers,” said Guillaume Cartier, President of Nissan AMIEO Region.

Not only will we be offering an electrified version of every Nissan model in Europe, our 360-degree vision of sustainable mobility also means using 100% renewable electricity in our EV Hub in the UK. New battery recycling and reuse facilities will also be built in Europe.

To spearhead the transition to full electrification and carbon neutrality, our teams and products in Europe will serve as a source of information and support for our plans for electrified cars in the rest of the AMIEO Region and other markets.”

Bold new plans… we will report on them regularly as they unfold!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW presents the Concept M: a bold new vehicle concept…

We will be driving the coming month the stylish M4 Coupé, and we are looking forward to it. But in the meantime, we show you here some (very) interesting news from BMW, which is a harbinger of stylish things for the brand to come…

At Art Basel’s 2021 Miami Beach show, BMW M GmbH is presenting an expressive new vehicle concept on the global stage. The BMW Concept XM looks ahead to the most powerful BMW M car ever to go into series production, which is set to begin at the end of next year.

The BMW Concept XM provides a first glimpse of the new front-end design for BMW’s forthcoming luxury-class models. It will also introduce its audience to a highly progressive and distinctive take on BMW X model design and an all-new form of luxury and sense of space for the interior.

The series-production model – the BMW XM – will be built from the end of 2022 at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in the USA, the most important sales market for the new high-performance car. BMW M will therefore be introducing its first standalone vehicle since the legendary BMW M1 in the year it celebrates its 50th anniversary.  The BMW XM will be available in plug-in hybrid form only and exclusively as an M model.

The bold exterior styling of the Concept XM reflects the car’s exceptional performance attributes: dynamism, agility and precision, plus an all-electric range of up to 80 km. The newly developed M Hybrid drive system in the BMW Concept XM brings together a V8 engine and a high-performance electric motor to develop maximum output of 550 kW/750 hp and peak torque of 1,000 Nm (737 lb-ft). The first electrified vehicle from BMW M GmbH in the high-performance segment is therefore pointing the way for the future of the brand.

BMW M goes its own way in the luxury segment…

The BMW Concept XM sees BMW M GmbH forging a distinctive path in the luxury segment. The car’s exterior majors on presence and extrovert appeal. Inside the car, a special take on the driver-focused cockpit typical for the M models meets an all-new rear compartment design: high-comfort seats and an illuminated, sculptural headliner add panache.

“The design of the BMW Concept XM is an extravagant statement by BMW M in the heart of the luxury segment,” says Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design. “It has a unique identity and embodies an expressive lifestyle like no other model in the BMW line-up.”

The front end: progressive design for maximum presence.

The BMW Concept XM debuts the new, progressive front-end design for BMW’s luxury-class models, a version of which will be seen for the first time in 2022 as part of the BMW model offensive in the luxury segment. The headlights have been split into two separate modules. The horizontal kidney grille sits between the headlights and tapers towards the outer edges, producing a near-octagonal outline that emphasises the front end’s character. The black kidney grille elements are enclosed within an intricate surround and appear almost to be floating freely within a High-gloss Black surface. The new XM logo in the kidney grille and the large air intakes hint at the power of the V8 engine, which teams up with the electric motor to form the M Hybrid system.

M-specific details point to compromise-free performance.

The glasshouse of the BMW Concept XM rises up vertically, accentuating the front end’s imposing feel. The colour of the roof contrasts with the black finish of the A-pillars. The windscreen seems to have an even heavier rake as a result, injecting modern dynamism into the front end. Slim LED searchlights have been incorporated into the roof above the A-pillars.

The powerful and heavily contoured proportions of the BMW Concept XM highlight the car’s identity and draw the eye to the coupé-like character of the body. The visually striking front end, long bonnet and stretched, sloping roofline present a characterful two-box design with a distinctive outline.

The two-tone paint finish of the BMW Concept XM further accentuates its lines: the upper section is in matt gold-bronze, while the lower section sports the Space Grey metallic shade. Below the window graphic, a broad, High-gloss Black line – the “black belt” – separates the two exterior colours. The charging flap rearwards of the front-left wheel is a reminder of the M Hybrid drive system at work.

The rear : bold stature

The design of the rear end likewise accentuates the car’s powerful stance, and the BMW Concept XM cuts a low and sporty figure from this angle. The BMW logo is laser-etched into the window below each of the two cant rails. This is a stylistic reference to the BMW M1, to date the only example of a standalone model developed exclusively by BMW M GmbH.

The interior design – high performance and extrovert luxury.

Inside the BMW Concept XM, the driver will find a distinctive M interpretation of driver-focused cockpit design. The lines and surface design of the instrument panel, centre console, door trim and seats give the ambience in the front compartment a progressive feel with their powerful geometry and high-quality materials. Brown, vintage-look leather, copper and carbon fibre create a bridge between luxury and motor sport. A bold trim element provides clear visual separation between the driver’s area and the other sections of the car.

The new BMW Curved Display screen grouping creates a neat balance between traditional driver focus and modern digitality. Red accents on the steering wheel and centre console are M-specific references to the car’s sporting DNA. A trio of vertical elements presented in the three colours of the BMW M brand logo form the heart of the centre console.

Spacious and luxurious: the M Lounge.

The unwavering driver focus of the front compartment contrasts with the extravagant and luxurious lounge-like ambience in the rear of the BMW Concept XM. Special materials, visually powerful surfaces and expressive details turn the rear seats into the unique M Lounge, black-tinted rear side windows underscoring the abiding sense of privacy here. While warm brown leather dominates the cockpit, the rear is decked out in the rich colour shade Petrol. The large rear seat bench with its deep seat recesses forms an inviting space to relax. Only the diamond-shaped area of the head restraints – which provides the supporting function familiar from BMW M Sport seats in other models – is leather-trimmed.

Illuminated and sculptural: the  headliner .

The visual highlight of the cabin is its headliner with a three-dimensional prism structure. A combination of indirect and direct lighting produces a relief-like structure. The ambient lighting can be activated in the three BMW M colours.

BMW Curved Display with M-specific user interface.

Based on the latest generation of BMW iDrive, the M-specific version of the control/operation system translates the high-performance character of the BMW Concept XM into the digital world. Showcased in the familiar three M colours, it visualises the modes of the hybrid drive system as well as the pure-electric driving mode with captivating aesthetic appeal.

Stay tuned on these pages!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Centro Stile Fiat and Abarth creates a stunning one-off based on the beautiful ‘60s Abarth 1000SP…

The slender original ’60s Abarth 1000 SP on the left, alongside the new one-off successor…

Sometimes, things happen which make the heart of a car enthusiast beat faster. Like an initiative taken by the people of the Centro Stile Fiat & Abarth.

They have now rolled out a contemporary interpretation of the superbly stylish and iconic Abarth prototipo Designed in 1966 by the Milan engineer Mario Colucci. Just look at the accompanying photo. Of course, we can only hope and pray that this will not limit itself to this one-off styling and engineering exercise.

A beautiful evocation of the purity of the original Abarth 1000SP…

The points and lines of the original car’s design were respected to ensure continuity between the ’60s sports car and the concept car of the new millennium.

The contemporary Abarth 1000 SP respects three fundamental design principles already seen in the ’60s model. First and foremost, the lightness of its forms, its volumes and of course its weight.

The second principle is aerodynamics: modern design technologies have made it possible to combine the iconic lines of the 1000 SP with an aerodynamic coefficient worthy of a contemporary sports car.

Finally, ergonomics, aimed at improving the user experience, to optimize the vehicle’s control and agile driveability.

A faithful evocation…

The Abarth 1000 SP echoes the lines and aesthetics characteristic of its forerunner. The sinuous body, with the soft surfaces of the fenders highlighting the position of the wheels, takes up the pattern of the spider with a central engine.

The cockpit glazing features shaped side deflectors, with their profile lowered towards the roll bar, the latter strictly “in view”, to highlight our being in the presence of a “no-holds-barred” spider.

Of course, today’s passive safety requirements make the car taller and more imposing…

The rear geometries of the Abarth 1000 SP accentuate the harmony between the lights and the exhaust pipes.

Of course, The livery is strictly red and the characteristic air intakes appear all over, from the front bonnet to the cooling slots in its rear counterpart. 

The headlights also follow the minimalist scheme of the historic 1000 SP, with point lights on the nose and a single pair of round headlights to accentuate the car’s remarkable breadth when seen from behind.

The present Abarth 1000 SP thus maintains a very similar identity to its forerunner’s, courtesy of the meticulous work to update the historic, no-holds-barred Abarth 1000 SP.

Despite modern safety requirements, the designers of Centro Stile managed to retain the character of the original…

Conversely, the tubular chassis under the “skin” of the historic Sport Prototipo gives way to a hybrid frame, with a central cell in carbon fiber and an aluminum front. The “new” Abarth 1000 SP features a powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder, 1742-cc central engine, capable of 240 hp. The sophisticated mechanics of the concept boasts overlapping triangle suspension in the front, with an advanced MacPherson strut at the rear.

We will tell you more about the original 1966 Abarth later, so stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel.

BMW presents on Monday 16 March their 8th Generation of iDrive…

BMW stunned the automotive world 20 years ago with their iDrive BMW opened a new era of in-car operating technology.

Keen to get a grip on the constantly expanding array of functions in vehicle interiors, in 2001 BMW instigated a paradigm shift in the then new BMW 7 Series.

Today, BMW developers and designers focusing on user interaction and user experience have faced up to a new set of challenges. The 8th generation of BMW iDrive brings about another paradigm shift – this time to a new kind of relationship between driver and their vehicle. Needless to say, we are very intrigued and will certainly follow the premiere online!

Indeed, You can follow the world premiere live at www.live.bmwgroup.com, on Monday, 15 March 2021, 15:30 GMT.

You can also follow the @BMWGroup social media channels for the live broadcast.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/bmwgroup/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BMWGroup

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BMWGroup

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/BMWGroupView

We would say, don’t miss it!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

How the Tonale prototype design model was born for the Geneva Salon…two years ago.

Klaus Busse presented the Alfa Romeo Tonale two years ago in Geneva…

Klaus Busse is the talented head of design for Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Chrysler, and he is also quite active on social media. We read today a post from his hand on his Instagram page about the presentation of the Tonale at the Geneva Show two years ago, together with some stunning photos showing how the Tonale was sculpted out of plaster and other materials to become a real looking car, to be shown as a styling model at the salon.

Craftsmen working on the clay model, succeeding into making it a real looking car…

The photos show how elements of the car were formed and made by hand. Some pieces were 3D printed, I believe, but personally I find it truly amazing how these craftsmen put the car together, and finished it to become a design model with gleaming paint and shiny elements, the result being indistinguishable from a “real” car.

I believe, 3D printed elements were used…
Also here 3D printed elements abound…

I found the photos so interesting that I want to show them here to you on these pages.

The steering wheel gets a “real” feel…
Craftsmen sculpting the rear end…

On the fourth of May 2019, I visited the Centro Style in Turin, and met Klaus Busse. You see me standing proudly beside the Tonale prototype, and also in a group photo with Klaus Busse himself on the left.

Sweet memories, and of course your servant would love to witness once how these craftsmen work to create such an unbelievably finished prototype…

Just enjoy the photos with me!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

How Renault succeeded in building a bridge between past and present with it’s Renault 5 Prototype…

The brand new Renault 5 Prototype has already stolen the hearts of many, as was the case with the original R“Cinq”. François Leboine, Director of Design Concept and Show-Cars at Renault explains here how to succeed in the retro-futuristic exercise carried out on the cute Renault 5 Prototype.

Revive good memories, “provoke a smile”, that’s what François Leboine wanted with the Renault 5 Prototype. Responsible for concept cars and show cars at Renault, he looks back at the development of the prototype’s headlights, which, he confides to us, embody all the work done on the car. To do this, he used a well-oiled method that he agreed to unveil to us.

“If I had to choose a particular element that symbolizes all the work done on the Renault 5 Prototype, it’s definitely the headlights.”

Before starting any creative process, you need material, explains François Leboine.

The first step, called analytical, was to gather archives to analyze, understand, decompose the original vehicle. To grasp its very essence. Photos, sketches by the original designer Michel Boué, period magazines, fascicles and brochures, made it possible to study the mythical R5 from all angles. A vehicle loaned by Renault Classic also helped to better understand certain elements such as the famous headlights.

We really capitalized on the history of Renault and the R5 in particular, which had this special sympathy with people and this perfectly recognizable mischievous look.

Then the designers draw the first sketches on paper, like cartoonists who try to capture what makes a face’s personality.

“The sketches captured the fundamental elements that needed to be retained to reproduce the mischievous look of the original R5,” explains François Leboine.

Getting the proportions right…

Then, the designers moved on to a graphic palette to define proportions, contours, the distance between the headlights, to find the expression, the smiling look of the 1970s R5.

After analyzing graphic characteristics and working on proportions, designers operate what is called a shift: a method that consists of taking an object and tilting it into another world. “They’re going to use all the graphic work from previous research, mixing it with the mood board research and codes from today’s objects to project the design details into a futuristic world.”

Inspired by the worlds of aeronautics, architecture, product design and even electronics…

Thanks to this method of shifting visual codes, the prototype’s headlights have become true technological and futuristic elements. As for the fog lights that were often added at the time, they took a leap into the future. They were transformed into daytime running lights fully integrated into the front bumper.

“It was really important that the Renault 5 Prototype was not just a slavish copy of the past, but that it really was a vehicle that contained the elements of the future.”, explained François Leboine.

The final test: meeting the public

Finally, comes the encounter, the ultimate step for designers. The one that allows them to know if their work is successful. “Everything we’ve done, it’s the reaction of the people around us which determines if we’ve hit the bull’s eye, if we’ve brought the R5 back to life or if it was a failure”, says François Leboine.

The reaction of the internal people was already telling us that the car was going to be a success, but in the end it exceeded our expectations.

The Renault 5 Prototype has indeed received a very warm and unanimous welcome. Whether on the headlights or on the whole vehicle, the treatment of the lines and the futuristic details were very much appreciated. With the Renault 5 Prototype, the emblematic model of Renault’s heritage now has a worthy heiress. A modern car, full of charm and in tune with the times. Renault’s DNA respected, a successful projection into the future: mission accomplished

We can only agree…

Within 5-6 weeks, we will be able to take the wheel again, also anxious to get acquainted again with Renault’s latest E-powered products and hybrids… Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Did You know “e-Village” in the “Green Pea” building in Torino?

Dynamic Stellantis PR Manager Dominique Fontignies sent us yesterday his photo of the Fiat Centoventi concept displayed at the “e-Village” in the Green Pea building in Torino.

What is this e-Village? It is a branch of Mirafiori Motor Village in Turin and it’s the biggest sales point of electrified cars in Europe.

It’s located in an area of 1300 square meters inside Green Pea and showcases all FCA technologies related to electrification, including hybrid and all-electric vehicles on the market, as well as prototypes of upcoming models.

Another photo made by Dominique Fontignies…

It’s a zero-impact space that adopts the “reuse, reduce, recycle” philosophy and it can be considered the fulfillment of the efforts made by FCA to promote the future of mobility.

At Floor 0 – move, energy & connect, inside the e-Village: the space entirely dedicated to the sustainable future of mobility wanted by Stellantis, the fourth automotive group in the world.

In e-Village halls you can find all solutions of the Group’s for the avant-garde mobility, such as the Electric New 500, Panda Mild Hybrid and Jeep and Ducato’s electric vehicle range.

See also Green Pea (@greenpeaofficial) • Instagram-photo’s and -video’s

When your servant will be mobile having recovered from his surgery operations, it is certainly a place he is keen to visit!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW turns its electric vision into reality…with the impressive BMW iX

Until now the VISION iNEXT took centre stage when we looked at BMW’s electric vision for the future. With a year still to go before its market launch at the end of 2021, the BMW Group lets us have a first look ahead to the future BMW iX, which is currently still in the series development phase.

The BMW iX is very important: it is the first model based on a new, modular, scalable future toolkit developed by the BMW Group. It embodies a fresh interpretation of design, sustainability, versatility and luxury.

Driving pleasure, versatility and luxury.

The iX is from the outset designed for purely electric mobility, and BMW claims it is redefining the successful Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) concept.

The BMW iX harnesses the latest innovations in the fields of electrification, automated driving and connectivity to deliver a mobility experience which puts people first. Therefore, its design has been developed from the inside out, says BMW.

Sustainability is also important, and we find optimised aerodynamics, intelligent lightweight design and extensive use of natural and recycled materials.

Fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology for a long range…

The fifth generation of BMW eDrive technology consists of two electric motors, state of the art  power electronics, charging technology and a high-voltage battery. It has the zest of a true BMW: some 370 kW/500 hp, enough to power the BMW iX from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 5.0 seconds.

BMW nevertheless targets an electronic power consumption of less than 21 kWh per 100 kilometres (62 miles) in the WLTP test cycle. A gross energy content of more than 100 kWh should enable the latest-generation high voltage battery to record a range of over 600 kilometres in the WLTP cycle.

That equates to more than 300 miles according to the EPA’s FTP-75 test procedure.

DC fast charging: over 120 kilometres (75 miles) of extra range in ten minutes.

The new charging technology of the BMW iX enables DC fast charging at up to 200 kW. In this way, the battery can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent of its full capacity in under 40 minutes.

The friendly cabin is centered on the driver and its passengers…

Added to which, within ten minutes enough energy can be fed into the battery to increase the car’s range by more than 120 kilometres (75 miles). It takes less than eleven hours to charge the high-voltage battery from 0 to 100 per cent at 11 kW from a Wallbox.

More power for automated driving…

The level of computing power has been developed to process 20 times the data volume of previous models. As a result, around double the amount of data from vehicle sensors can be processed than was previously possible.

Bold and impressive styling

The exterior of the BMW iX has the powerful proportions of a large BMW SAV. The BMW iX is comparable with the BMW X5 in length and width, and is almost the same height as the BMW X6 on account of its flowing roofline. The size of its wheels, meanwhile, brings to mind the BMW X7.

At the centre of the front end stands the prominent, vertical kidney grille. Since the electric drive system of the BMW iX requires only a small amount of cooling air, the kidney grille is completely blanked off.

This upright grille has reinvented itself as an innovative and multifunctional high-tech interface for

the advanced driver assistance systems with which the BMW iX paves the way for automated driving.

Human friendly cabin

The architecture of the BMW iX cabin underpins a perfectly clear and straightforward functionality that revolves entirely around the needs and emotions of the driver and occupants.

The displays and controls are all stripped down to the essentials, further reinforcing the impression of an uncluttered cabin offering a place of relaxation. The technology of the BMW iX only becomes visible when it is needed. This makes it intuitive to use rather than seeming overly complex.

The hexagonally shaped steering wheel, a rocker switch for gear selection and the BMW Curved Display – which forms part of the next-generation BMW Operating System – clearly advertise the futuristic form of driving pleasure.

Lightweight design

The body structure, featuring an aluminium spaceframe and innovative Carbon Cage, can claim extremely high torsional stiffness, which in turn enhances agility and maximises occupant protection, while minimising weight.

Fully capitalising on the benefits provided by the all-electric drive system and meticulously implementing proven measures from the past in the front end of the car, the underbody section, the wheels and the rear end gives the BMW iX optimised aerodynamics. This resuls in a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.25!

We let you look at the photos here…and are anxious to see this new BMW in the flesh!  

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fiat launches on social media a stunning “one shot” film about three unique 500’s …

Outstanding design is one of the hallmarks of Fiat cars, with the superbly iconic 500 or “Cinquecento” of course taking centre stage. Indeed, this is further shown by a remarkable docufilm “One-Shot”.

The trailer of this film is now on air, looking “behind the scenes” of the creation of the One-Offs, three exclusive interpretations of the New Fiat 500, by Armani, Bvlgari and Kartell.

The Bulgari logo on the 500…

The full film can be viewed on Fiat’s social media channels, first of all on YouTube. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGGd7EcnmNI&feature=youtu.be. But you can also see it on FCA’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

In the film, we see the unfolding of “Plan B” when Geneva Motor Show was canceled, and it was decided to present the “one off” cars in front of the Milan Duomo…

This breathtaking journey, narrated by Olivier François – President, Fiat Brand Global and FCA Chief Marketing Officer, includes interviews with designers, tales of partners, close-ups on the details and selection of materials, where the aim is caring of the environment and its sustainability.

Unloading the cars in the early morning in front of the Duomo…

The short film (15 and a half minutes) presents a relentless succession of meetings and processes that highlight teamwork, the affinity between designers from different fields and the emotions involved in playing an active role in an extraordinary project: the creation of something unique, an interpretation of the New 500 alongside the very best of “Made in Italy”.

Genuine gold flakes adorn the Bulgari 500…

The result is the three One-Offs, embodiment’s of the style, creativity and craftsmanship characteristic of “Made in Italy” and of our partners in the project, in the path and in the vision of the Earth’s future.

The Armani 500 got a special dressing…

And also a wood sculpted dashboard…

The journey depicted in the film begins in Turin, cradle of the Fiat brand, passing from Rome on the way with its sunsets, colors and lines that symbolize Bvlgari all over the world, to arrive in Milan, the world capital of fashion and design, due in no small part to Armani and Kartell.

…by a special wood cutting machine…

The twist in the tale has Milan as the setting for the entire presentation of the New 500.

A veritable gearshift takes place in the film’s account of the tense time when the Geneva International Motor Show was canceled, and a plan B had to be found and set in motion. The presentation of the New 500 and the One-Offs was completely rewritten to pull up stakes, to Milan.

Bvlgari jewelry in the 500 logo…

The short film is created and produced by VICE Italy, with Rockets at the helm. It uses the language of documentaries to reveal aspects normally concealed from the general public, in an immediate and effective way.

In an authentic, realistic vernacular, the evocative film opens the doors of the Style Center in Turin to the cameras. We get an exclusive peek inside the “Color & Material” department led by Rossella Guasco, halfway between a sophisticated research center and an elegant fashion atelier.

Bvlgari used its foulards…to enhance the dasboard

The footage documents their almost-obsessive attentiveness to every detail, that “know-how” typical of Italian creativity, and dwells on the emotions of the whole team as they experience something truly unique.

Kartell the seats…

The journey continues in an interview with Klaus Busse, Head of Design, explaining what lies beneath the creative process of style and forms, and the role of the 500 in the history of industrial design, even more so in the collective unconscious.

…and elements of the car…

It was the Style Center that took a legend of the 50’s, the fabled “Cinquino”, and reinvented it in 2007 to “color” everyday life and streets all over the world, making it an authentic, unique and salient response to the requirements of international urban mobility.

At the Milan launch of the One-Offs in March, it was even announced that the Fiat 500 has been confirmed as an “Italian Icon and Honorary Member” of Altagamma, the prestigious Foundation that brings together the best of Italy’s companies, to promote the epitomes of the country’s excellence around the world.

Just have a look at the photos here, and also enjoy the film!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes-Benz pioneered E-power with a full electric 190 sedan already some 30 years ago…

Large-scale electric-drive test on the island of Rügen in 1992: Mercedes-Benz contributed ten 190 cars and ten MB 100 D vans.

Electric vehicles have progressed with leaps and bounds over the last few years. Developments in battery technology have helped massively to make E-vehicles now a practical proposition. But this doesn’t mean that our European car manufacturers didn’t focus on it since decades…

Mercedes is of course no exception. They had a fully fledged, 100 % electrified 190 sedan running around on the German Baltic Coast island of Rüge. Recharged with sustainable wind power. Fully practical. One of the fleet of 10 cars even functioned as a taxi and clocked not less than 100.000 kilometers in one short year. All this almost 3 decades ago…

Just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes-Benz 190 model, experimental vehicle (W 201) with electric drive, 1991.

One such story is set in 1990: in May of that year, Mercedes-Benz exhibited a model 190 (W 201) converted to electric drive in the innovation market section at the Hanover Fair.

A (literally) very hot car…

The electric 190s were used to test different drive configurations and battery systems. The energy storage devices tested were mainly sodium-nickel chloride or sodium-sulphur high-energy batteries which had a significantly higher energy density than classic lead batteries.

However, the working temperature of both systems was around 300 degrees Celsius. The group expressing the greatest interest at this industrial fair were representatives of the trades.

Further development went fast…

There was a considerable shift in this just under a year later, when, in March 1991, Mercedes-Benz displayed a more advanced vehicle on the Geneva Motor Show.

Each of the rear wheels of the vehicle presented in Geneva was powered by its own DC motor energized by permanent magnets with a peak power of 16 kW (22 hp) each, so the total power output was 32 kW (44 hp).

Energy was supplied by a sodium-nickel chloride battery, and regenerative braking returned energy to the power pack during braking actions.

A particular advantage of the concept was the elimination of weight-intensive mechanical components, so the additional weight compared to a series-production vehicle with a combustion engine was only 200 kilograms.

The issue of electric cars experienced an upswing at that time as a result of the laws passed in California, for example, to introduce zero emission vehicles.

This led the German government to fund a project to the tune of 60 M DM (now some 30 M Euros), and this led to several manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, to participate in a large scale field trial was conducted on the island of Rügen in 1992 and continued through to 1996.

The aim of the exercise was to test electric vehicles and energy systems including their batteries in everyday practice. A total of 60 passenger cars and vans of several brands were involved.

Among other things, Mercedes-Benz sent ten W 201 model series saloon cars, which had previously been fitted by hand with drive components in various electric motor-and-battery combinations in Sindelfingen, to Rügen. Special recharging stations using solar collectors were available during the field test with a view to testing the environmental concept in a consistent manner because only electricity from renewable sources can be considered completely CO2 neutral.

100,000 kilometres in one year with an electric test vehicle

The pioneering 190s were driven by test participants on the island of Rügen: these various individuals, including taxi drivers, used them in normal everyday life. There were hardly any problems – the W 201 cars went about their work completely inconspicuously and reliably. One of the vehicles was used particularly intensively and achieved a peak usage rate of around 100,000 kilometres in one year.

Why did it take so long to adopt E-power for the masses?

The obvious question is why we waited so long to put E-powered cars into practice in larger numbers?

Mercedes-Benz 190 (W 201) test vehicle with an electric drive unit during the large-scale test series on the island of Rügen, 1992 to 1996.

The problems then – and now – were: battery service life, range, recycling, charging infrastructure and vehicle price. Many of the answers to these questions have only become available today, as can be seen by the range of hybrid vehicles offered by Mercedes-Benz and, of course, the EQ electric brand. Projects like the 190 with the electric drive have helped to provide these answers…and it is very interesting to look into them here once again!

Hans Knol ten Bensel