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.
Klaus Busse is the talented head of design for Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Chrysler, and he is also quite active on social media. We read today a post from his hand on his Instagram page about the presentation of the Tonale at the Geneva Show two years ago, together with some stunning photos showing how the Tonale was sculpted out of plaster and other materials to become a real looking car, to be shown as a styling model at the salon.
The photos show how elements of the car were formed and made by hand. Some pieces were 3D printed, I believe, but personally I find it truly amazing how these craftsmen put the car together, and finished it to become a design model with gleaming paint and shiny elements, the result being indistinguishable from a “real” car.
I found the photos so interesting that I want to show them here to you on these pages.
On the fourth of May 2019, I visited the Centro Style in Turin, and met Klaus Busse. You see me standing proudly beside the Tonale prototype, and also in a group photo with Klaus Busse himself on the left.
Sweet memories, and of course your servant would love to witness once how these craftsmen work to create such an unbelievably finished prototype…
The brand new Renault 5 Prototype has already stolen the hearts of many, as was the case with the original R“Cinq”. François Leboine, Director of Design Concept and Show-Cars at Renault explains here how to succeed in the retro-futuristic exercise carried out on the cute Renault 5 Prototype.
Revive good memories, “provoke a smile”, that’s what François Leboine wanted with the Renault 5 Prototype. Responsible for concept cars and show cars at Renault, he looks back at the development of the prototype’s headlights, which, he confides to us, embody all the work done on the car. To do this, he used a well-oiled method that he agreed to unveil to us.
“If I had to choose a particular element that symbolizes all the work done on the Renault 5 Prototype, it’s definitely the headlights.”
Before starting any creative process, you need material, explains François Leboine.
The first step, called analytical, was to gather archives to analyze, understand, decompose the original vehicle. To grasp its very essence. Photos, sketches by the original designer Michel Boué, period magazines, fascicles and brochures, made it possible to study the mythical R5 from all angles. A vehicle loaned by Renault Classic also helped to better understand certain elements such as the famous headlights.
We really capitalized on the history of Renault and the R5 in particular, which had this special sympathy with people and this perfectly recognizable mischievous look.
Then the designers draw the first sketches on paper, like cartoonists who try to capture what makes a face’s personality.
“The sketches captured the fundamental elements that needed to be retained to reproduce the mischievous look of the original R5,” explains François Leboine.
Getting the proportions right…
Then, the designers moved on to a graphic palette to define proportions, contours, the distance between the headlights, to find the expression, the smiling look of the 1970s R5.
After analyzing graphic characteristics and working on proportions, designers operate what is called a shift: a method that consists of taking an object and tilting it into another world. “They’re going to use all the graphic work from previous research, mixing it with the mood board research and codes from today’s objects to project the design details into a futuristic world.”
Inspired by the worlds of aeronautics, architecture, product design and even electronics…
Thanks to this method of shifting visual codes, the prototype’s headlights have become true technological and futuristic elements. As for the fog lights that were often added at the time, they took a leap into the future. They were transformed into daytime running lights fully integrated into the front bumper.
“It was really important that the Renault 5 Prototype was not just a slavish copy of the past, but that it really was a vehicle that contained the elements of the future.”, explained François Leboine.
The final test: meeting the public
Finally, comes the encounter, the ultimate step for designers. The one that allows them to know if their work is successful. “Everything we’ve done, it’s the reaction of the people around us which determines if we’ve hit the bull’s eye, if we’ve brought the R5 back to life or if it was a failure”, says François Leboine.
The reaction of the internal people was already telling us that the car was going to be a success, but in the end it exceeded our expectations.
The Renault 5 Prototype has indeed received a very warm and unanimous welcome. Whether on the headlights or on the whole vehicle, the treatment of the lines and the futuristic details were very much appreciated. With the Renault 5 Prototype, the emblematic model of Renault’s heritage now has a worthy heiress. A modern car, full of charm and in tune with the times. Renault’s DNA respected, a successful projection into the future: mission accomplished
We can only agree…
Within 5-6 weeks, we will be able to take the wheel again, also anxious to get acquainted again with Renault’s latest E-powered products and hybrids… Stay tuned!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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?
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!
The “Lexus Electrified” vision targets a fundamental leap in vehicle performance, handling, control and driver enjoyment – even as mobility within our society continues to change with autonomous driving and vehicle electrification.
Evoking the original fun of driving, Lexus intends to use its 15 years of experience in electrification technologies to further evolve driving pleasure, and to fundamentally transform the essence of luxury vehicles of the future – creating a unique Lexus driving signature with exceptional ride comfort, quietness and craftsmanship.
Takashi Watanabe, Chief Engineer at Lexus, takes us through the key aspects of this “Lexus Electrified” strategy in an exclusive interview.
The man behind it all…
Takashi Watanabe started his career with Toyota in 1993 with engine systems development. He has worked on many different types of engines and exhaust systems. Since 2012, he has worked also on the development of several Lexus vehicles and became in 2017 leader of the Lexus Electrified Project.
Just watch and listen, and be transported into the electric future…by Lexus, using their unique “Lexus-ness.”
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.
At the moment of writing, a number of videos are already online:
Your servant remembers it vividly. Back in 1980, photographing a brick stone red Panda in the Galerie de la Reine in Brussels, on an early Saturday morning. Those were the times when you could pull this off, without asking anybody. Of course we had to be quick. To make our presence a bit more official, I asked also some garcons of the nearby restaurant Aux Armes de Bruxelles – who were just putting out the tables in the early morning – to pose for me, putting some of their ornamental flower trays in the opened hatch of our Panda.
My test car’ had the zesty four cylinder 903 cc engine in the front, borrowed from the Fiat 127. It was fast with it. Top speed not less than 140 km/h.
I just loved the design of this Panda, both inside and out. Its elegant, simple, rectangular shapes, its perfectly balanced proportions still inspire. Just drive it now in chique black with beige interior through our cities.
It still is a beautiful, modern car. The car is also up to this day brimming with practicality and genial storage solutions. Fast, zesty, compact.
The future car within this same lineage of geniality is the Centoventi. We stood eye to eye with the prototype in the Centro Stile last year. More about this car later.
The present day Panda is eminently capable. We recently drove the hybrid version, just read our report… This Panda lives in the heart of many, and is since 2003 the most sold city car in Europe. And has a bright future for many years to come…