Three (!) electric engines for the Audi e-tron S and Audi e-tron S Sportback

Driving is believing, and the e-power experience proves to be even more exhilarating at Audi: their e-tron flagship comes now with three engines, making it 370 kW strong and giving it a massive torque of 973 Nm. Two engines are driving the rear wheels, and indeed, the emphasis is on rear end power, as well for daily use as for sporting driving. The rear end can even be seduced to produce power slides, and the Quattro concept has been further honed to deliver, as the factory puts it, an electronically controlled vector torque distribution with active and fully variable torque distribution between both rear wheels, doing away with a differential altogether.

Driving experience 2.0

The Audi pilots can wet their hands: this impressive SUV is your sporting partner on winding roads and mountain passes. Just put the electronic stability control ESC in “sport” mode and the drive mode selector in “dynamic” and things really start to happen. True power slides are now possible and the system will softly brake the inner front wheel should it want to slip through under full power. This leaves you fully in control of this e-power “bolide”, which leaves nothing to be desired in the power department.

This S-tron catapults itself from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 4,5 seconds, and then storms further ahead to its electronically controlled top speed of 210 km/h.

Still sufficient range…

The available battery power is a good match for all this sportiness. When you adopt a driving style in tune with the WLTP cycle, you can expect an action range of 360 kilometers or thereabouts. The high tension battery has a gross charge capacity of 95 kWh, of which 91 pct is effectively usable.

The Quattro principle has been further refined. When extra power is wanted, the front motor kicks in, and as said, both rear engines are individually controlled and offer this fully variable torque, managed by a permanent electronic control system.

As you can expect, the S version has a suspension setup geared towards sportiness, but when you’re not in the mood, it is good to know that the Audi Drive Select gives you the choice between not less than seven driving profile modes. The fully adaptable air suspension has controlled damping stiffness and can vary the ride height by some 76 mm.

20 inch alloys are standard, but you can opt for 21 inch tall wheels, and later even 22 inch alloys will be available. The brake saddles at the front have not less than six (!) pistons. The brake control system will decide the braking power of each wheel, and will choose also if engine, brake friction or both will be used when decelerating.

The body has also been made more aerodynamic, and the patented new wheel arches improve things markedly. The Cx is a mere 0,26 for the Sportback version.  

Each e-tron also comes with a … heat pump, which effectively reduces energy consumption on the whole by extracting heat generated by the driveline, and thus extending the driving range by some 10 pct.

Of course this e-Tron S has all the infotainment and electronic driving assistance you could ever want,and will also light the road for you with matrix LED headlamps. In the cabin, MMI touch response control system with two large central screens await you. The online services of Audi Connect complete the navigation system, especially the e-tron-routeplanner.

We are certainly looking forward to have a drive in this latest edition of the e-Tron, just know that this version will be available on the European markets in autumn 2020, and prices in Belgium start at 97.100 euro incl. VAT for the e-tron S, and 99.110 euro incl. VAT for the Sportback version.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Mercedes C 300 e 4Matic: your brightly starred hybrid…

Mercedes is cleverly building up its plug-in hybrid fleet, and does this also for its bestselling C Class range. We drove here for you the C 300 e 4Matic, which receives now the same hybrid drivetrain as the larger E-Class 300e. This means a trusty 2 litre turbopowered petrol engine, good for 211 HP, combined with a 122 HP electric motor. The total system power of 320 HP is boosted by not less than 700 Nm of maximum torque, and you understand that this means almost supercar performance.

The 13,5 Kw/h battery powering the electric motor is the same as in the C300de. All this bodes well for driving pleasure with a green touch… just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Sliding behind the wheel of this C Class gives you this unique and overwhelming experience of being surrounded by top quality workmanship, style and perfection. Yes, you are sitting behind the wheel of a car with the good star, built by the oldest car manufacturer in the world. A Mercedes. A unique feeling which no other car in the world can give you. All this is valid for any Mercedes model you drive, and this C Class Sedan is no exception.

The excellent seats wrap around you, and by touching with the intuitive symbols in the door panel you can adjust everything to you liking in seconds. A push on the starting knob and off you go. You feel the precision of steering and suspension translated in your hands, progress is ultra smooth.

With the batteries fully charged, this C 300e will revert first and foremost to using this available E-power, and your first kilometers will be travelled very “clean” indeed. This is clearly visible for you on the instrument cluster in front of you, where the available battery power quickly dwindles but petrol consumption is virtually nil. A very logical setup, as this hybrid is designed to be used by its owner on the daily work/home commute after a home overnight charge and/or a daytime charge up at the office parking charging terminal. This allows you to absolve your daily commute almost totally on E-power. Of course you can interfere, and keep the batteries charged at a chosen level and even recharge them whilst driving to save this E-power for later, when you will enter urban low emission zones at a distance form your starting point.

What happens when the battery is almost empty? Well, then you still enjoy the clever hybrid/kinetic management system, so to say, which allows you to recuperate kinetic energy when slowing down and/or braking, and the electric motor will assist in moving the car when driving/accelerating at very slow speeds or parking, in short, in all the driving conditions where a combustion engine alone works not very efficient.

All this lets you truly score in the economy department. This powerful sedan will let you consume less than 6 litres/100 km in urban traffic on engine power, and equally so on the open road.

The beauty of a hybrid system is your total range independence, this car is set to go anytime to any destination you could wish, and yet in regular home/office use it scores as “green” as any full E-vehicle.

The bonus of the extra electric motor is abundant torque and extra power. This translates in 0-100 km/h acceleration times which almost belong to the supercar league.

What to think of a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 5,4 seconds? Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Another strong point is the effortless manner this performance is deployed. Power is now transmitted through a new 9 speed automatic gearbox – actually this transmission is used throughout the C-class range – and out test car came with the optional 4 matic 4WD.

Excellent chassis and comfort

Passive and active safety have always been paramount at Mercedes. The solidity, stiffness and engineering excellence of body, chassis and suspension do not need any further comment. Steering is precise, handling is beyond reproach. A good balance is also struck between road qualities and comfort. Our test car was shod with AMG 19 inch (5-double spoke) alloys, and had also the AIRMATIC driving dynamics package, which made driving this C Class with some verve a pleasant and sporting experience. Combined with all the power, this test car proved a very fast sedan indeed.

All the usual driving assistance functions are present of course, and the fully digital dashboard and clever steering wheel commands are a breeze to use and an example for many. We also liked the instrument graphics is all the three different display modes, and besides their aesthetic qualities they are also eminently readable.

Connectivity is also written large and of course you have wireless charging. Apple Car Play and Android Auto is possible. Life is made comfortable with keyless functions and automatic opening boot lid. Luggage space is somewhat limited as the battery sits above the rear axle and takes up some space in the boot. Available luggage volume is not more than 300 liters.

Conclusion

Plug-in hybrids are presently offering the (very) best of both worlds, and this Mercedes C 300 e 4-Matic proves again how good such a car can be. With an E-power radius of some 50 kilometers it is perfect for (almost) fully electric home/work commuting, and you have always the freedom to travel any distance when and where you want under silk smooth petrol engined power.

Future-proof for all the low-emission zones we will encounter, it still offers you the versatility and practicality of a “real” car, and then we have said nothing about its exhilarating performance…

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

We drove the Subaru Forester e-Boxer: a very sensible hybrid…

Never (really) change a winning team, the saying goes. This is exactly what the Subaru engineers had in mind when they designed the hybrid drivetrain of the Forester e-Boxer. Indeed, this hybrid Subaru remains very familiar to all Subaru enthusiasts and owners. They will find again the immensely practical and sturdy Forester, which is now roomier than ever, and the familiar sound of the two litre petrol boxer engine will also be music to their ears.

But is has also e-power, albeit rather modest. This has been very cleverly put to use, resulting in a very creditable hybrid. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

167 HP at your service…

The e-Boxer Forester has honest punch. The trusty four cylinder boxer puts down not less than 150 HP, and the e-motor a rather subtle 16,7 HP.

This is more than enough to drive this Forester with spirit, helped by the very responsive CVT transmission, which will let the engine rev eagerly when called for power. As soon as one lifts the throttle only slightly, revs immediately go down again, using the good torque characteristics of this trusty boxer. All this goes with the familiar and typical “Subaru Boxer Sound”, we would say.

Indeed, the moments that the engine is silent and this roomy Forester is propelled on pure E-power, are few and far between. Unless you are taking things more gently, because then the hybrid propulsion system really goes to work, and is very effective at it.

So it all simply boils down to whether you take eco-driving seriously or not. We took things to heart, and drove our test car trough town and on the open road, but with restraint and anticipation, and got rewarded with an average consumption of 6,6 litres/100 km.

This means of course gentle cruising at the 120 km/h speed limit on the open road, avoiding strong accelerations, and also going gently along the traffic stream on urban boulevards, using the kinetic energy of the car as much as possible, and driving gently away from traffic lights. When pulling away or driving at slow speeds in traffic, the battery-powered electric motor alone drives the car in EV Mode. The electric motor power assistance – Motor Assist – is completely automatic. When braking or decelerating, the e-BOXER uses of course regenerative braking to capture energy from the car’s movement to recharge the battery. When you push the accelerator pedal just a bit deeper, the petrol engine sets in too.

In practice, the transition between these two powertrains is never apparent. The Forester e-BOXER’s onboard computers simply work out what’s needed where and distribute the power accordingly.

So it is up to you to keep your Forester in this economical operating range, and achieve these consumption results. There is no EV button, by the way. Subaru believes in the seamless interaction between e-power and engine, to achieve the most efficient progress.

Every bit a true Subaru…

This Forester e-Boxer is and remains the true workhorse you always appreciated. The symmetrical 4WD setup is found here of course, and it is good to know that this new Forester now rolls on Subaru’s new global platform, which allows the stiffness of the body to be increased by not less than 40 pct.

When it comes to safety, it is good to know that a range of passive and active safety technologies are fitted as standard, including: EyeSight Driver Assist Technology (providing Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control and other functions); Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection (SRVD); Reverse Automatic Braking; Side View Monitor; and Driver Monitoring System, a brand-new facial recognition technology that alerts the driver to re-focus when it detects signs of fatigue or distraction while on the road. We tested it out for you and it really works fine indeed!

This Forester also has been named Euro NCAP’s Best in Class 2019 in the Small Off-Road / MPV class…

Comfort

We were also pleasantly surprised by the comfortable suspension of this Forester. It truly has a very comfortable ride, and also the steering is responsive and precise. It is certainly no punishment to drive this Forester on winding roads. It is also a very comfortable cruiser on motorways. Engine noise and drivetrain vibrations are masterfully filtered out, and all this makes the Forester a brilliant Gran Turismo, with ample head- and legroom for all.

Of course it really comes into its own off the beaten track, thanks to its famous symmetrical AWD system. A prominent X mode dial on the centre console lets you choose between normal, snow/dirt and deep snow/mud modes. On forest roads this Subaru certainly hasn’t stolen its name… This Forester comes of course also with a downhill descent control, and really never lets you down with its comfortable ride height and excellent attack angles fore and aft when you are in heavy terrain.

A pleasant, practical cabin

The cabin is very well equipped and practical, and a lot of thought has gone in the lay-out which is a good example of excellent ergonomics. As said, the Forester has an impressive array of driver’ assistance features, and the beauty of it that they are not obtrusive. You will only notice them when they are needed.

Safety is first and foremost in this Forester, and besides the fact that its Driver Monitoring System warns you when you are not looking at the road ahead. But that is not all: it will also remind you to check whether nobody is sitting on the rear seat when you are going to leave the car.  

We also found that all the commands are self-explaining, for instance finding a destination or connecting your phone is the proverbial breeze. Of course all the infotainment is provided, along with Apple play and Google The Forester is also very roomy, with a cavernous boot space and offering also ample room for the rear passengers.      

Conclusion

This Subaru Forester remains for those outdoor lovers and those living in remote non-urban places the real all purpose companion for your daily mobility. Cleverly driven in town, this e-Boxer reveals itself as a very frugal boulevard cruiser, letting you park and move under soothing “zen” e-Power, and enjoy this emission-free form of propulsion in driving situations where combustion-engined cars pollute the most.

In the meantime, you chalk up very impressive consumption figures. But you will meet no hassle with recharging, just enjoy a reliable, ever-ready companion. Well, a Subaru!  

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Porsche podcasts you should hear: Michael Steiner speaks on the future of Porsche sports cars…

In episode seven of a very interesting series of “Inside E” podcasts, Michael Steiner speaks about changes in the automotive industry, the future of the sports car manufacturer, and technical innovations ranging from motor racing to production development. Michael Steiner is a member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, and is responsible for series production and Porsche Motorsport’s racing projects.

Definitely a podcast to listen to. It is about seeing new opportunities for Porsche in this rapid changing global mobility, where this brand has always embraced technical progress with its core values of quality and sporting agility. The keen interest in electrified mobility dates back now more than a century with Porsche, and the brand remains at the forefront of E-developments. “We see the transformation in the automotive industry as an opportunity. Together with our employees, we are constantly driving this shift, with the clear goal being to link the traditional values of Porsche with the technology of tomorrow,” said Steiner. The first step into the electric future was taken back in 2015, with the “Mission E” project. The manufacturer then definitively heralded a new era with the launch of its first fully-electric sports car, the Porsche Taycan, in September 2019.

Of course Porsche is aware that the future of electric mobility is coupled with sufficient range and the presence of a dense high powered rapid charge infrastructure/network, and is working together with other important manufacturers to build this up.

“With electric cars, it not only comes down to the range of the cars, but also primarily the existing charging infrastructure,” Steiner explained. “For this reason, we are investing in E-mobility, both in our development and in an extensive rapid charging network.”

Motorsport remains important…

Motorsport has always been the driving force behind series production at Porsche – and that remains the case in Formula E. “The experience gained in the LMP1 project had a significant influence on the development of the Porsche Taycan. We expect similar synergies from the Formula E project, as well as inspiration for future sports cars,” said Steiner.

The whole series of these very interesting “Inside E” podcasts is available in English on several  platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Just start listening to this one!

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

Takashi Watanabe, Chief Engineer at Lexus, reveals what Lexus E-driving is all about…

In an exclusive interview with Lexus Electrified Chief Engineer, Lexus has recently unveiled its vision for an upcoming generation of electrified vehicles, under the banner “Lexus Electrified”.

The interview, which offers very interesting aspects and opens new horizons, can be seen using the following link: https://newsroom.lexus.eu/lexus-electrified-chief-engineer-exclusive-interview/

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.”

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Opel and E-power: a very long tradition

A stunning E-Opel at the latest Brussels show, with a remarkable logo…

We stood on the latest Brussels Salon eye to eye with not only the latest Opel electric cars like the Corsa-e and Grandland X plug-in hybrid, but also with a stunning looking 1971 Opel Electro GT. Clearly, Opel has been dabbling with electric cars already since five decades. At the presentation on the Brussels show by Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller of the entire Opel range, we asked him why the very photogenic “E-power” Logo on the Opel Electro GT was not used for Opel’s present E-models.  

Opel Electro GT

But this aside, the early electric Opels were more than intriguing we found. So we delve a bit more in their history here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

It is indeed a very long and interesting story, so we will come back on it several times. It all started back in 1968, when the Kadett B “Stir-Lec” I featured the principle of the “range extender” that would later go into production with the Opel Ampera. The “Stir-Lec” study was powered by 14 lead-acid batteries and the electricity that kept the batteries constantly charged was generated by a rear-mounted Stirling combustion engine.

Only three years later, Georg von Opel, the grandson of the company founder, broke six electric vehicle world records at the wheel of this stunning looking 188 km/h Opel Electro GT powered by two coupled electric motors producing 88 kW/120 hp. Energy was supplied by a 590 kilogramme nickel-cadmium battery pack and at a constant speed of 100 km/h, the car had a range of 44 kilometres.

I have personally sweet memories of the Opel GT. As a student but already dabbling in automotive journalism, I assisted at the presentation of the Opel GT 1900 in Port Grimaux, and was impressed by its agility on the winding roads in the Alpes Maritimes.

Research took a step forward with the Opel Impuls programme during 1990-97. The Impuls I was a Kadett-based vehicle powered by a 16 kW direct-current electric motor using nickelcadmium battery cells with a liquid electrolyte. It had a range of around 80 km and a top speed of 100 km/h. But more about the impuls programme later.

Opel also was keen on developing hydrogen propulsion.

In 2000, Opel’s fuel-cell development took to the streets with the Zafira-bodied HydroGen1. Its hydrogen fuel cell supplied electricity for a three-phase asynchronous motor giving 55 kW/75 hp and 251 Nm of torque. A buffer battery covered power peaks.

Arriving in Lisbon, Avenida da Torre de Belem…

In 2001, a fleet of 20 HydroGen3 models was driven by test customers. Power was increased to 60 kW/82 hp, giving a top speed of 160 km/h. In the 2004 Fuel Cell Marathon, two HydroGen3 vehicles covered nearly 10,000 km across Europe, from Hammerfest in Norway to Lisbon in Portugal. (See photo here above) At the wheel of a HydroGen3, Grand Prix and Opel DTM driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen also won the 2005 Monte Carlo Rally for cars with alternative propulsion.

A well styled gem… 13 years ago…

But we stumbled also on some surprisingly advanced and stylish E-cars. Indeed, Opel also pursued the development of battery-powered vehicles and presented the innovative Flextreme Concept at the 2007 IAA in Frankfurt, which featured the Voltec extended-range electric propulsion.

A harbinger of the Ampera, but more of that car in a following report.

In the meantime, just be surprised at the stunning elegance of the Flextreme…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Citroën’s “AMI” brings E-power to all of us…

Citroën changes the world once again, after its post war 2 CV. Now in (and after) Corona times, it launches an E-powered runabout, which will make the world think differently about affordable, urban electric mobility.

The “AMI”is non-conformist, with 2 seats, 100% electric, comfortable and protective, compact and agile, of course to be customized at will.

As a direct descendant of AMI ONE Concept introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019 and following the strong interest it generated, Ami has become a reality in barely a year.

Ami is a practical response to new mobility expectations for short journeys: enabling easier access to city centres, finding micro-mobility means for everyone, and presents a real alternative to scooters, bicycles, mopeds, public transportation at reasonable cost.

Nimble and simple, E power for all…

The AMI is ultra-compact: set on its specially designed 14″ wheels located at all four corners for easy handling, Ami is 2.41m long, 1.39m wide and 1.52m high.It has a 7.20m turning diameter.  It is a light quadricycle, which benefits from a smooth clutch-less ride and an instant acceleration from a stand-still , capable of speeds of up to 45km/h. Ideal for multiple short trips in the city – such as going to a meeting, to work, running an errand or going out for the evening – Ami has a range of up to 70 kilometres.

Copyright maison-vignaux @ Continental Productions

Its 5.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, housed flat under the floor, can be charged via the on-board electric cable located in the passenger-side doorway. Once the cable is plugged in, 3 hours are enough for a full charge on a conventional 220 V socket. The use of Ami is as simple as any everyday electric object. Ami – 100% electric can also be charged at a public terminal or Wall Box using a suitable cable.

The AMI has a standard panoramic roof. In a nod to Citroën’s history, the side windows open by manually tilting upwards like the 2 CV.6 coloured accessory packs are available. Bright and pleasant, it is symmetrically designed. The wide doors that are completely identical on the right and left and open in the opposite direction: rear-hinged on the driver’s side to benefit from better on-board accessibility and increased comfort, and traditionally front-hinged on the passenger side.

Make your own mark…  

In a “Do It Yourself” fashion, the possibility of creating the object that suits each customer’ tastes through a kit of accessories that can easily be installed yourself. This kit incorporates functional decorative items: a central separation net, a door storage net, mat, storage tray on the top of the dashboard, small hook for a handbag, smartphone clip, DAT@MI box (dongle device) connected to the My Citroën app to retrieve essential information from Ami on the smartphone.

Post-production : Astuce Productions

There is harmony between the interior and the exterior with touches of colour on the wheel trims, quarter-panel stickers or even a capsule at the bottom of the door. 4 main shades are available: MY AMI GREY, MY AMI BLUE, MY AMI ORANGE, and MY AMI KHAKI. This accessory kit allows everyone to create their own mood and tailor the functionalities to their needs.

Post-production : Astuce Productions

Another and even higher level of customisation offers 2 packs combining all the aforementioned decorative elements as well as large stickers that dress up the exterior of Ami giving it a style all of its own:

My Ami POP with the Orange customisation and a fun, young and sporty design, with a rear spoiler

My Ami VIBE with the Grey colour and more upscale, chic and graphic accessories that incorporate roof trims to complement the stickers.

The installation of these higher level customisation packs is entrusted to professionals before delivery.

No driver’s license needed…

Copyright maison-vignaux @ Continental Productions

The AMI is in its home country AM licenced, i.e. for engines under 50 cm3. Any 14 year old can drive it. In most European countries, a 16 year old can do too. Ami also makes life easier for its customers in accessing mobility by offering them several formulas through digital solutions: car sharing, rental or purchase. The rates are very low indeed, will of course vary from country to country. But let it be known that you can purchase an AMI for around 6,000 Euros…  

Post-production : Astuce Productions

Ami is offered in France at a rent of €19.99 including VAT per month with an initial payment of €2,644 including VAT (Ami Ami version; long-term rental of 48 months, ecological bonus of €900 including VAT deducted in France).

Buy it from home…

It is therefore possible to acquire Ami – 100% ëlectric 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everything, from discovery to order, can be done from your sofa using your tablet or smartphone in just a few clicks via citroen.fr website, which is the entry point for finding out about Ami, which provides information on the product and on solutions adapted to the needs dictated by each person’s needs.

Digital is present in using Ami – 100% ëlectric with My Citroën mobile app via DAT@MI connected box. The application allows drivers to access essential information about Ami at any time via a smartphone, including: range, charge status and time remaining for a 100% charge, mileage, maintenance alerts and after-sales appointment scheduling. The app also makes it easy to locate nearby public charging stations, a feature offered by Free2Move Services.

More details to come soon, the opening of orders is scheduled for 30 March in France, and a few months later in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and then Germany. The first deliveries to customers are scheduled for June in France. Car-sharing at Ami’s wheel will start in Spring in Paris with versions bearing the “Free2Move” logo. Of course we are eagerly awaiting to see and drive the AMI “in the flesh”!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW does not forget hydrogen propulsion…

The second generation of the BMW fuel cell powertrain with a total system output of 275 kW will be piloted in the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT from 2022

BMW continues to look at alternative powertrain technologies. Did you know that the BMW Group is teaming up with the Toyota Motor Corporation as part of a successful partnership that dates back to 2013?

The two manufacturers have joined forces to work on fuel cell powertrain systems and scalable, modular components for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles under a product development cooperation agreement.

Fuel cells from the cooperation with Toyota will be deployed in the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, alongside a fuel cell stack and overall system developed by the BMW Group.

As well as partnering on the development and industrialization of fuel cell technology for the mass market, the two companies are also founding members of the Hydrogen Council. A wealth of other leading companies in the energy, transport and industrial sectors have joined the Hydrogen Council since 2017, swelling its ranks to over 80 members.

According to Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Research and Development, the hydrogen fuel cell technology could quite feasibly become the fourth pillar of our powertrain portfolio in the long term. The upper-end models in the extremely popular X family would make particularly suitable candidates here.

Not for the immediate future…

A customer offer powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology will be brought to market at the earliest in the second half of this decade. There are many good reasons for this cautious but realistic approach. “In our view, hydrogen as energy carrier must first be produced in sufficient quantities at a competitive price, using green electricity. Hydrogen will then be used primarily in applications that

cannot be directly electrified, such as long-distance heavy duty transport,” said Klaus Fröhlich. The requisite infrastructure, such as an extensive, Europe-wide network of hydrogen filling stations, is also lacking at present.

Initial technical details of the powertrain for the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT.


The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT will be propelled by the 5th generation e-machine, which will first be launched in the BMW iX3. The peak power battery located above the e-drive unit can supply boost power for additional dynamics, e. g. when overtaking. The total system output is 275 kW.

“The fuel cell system for the powertrain for the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT generates up to 125 kW (170 hp) of electric energy from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen from the ambient air,” explains Jürgen Guldner, Vice President of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology and Vehicle Projects at the BMW Group.

This means the vehicle emits nothing but water vapour. The electric converter located underneath the fuel cell adapts the voltage level to that of both the electric powertrain and the peak power battery, which is fed by brake energy as well as the energy from the fuel cell.

The vehicle also accommodates a pair of 700 bar tanks that can together hold six kilograms of hydrogen. “This guarantees a long range regardless of the weather conditions,” notes Guldner. “And refuelling only takes three to four minutes.”

The fifth-generation eDrive unit set to make its debut in the BMW iX3 is also fully integrated into the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT.

The peak power battery positioned above the electric motor injects an extra dose of dynamics when overtaking or accelerating. The total system output of 275 kW (374 hp) fuels the typical driving dynamics for which BMW is renowned. This hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain will be piloted in a small series based on the current BMW X5 that the BMW Group plans to present in 2022.


The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT will be propelled by the 5th generation e-machine, to be seen first in the BMW iX3.

We just let you look at the photos here, giving you a detailed look into the hydrogen future…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Renault Morphoz: the boldly flexible E future as seen by Renault…

The futuristic car on the photo here embodies Renault’s vision of personal, shareable electric mobility in the years beyond 2025. It’s called the MORPHOZ.

It draws on the Alliance’s new modular CMF-EV electric platform to offer several configurations not only of power, capacity and range, but also of user options and boot space too.

Faithful to the brand’s DNA, the MORPHOZ concept embodies the Family petal of Renault’s ‘Life Flower’ design strategy, which is based around the stages within a person’s life.

However, it is not only just a vision of mobility. In its design, details and interior presentation, this MORPHOZ also heralds a new family of Renault electric models for the coming years. 

The Renault MORPHOZ uses a brand new 100% electric modular platform

that we call CMF-EV.

Like the CMF-B platform which was inaugurated last year by the Clio and used on the New Captur, CMF-EV has been developed by the Alliance. It allows us to design, build, adjust and fine-tune electric vehicles more easily than with a platform designed for internal combustion engines (ICE) or for mixed ICE/electric applications. 

The platform’s architecture allows a long wheelbase with wheels at the very corners of the vehicle, reduced overhangs and a flat floor. With a streamlined battery, the CMF-EV platform allows to design vehicles that are closer to the ground, with a lower roof and the all-important improvement in aerodynamic performance. The low centre of gravity is also a bonus thanks to the location of the batteries below the rear floor.

MORPHOZ, a personal vehicle that can be tailored to requirements

Renault MORPHOZ is a 100% electric adaptable crossover concept car which charges by induction even as it is being driven.

It is connected and equipped with level 3 autonomous driving functions. Like the SYMBIOZ concept unveiled in 2017, this is a personal vehicle which now boasts specific sharing functions.

2020 – Renault MORPHOZ

The high adaptability of the MORPHOZ concept-car is demonstrated by the physical transformation that occurs between its two versions: the short “City” one and the long “Travel” one.

The vehicle is in fact capable of adapting itself to the way its users live, be it for daily use or, for example, holiday travel. To achieve this, the City version is fitted with just the right battery capacity to meet day-today requirements, while the Travel version can accommodate the extra capacity needed for long distances on motorways, for example.

Although it is very slender in the City version, the vertical section of the front wing on the MORPHOZ expands in the Travel version as the vehicle’s bodywork and wheelbase lengthen.

Although its primary role is to display the capacity meter of the onboard batteries, its black and yellow finish also makes it stand out from the rest of the bodywork.

The City version

The short City version of the Renault MORPHOZ is 4.40 metres long. At 2.73 metres, its wheelbase is a record for such a vehicle length,so that it can easily house the 40 kWh of batteries that are fitted as standard.

The long Travel version of the Renault MORPHOZ is 4.80 metres long. Its wheelbase is proportionately longer at 2.93 metres to allow it to accommodate the additional battery capacity and provide a spacious interior. It can thus carry extra batteries that provide 50 kWh of power (total capacity of 90 kWh) and offer more leg room for the passengers, along with enough space for two more suitcases. In addition, this version – which benefits from a specific light identity – has a specific tapered

front-end and profile to improve its aerodynamic performance for long distances.

A very clever car, brimming with further smart solutions for its passengers, more about this in a next report…

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