The silent sound of a car…

We all like the sound of a thoroughbred engine. The characteristic sound of a pur-sang four wheeled beauty. But we also get very nervous about that odd squeaking noise of the passenger seat when its not occupied. Or this annoying rattle somewhere, or the screeching sound of windscreen wipers. So the sound and noises a car makes are so important, determine for us whether we like a car or not.

No small wonder that car manufacturers pay the greatest attention to it. When we received a press message from the Dirk Steyvers, SEAT Press Relations and Content Manager here in Belgium, we took the opportunity to write an article here about it in our columns.  

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

In Chile’s Atacama Desert, NASA carries out tests as it is comparable to the surface of Mars. In Ushuaia,Argentina, the only sounds you can hear are the flapping of penguins’ wings and the ice sheets cracking. They could be the most silent places on the planet, but not quite. The most quiet are anechoic chambers, a curious and descriptive name for a facility where acoustic conditions close to absolute silence are reproduced.

The SEAT Technical Centre in Martorell has one of these chambers, specifically designed to measure the sounds and noises made by a car with the utmost precision and without any interference. This is how it works.

The temple of silence. 

It is designed with a system called “Box in box”, and as the name indicates, it features several layers of concrete and steel that isolate it from the exterior. The inside has cladding material that absorbs 95% of sound waves to prevent echoes and reverberations. In some of these temples of silence people can sometimes hear the blood flowing through their veins or the air circulating in their lungs.

One car, more than one thousand sounds. From the engine or the turning wheels to the door closing, the ventilation system and when a seat reclines. The list of noises made by a car is endless, and they are all analyzed in the chamber. “On one hand, we measure the level of unpleasantness of the noises and check that they are reduced to a minimum; and on the other, we make sure that the noises we do want to hear, the ones that refer to the operation of the vehicle, are perfectly defined. Finally, we work on making them harmonious”, explains Ignacio Zabala, Head of the Acoustics department at SEAT.  

The voice of a car

Engineers and technicians pay close attention to the engine and the exhaust system, as they give a car its voice. Many of the sounds made by a car convey information, such as the unmistakable clicking of the turn signal indicators, which let us know without checking that they are blinking. But not only do the engine and exhaust noises inform us of when to shift gears or the speed of acceleration, they also give an insight into the character of a model. “We all know what the roar of a sporty engine sounds like, and that’s why we verify that it conveys what we want it to in the an-echoic chamber” says Ignacio. 

What does the cold sound like? Inside the room, specialists perform recordings with different highly sensitive microphones. One is bin-aural and features a torso with ear-level microphones to obtain representative recordings of what occupants hear. They place it in different positions to verify that each sound analyzed is heard as it should be from any angle. But they also recreate different conditions, such as temperature, because as Ignacio points out, “a windscreen wiper does not sound the same when it’s hot outside as when the temperature is below zero; the engine when it has just been turned on as when it has been running; or the wheels on different surfaces.”

Hertz, decibels and psycho-acoustics. Engineers and technicians in SEAT’s Acoustics department have several analysis tools at their disposal. The most basic include volume or spectral distribution, to other more technical parameters such as the field of psycho-acoustics, or the subjective perception of sound. “For example, a slight tinkling might make us more nervous and be more unpleasant than a strident sound”, says Ignacio. One of the most important measurements of psycho-acoustics is articulation, which measures the ability of two people maintaining a conversation in a specific setting.

An orchestra on wheels. “It’s no use having a car that is fully insulated from the exterior if the ventilation system sounds too loud. That’s why it’s important to reduce noise and define sounds to achieve a harmonious balance among them” explains Ignacio. He goes on to say that the goal is that the vehicle occupants feel as comfortable as possible, because acoustics “have a direct impact on comfort and are determining factors in the perception of vehicle quality.”

A ranking of silence

1.Anechoic chamber. The Guinness record has been held by the one owned by Microsoft in Washington since 2015, where sound measures -20.16 decibels. The sound made by air molecules bumping off each other measures -24 decibels.

2.Atacama Desert, Chile. The most arid non-polar desert on Earth.

3.Ushuaia, Argentina. The southernmost city in the world.

4.Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, USA. A rocky ecosystem that produces stony silence.

5.The Troll’s Road, Norway. The world’s most sinuous road also stands out for leading to an absolutely quiet place.

Interesting all this, isn’t it? We hope you liked this, we certainly did…

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

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  

The new Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV’s now have E-power for 66 km…

We were invited yesterday by the PR Manager Jaguar Land Rover Belux Annick Van Cauwenberge to attend a webinar to witness the launch of the new PHEV versions of the best selling Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

We were invited yesterday to an exclusive webinar, presenting both PHEV’s…

They are now available as efficient plug-in hybrids with CO2 emissions from only 32g/km and an all-electric range of up to 66km (41 miles) – enough for many to drive the average daily commute distance without recharging.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Highlights

The technical heart of both these cars is a new 200PS three-cylinder 1.5-litre Ingenium petrol engine coupled to an equally new eight-speed automatic transmission, driving the front wheels. But these cars are 4WD SUV’s, so a 109PS Electric Rear Axle Drive motor guarantees Land Rover’s signature all-wheel-drive capability. This motor is powered by a 15kWh lithium-ion battery located below the rear seats.

These new Rovers are also very kind on your wallet, with a fuel consumption being as low as 1.4L/100km. Of course, all this depends on the way you use and integrate E-power in your daily driving, but again, this is frugal indeed. The PHEV system can operate in electric-only mode, combustion engine-only mode, or a combination, using GPS and navigation data to optimize efficiency on every journey.

Charging can be fast: 0-80 per cent in as little as 30 minutes using 32kW DC public charging or just 1hr 24mins using a 7kW AC wallbox.

You have a wide choice, as the Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport PHEV models, which are badged P300e, are available in S, SE and HSE specifications, each as standard or R-Dynamic, with a range of wheel designs from 18 to 20 inches.

State-of-the-art Premium Transverse architecture

Both the new Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport plug-in hybrids are based on Land Rover’s , which was designed to support electrification while maintaining Land Rover’s signature off-road capability. The new plug-in hybrid P300e models join the existing 48-volt mild-hybrid SUVs, bringing new levels of efficiency to the premium compact SUV sector.

With total output being 309 PS and offering 540 Nm of torque, the performance is up to scratch, with an acceleration of 0-100km/h in just 6.4 seconds (0-60mph in 6.1 seconds) in the Range Rover Evoque. Meanwhile, the Discovery Sport offers 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds (0-60mph in 6.2 seconds). Both can reach speeds of up to 135km/h (84mph) using electric power alone.

Driver-selectable modes

As said, drivers of both models can select from three driving modes. 1.HYBRID mode (the default driving mode) – automatically combines power from the electric motor and petrol engine. The operating strategy adapts to driving conditions and the remaining charge in the battery. Entering a destination in the navigation system enables the Predictive Energy Optimisation (PEO) function to intelligently integrate route and GPS data to maximize efficiency and comfort for the selected journey.

2.EV (Electric Vehicle) mode – enables the vehicle to run solely on the electric motor using the energy stored in the battery, for quiet, zero-tailpipe emission journeys.

3.SAVE mode – prioritizes the combustion engine as its main power source, maintaining battery State of Charge at the chosen level.

PHEV technology

As pointed out, the new compact SUVs are produced using Land Rover’s Premium Transverse Architecture, which was designed from the outset to accommodate plug-in and mild-hybrid technologies. The hardware is cleverly packaged beneath the cabin floor without compromising interior space.

The Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) is powered by a compact 15kWh lithium-ion battery located below the rear seats. The battery is made up of 84 prismatic cells, arranged in seven 50Ah modules of 12, with a 6mm-thick steel undertray that protects the battery without compromising the vehicles’ hallmark all-terrain capability.

The advanced Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) features a light, compact and efficient synchronous permanent magnet motor. To optimize package space, the drive-shafts are concentric with the motor and single-speed transmission, while the inverter is also integrated within the ERAD casing. The ERAD module is neatly integrated within the Integral Link rear suspension system.

At speeds above 135km/h (84mph), the electric motor is decoupled to reduce drag and therefore optimise efficiency, and then seamlessly re-engages when the speed falls below this.

Ctrl + to enlarge…

The compact high-voltage junction box (HVJB) under the front seats is another engineering innovation. This comprises the DC: DC converter (changes high-voltage current from the hybrid battery to low voltage to support the 12-volt network) and the 7kW on-board charger used to charge the hybrid battery when the vehicle is plugged in.

Packaged next to this is the Belt-integrated Starter Generator (BiSG) Inverter which, through intelligent electrical management, can send recuperation energy to the high-voltage battery for storage to use later or for immediate redeployment to support full all-wheel drive capability.

A new brake-by-wire system replaces the traditional brake vacuum servo, and seamlessly blends regenerative and friction braking to provide a consistent and precise pedal feel. The system can deliver up to 0.2g of deceleration under regenerative braking, maximizing energy efficiency by using the vehicles’ kinetic energy to recharge the battery on the overrun.

Intelligently locating the PHEV system throughout the structure improves dynamics, lowering the centre of gravity by six per cent and further optimizing front-rear weight distribution.

A state-of-the-art 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine

This is at the heart of the new PHEVs: the latest member of the modular Ingenium engine family, which now has three-, four- and six-cylinder variants.

The lightweight aluminium engine is 37kg lighter than the four-cylinder.

This small-capacity engine achieves exceptionally low levels of friction, which contribute to its excellent efficiency. The exhaust manifold is integrated into the aluminium cylinder head, contributing to the rapid warm-up times and minimizing the distance from the exhaust ports to the turbocharger’s turbine wheel for improved responsiveness.

The three-cylinder configuration delivers a better flow of exhaust gases, ensuring the turbine wheel delivers boost pressure almost instantaneously. A highly efficient Water cooled Charge Air Cooler means the density of air being drawn into the combustion chambers remains high, further enhancing performance and efficiency across the engine’s operating range.

The three-cylinder – like the four-cylinder mild hybrid models – also features a belt-integrated starter-generator (BISG) unit. This works alongside the ERAD to deliver regenerative braking, recharging the battery on the overrun, and also enables smoother, quieter and faster stop-start operation than a traditional starter motor.

New eight-speed automatic transmission

This matches the power and torque delivery of the three-cylinder engine and work seamlessly with the ERAD. As well as being 5kg lighter than the nine-speed transmission used in the other models, the new eight-speed delivers enhanced refinement and shift feel, and is an integral part of the hybrid system.

Cost of ownership is very low, so no use waiting any longer to order your Range Rover Evoque or Land Rover Discovery now, combining rational economy with the Rover’s unique 4WD SUV qualities…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

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

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DS_Official

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Groupe Renault has a new strategy for the Chinese market…

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

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

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

Booming LCV market…

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

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

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


The Alliance launched a mid size Jibei SUV…

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

A massive Chinese EV market

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

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

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

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

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Fiat Cinquecento enters the electric age…

The ever young 500 is now in its third generation, and incarnates as FCA’s fisrt fully electric car. It has more space, top notch E-technology, new styling but remaining a true Cinquecento.

Its range and charging times are what customers nowadays expect. The lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of 42 kWh give the New 500 a range of up to 320 km in the WLTP cycle.

Charging is indeed a breeze: the New 500 is standard equipped with an 85 kW fast charger system to charge the battery very quickly. For example, it takes only 5 minutes to build up a sufficient energy reserve to travel 50 kilometers, more than is needed for average daily use.

The fast charger can also charge the battery to 80% in just 35 minutes. The Combo 2 socket located on the rear right side panel of the car powers the fast charger, for both AC and DC charging.

Home charging solutions are also available. The launch edition of the new 500 includes the Easy Wallbox™, a home charging system that can be connected to a normal home outlet. ENGIE EPS developed this exclusively for FCA, and it will be marketed by Mopar in Europe to coincide with the launch of the model.

It is a simple, accessible “plug-and-charge” solution that can be managed easily via Bluetooth, letting you stabilize your energy load by charging your 500 immediately at home with up to 2.3 kW of charging power, with no need for any intervention by skilled personnel. Moreover, the Easy WallboxTM is ready for a power upgrade to 7.4 kW, providing a full charge at home in just over 6 hours. The model also comes with a Mode 3 cable for charging from the public mains.

A “sherpa” mode gets you home

The New 500 has three driving modes: Normal, Range and Sherpa, which can be selected to match your driving style. In particular, Sherpa mode optimizes the available resources to ensure that you will reach your destination. The “sherpa” mode adjusts various parameters: maximum speed, limited to 80 km/h; accelerator response, in order to reduce energy consumption; and deactivation of the climate control system and heated seats (the driver has the option of activating them at any time).

“Normal” mode is as close as possible to driving a vehicle with a normal combustion engine, while “Range” mode activates the “one-pedal-drive” function. By selecting this driving mode, you can practically drive the New 500 with the accelerator pedal alone.

Lots of (city) zest…  

The engine has an output of 87 kW, providing a maximum speed of 150 km/h (self-limited) and acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 9.0 seconds and 0-50 km/h in 3.1 seconds.

Level 2 autonomous driving and connectivity

The car of the future is not just an electric city car, but goes one step further: it literally goes to the next level by being the first car in its segment to offer level 2 autonomous driving, bringing all the associated benefits to urban mobility.

Front-facing camera monitoring technology monitors all areas of the car, both longitudinally and laterally. The intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (iACC) system brakes or accelerates in response to anything: cars, cyclists, pedestrians. Lane Centering keeps the vehicle in the center of the lane when the markings are correctly identified.

Intelligent Speed Assist reads the speed limits and recommends applying them, while Urban Blind Spot uses ultrasonic sensors to monitor the blind spots and warn of any obstacles with a triangular warning light on the wing mirror. Then there is Attention Assist, which provides warnings on the display, recommending that you stop and take a break when you are tired. Finally, the 360° sensors provide a drone view to avoid any obstacles when parking or performing complex manoeuvres.

The third-generation 500 is the first FCA car equipped with the new UConnect 5 infotainment system. FCA uses the easy, intuitive and incredibly customizable Android Auto operating system. For example, you can use widgets to configure how functions and apps are displayed. Apple CarPlay is already available wirelessly. The system is also ready to offer the same functionality for Android Auto.

In short, the New 500 offers seamless integration with your smartphone, offering a 10.25” high-definition touchscreen, with a horizontal form factor that fits perfectly into the car dashboard, following its lines.

The launch version also boasts the Natural Language interface system, with advanced voice recognition, so you can talk to the car to control parameters, set the climate control and choose your favorite music.

Style, and then again

The New 500 has all the elements of style, just quieter, cleaner and crisper. The front is vertical as in the 1957 version, making it less elusive, almost facing the road, and the dynamic feel of the profile has been accentuated.

The substance of the new platform has given the third-generation 500 a strong presence: it is 6 cm wider and 6 cm longer, the wheelbase has been extended by 2 cm, and the wheels are larger and further apart, giving it a stronger personality and greater comfort despite its length remaining under four meters.

Inside, the electric 500 is completely new and elegant, with clear references to elements of the first generation. As for the Hybrid Fiat 500, including the electric version, some trim levels also have seats made using “Seaqual” yarn, derived from plastic recovered from the sea.

The new 500 debuts in the convertible version: the first open-air four-seater with zero emissions: all open, all electric, all silent. As an icon of La Dolce Vita, it had to be reborn to bring out all the charm of its forms and sounds. And on the subject of sounds, here is another unique feature of the new city car, which will become available later: the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS), an acoustic warning for pedestrians that is mandatory at speeds up to 20 km/h; the chosen sound is not a common acoustic signal, but rather the music of Amarcord by Nino Rota, in pure Dolce vita style, an example of the most authentic Italian creativity.

The “la Prima” launch edition is available for pre-booking

A dream is coming true: the “la Prima” launch edition, a limited edition designed for the launch of the New 500, with its own distinct style, exclusivity, technology and connectivity.

From today, March 4, it can be ordered via an online pre-booking system on the http://www.fiat.com* website, by following a simple procedure of just three clicks.

To book the “la Prima” limited edition, simply browse to the http://www.fiat.com* website, and with just three clicks and a deposit of €500, you can become a part of the mobility of the future.

Needless to say that we are keen to get behind the wheel of this New 500, Corona virus protection measures permitting. The date is set, at the digital presentation: the 4th of July…

I will come back on the new 500 with a description of unique one-off versions created by Kartell, Bvlgari and Armani…

Hans Knol ten Bensel   

Volkswagen news to admire via webcast, and not in Geneva…



Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen Brand, presents here the ID. CROZZ showcar

We are living in digital times. So even when the Corona virus limits (temporarily, as we all hope) our present mobility, and led to the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show, we can still see all the automotive news via our PC’s, Phones, Tablets.

Volkswagen presents therefore its important news on a special webcast, for you to admire via the following link: https://www.volkswagen-newsroom.com/en/live-stream-5455.

Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen Brand, presents here the ID. CROZZ showcar, which now evolves into its series production version, the ID.4.

Volkswagen is forging ahead with its electric mobility strategy by providing a detailed insight into the brand’s first all-electric SUV. The new ID.4 will be launched this year. Following in the tracks of the ID.3, the countdown has already begun for the second model based on the new modular electric drive matrix (MEB). “Just like the ID.3, the ID.4 will also come onto the market as a carbon-neutral vehicle”, explains Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen brand. “We will produce and sell the ID.4 in Europe, China and the U.S..”

Just read on for more VW news…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The ID. 3 started production in Zwickau, the ID.4 now follows…

The ID.4 will initially be launched with rear-wheel drive, while an electric all-wheel drive version will be added to the portfolio at a later date. The high-voltage battery is positioned near the center of the underbody to create a low centre of gravity and an optimum in terms of driving dynamics, along with an extremely well-balanced axle load distribution.

Also new mild and plug-in hybrid drives…

For Volkswagen, the ID.4 and ID.3 represent important milestones in the brand’s bid to become entirely carbon-neutral by 2050 – in line with the Paris climate agreement. Plans have been put in place to reduce the Volkswagen fleet’s CO2-emissions by a third by as early as 2025.

Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand with responsibility for Technical Development, presents in the webcast the new Touareg R

Volkswagen is currently investing one billion euro to electrify its model range while also offering an increasing number of hybrid vehicles. This is based on the fact that, just like electric powertrains, new mild and plug-in hybrid drives in large-scale product lines such as the all-conquering Golf will significantly help to reduce fleet emissions in the future.

New Touareg R

This is why the company’s focus during the webcast is not only on ID. models, but also on new Volkswagen models with hybrid drive. Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand with responsibility for Technical Development, presents in the webcast the new Touareg R with plug-in hybrid technology and the the Golf GTE 2 for the very first time.

The Touareg R,the most powerful Volkswagen model will in future also be powered by an efficient plug-in hybrid system. The alliance between an electric drive motor generating 100 kW (136 PS) and a V6 turbocharged petrol engine (TSI) with an output of 250 kW (340 PS) develops a system output of 340 kW (462 PS). The battery capacity of the Touareg R with a top speed of 140 km/h in all-electric E-MODE has been designed so that most average daily commuting distances can be covered with zero emissions.

Golf GTE with stronger battery…

The same applies to the new Golf GTE – its plug-in hybrid drive has been geared towards performance and consists of an electric drive motor with 85 kW (115 PS) and a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (TSI) generating 110 kW (150 PS). As a unit, the electric drive motor and the TSI develop a system output of 180 kW (245 PS). The new Golf GTE’s top speed in all-electric mode is 130 km/h.

Further Volkswagen highlights include the new Golf GTD, which generates significantly lower nitrogen oxide emissions compared with its predecessor thanks to innovative twin dosing technology, plus the eighth generation of the Golf GTI, produced more than 2.3 million times. The most recent version is powered by a 180 kW (245 PS) 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection engine. The maximum torque is 370 Nm. The four-cylinder engine is coupled with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard.

Last but not least, the eight generation of the GTI takes the central stage, presented again by Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen brand. It is a formidable performer, this GTI, and A 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG) is optionally available.

Digital instruments for the GTI for maximum performance…

We include here some screenshots of the webcast, and stay tuned for more!

Hans Knol ten Bensel