What is the most important desire for customers in the future of luxurious individual mobility?
Mercedes found out that today’s customers are increasingly viewing luxury through the lens of values and benefitsthat extend beyond physical experiences. They are seeking priceless commodities such as time and want to show responsibility with their choices.
As the leading luxury car brand, Mercedes-Benz is consistently driving the luxury experience to new levels. So it gives it new meaning for the electric and digital age – achieving more with less.
Driven by the innovative spirit firmly anchored in its brand DNA, and by its strategic goals of “Lead in electric” and “Lead in car software”, Mercedes-Benz is pioneering the electric and digital transformation of the global auto industry.
The most recent proof of this is the Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX. The most efficient Mercedes ever built is a blueprint for the future of efficiency of electric vehicles and also a masterclass in a radically new approach to the UI/UX driven by software and artificial intelligence.
With DRIVE PILOT, Mercedes-Benz became the first automotive manufacturer in the world to receive the world’s first internationally valid system approval for conditionally automated driving (SAE-Level 3).
Mercedes recently released some photos about their latest research and already working solutions. We lift a glimpse here of this bold new future…
More (technical) and driving news soon from the brand with the iconic star!
The Renault Design team completely redesigned the all-new Renault Austral’s passenger compartment down to the last detail – and it makes the most of OpenR technology, of with more soon in a separate report…
Spacious and modular…
The cabin design of the Austral has all the traditional SUV hallmarks. But the high and wide central console stands out. The dashboard’s architecture gives it a slim and wide look, and the connections to the door panels give front-seat passengers that distinct cockpit feeling. The fact that the door panels are high up also create a sense of safety. The overall design follows the angled lines that give the car its dynamic stance.
The passenger compartment is also modular. It has multiple storage areas, starting with a wide sliding armrest that can provide extra storage and makes using the OpenR Link multimedia system simpler. The console has two large storage areas and a nest to hold your smartphone – and induction-charge it at the same time if you want. Combined, the choice of nooks around All-new Renault Austral’s passenger compartment can fit more than 30 litres.
To make the cocoon effect perfect, a flecked fabric decks the entire roof and windscreen posts. Seat comfort also got special attention. At the front, each person has an ample, ergonomic and comfy area. The rear is also roomier because the transmission tunnel is gone. Versatile and multipurpose All-new Renault Austral has a sliding and folding rear bench, operated with a button in the boot. The seats are designed for chatting: as the front ones taper at the top, it’s easier for passengers in the front and rear to interact.
Agneta Dahlgren, Renault Design Project Director, sums it up for us.
“When we created All-new Renault Austral’s passenger compartment, the three recurring themes were the perception of space, edgy design and a protective feel. And all that based on high quality standards.”
Technology focused on the user…
Passengers also enjoy the large “OpenR” screen. This centrepiece in the passenger compartment is one of the largest screens on the market. Its L-shaped configuration sweeps across the central dashboard and the total display area spans 24.3 inches (774 sq. cm.). It is easy to look at, easy to reach, intuitive and connected. And it has controls for practically all of the car’s features – so the rest of the passenger compartment is considerably leaner.
This state-of-the-art technology runs on the Google Automotive Services system and is so bright and anti-reflective that it makes the visor over the dashboard superfluous. Besides its visual streamlining, the panel has inconspicuous built-in vertical air vents, and the ultra-fine contouring around the screen is perfectly flush. The steering wheel is squarer, and slightly flatter in the centre to enhance driving pleasure while providing the driver with an unobstructed view of the dashboard screen.
Packed with the latest connected and smart solutions, the OpenR Link interface includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus a Google search feature and Google Maps. A full 90% of the features you need every day are only one or two clicks away. The OpenR screen is as smooth and simple to use as a smartphone. And it’s one of Renault’s biggest breakthroughs in on-board technology in the past several years. We will tell you soon more about this “OpenR” screen architecture!
Range and efficiency are set to define the electric era. Outstanding range will make electric cars suitable for every journey and will also speed up the adoption by the public. Exceptional efficiency will create a virtuous circle of battery size and weight reduction, allowing Mercedes to go further with less. Indeed, the men (and women) at Mercedes-Benz are determined to lead the way.
The brand with the star is already leading the charts of real-world range with the EQS with 245 kW (electrical consumption WLTP combined: 19.8-15.7 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions: 0 g/km), as evidenced by the recent Edmunds test where an EQS 450+ travelled 422 miles on one charge, 77 miles further than any other car previously tested.
But Mercedes-Benz is not resting. Driven by the idea of zero impact on our planet and a highly responsible use of green energy, the engineers are working intensively to take range and efficiency to a whole new level. The VISION EQXX is the result of a mission to break through technological barriers across the board and to lift energy efficiency to new heights. It demonstrates the gains that are possible through rethinking the fundamentals from the ground up. This includes advances across all elements of its cutting-edge electric drivetrain as well as the use of lightweight engineering and sustainable materials. Complete with a barrage of innovative and intelligent efficiency measures, including advanced software, VISION EQXX allows to explore new frontiers of efficiency.
Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG commented: “The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars. Just one-and-a-half years ago, we started this project leading to the most efficient Mercedes-Benz ever built – with an outstanding energy consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometres. It has a range of more than 1,000 kilometres on a single charge using a battery that would fit even into a compact vehicle. The VISION EQXX is an advanced car in so many dimensions – and it even looks stunning and futuristic. With that, it underlines where our entire company is headed: We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.”
VISION EQXX – The EV road trip reimagined by Mercedes with a new technology blueprint for series production
There’s a reason why road trips have been a cultural touchstone for at least 70 years, telling stories from the highway in books, movies and music.
The journey to electric mobility is a road trip; as exhilarating as it is challenging, as unknown as it is certain. The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX is a vehicle designed for that road trip. It answers the progressive demands of a modern generation of customers for and emotionality through innovation. Part of a far-reaching technology programme, this software-defined research prototype was engineered by women and men with the creativity, ingenuity and determination to deliver one of the planet’s most efficient cars – in every respect. They did so using the latest digital technology, the agility of a start-up and the speed of Formula 1.
The result is an efficiency masterpiece that, based on internal digital simulations in real-life traffic conditions, will be capable of exceeding 1,000 kilometres on a single charge with an outstanding energy consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometres (efficiency of more than 6 miles per kWh).
By ripping up the automotive engineering rule book, Mercedes-Benz has built a software-driven electric car that re-imagines the road trip for the electric era. At the same time, it presents a highly progressive interpretation of the fundamental Mercedes-Benz principles of modern luxury and Sensual Purity. Rather than simply increasing the size of the battery, the cross-functional, international team focused on maximising long-distance efficiency. They pulled out all the stops in drivetrain efficiency, energy density, aerodynamics and lightweight design.
“The technology programme behind the VISION EQXX will define and enable future Mercedes-Benz models and features,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes‑Benz AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Procurement. “As a halo car, the VISION EQXX firmly establishes Mercedes-Benz as the brand that pairs luxury with technology in the automotive world and beyond. And the way we developed it is as revolutionary as the vehicle itself. VISION EQXX has seen the best minds from our R&D centres work together with engineers from our Formula 1 and Formula E programmes. They are proving that innovations from motorsport – where powertrains are already highly electrified – have immediate relevance for road car development. We are challenging current development processes with innovative spirit and outside-the-box thinking. This truly is the way forward.”
The VISION EQXX offers meaningful answers to pressing issues. For instance, sustainable materials throughout cut the carbon footprint considerably. Its UI/UX features a radical new one-piece display that comes to life with responsive real-time graphics and spans the entire width of the vehicle. Other elements of the UI/UX help the car and driver work together as one, and even use technology that mimics the workings of the human brain. And the software-led development process that delivered it revolutionises the way electric cars are designed.
This car is one outcome of an ongoing programme that is delivering a blueprint for the future of automotive engineering. Many of its features and developments are already being integrated into production, including the next generation of the MMA – the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture for compact and medium-sized cars.
We will come back soon more in detail about this outstanding EQXX…just show you some photos…
We are driving now the magnificent CLS 220 d. This sleek limousine embodies all the good qualities of the cars with the star. By the way, its diesel engine is also superb. But Mercedes gears up for the future. And takes now a major step towards automated driving…
Indeed, Mercedes-Benz is the first automotive company in the world to meet the demanding legal requirements of UN-R157 for a Level 3 system. SAE Level 3 means that the automated driving function takes over certain driving tasks. However, a driver is still required. The driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times when prompted to intervene by the vehicle. But nevertheless, the driving elements which it takes over become more important…
The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has granted system approval for this on the basis of the technical approval regulation UN-R157, thus paving the way for offering such a system internationally, provided that national legislation allows it. The ECE contracting states (57) incl. states of the EU, GB, Japan, Korea, Australia…
Germany has taken a pioneering role in this with the opening of the Road Traffic Act (StVG) for Level 3 systems already in 2017. This is why the first customers will be able to buy an S-Class with DRIVE PILOT in the first half of 2022, enabling them to drive in conditionally automated mode at speeds of up to 60 km/h in heavy traffic or congested situations on suitable stretches of motorway in Germany! The special DRIVE PILOT equipment takes the strain off the driver and allows him or her to perform ancillary tasks on the central display such as online shopping or processing e-mails in the in-car office. Which secondary activities of the driver are legally permissible depends on the respective national road traffic regulations. Important to note that the system approval also applies to the EQS.
A milestone reached, says the management…
“For many years, we have been working to realize our vision of automated driving. With this LiDAR based system, we have developed an innovative technology for our vehicles that offers customers a unique, luxurious driving experience and gives them what matters most: time. With the approval of the authorities, we have now achieved a breakthrough: We are the first manufacturer to put conditionally automated driving into series production in Germany,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Purchasing. “With this milestone, we are once again proving our pioneering work in automated driving and also initiating a radical paradigm shift. For the first time in 136 years of automotive history, the vehicle takes over the dynamic driving task under certain conditions. At the same time, we are pleased that Germany is continuing its pioneering role in automated driving with this approval.”
The technical approval regulation with which such a system can be certified did not come into force until the beginning of 2021. Since then, it can be implemented in Europe – an opportunity that Mercedes-Benz was quick and the first manufacturer to seize. With the opening of the Road Traffic Act (StVG) for Level 3 systems in 2017, Germany was the first country to create a legal basis for the intended use of these systems.
Mercedes-Benz is initially offering DRIVE Mercedes-Benz is initially offering DRIVE PILOT on 13,191 kilometres of motorway in Germany. Extensive test drives for this systems are already underway, for example in the USA and China. As soon as there is a national legal framework for conditionally automated operation in additional markets, the technology will be rolled out step by step! Again, we repeat ourselves, brave new world!
Times are changing in our electronic age, and fast. Manufacturers will have to build cars with an open software-defined platform, and three new platforms will arrive as early as 2024… says Stellantis.
Indeed, Stellantis N.V. today mapped out its software strategy to deploy next-generation tech platforms, building on existing connected vehicle capabilities to transform how customers interact with their vehicles, and to generate approximately €20 billion in incremental annual revenues by 2030.
This transformation will move Stellantis’ vehicles from today’s dedicated electronic architectures to an open software-defined platform that seamlessly integrates with customers’ digital lives. It greatly expands the options customers have to add innovative features and services via regular over-the-air (OTA) updates keeping vehicles fresh, exciting and updated years after they have been built.
“Our electrification and software strategies will support the shift to become a sustainable mobility tech company to lead the pack, leveraging the associated business growth with over-the-air features and services, and delivering the best experience to our customers,” said Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO. “With the three all-new AI-powered technology platforms to arrive in 2024, deployed across the four STLA vehicle platforms, we will leverage the speed and agility associated with the de-coupling of hardware and software cycles.”
Stellantis plans to invest more than €30 billion through 2025 to execute its software and electrification transformation.
The Stellantis software strategy works hand-in-hand with the Company’s vehicle electrification plans, detailed at EV Day in July 2021, which targets that more than 70 percent of its vehicle sales in Europe and more than 40 percent of vehicle sales in the United States will be low emission vehicles (LEV) by 2030. Each of the Company’s 14 iconic brands is committed to offering best-in-class fully electrified solutions.
More about this, and the strategic partnership with suppliers and software companies it implies, will follow soon!
We will drive for you at the end of this year the latest Qashqai, and look forward to have a go next year at their new (EV powered) products; In the meantime, there is some interesting Nissan news.
Did you know that by 2026, this is merely within some four years, more than 75% of all Nissan passenger cars sold in Europe will be electrified?
Nissans “CHILL OUT” concept foreshadows the future 100% electric crossover to be built in Sunderland, and there is a new battery recycling facility planned in Europe…
Just read further!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Unveiled the Nissan Ambition 2030, the brand’s new long-term strategy that goes beyond mobility.
Earlier this year, Nissan launched the EV36Zero concept, the world’s first fully integrated EV production ecosystem, which connects mobility and energy management to help achieve carbon neutrality for Nissan. The future hub is centered around the production facility in Sunderland, UK, and will include the production of an EV, a new giga production facility and use of 100% renewable electricity. Initially, £1 billion will be invested.
The AMIEO Region, centered on the EV36Zero, will play a leading role in realizing the “Ambition 2030” vision, which will help Nissan achieve carbon neutrality across the entire lifecycle of its products by fiscal year 2050. Here are some key points:
By the end of fiscal 2023, Nissan will offer electrified versions of all models offered in Europe, and by fiscal 2026, more than 75% of all Nissans sold are expected to be electrified.
The now-unveiled CHILL OUT crossover concept, as announced in Sunderland in July as part of the EV36Zero project, uses the Renault-Nissan Alliance CMF-EV platform to deliver the European handling and performance customers expect. The model has a sleek and modern design, is both attractive and aerodynamically optimized, fun-to-drive, has advanced safety technologies and has a practical and comfortable interior, according to Nissan.
Nissan plans to expand battery recycling and reuse facilities outside of Japan with a new location in Europe during fiscal year 2022. This infrastructure will support a circular economy for energy management. Nissan plans to fully market its ‘vehicle-to-everything’ and ‘home battery’ systems in the coming years.
Building on the success of the Nissan LEAF, Nissan will soon introduce innovative e-POWER technology in the all-new Qashqai and X-Trail. With the 100% electric crossover Ariya and the future all-electric Townstar Van on the way, an electrified European model program is in the works.
‘In the past period, Europe has been leading in the transition to electrification. Our goal for the next decade is to accelerate this development, with new products and technologies that will enhance the driving experience for Nissan’s customers,” said Guillaume Cartier, President of Nissan AMIEO Region.
Not only will we be offering an electrified version of every Nissan model in Europe, our 360-degree vision of sustainable mobility also means using 100% renewable electricity in our EV Hub in the UK. New battery recycling and reuse facilities will also be built in Europe.
To spearhead the transition to full electrification and carbon neutrality, our teams and products in Europe will serve as a source of information and support for our plans for electrified cars in the rest of the AMIEO Region and other markets.”
Bold new plans… we will report on them regularly as they unfold!
From left to right: Stefano Boeri, Silvia Boccardi and Olivier François
On World Environment Day, Olivier François, CEO of the Fiat brand and CMO at Stellantis, and the architect Stefano Boeri, whose firm is engaged in urban forestation projects all over the world, featured in a conversation for World Environment Day 2021 on the cities of the future.
They addressed the themes of urban mobility and sustainable architecture to make cities healthier and more livable, by improving air quality and therefore quality of life.
This focus on the future city, and more specifically this sharing of values of sustainability both for urban life and mobility started began over a year ago: in its vision of a utopian city, demonstrated and hinted at by Leonardo DiCaprio in the launch advert for the New 500, Fiat drew inspiration from the green architecture created by Boeri in several locations around the world.
Read all about it further…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
A new renaissance for (mega)cities…
At their meeting, François and Boeri analyzed the opportunities for a “New Renaissance”: they looked at photographs of the current situation in cities and even more so to the images of the ongoing changes. They also took a long hard look at the societal trends and the increasing interest of urban dwellers all over the world for environmental issues. Then they discussed the urgency of taking action, and the major opportunity of inspiring change.
That inspiration for change must be rooted in attention to aesthetics, in architectural beauty, but also inspired by the certainty of the need to improve the quality of the air we breathe and to reduce pollution levels in the cities we live in.
Boeri’s vertical forest in Milano.
Both men came to the conclusion that the combination of architecture like Boeri’s Vertical Forest – its 27,000 plants and millions of leaves contributing to clean the air by absorbing CO2 – and cars like the New 500 offering zero-emissions mobility can no doubt contribute to improving air quality in our cities.
The all electric 500 steps already in the new era…
In the words of Olivier François, Fiat CEO and Stellantis CMO: “The decision to launch the New 500 – electric and electric alone – was actually taken before Covid-19. Even then, we were already aware that the world could not take any more “compromises”.
In fact, lockdown was only the latest of the warnings we have received. At that time, we witnessed situations that would have been unimaginable until then, for example wild animals roaming the cities, proving nature was taking back what was rightfully hers. Plus, as if it had still been necessary, we were reminded of the urgency of taking action, of doing something for the planet Earth.
We have an icon, the 500. An icon always has its cause and the 500 is no exception: in the 1950s, it opened access to mobility for all. Nowadays, in this new scenario, it has a new mission – our mission – to create sustainable mobility for all.
It is our duty to bring to market electric cars that cost no more than vehicles with an internal combustion engine, as soon as we can in line with the falling costs of their batteries. We are exploring the territory of sustainable mobility for all: this is our greatest project.
Between 2025 and 2030, our product line-up will gradually become electric-only. This will be a radical change for Fiat. Meanwhile, in the near future, only a few months from now, I am proud that we will see the conversion of the legendary track on the roof of the former Lingotto factory in Turin into the largest hanging gardens in Europe, hosting over 28,000 plants. A major, meaningful – and once again sustainable – project, due to revitalize the city of Turin, our home.”
Urban planning for the future…with more plants and trees.
Then Stefano Boeri, architect, urban planner and founder of the Stefano Boeri Architetti practice, gave also his views: If we consider that cities are responsible not only for the emission of over 70% of CO2, a phenomenon at the origin of global warming, but also for the emission of pollutants which are the main cause of diseases and mortality from respiratory problems, it is clear that cities are the first places to intervene with a profound change.
The Covid pandemic has shown us how fragile our lives and our bodies can be and highlighted the importance of improving the environment and above all the air of the cities in which we live.
“La Pista” 500, soon a reality on the rooftop of Lignotto, in place of the iconic oval track.
In addition to absorbing CO2, reducing energy consumption and urban heat, increasing the biodiversity of living species and making cities more attractive, trees drastically reduce fine dust pollution.
Let’s not forget: plants and trees are the only way we have to absorb the pollutants already emitted. I believe that the time has come to promote, with all our strength and resources, a great campaign to clean the polluted air of our cities, that microparticulate of substances harmful to the health of our lungs that has certainly accentuated in some particularly polluted urban areas the intensity of spread of the COVID 19 infection.
We already have several solutions available that can help us: protect and increase the permeable and green surfaces by creating new parks and gardens, in and around our cities; transform city roofs into lawns and vegetable gardens; promote community gardens and urban agriculture; use tree roots to decontaminate polluted soils; create a network of green corridors to connect parks, forests and green buildings. “
More electric mobility in the urban environment is imminent…
In Fiat’s vision, the penetration of electric mobility will rise, as more and more barriers are overcome. The topics under discussion in the talk included the need to improve access to electric cars, by means of innovation and new financial products that can lower the bar of entry; the need to increase the number of private charge points at apartment buildings, requiring a rethink of the infrastructure of the apartment buildings of the future, but most of all by adapting existing buildings; the need to raise visibility of charge points in cities and increase the penetration of fast charging stations.
That will entail a rethink of urban planning, a challenge that requires the involvement of a wider range of stakeholders. This is the stimulus and message Olivier François and Stefano Boeri wish to put out as their contribution to World Environment Day – held by the United Nations every June 5th, the message of which this year is “TOGETHER WE CAN BE #GENERATIONRESTORATION”.
At the question time after the presentation, your servant asked CEO Olivier François to elaborate a bit more about the dialogue which existed between Fiat and these stakeholders in shaping the city of the future and its mobility.
Besides public bodies and municipalities, I was also keenly interested in how the dialogue unfolded with Fiat’s supplier firms like Bosch, Siemens, etc, who also perform extensive research in these fields. CEO Olivier François then trusted the answer to his colleague who maintains this dialogue with these external firms.
In his answer, he focused here mainly on the oil firms, which propose also future-oriented solutions, ranging from alternative “clean” fuel to renewables, and he saw the big oil companies also gradually transform themselves into suppliers of energy in all its forms, i.e. becoming “energy” supplying firms in the widest sense of the word. He pointed out that the boundaries between electricity suppliers and the oil firms will become increasingly blurred. The dialogue is indeed active and is indeed widened to all forms of energy. Energy supply and CO2 reduction remain the crux of the matter for all, he concluded his answer.
The Maserati Levante Hybrid has today experienced both a physical and a digital world premiere. At the time of the car’s unveiling at the Shanghai Auto Show, a virtual presentation has taken place simultaneously on the houseof.maserati.com website.
With its first electrified SUV, Maserati is taking another important step in the future plan launched last year with the Ghibli Hybrid, which will lead to the electrification of all new Maserati models.
“Faster. Cleaner. Unique ” is the motto at the launch: the Levante Hybrid is faster than a diesel, more durable than a car with an internal combustion engine and unique thanks to specific features and details.
The Levante Hybrid combines a two-liter four-cylinder engine with a 48-volt hybrid system that recovers energy during engine deceleration and application of the brakes. The hybrid SUV is lighter than the six-cylinder version (petrol and diesel) and also has a more balanced weight distribution because the battery – without sacrificing luggage space – is placed in the rear of the car. One of the goals during the development of the Levante Hybrid was to take the dynamics and driving pleasure to an even higher level.
With a maximum power of 330 hp and a torque of 450 Nm, which is available from just 2,250 rpm, the four-wheel drive Levante Hybrid delivers impressive performance: the car has a top speed of 240 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km in 6 seconds.
The Levante Hybrid was presented at ist launch in Azzuro Astro color. This metallic paint consists of three layers and is available through the Maserati Fuoriserie personalization program.
The Levante Hybrid is immediately recognizable by the unique details in the exterior and interior. Several elements are finished in blue, a color specifically chosen for Maserati hybrid models. Like the brake calipers and trident on the C-pillars, the iconic side vents are finished in this shade of blue. The same color returns in the interior, including the stitching of the seat upholstery.
With Maserati Connect, the Levante Hybrid is always connected to the outside world. The driver remains fully informed about the technical condition of the car: Maserati Connect alerts the owner when maintenance is required, thus improving the quality of the service. The owner is in contact with the car via the Maserati app on the smartphone or smartwatch. You can also contact the car from home with a virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assist.
The digital world premiere of the Levante Hybrid on houseof.maserati.com has been attended by Maserati’s global brand ambassador David Beckham and Italian songwriter and producer Dardust, who has composed an exclusive soundtrack for the unveiling of the Levante Hybrid.
More soon about this Levante in technical detail. Stay posted!
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…