BMW and Daimler cooperate on automated driving…

 

(Premium) car manufacturers, unite: recently, BMW and Daimler announced in Berlin that they are launching five joint ventures that will offer mobility services such as solutions for car sharing, the search for parking spaces, and many more.

On February 28, the two manufacturers announced their intention to enter into a second new partnership. Daimler is planning to work together with BMW in the future on the next technology generation for driving assistance systems and on systems that enable conditionally automated driving on highways and automated parking functions. Why does this alliance make sense? The answer is simple: Because automated driving is a future-oriented technology that will radically transform our industry — and because in the long run we will be not only stronger but also more successful as partners than we would be alone.

What is already possible today: partial automation

The vision of autonomous driving is not only as old as the automobile itself — it’s also a central component of the strategy at Daimler. The vehicles you can see at your Mercedes-Benz dealer today can already do a great deal. Thanks to the Daimler active distance assistant DISTRONIC, the active steering assistant, the active lane-change assistant, and many other innovations, Daimler has already come very close to our goal of automated driving.

By means of currently available systems, a Mercedes-Benz can, for example, maintain the correct distance to vehicles ahead and drive partially automated on highways and country roads, as well as in cities. These systems also assist the driver with lane changes, evasive manoeuvres, and braking. And many models can be driven in and out of parking spaces via remote control from a smartphone — with the Remote Parking Assist.

At Mercedes-Benz, these features are called Intelligent Drive. With this, they have reached the level that engineers call SAE Level 2 or “partial automation.” This means that the car can already react automatically in many predefined situations — however, a human driver must always monitor traffic as well as the vehicle’s surroundings and be ready to react if necessary.

But above all, they have learned that the development of these systems is a bit like climbing a mountain. Taking the first few meters from the base station to the summit seems easy. But the closer you come to the goal, the thinner the air around you becomes, the more strength is required for each further step, and the more complex become the challenges you have to resolve in order to make progress.

From Level 3 to the summit

Further progress can be made more successfully and efficiently if the manufacturers are not alone. Daimler also believes that BMW is the perfect partner. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Daimler has now signed, deals with the development of several automation stages up to Level 4. Level 4 means “high automation”: The driver does not even need to be ready to take over control of the vehicle — he or she could even be sleeping. The aim of our partnership is to develop systems that make automated driving scalable and take it to the next level in a variety of contexts — in China and in the USA as well as on the German Autobahn A8, which connects the BMW Tower in Munich with the Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart.

A shared platform instead of isolated solutions

One thing is clear: BMW and Mercedes-Benz are competitors. The partnership will not become a new joint venture. Instead, we are planning to work together with BMW to develop a scalable and reliable platform that will bring optimal benefits to the customers of both brands. As part of this cooperative venture, we are also open to further partnerships that can contribute to the success of this platform.

It makes sense to distribute the technological and financial challenges of automated driving across a number of shoulders. It’s also clear that other existing partnerships and ongoing projects are not affected by intended cooperation between BMW and Daimler. For example, as Daimler has planned and already announced within the framework of our cooperation with Bosch, this year we will launch the first pilot for testing self-driving vehicles (Level 4/5) in urban surroundings in San José in Silicon Valley.

A long tradition of development at both manufacturers…

In spite of all the differences between BMW and Mercedes-Benz, they are also similar in many areas. For example, the men and women from Munich also have many years of experience in the areas of driving assistance and automated driving. BMW has worked on highly automated driving for a long time, and opened its Autonomous Driving Campus in Unterschleißheim – a suburb of Munich – in 2017, where BMW is consolidating all of its areas of expertise related to automated driving. The automation technology that the experts there are now working on will go into series production for the first time in the BMW iNEXT model in 2021.

At Daimler, long a leader in active safety systems, it programmed its systems largely in-house right from the very beginning. 2019 will see the launch in San José, Silicon Valley, of its first pilot programme, with Bosch, on self-driving vehicles (Levels 4/5) in urban environments. This will be the next milestone within the existing cooperation between both partners and the cooperation will continue as planned. Early next decade, Daimler will bring to the market not only highly automated (Level 3) vehicles but also fully automated (Level 4/5) vehicles. It is the only to the OEM in the world to be so well-positioned to apply autonomous driving in every relevant context, from passenger cars and vans to buses and trucks, and is therefore relying on scalable solutions to deliver automated driving.

The Memorandum of Understanding ensures that BMW and Daimler will pass the next milestone on the road to automated driving together. Their goal is to make the new technology generation available to our customers as early as the mid-2020s. It is all only logical: the suppliers who develop and produce elements of this automated driving architecture are for both manufacturers roughly the same… and it is crucial for these supplier/manufacturers to develop a broad (home) basis for their global ambitions…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

Kia takes a very bold look at its electric future…

The upcoming Geneva Salon is as always a festival of creativity, with car manufacturers pulling all the stops when it comes to design and new visions. So concept cars abound, and Kia is no exception. Its European branch has unveiled new images of its bold new all-electric concept car, which is to be presented on the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show.

Gregory Guillaume, Vice President of Design for Kia Motors Europe, comments his design here. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Brussels Salon drives into the future…

We will treat you in the coming days ans weeks to an extensive report on the Brussels Motor Show, with some notable (world) premieres like the Range Rover Evoque, for instance. We will also let you listen in with some interviews, notably of the designer of the Evoque, and also celebrate 60 years of Mini with further interesting encounters. Driving into the future autonomously on e-power is also very much in tht foreground, like this Smart Vision EQ fortwo you see here on the photo. It is designed with car sharing in mind, and takes its passengers whenever and wherever they want to go, and it doesn’t even have a steering wheel or any commands…

Stay tuned on these columns for more!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

We drove the Toyota Mirai: part 2

Driving is believing, the saying goes. And at first, we almost couldn’t believe it: this Mirai just drives as smoothly and zestfully as an electric car. Which, actually, it is. Only, it does not take its electricity from batteries, but from a fuel cell. That is indeed, the major difference. This means, that you can refuel it in minutes, and then drive for another 340 kilometers or so. Just like an ordinary petrol engined car. Only it emits water, and nothing else.

Driving it was a refined and thoroughly enjoyable experience, just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the Toyota Mirai: part 2”

We drove the Toyota Mirai: the future has truly arrived…Part 1

What better automotive adventures than to spend the last days of the year behind the wheel of a Toyota Mirai? None, we would say. After having enjoyed the smooth and refined qualities of this Mirai – which is Japanese  (未来) for future-  we are truly convinced that Toyota has fully succeeded  to build a thoroughly stunning, reliable, useable fuel cell vehicle, which offers everyday practicality, comfort and a unique driving experience. In this first part, we show and explain its stunning technology.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Enjoy a virtual drive in the BMW Vision iNEXT…

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the BMW Group will showcase the future of driving pleasure and the potential of digital connectivity in a variety of different ways. From January 8-11 2019, visitors will have their first chance to take a virtual drive in the BMW Vision iNEXT, accompanied by the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. In this way, the BMW Group is underlining its innovative capabilities in the fields of design, automated driving, connectivity, electrification, and services (D+ACES), which are all defined as key areas of future activity in its corporate strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT.

The vision vehicle will be displayed alongside a sophisticated mixed-reality installation that, for the first time, provides a virtual and immersive impression of what it is like to drive autonomously, emission-free, and fully connected in the BMW Vision iNEXT.

To begin the simulation, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant suggests an agenda for the day and plans the activities for the trip perfectly. See the photo here above.

With virtual reality goggles and a specially-designed spatial concept, visitors are able to immerse themselves in this virtual world: Initially, they drive the BMW Vision iNEXT themselves, but the vehicle soon takes over the driving function. In autonomous “Ease” mode, the driver interacts with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which makes suggestions and controls various digital services for the driver – from videoconferencing, to shopping, to smart home functions.

You don’t have to steer this wheel all the time: soon the vehicle takes over…

Quite an experience! For the moment, we can only show you some photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the VW Touareg Tiptronic III 3.0 V6 TDI: a very impressive flagship…

State of the art technology is more than ever the hallmark of Germany’s largest automaker. Its Touareg opened more than a decade ago the era of the luxury high performance SUV brimming with sophistication and avant-garde mechanics. VW wants to maintain this tradition, and indeed, its latest generation Touareg has what it takes to set again new standards in its segment. This new flagship is now amongst us, and it is a formidable car, sharing its platform with the Bentley Bentayga and the Lamborghini Urus… Need we say more?

We drove for you here the version with the supersmooth and velvety powerful 3 liter V6 diesel engine, which again proves brilliantly how good modern diesels have become. It is coupled to an equally superb 8 speed Tiptronic and features as standard equipment the 4MOTION all wheel drive. All this warrants a delightful driving experience, and indeed that’s what it proved to be… Just read on.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the VW Touareg Tiptronic III 3.0 V6 TDI: a very impressive flagship…”

We drive the Toyota Mirai into 2019…

The future has begun. We were therefore quite delighted when the dynamic PR department of Toyota Belgium offered us a test drive of its revolutionary Mirai into the new year. The first acquaintance was already quite promising, the first kilometers were enjoyed behind its wheel in utter refinement and comfort, with the Mirai being a breeze to cruise, drive and park.

Soon you will read more about our experience with this car, which is making a totally ‘mature’ impression, and brimming with new technology.

More news about long-term hybrid driving might be coming in these columns, as we are looking to replace our faithful 23 year old Volvo 850 with a (used) Toyota Hybrid, and report to you about our findings in long-term daily use.

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

How we prepare ourselves (in Belgium) for the mobility of the future: the BMW view…

Recently BMW Group Belux organized a very interesting conference at their Brand Store in Brussels, where Eddy Haesendonck, President & CEO of BMW Belux (here on the right) gave us a status update on the world wide figures and trends of the BMW Group, followed more specifically by the figures and trends in Belgium for BMW Group Belux.

But the focus at this meeting was also on the outlook he presented, namely on how we prepare ourselves for the mobility of the future. This is where we will focus on mostly in this report.

Interesting was also the presentation by Els Ampe, (see first photo)  alderman Public works, Mobility and Dutch speaking matters in Brussels, on the mobility needs of the city of Brussels. More on this in the second part of this report, which we will present soon here too in these columns.

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “How we prepare ourselves (in Belgium) for the mobility of the future: the BMW view…”

BMW expands its battery and “E”-production in China…

The “E” units are installed and assembled…

The BMW Group continues to drive the expansion of electro-mobility as part of its Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT.

To achieve this, the company and is adapting its production structures to growing demand for fully and partially electrified vehicles.

Just seven months after opening its battery factory in China, the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture laid the foundation for a comprehensive expansion of the plant. At the “High-Voltage Battery Centre Phase II”, BBA will produce the new, more powerful batteries of the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology for the fully-electric BMW iX3. Starting in 2020, the BMW iX3 will be built at the neighbouring BBA plant Dadong.

Production of battery cells… 

One fact which probably you did not know: China is the BMW Group’s largest single market and understandably the pacesetter for e-mobility worldwide. With six electrified models currently available, the BMW Group offers Chinese customers the widest range of options in the premium segment.

In 2017, the BMW Group more than doubled its sales of electrified vehicles in China from the previous year and expects this growth to continue in 2018. Earlier this year, production of the new BMW 5 Series Plug-in Hybrid got underway at the BBA plant Dadong. Expansion of the battery factory underlines the BMW Group’s commitment to China.

Loving care and attention to detail, also in China…

Production of fully-electric cars to be integrated into existing structures…

The BMW Group is indeed pioneering in electromobility. You could see this already in our columns, dear reader, at the interview of Mr. Robert Irlinger. Just type “Irlinger” in the search window, and read on…

The company’s Leipzig plant began building the fully-electric BMW i3 in 2013. Today, the BMW Group produces cars with combustion engines on the same lines as plug-in hybrids at ten locations worldwide.

The mounted battery cells are installed and tested at the end of the production line…

Three battery plants in Germany, the US and China supply local production of electrified vehicles with batteries. In the future, production of fully-electric vehicles will also be integrated into existing manufacturing structures.

In addition, two enhanced flexible vehicle architectures will be suitable for all drive forms, thereby reducing complexity in production. This gives the BMW Group maximum production flexibility and enables it to respond quickly to market and customer demands worldwide. It also ensures optimal utilization of production capacity, avoids high investments and creates job security.

Ii is all happening in CVhina: the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture

The BBA Brilliance Automotive joint venture was founded in 2003. Over the past 15 years, it has become one of the most successful premium automobile manufacturers in China, encompassing production and sales of BMW automobiles in China, as well as local development tasks.

 

In 2017, the BBA automotive plants in Tiexi and Dadong produced almost 400,000 vehicles for the Chinese market – an increase of around 30% year-on-year. The maximum capacity of the two plants will reach 520,000 units per year from 2019.

Some more astonishing facts: since 2009, the joint venture has invested more than 52 billion RMB (approx. 6.7 billion euros) in the BBA plants, and employs more than 16,000 people.

In 2014, the BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. extended their joint venture contract early and laid the foundation for deepening the successful cooperation. The extended contract is valid for ten years (from 2018 to 2028).

The future will hold many further E-surprises…

Hans Knol ten Bensel