Together with major industry partners and the help of the European commission through their Horizon 2020 project, Renault takes the (electric) bull by the horns. We all are well aware of the problem: charging infrastructure is still cruelly lacking in many European countries.
The project is called INCIT-EV, and Renault is coordinating it. It aims to encourage the development of electromobility in Europe through field experiments.
7 innovative charging technologies for electric vehicles will be tested in chosen locations in Europe, just read further…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The project is worked out in collaboration with 32 partners in Europe. Spanning the 48 months from January 2020 through December 2023, the INCIT-EV project will be broken down into two primary phases:
·Phase 1 will first involve analysing user needs and requirements, followed in April 2020 by an assessment of charging technologies and their integration into infrastructures.
·Phase 2 will focus on 7 tech demonstrations on selected sites and will run from the second half of 2022 to the end of the project. These 7 demonstrations are:
– A dynamic induction charging system for the urban environment in Paris, France;
– High voltage charging systems in the outskirts of Tallinn, Estonia;
– Optimised bidirectional “smart charging” in Amsterdam and Utrecht, the Netherlands;
– A dynamic induction charging system in peri-urban/long-range areas in Versailles, France;
– A charging hub in a car park for car-share vehicles in the outskirts of Turin, Italy;
– Low power bidirectional charging (for two-wheeled vehicles also) and static wireless charging in taxi lanes located at the airport and central station in Zaragoza, Spain.
A pan-european project brought to life by the Renault Group…
To address the needs to test the charging technologies in real-life conditions – such as the Contactless Dynamic Charging technology – and to structure the whole ecosystem, Groupe Renault took the European Commission’s call for new projects as an opportunity to create a consortium. In the capacity of coordinator, Groupe Renault serves as intermediary between the European Commission and the consortium partners, and oversees the technical development, budgeting, and scheduling.
Not less than thirty-two leading industrial companies, universities, institutes, cities, start-ups, and SMEs positively answered the call put out by Renault, with the shared desire to promote electric mobility in Europe by carrying out electric car’s user-centric experiments.
These 33 members of the consortium are based in Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey.
Needless to say that we will follow up closely on this initiative, as an electric powered car is only so useful as it can be practical in daily (commercial) life.
Having said this, we will in these columns also concentrate in the future more on the professional mobility, i.e. LCV’s and all purpose pick-ups and offroads, a segment which has become eminently important in Europe. We wrote in these columns already about the electric Fiat Ducato for instance and the people behind it. We will soon look more closely at the state of electrification of LCV’s and what it holds for the (near) future.
We all know the frustration: however slow or fast you accelerate from a traffic light, the next one will always be red, even if, as it happens so often, this next light is only a few hundred metres away. We all know too well how much energy is wasted with this. Seat now started a project together with the Spanish Traffic Authority, the Barcelona City Council and ETRA.
It successfully connects vehicles with traffic lights and the traffic control centre so drivers can anticipate their upcoming status. This project also enables information on motorway incidents to get sent directly to vehicles without the need for information panels, bringing cars and infrastructure together via the cloud using cellular technology with latency times of 300 milliseconds.
Oh so clever!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Vehicles connected with traffic lights and road infrastructure.
The vehicle used in this pilot project is equipped with the necessary technology to connect with its surroundings and receive information uploaded by the Traffic Authority to the cloud, which in turn enables the driver to anticipate what lies ahead in real time.
“In this project, SEAT’s new connected cars receive real-time traffic information from the Traffic Authority’s central cloud, including information displayed on motorway panels or the traffic light status in cities”, explains Jordi Caus, the Head of Urban Mobility Concepts at SEAT.
How does it work?
When a vehicle is approaching a traffic light, an alert appears on the screen showing whether it will be red, green or yellow when it arrives, as the system performs a calculation based on how far away the car is and the speed it is travelling at. One important note for safety is that it only works as long as the vehicle is not exceeding the speed limit. “The system does not work at above maximum speeds, which is very important for road safety. It wants to be an auxiliary tool that enables motorists to drive more smoothly”, assures Manuel Valdés, the Head of Mobility and Infrastructures at the Barcelona City Council.
Information panels in your car, too.
Today there are 2,000 information panels in Barcelona that provide drivers with traffic and weather conditions or information about road work or accidents. With this system, all this information is displayed directly on the screens of connected vehicles at any point of the road network. According to Jorge, “we can accomplish the same as what we used to do with variable message signs on the motorway, but now directly to the car from any point on the road.”
A future of collaborative information…
In addition, connected cars and users themselves will also be information suppliers. “Anyone with information about what happens on the road can share it, so other users will know in advance of any incident when they reach the same point”, explains Jorge.
“With this project we’re taking a first step to connect cars with overall traffic infrastructure. We’ve begun with information functions, but with the future autonomous vehicles in mind we’ll be able to act directly on the car in situations of risk”, concludes Jordi Caus.
We are driving presently the Jeep Renegade with its brand new state of the art 1,3 litre 150 HP “Firefly” engine, and we can tell you it is very impressive indeed.
This leads us to bring you the news that the Jeep Renegade PHEV can be previewed at the MotorVillage Champs-Elysées until the 25th of September.
Following its world premiere at the Geneva motor show last March and its international on-road debut at Turin’s Parco del Valentino motor show in June, the new Jeep® Renegade Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) has arrived in the heart of Paris to be showcased at the exclusive Jeep showroom on the Champs-Elysées.
The PHEV Renegade will take centre stage in
the Playground expo, which is dedicated to Jeep’s affinity with sports and
includes partnerships with WSL (World Surf League), LNB (Ligue Nationale de
Basket) and JeepELITE.
New hybrid technology…with plenty of punch
Displayed in Trailhawk specification, the
Renegade PHEV has a pure electric range of approximately 50 kilometres and of
course no CO2 emissions in full-electric mode. In order to deliver these
figures, the Renegade combines a 1.3-liter GSE turbo gasoline engine with an
electric motor located between the rear wheels, powered by a set of batteries
that can be recharged while driving or by using an external power outlet: at
home with the domestic plug, using the efficient Wallbox, or with a public
charge point. Recharging times can vary from an hour and a half to three hours
depending on the type of outlet.
The combination of both internal combustion engine and the electric motor delivers outstanding performance and driving pleasure: 0-100 km/h is reached in approximately seven seconds, CO2 emissions are lower than 50g/km (NEDC2) and the full electric top speed is 130 km/h. The combined power output sits in the 190 and the 240 horsepower range, depending on the trim level.
Most of all, thanks to the new hybrid
technology, the Jeep Renegade further improves its legendary off-road
capability courtesy of the greater torque offered by the combination between
the two power sources. Thanks to the new electric all-wheel-drive technology
(eAWD), traction to the rear axle is not provided by a prop shaft but through
the dedicated electric motor. This allows the two axles to be separated and
control the torque independently in a more effective way than a mechanical
The Jeep Renegade PHEV features a unique interior and dashboard, plus an 8.4″ HD Uconnect system with specific pages to allow for the driver to control its day-to-day hybrid driving operation. The Selec-Terrain maintains its location in front of the gear shift lever, while the Hybrid selector appears right next to it allowing the driver to select between the following driving modes: (see photo below)
Hybrid: the mode that optimises power to
minimise fuel consumption. Internal combustion engine and electric motor work
together depending on the road type, with energy recovery phases when braking
eSave: the internal combustion engine can
maintain or recharge the battery while driving (driver’s selectable options)
Electric: full-electric mode which allows
for a pure electric range of approximately 50 kilometers.
The new 7″ TFT colour display shows
new information in front of the driver’s eyes: the battery charge level, range
in electric, combustion and combined modes, power percentage and recharge
levels. The 8.4″ Uconnect colour screen features new tabs such as power
flow, driving history, charging times, eSave and the different charge settings.
Needless to say that we are keen to take a
test drive soon in this interesting hybrid!
Domenico Gostoli, Head of Fiat Professional Electrification Programs, presented the E-Ducato in Turin…
At the presentation of the new Ducato MY2020, Fiat Professional brand gave the world its very first glimpse of the Ducato Electric – an all-electric BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) version – which will go on sale during 2020 and team up with the natural gas Ducato Natural Power to complete the alternative fuel offering.
In conceiving and developing the Ducato electric, the 2 person team responsible for the project, led by Domenico Gostoli, Head of Fiat Professional Electrification Programs with Angelica Carapezza managing and coordinating the implementation of such electrification programs, started with a “bottom up”, client-based approach, and focused first on building up a database with a specific, detailed study of customers’ real use of their vehicles, which involved a year of data gathering.
Indeed, professionals working in specific business areas are keen to adopt E-technology, considering the growth in online commerce, postal and courier services, home ready-to-eat food deliveries, hub-spoke local transport, and the widespread need to ensure access to city centres, with their ever-increasing traffic restrictions on conventional fuel vehicles.
Finding the ideal use pattern of a Ducato Electric van is supported by pro-active cooperation with the customer, through Pilot Projects involving some large industry players, to fully exploit all their knowledge base, and identify all specific use demands to be borne in mind during individual customisation and configuration for every application.
The image here shows the unique approach of
these structured pilot projects with customers. It first involves sitting down
with the customer to evaluate his delivery mission, gathering the field data,
which are then analysed and further structured in a logistical pattern. Real BEV
data are then analysed and put in a computer simulation to establish a real
profile of the specific energy demand of the customer from his vehicle. This is
then followed by recommendations for the final vehicle configuration, the
necessary charging infrastructures and the use of the customer.
With this approach, Fiat Professional intends to offer complete electric mobility solutions, based on the study of energy needs, able not only to cover every single mission but also to offer solutions ranging from vehicles to infrastructures, not forgetting any aspect of the whole world of services increasingly required by today’s new, constantly evolving mobility scenarios.
So as well as offering a complete range of
versions, Ducato Electric will also feature modular battery size options, with
range from 220 to 360 km (NEDC cycle) and different charging configurations .
All combined with impressive performances: speed limited to 100 km/h to
optimise energy use, maximum power of 90 kW and maximum torque of 280 Nm.
What’s more, the new electric powerplant
does not penalise Ducato’s strong point: best-in-class load volumes from 10 to
17 m3, and a payload of up to 1,950 kg, the best in its category.
We made extensive interviews with the two
managers behind the project, which is a cornerstone in the transition we see
nowadays from the traditional “choice of vehicle” to a “choice
of mobility”. Indeed, in the
present day business environment, Total Cost of Mobility determines now your
purchase decision, instead of Total Cost of Ownership…
More on the new Ducato range and the series of video interviews – done with the kind assistance of Helena Menten – of the inspiring people of Fiat Professional soon!
It had to happen. BMW cultivates pleasure of driving. And this also goes for their E-cars. Even more so, as they have excellent torque and therefore massive pulling power. And what’s more, you can use several motors at once.
So it was only a matter of time that a trial car with superpower is created. Here it is: BMW Group presented its “Power BEV” during its #NEXTGen event in Munich.
Just before we go further, just explain here a bit more on the #NEXTGen event: From 25 to 27 June 2019 the company invites selected international journalists, analysts and further stakeholders to “BMW Group #NEXTGen” at BMW Welt in Munich. With this event, The BMW Group chooses a new direction with regard to how it presents its future technologies, services and products.
But back to the car now. Indeed, BMW explores
with this “Versuchswagen” what is technically possible. A BMW 5 Series was
taken off the production line, and then fitted with three fifth-generation
electric drive units, resulting in a maximum system output in excess of …530
kW/720 hp. This transforms the 5-Series into a supercar: with this power, it accelerates
from 0 to 100 km/h in comfortably under three seconds.
But it is not only about straight line
performance, it is also about handling. A true BMW also puts a smile on the
driver’s face through corners, and so the engineers got to work on the chassis
Separately controlled motors provide unseen agility…
To this end, the chassis and powertrain engineers worked together particularly closely to maximise the car’s performance. Key to its dynamic superb qualities is that the two electric motors at the rear axle are controlled separately. This brings e-torque vectoring into play, which enables maximum drive power to be translated into forward propulsion even in extremely dynamic driving manoeuvres.
The result is more effective and precise control
than with a limited slip differential, because actively targeted inputs are
possible in any driving situation. By contrast, a limited slip differential
always reacts to a difference in rotation speed between the driven wheels, and therefore
is slower to react.
As said, the drive system comprises three
fifth-generation drive units, each of which brings together an electric motor
and the associated power electronics and power take-off within a single
housing. One is mounted at the front axle and two (a double drive unit) at the
rear axle. Another notable aspect of this generation alongside its eye-catching
power is that it is entirely free of rare earths. An electric motor of this
type will make its series production debut in the BMW iX3. The iX3 will only
have one motor, though, rather than three.
A series production car forms the basis…
As said, a current BMW 5 Series production
model serves as the donor car for the Power BEV. Integrating a drive system of
this type into a production car represents a serious technical undertaking, but
it has been achieved here with absolutely no restriction in passenger
compartment space. This makes it far easier to assess this drive concept
It has also allowed the engineers to look
even more effectively into the possibilities opened up by two separately
controllable electric motors at the rear axle with e-torque vectoring.
And that means, in future series-production
vehicle projects, that the right technology can be selected for the model at
hand. Customers will therefore be provided with the most appropriate technology
for their choice of vehicle concept. Wow! Needless to say, we are now looking
to the E-future with a very broad smile! Driving pleasure will be certainly
part of it!
This is the second part of our series about
the visit to the FCA Centro Stile in Torino. It started with an intriguing interview
and talk with Klaus Busse, head of Design for Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Alfa Romeo
and Maserati, offering us interesting insights into the sculptural design
philosophy and language of the iconic sporting Milano brand. This talk
Hans Knol ten Bensel
HktB: “When we look at earlier design, and I want to take you here to the first Giulia, you see this modernism with the aerodynamic concepts brought into the brand and also the first dashboards of this Giulia, with their, as the Germans say it, “neue Sachlichkheit”, a strictly modern, pure, rectangular style, with a horizontal ribbon speedometer flanked by a small rev counter and column gearchange. In later years, with the later updates of this Giulia, this was again replaced by floor gearchange, a wood rimmed three spoke steering wheel, and two classic round dials for speed and revs in their individual clusters.
Back to tradition, again we would say. What can you say about this tension between absolute, purified modernism and a more traditional (sporting) tradition in the styling language of the brand?
B: This is a beautiful question, thank you for this. Of course, we have the same challenge here. When I say Italian design process, let’s start with the classical approach and then I will come back to the modern aspect. The classical approach at Centro Stile, even though we have virtual reality, we do virtual reality reviews with the teams around the world, we scan, we mill, we digitize, we use computers, out of these 200 people, a big amount of people is dealing with computers, one way or the other.
But, when we design an Alfa Romeo, we always do it by hand. Meaning, that once the sketch is created, and we have the model in front of us, out of clay and clay material, hand modeling is still the king. Because, unless you shop online, when you buy any of your clothes, you look at it and you touch it. Because touch is for us humans such an important thing. And the other thing is, when you look at the car itself, we want to create something than feels good to the hand. I always say to joke, the best way to experience an Alfa Romeo is to hand wash it.
As a matter of fact, any car, when you hand wash it, you experience it. And there are some brands that take a lot of pride in super sharp edges, and it is not a very nice experience hand washing that car. It is not criticism; I am just pointing that out. Our way is to have the very sensuous experience touching an Alfa Romeo. And you can only achieve that if you hand model the car. Now we support it with computer, because we want to be fast in our process and we want to have high quality. Clearly, the creation process is manual, and that is a very Italian thing.
This is the land of sculptures. You go to Florence, Rome, there are beautiful sculptures. Then of course, when it comes to technology, like the lighting technology, we can use the modern technology to emphasize graphics which were not possible in the past. You go from halogen reflector to projectors that are very, very slim, so that’s on the exterior where the technology helps us.
Coming to the interior, there is a lot of discussion about connectivity, screens these days. So for us, the question for Alfa Romeo is always, considering we build a drivers’ car, with the handling of the car being equally important, so what room do we dedicate to screens and connectivity experience, and what you don’t see in this concept car and in an Alfa Romeo, is these big screens, the “tombstone” that almost blocks your view, that almost screams for attention.
For Alfa Romeo, we do use these screens, we have of course large screens in this vehicle, we also have 12 inch cluster, etc, etc, we have all that, but we keep it more like it’s here to support you, but it is not saying “look at me, look at me”…
The graphics themselves, what we use, is of course state of the art, in terms of connectivity, in terms of HMI, so for is, this is the connection we try to find between the classic approach to handmodelling, sculpting, and the historic approach to design, but then combining it with state of the art technology, how we assist the driver, and bring an enjoyable experience to being in the car. It is a long answer to your question, but it was a very very good question because it comes very close to what we are dealing with every day, how do you combine these two worlds.”
conversation was far from over, but then covers different subjects, with we
will soon continue to cover in a following part in this series…
What we saw and heard on our visit to the Torino based Centro Stile was nothing short of absolutely stunning. We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group head of design Klaus Busse and his team, both from Alfa Romeo and Fiat styling.
Needless to say that we are the coming days eager to report on all this extensively, and indeed you can expect to read our findings in several reports…
The next few photos just lift a tip of the veil of the vast material we collected and photographed…
We just want to thank here the magnificent efforts of the dynamic PR team of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium, notably Dominique Fontignies, PR & Communication Director and Wim Willems, Press Officer, for sharing the knowledge of these experts and their creations with us.
We will have this week a workshop visit the
Centro Stile of the FCA Group, where we will also be able to have an interview
and talk with the designers who created the stunning Alfa Romeo Tonale and Fiat
Centroventi. Both cars are very important harbingers of things to come, both
for Alfa and Fiat.
The Tonale concept car is the Italian brand’s first plug-in hybrid compact SUV, and after its global debut in Geneva, it was first seen in Italy at the 58th edition of the “Salone del Mobile.Milano”.
The Tonale concept car embodies all Alfa
Romeo’s trademark language of beauty: it is a compact UV for urban use with a
sporty personal In keeping with the Alfa Romeo manifesto, every detail is designed
around the driver, with driving pleasure delivered through ergonomics, use of
premium materials and, above all, unrivalled dynamic handling. Furthermore, the
Tonale concept car is the Alfa Romeo take on electrification.
The front end displays the trademark
trefoil and the distinctive Alfa Romeo shield, which acts as a bold focus
point. Completing the design of the front end and accompanying this iconic
element are “3 plus 3” light clusters which in turn evoke the proud
look of SZ and Brera.
The rear of Tonale is characterized by an
enveloping rear window completed on the top by a suspended wing that exalts
continuity with the clear sunroof. As for every Alfa Romeo, design is
characterised by a distinctive touch. The rear light clusters are more like a
graphic sign than an optical lighting element, a sort of signature created
directly by the hand of an artist.
On the sides, the full and elegant volumes recall
the Duetto or the Disco Volante Spider, while the “Linea GT” of
Tonale reinterprets the pouncing stance and feeling of safety conveyed by the
award-winning GT junior.
Several celebrated style elements are
picked up in its design to become a tangible manifestation of the brand’s
history in a performance which elicits a modern approach to new Alfa Romeo
anatomy. The “teledial” wheel, for instance, is an element which hints
to the traditional DNA of Alfa Romeo. The design of 21-inch rim of Tonale
invokes the concept of a rotary telephone dial through a light architectural
structure for a clear, high-impact interpretation of the circular theme. This
style choice dates back to the 1960s, when it was sported by the iconic 33
The cockpit of Tonale is boldly designed
around driver but also to accommodate passengers in comfort. The contrast of
premium materials, such as cool solidity of aluminium that meets the warm softness
of leather and Alcantara, enhance the emotions of both driver and passengers.
Inside, there are translucent panels and a backlit central tunnel. The DNA mode
selector, one of the key elements of Alfa Romeo, is perfectly at ease on the
Comes the Concept Centoventi…
Fiat Concept Centoventi is fundamentally a “blank canvas” ready to be painted to suit the customer’s tastes and needs at any time of his life or day, without no customisation restrictions linked to the specific time of purchase. In fact, it will be produced in just one livery, which customers will be able to personalise using the “4U” program, with a choice of 4 roofs, 4 bumpers, 4 wheel covers and 4 external wrappings. So, just like modern devices, this vehicle can be updated with the greatest freedom and imagination in its colours, interior configuration, roof configuration, infotainment system and even battery range. And this is one of the concept car’s strong points: owners no longer have to wait for new special editions or facelifts, as they can “change” their cars any day they like. It is made even more revolutionary by the presence, at the launch, of 120 additional accessories that will generate a genuinely new business model, as well as a community of Fiat Concept Centoventi fans.
In other words, Fiat Concept Centoventi is
the response to a real design and business challenge, which embodies the
functional spirit of the brand and pays tribute to its 120 years of history, at
the same time, with a modern take on some trademark style elements that hint to
the Panda of the 1980s. Fiat Concept Centoventi is inspired by Italian design
and embodies Fiat’s “less is more” concept, which means getting rid
of everything unnecessary and complex in a car to provide more space for people
(More You), for attention to the environment and the community (More Care) and
for the brand’s DNA in terms of values and looks (More Fiat). By playing these
three cards, Fiat Concept Centoventi revolutionises the idea of electric
mobility, in town and out, successfully overcoming the tougher and tougher
challenges – in terms of traffic, regulations and costs of ownership – while
simultaneously making the most of the new opportunities offered by electricity.
Soon we will treat you in these columns
with a fascinating tale about what we heard, saw and experienced at the Centro
Stile in Turin… stay tuned!
Your servant will soon be your regular guide at the Brussels Audi site where the formidable Audi e-tron 55 quattro rolls of the production line. I will explain you in four languages, English, German, French and Dutch in a 2,5 hour factory tour all you want to know about the production of this formidable all-electric car. Soon you can start booking me (and my colleagues) on this tour, I will keep you posted when registration starts.
But in the meantime, in these columns I tell you already somewhat more about the Brussels factory; In further reports I tell you somewhat more about the Audi production techniques building the big Audi e-tron.
Of course, this series about the ins and
outs of Audi e-tron production is also an occasion to start with a regular
column about car factories of different brands and the way they build their cars.
So stay posted!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
In Brussels, the e-future has begun…
Since fall 2018, Audi Brussels has been
producing the first fully electric SUV from the brand with the four rings exclusively
for the world market. Actually, volume production of the Audi e-tron began on
September 3, 2018. Designing and producing the e-tron led Audi to establish numerous
in house competencies and it indeed has developed both the battery technology and
the drive by itself.
Also the Brussels factory was on a learning curve. The employees in Brussels received a total of over 200,000 hours of training to build the first fully electric Audi. Employees have replanned and implemented many production steps in production. Since summer 2016, the plant has comprehensively remodeled the body shop, paint shop and assembly shop step by step and has established its own battery manufacturing facility. With the intention of developing the Brussels plant further into a key component of the Audi production network, Audi has optimized the plant’s processes in accordance with the Audi Production System (APS).
Major features of the APS are group work and continuous improvement processes. To improve the process chains, Audi has closely integrated the external suppliers and service providers into the production process. Short throughput times in production, low inventories and a high proportion of added value are the objectives on which Audi Brussels focuses.
In addition to a body shop, assembly shop and paint shop, Audi Brussels also has a modern Analysis and Pre-Series Center. This links the areas of Production and Technical Development, ensuring the high quality of the Audi e-tron.
The Brussels site also has its own battery manufacturing
facility to support production of the battery-electric SUV. This makes it the key
plant for electric mobility within the Audi Group
The Brussels plant is the first in the world with certified carbon-neutral volume production in the premium segment. Audi Brussels compensates for all emissions that occur during production and at the location. This takes place predominantly through renewable energy but also through environmental projects. At Audi, environmental protection is part of the corporate strategy. This applies to technology as well as to the production processes.
The most stringent of environmental
standards are applied at the Audi Brussels site. In 2013, the Brussels region
recognized the plant as an “eco-dynamic company” – a regional environmental
certification that is awarded every three years. Audi Brussels was awarded the
highest rating of three stars. Since 2001, the Brussels site has also been
certified according to the environmental audit of the European Commission
(EMAS: Eco-Management and Audit Scheme). Audi Brussels installed a photovoltaic
system with a total area of 37,000 square meters at the site. As a result, Audi
Brussels operates the largest photovoltaic system in Brussels and generates
more than 3,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year and saves around 700
metric tons of CO2.
In late 2016, the plant received the
Business Award from the weekly magazine Trends. Audi Brussels was chosen as
Belgium’s most ecological company. The production of the first electric car of
the Audi brand will be carbon-neutral from the start of production in the
Brussels plant. To achieve this, Audi Brussels will procure green electricity
and purchase biogas certificates to make its heat-generation activities carbon neutral.
There are also compensation projects for emissions produced in part by the
company’s own fleet. Independent experts have certified the carbon-neutrality.
…and a bit of history
On August 1, 2018, the last Audi A1 of the first generation rolled off production line in Brussels. Since May 2010, a total of just under 910,000 units of the Audi A1 have been produced in Brussels. The successor model to the Audi A1 is now built in Martorell, Spain.
The plant in Brussels will turn 70 this
year. On April 7, 1949, the first vehicle rolled off the production line there.
The Audi A1 was the first model in the plant’s 70-year history to be produced
exclusively in the European capital. Before the plant was taken over by AUDI AG
in 2007, it had belonged to Volkswagen AG since 1970, producing various models
of the Volkswagen Group. Since belonging to AUDI AG, the Brussels facility has
assumed an important role in the Audi Group, and it now employs around 3,000
people. The start of production of the Audi A1 in 2010 marked the beginning of
a new era. Audi Brussels expanded its production in 2011 with the addition of
the Audi A1 Sportback and in 2014 with the Audi S1 and Audi S1 Sportback. In
2012, Audi Brussels produced the Audi A1 quattro as a special limited edition
Dual learning and focus on employees…
Audi Brussels cooperates closely with the
trade unions. In a letter of intent from 2007, management and the trade unions
jointly defined the framework conditions for good cooperation. One important
component is the working time account system used at Audi Brussels since 2010.
It offers the company and its employees much more flexibility. Audi Brussels
awarded with the title of “Top Employer” for the fourth time in a row.
Audi also invests in education and training. Dual education allows the students of the two partner schools to complete part of their training on location at the company. Here, Audi Brussels cooperates with the Flemish school “GO! TA Halle” and the francophone school “Don Bosco Woluwé Saint-Pierre.” The project gives students the opportunity to gain more practical experience during their training. Another goal is to convince more young people in Belgium to choose an attractive technical apprenticeship.
Audi Brussels currently employs 2,756 employees (as of December 31, 2018), Of these employees, 940 work in production-related areas, while 1,816 employees work directly in production. With an average age of 44.7 years, the employees have worked an average of 18.6 years at Audi Brussels. The three working languages are French, Dutch and German. In December, Audi Brussels was awarded the “Diversity Label 2018” of the Brussels-Capital Region. The award, which was started in 2008 by the Brussels employment office supports companies in the fight against discrimination. To obtain the Label, Audi Brussels developed a “diversity plan” and implemented it.
Audi Brussels focuses on the employees,
which the plant’s own health center shows. It offers a prevention program for
the entire workforce: the Audi Check-Up. Experienced nurses and doctors work to
maintain and improve the employees’ health and help to recognize any risk factors
at an early stage and to counteract them.
Excellent logistiscs are the key to success…
Automotive Park logistics and supplier
center Automotive Park, the state-of-the-art logistics and supplier center, is
connected with the assembly shops by a 450 meter long bridge. It provides the
infrastructure for efficient processes in the supply of materials to the
Brussels plant. Every day, trucks and trains deliver 5,000 parts and components
from 457 suppliers. Due to the close integration of external suppliers with the
plant’s internal logistics processes, productivity is further boosted on a
As said, in the next reports I will tell
you more about the actual production techniques and processes of the Audi
e-tron. Stay tuned!
(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…