Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) and Alpine create a hydrogen concept car…  

Students at the Italian Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) presented the ‘A4810 Project by IED’, their new concept car made in collaboration with Alpine. The result of this collaboration between the Italian design school and Alpine is a hydrogen-powered two-seater supercar.

Twenty-eight Masters students studying Transportation Design at IED worked on the project.

Alpine proposed the students to design a ‘super berlinette’ for the year 2035. The two-seater supercar was designed to be a high-performing vehicle both in terms of performance and environmental impact.

After the brief was given last autumn, students worked individually to come up with their own interpretation and present it to the Alpine designers. Alpine then selected a combination of two main ideas. Based on the two selected proposals, the young designers created the ‘A4810 Project by IED’: a light yet powerful and agile concept car that boasts pure driving pleasure.

During the design phase, the students sought to combine vision and innovation, without losing sight of the traditional roots of the French car manufacturer.

Furthermore, they chose a name that conveyed the brand’s legacy. In fact, ‘4810’ is the height (in meters) of the Mont Blanc: the highest and most emblematic peak in the Alps that sits at the border between Italy and France, like a bridge connecting IED and Alpine. The car manufacturer is named after the very same mountains and evokes the joy of driving along their winding roads.

A STUNNING LOOKING CONCEPT CAR

The Alpine A4810 Project by IED (length 5,091 mm – width 2,010 mm – height 1,055 mm – wheelbase 2,717 mm) is a two-seater supercar with the experimental combination of the shape of a berlinette with a hydrogen powertrain.

While the engine and fuel tanks are built like those on a typical hypercar, the subtraction process is proof of considerable innovation. The design alternates between empty and full spaces, giving the vehicle a lightweight look and aerodynamic features inspired by Formula 1 models. Furthermore, the A4810 Project by IED was tasked with bringing the brand to the cusp of the sports car category.

The team of students used digital tools to design the interior through sketches, 3D models, renderings, animations, and HMI (Human Machine Interface) development.

The A4810 Project by IED was presented on Friday, 18th March with a livestream broadcast from OGR Tech in Turin. For more info, please visit www.iedA4810.makeitlive.it.

Just click your way to Alpine’s sporty future, and in the meantime, have a look at the photos…!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Renault unveils 3D sketching: a digital touch to every drawing

It all happens at Renault’s technocentre at Guyancourt3D sketching brings a revolution…

As some readers may know, your servant makes daily ink drawings of flowers on his Instagram account hanskrisjanknol and is an artist painter who has exhibited twice this year. Anything that has to do with drawing, painting or figurative art in general therefore has his keen interest. Needless to say that the drawing and sketching of car designers and stylists also take centre stage… so when Renault brings a news story about the status of 3D sketching in today’s electronic world, I have to share it with you, dear reader… just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

All one needs to do 3D sketching is a VR headset, two controllers, and an internet connection

As is the case with film, video games, and landscape mapping, the past few decades has seen the automotive industry incorporate more technological advancements in 3D modelling to bring its projects to life. Nowadays, before a car can be sent to the production line, it must first be born in a 3D world. This mission is entrusted to designers, whose set of digital tools is constantly growing. One such tool involves 3D sketching – revolutionary technology that allows designers to draw with neither pencil nor drawing board. Welcome to the future!

It all happens at Renault’s technocentre at Guyancourt. A man, decked with a VR headset and a controller in each hand, stands in the middle of a room gesticulating wildly. He appears to be drawing invisible lines in the air around him. A curious scene that is clearly reminiscent of the world of virtual reality gaming. And yet, Udo – that’s the man’s name – is not a gamer… he is a designer! And he is hard at work. His latest gadget? A program for 3D sketching; a drawing method currently being rolled out at Renault Group’s Design division.

With 3D sketching, you are immersed in a space where there are neither constraints and limits. Udo, Chief Designer

What does 3D sketching involve?

3D sketching is a form of intuitive technology that enables you to ‘draw in thin air’ all around you.

Draw in thin air? Pablo Picasso was already carrying out such experiments in 1949. The famous Spanish artist replaced pencil with cigarette lighter to perform his ‘dancing light’ pieces. These ephemeral drawings were immortalised by photographer Gjon Mili, and the technique was known as light painting (or light drawing). It was an art form that, even back then, saw ideas come to life out of thin air.

Today, 3D sketching is much the same idea, though minus the lighter and camera. The technique requires the use of a VR headset (virtual reality headset). Invented 50 years ago, it became more widespread about ten years ago, with consumer models for video game use hitting the market.

With the headset firmly on and plugged in, the designer is immersed in an entirely virtual 360° drawing studio. Using two controllers (one in each hand), they can then choose colours from a palette, draw lines, create shapes, fill surfaces, and much more. A computer program models and records each and every movement.

All one needs to do 3D sketching is a VR headset, two controllers, and an internet connection

Digital creative freedom that is almost limitless

Near the end of the 1990s, the work of designers had already been through a first transformation with the popularisation of drawing on digital tablets. Today, 3D sketching takes it a step further where designers no longer need a tablet, pencil, mouse, or even a desktop to work. Design is entering a new era: one where digital tools sit at the heart of automotive design.

Renault Group has been harnessing digital tools for some time. Today marks the beginning of a new era for designers.

As the technology continues to improve, digitalisation gives designers a considerable amount of freedom tenfold and makes their projects even more accessible. It has never been easier to quickly whip up a 3D sketch, create perspective, model shapes – even on a 1:1 scale – or fill volumes. “It saves time,” says Udo. “It takes at least four weeks to run a scan or data file through a machine, while everything here is in real time. That’s a huge advantage.” In short, 3D sketching makes it far easier to experiment with new ideas as they are so readily brought to life.

Only drawbacks: eye strain, headaches, and other back and joint pain experienced by some designers after prolonged use. “Drawing in 360° means you have to be in good shape and take breaks every hour,” says Udo.

Engineers are already thinking about ways to make the experience more enjoyable and less restrictive. This includes making the headset lighter. For example, mixed reality headsets are being developed, so designers can draw in VR while still being able to see what is happening around them and interact with colleagues.

Collaboration 2.0: distances are no object anymore…

3D sketching adds another string to the designer’s bow: colleagues can now work together at the same time, on the same project, regardless of the distance between them.

“As long as you have an Internet connection, geographical limitations are a thing of the past. You can feel like you’re together even if you’re actually thousands of miles apart,” says Udo. Two designers can communicate with each other via the 3D sketching tool using earphones and a built-in microphone in the VR headset. They can then talk, share what they have each been doing on their own and even work together on joint projects. All without having to leave their home, offices, or wherever they may be in the world.

The outcome being that possibilities are endless, and people misunderstand each other far less often.

Thanks to VR that acts as a gateway to a world of 3D, we can express ourselves more precisely.

But that’s not all: the workflow has also been improved. First, models are made using 3D sketching before being exported as a digital file. The files can then be used by all those who are part of a vehicle’s design and production line. For example, designers can hand over a digital copy of their work to a modeler who makes a physical mock-up of the design or to an engineer who will estimate its feasibility. Much like digital modelling, 3D sketching removes obstacles that may arise from miscommunication and gradually breaks down barriers between professions.

The augmented designer’s new pencil

For some time now, digital drawing has offered those at the Design Department the power to produce more iterations of their work, to work faster, and to go further, right from the outset. This trend has been taken up a notch thanks to 3D sketching. In addition to reducing costs and manufacturing times, this new technology makes it easier to view and review working sketches.

In concrete terms, designers can now hone in on specific details of their drawing with greater precision, experiment with different surface types, work with mirroring tools to stretch a 2D shape into 3D object, attain a better finish on sketches and models, present projects in real time, and even give life to their drawings thanks to the compatible nature of 3D printers.

Modern designers harness the numerous advantages of such technology, along with new skills and a wide range of tools to express their ideas and thus evolve into augmented designers.

We will always need physical mock-ups of working designs because customers want to buy a real product, something they can touch and feel.

According to Udo, “While 3D sketching is yet another tool to be used, traditional methods still have a role to play.” Digital and physical techniques go hand in hand. They each play their part in the car making process. Modelers continue to use plasticine to make models. An ideal material to use when working on the silhouette of a new model, they are essential in determining the success a design during the final stages of the design process. Similarly, 3D sketching is not a substitute for the designer’s talent when it comes to drawing, a cornerstone of the design process.

3D sketching is already a crowd favorite in other industries

Renault Group designers aren’t the only ones to work with the new technology. Already used in many design schools, it is now used by designers working on motorcycles, sports shoes, bicycle helmets, and backpacks. It is fair to say that in the future it will be a key to the success of numerous projects in fields as varied as fashion, interior design, medicine, architecture, and video games…

Brave new world!

Stay tuned for more Renault news: next week I will be testing the Arkana E-TECH Hybrid…

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

VISION EQXX – taking electric range and efficiency to another level…

Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX, exterior

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)[1], 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.

Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX, exterior

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.

Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX, interior

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).

Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX, interior

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 is how Mercedes-Benz imagines the future of electric cars.

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…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Ford conducts autonomous vehicle research with UK-based Deep Sea Container Port

Autonomous vehicles will certainly be important to improve the efficiency of large ports, all over the world.

So Ford collaborates with DP World London Gateway to demonstrate how autonomous delivery could benefit large worksites, such as ports. DP World London Gateway – one of the UK’s fastest growing ports – is located 40 km east of central London and already embraces automated technology as an intrinsic part of its operations as a deep-sea container port.

The trial is part of Ford’s Self-Driving Research Programme, which works directly with customers to better understand how autonomous vehicles could integrate into their businesses

Researchers monitored DP World employees as they both loaded and accessed parcels directly to and from a simulated autonomous vehicle – without any assistance from a driver…brave new world!

The initiative is part of Ford’s Self-Driving Research Programme, designed to help businesses understand how autonomous vehicles could benefit their operations.

First launched in June to explore the potential impact upon courier services and doorstep deliveries, the DP World trial tested how recipients managed when accessing self-driving delivery vehicles themselves.

The underlying intention behind the pilot programme is to identify new opportunities and models for autonomous vehicle operations – in particular understanding how existing processes and human interactions can work alongside automated vehicles.

“It was incredible to see how enthusiastically the team at DP World embraced working with the support of a self-driving vehicle. We are continuing to work very closely with our customers to learn how these vehicles can benefit their businesses and it is exciting to see first-hand the impact this can have across a diverse range of locations,” said Richard Balch, director, Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility, Ford of Europe. “What worked so well at DP World premises could equally be of benefit at universities, airports and manufacturing facilities.”

Ford has been testing self-driving technology in major cities across the U.S. in partnership with Argo AI. The company plans to invest around $7 billion (€6.02 billion) in autonomous vehicles during 10 years through to 2025 – $5 billion (€4.3 billion) of that from 2021 forward – as part of its mobility initiatives.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW presents the Concept M: a bold new vehicle concept…

We will be driving the coming month the stylish M4 Coupé, and we are looking forward to it. But in the meantime, we show you here some (very) interesting news from BMW, which is a harbinger of stylish things for the brand to come…

At Art Basel’s 2021 Miami Beach show, BMW M GmbH is presenting an expressive new vehicle concept on the global stage. The BMW Concept XM looks ahead to the most powerful BMW M car ever to go into series production, which is set to begin at the end of next year.

The BMW Concept XM provides a first glimpse of the new front-end design for BMW’s forthcoming luxury-class models. It will also introduce its audience to a highly progressive and distinctive take on BMW X model design and an all-new form of luxury and sense of space for the interior.

The series-production model – the BMW XM – will be built from the end of 2022 at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in the USA, the most important sales market for the new high-performance car. BMW M will therefore be introducing its first standalone vehicle since the legendary BMW M1 in the year it celebrates its 50th anniversary.  The BMW XM will be available in plug-in hybrid form only and exclusively as an M model.

The bold exterior styling of the Concept XM reflects the car’s exceptional performance attributes: dynamism, agility and precision, plus an all-electric range of up to 80 km. The newly developed M Hybrid drive system in the BMW Concept XM brings together a V8 engine and a high-performance electric motor to develop maximum output of 550 kW/750 hp and peak torque of 1,000 Nm (737 lb-ft). The first electrified vehicle from BMW M GmbH in the high-performance segment is therefore pointing the way for the future of the brand.

BMW M goes its own way in the luxury segment…

The BMW Concept XM sees BMW M GmbH forging a distinctive path in the luxury segment. The car’s exterior majors on presence and extrovert appeal. Inside the car, a special take on the driver-focused cockpit typical for the M models meets an all-new rear compartment design: high-comfort seats and an illuminated, sculptural headliner add panache.

“The design of the BMW Concept XM is an extravagant statement by BMW M in the heart of the luxury segment,” says Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design. “It has a unique identity and embodies an expressive lifestyle like no other model in the BMW line-up.”

The front end: progressive design for maximum presence.

The BMW Concept XM debuts the new, progressive front-end design for BMW’s luxury-class models, a version of which will be seen for the first time in 2022 as part of the BMW model offensive in the luxury segment. The headlights have been split into two separate modules. The horizontal kidney grille sits between the headlights and tapers towards the outer edges, producing a near-octagonal outline that emphasises the front end’s character. The black kidney grille elements are enclosed within an intricate surround and appear almost to be floating freely within a High-gloss Black surface. The new XM logo in the kidney grille and the large air intakes hint at the power of the V8 engine, which teams up with the electric motor to form the M Hybrid system.

M-specific details point to compromise-free performance.

The glasshouse of the BMW Concept XM rises up vertically, accentuating the front end’s imposing feel. The colour of the roof contrasts with the black finish of the A-pillars. The windscreen seems to have an even heavier rake as a result, injecting modern dynamism into the front end. Slim LED searchlights have been incorporated into the roof above the A-pillars.

The powerful and heavily contoured proportions of the BMW Concept XM highlight the car’s identity and draw the eye to the coupé-like character of the body. The visually striking front end, long bonnet and stretched, sloping roofline present a characterful two-box design with a distinctive outline.

The two-tone paint finish of the BMW Concept XM further accentuates its lines: the upper section is in matt gold-bronze, while the lower section sports the Space Grey metallic shade. Below the window graphic, a broad, High-gloss Black line – the “black belt” – separates the two exterior colours. The charging flap rearwards of the front-left wheel is a reminder of the M Hybrid drive system at work.

The rear : bold stature

The design of the rear end likewise accentuates the car’s powerful stance, and the BMW Concept XM cuts a low and sporty figure from this angle. The BMW logo is laser-etched into the window below each of the two cant rails. This is a stylistic reference to the BMW M1, to date the only example of a standalone model developed exclusively by BMW M GmbH.

The interior design – high performance and extrovert luxury.

Inside the BMW Concept XM, the driver will find a distinctive M interpretation of driver-focused cockpit design. The lines and surface design of the instrument panel, centre console, door trim and seats give the ambience in the front compartment a progressive feel with their powerful geometry and high-quality materials. Brown, vintage-look leather, copper and carbon fibre create a bridge between luxury and motor sport. A bold trim element provides clear visual separation between the driver’s area and the other sections of the car.

The new BMW Curved Display screen grouping creates a neat balance between traditional driver focus and modern digitality. Red accents on the steering wheel and centre console are M-specific references to the car’s sporting DNA. A trio of vertical elements presented in the three colours of the BMW M brand logo form the heart of the centre console.

Spacious and luxurious: the M Lounge.

The unwavering driver focus of the front compartment contrasts with the extravagant and luxurious lounge-like ambience in the rear of the BMW Concept XM. Special materials, visually powerful surfaces and expressive details turn the rear seats into the unique M Lounge, black-tinted rear side windows underscoring the abiding sense of privacy here. While warm brown leather dominates the cockpit, the rear is decked out in the rich colour shade Petrol. The large rear seat bench with its deep seat recesses forms an inviting space to relax. Only the diamond-shaped area of the head restraints – which provides the supporting function familiar from BMW M Sport seats in other models – is leather-trimmed.

Illuminated and sculptural: the  headliner .

The visual highlight of the cabin is its headliner with a three-dimensional prism structure. A combination of indirect and direct lighting produces a relief-like structure. The ambient lighting can be activated in the three BMW M colours.

BMW Curved Display with M-specific user interface.

Based on the latest generation of BMW iDrive, the M-specific version of the control/operation system translates the high-performance character of the BMW Concept XM into the digital world. Showcased in the familiar three M colours, it visualises the modes of the hybrid drive system as well as the pure-electric driving mode with captivating aesthetic appeal.

Stay tuned on these pages!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Centro Stile Fiat and Abarth creates a stunning one-off based on the beautiful ‘60s Abarth 1000SP…

The slender original ’60s Abarth 1000 SP on the left, alongside the new one-off successor…

Sometimes, things happen which make the heart of a car enthusiast beat faster. Like an initiative taken by the people of the Centro Stile Fiat & Abarth.

They have now rolled out a contemporary interpretation of the superbly stylish and iconic Abarth prototipo Designed in 1966 by the Milan engineer Mario Colucci. Just look at the accompanying photo. Of course, we can only hope and pray that this will not limit itself to this one-off styling and engineering exercise.

A beautiful evocation of the purity of the original Abarth 1000SP…

The points and lines of the original car’s design were respected to ensure continuity between the ’60s sports car and the concept car of the new millennium.

The contemporary Abarth 1000 SP respects three fundamental design principles already seen in the ’60s model. First and foremost, the lightness of its forms, its volumes and of course its weight.

The second principle is aerodynamics: modern design technologies have made it possible to combine the iconic lines of the 1000 SP with an aerodynamic coefficient worthy of a contemporary sports car.

Finally, ergonomics, aimed at improving the user experience, to optimize the vehicle’s control and agile driveability.

A faithful evocation…

The Abarth 1000 SP echoes the lines and aesthetics characteristic of its forerunner. The sinuous body, with the soft surfaces of the fenders highlighting the position of the wheels, takes up the pattern of the spider with a central engine.

The cockpit glazing features shaped side deflectors, with their profile lowered towards the roll bar, the latter strictly “in view”, to highlight our being in the presence of a “no-holds-barred” spider.

Of course, today’s passive safety requirements make the car taller and more imposing…

The rear geometries of the Abarth 1000 SP accentuate the harmony between the lights and the exhaust pipes.

Of course, The livery is strictly red and the characteristic air intakes appear all over, from the front bonnet to the cooling slots in its rear counterpart. 

The headlights also follow the minimalist scheme of the historic 1000 SP, with point lights on the nose and a single pair of round headlights to accentuate the car’s remarkable breadth when seen from behind.

The present Abarth 1000 SP thus maintains a very similar identity to its forerunner’s, courtesy of the meticulous work to update the historic, no-holds-barred Abarth 1000 SP.

Despite modern safety requirements, the designers of Centro Stile managed to retain the character of the original…

Conversely, the tubular chassis under the “skin” of the historic Sport Prototipo gives way to a hybrid frame, with a central cell in carbon fiber and an aluminum front. The “new” Abarth 1000 SP features a powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder, 1742-cc central engine, capable of 240 hp. The sophisticated mechanics of the concept boasts overlapping triangle suspension in the front, with an advanced MacPherson strut at the rear.

We will tell you more about the original 1966 Abarth later, so stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel.

How the Tonale prototype design model was born for the Geneva Salon…two years ago.

Klaus Busse presented the Alfa Romeo Tonale two years ago in Geneva…

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.

Craftsmen working on the clay model, succeeding into making it a real looking car…

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 believe, 3D printed elements were used…
Also here 3D printed elements abound…

I found the photos so interesting that I want to show them here to you on these pages.

The steering wheel gets a “real” feel…
Craftsmen sculpting the rear end…

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…

Just enjoy the photos with me!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Did You know “e-Village” in the “Green Pea” building in Torino?

Dynamic Stellantis PR Manager Dominique Fontignies sent us yesterday his photo of the Fiat Centoventi concept displayed at the “e-Village” in the Green Pea building in Torino.

What is this e-Village? It is a branch of Mirafiori Motor Village in Turin and it’s the biggest sales point of electrified cars in Europe.

It’s located in an area of 1300 square meters inside Green Pea and showcases all FCA technologies related to electrification, including hybrid and all-electric vehicles on the market, as well as prototypes of upcoming models.

Another photo made by Dominique Fontignies…

It’s a zero-impact space that adopts the “reuse, reduce, recycle” philosophy and it can be considered the fulfillment of the efforts made by FCA to promote the future of mobility.

At Floor 0 – move, energy & connect, inside the e-Village: the space entirely dedicated to the sustainable future of mobility wanted by Stellantis, the fourth automotive group in the world.

In e-Village halls you can find all solutions of the Group’s for the avant-garde mobility, such as the Electric New 500, Panda Mild Hybrid and Jeep and Ducato’s electric vehicle range.

See also Green Pea (@greenpeaofficial) • Instagram-photo’s and -video’s

When your servant will be mobile having recovered from his surgery operations, it is certainly a place he is keen to visit!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fiat launches on social media a stunning “one shot” film about three unique 500’s …

Outstanding design is one of the hallmarks of Fiat cars, with the superbly iconic 500 or “Cinquecento” of course taking centre stage. Indeed, this is further shown by a remarkable docufilm “One-Shot”.

The trailer of this film is now on air, looking “behind the scenes” of the creation of the One-Offs, three exclusive interpretations of the New Fiat 500, by Armani, Bvlgari and Kartell.

The Bulgari logo on the 500…

The full film can be viewed on Fiat’s social media channels, first of all on YouTube. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGGd7EcnmNI&feature=youtu.be. But you can also see it on FCA’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

In the film, we see the unfolding of “Plan B” when Geneva Motor Show was canceled, and it was decided to present the “one off” cars in front of the Milan Duomo…

This breathtaking journey, narrated by Olivier François – President, Fiat Brand Global and FCA Chief Marketing Officer, includes interviews with designers, tales of partners, close-ups on the details and selection of materials, where the aim is caring of the environment and its sustainability.

Unloading the cars in the early morning in front of the Duomo…

The short film (15 and a half minutes) presents a relentless succession of meetings and processes that highlight teamwork, the affinity between designers from different fields and the emotions involved in playing an active role in an extraordinary project: the creation of something unique, an interpretation of the New 500 alongside the very best of “Made in Italy”.

Genuine gold flakes adorn the Bulgari 500…

The result is the three One-Offs, embodiment’s of the style, creativity and craftsmanship characteristic of “Made in Italy” and of our partners in the project, in the path and in the vision of the Earth’s future.

The Armani 500 got a special dressing…

And also a wood sculpted dashboard…

The journey depicted in the film begins in Turin, cradle of the Fiat brand, passing from Rome on the way with its sunsets, colors and lines that symbolize Bvlgari all over the world, to arrive in Milan, the world capital of fashion and design, due in no small part to Armani and Kartell.

…by a special wood cutting machine…

The twist in the tale has Milan as the setting for the entire presentation of the New 500.

A veritable gearshift takes place in the film’s account of the tense time when the Geneva International Motor Show was canceled, and a plan B had to be found and set in motion. The presentation of the New 500 and the One-Offs was completely rewritten to pull up stakes, to Milan.

Bvlgari jewelry in the 500 logo…

The short film is created and produced by VICE Italy, with Rockets at the helm. It uses the language of documentaries to reveal aspects normally concealed from the general public, in an immediate and effective way.

In an authentic, realistic vernacular, the evocative film opens the doors of the Style Center in Turin to the cameras. We get an exclusive peek inside the “Color & Material” department led by Rossella Guasco, halfway between a sophisticated research center and an elegant fashion atelier.

Bvlgari used its foulards…to enhance the dasboard

The footage documents their almost-obsessive attentiveness to every detail, that “know-how” typical of Italian creativity, and dwells on the emotions of the whole team as they experience something truly unique.

Kartell the seats…

The journey continues in an interview with Klaus Busse, Head of Design, explaining what lies beneath the creative process of style and forms, and the role of the 500 in the history of industrial design, even more so in the collective unconscious.

…and elements of the car…

It was the Style Center that took a legend of the 50’s, the fabled “Cinquino”, and reinvented it in 2007 to “color” everyday life and streets all over the world, making it an authentic, unique and salient response to the requirements of international urban mobility.

At the Milan launch of the One-Offs in March, it was even announced that the Fiat 500 has been confirmed as an “Italian Icon and Honorary Member” of Altagamma, the prestigious Foundation that brings together the best of Italy’s companies, to promote the epitomes of the country’s excellence around the world.

Just have a look at the photos here, and also enjoy the film!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes-Benz pioneered E-power with a full electric 190 sedan already some 30 years ago…

Large-scale electric-drive test on the island of Rügen in 1992: Mercedes-Benz contributed ten 190 cars and ten MB 100 D vans.

Electric vehicles have progressed with leaps and bounds over the last few years. Developments in battery technology have helped massively to make E-vehicles now a practical proposition. But this doesn’t mean that our European car manufacturers didn’t focus on it since decades…

Mercedes is of course no exception. They had a fully fledged, 100 % electrified 190 sedan running around on the German Baltic Coast island of Rüge. Recharged with sustainable wind power. Fully practical. One of the fleet of 10 cars even functioned as a taxi and clocked not less than 100.000 kilometers in one short year. All this almost 3 decades ago…

Just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Mercedes-Benz 190 model, experimental vehicle (W 201) with electric drive, 1991.

One such story is set in 1990: in May of that year, Mercedes-Benz exhibited a model 190 (W 201) converted to electric drive in the innovation market section at the Hanover Fair.

A (literally) very hot car…

The electric 190s were used to test different drive configurations and battery systems. The energy storage devices tested were mainly sodium-nickel chloride or sodium-sulphur high-energy batteries which had a significantly higher energy density than classic lead batteries.

However, the working temperature of both systems was around 300 degrees Celsius. The group expressing the greatest interest at this industrial fair were representatives of the trades.

Further development went fast…

There was a considerable shift in this just under a year later, when, in March 1991, Mercedes-Benz displayed a more advanced vehicle on the Geneva Motor Show.

Each of the rear wheels of the vehicle presented in Geneva was powered by its own DC motor energized by permanent magnets with a peak power of 16 kW (22 hp) each, so the total power output was 32 kW (44 hp).

Energy was supplied by a sodium-nickel chloride battery, and regenerative braking returned energy to the power pack during braking actions.

A particular advantage of the concept was the elimination of weight-intensive mechanical components, so the additional weight compared to a series-production vehicle with a combustion engine was only 200 kilograms.

The issue of electric cars experienced an upswing at that time as a result of the laws passed in California, for example, to introduce zero emission vehicles.

This led the German government to fund a project to the tune of 60 M DM (now some 30 M Euros), and this led to several manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, to participate in a large scale field trial was conducted on the island of Rügen in 1992 and continued through to 1996.

The aim of the exercise was to test electric vehicles and energy systems including their batteries in everyday practice. A total of 60 passenger cars and vans of several brands were involved.

Among other things, Mercedes-Benz sent ten W 201 model series saloon cars, which had previously been fitted by hand with drive components in various electric motor-and-battery combinations in Sindelfingen, to Rügen. Special recharging stations using solar collectors were available during the field test with a view to testing the environmental concept in a consistent manner because only electricity from renewable sources can be considered completely CO2 neutral.

100,000 kilometres in one year with an electric test vehicle

The pioneering 190s were driven by test participants on the island of Rügen: these various individuals, including taxi drivers, used them in normal everyday life. There were hardly any problems – the W 201 cars went about their work completely inconspicuously and reliably. One of the vehicles was used particularly intensively and achieved a peak usage rate of around 100,000 kilometres in one year.

Why did it take so long to adopt E-power for the masses?

The obvious question is why we waited so long to put E-powered cars into practice in larger numbers?

Mercedes-Benz 190 (W 201) test vehicle with an electric drive unit during the large-scale test series on the island of Rügen, 1992 to 1996.

The problems then – and now – were: battery service life, range, recycling, charging infrastructure and vehicle price. Many of the answers to these questions have only become available today, as can be seen by the range of hybrid vehicles offered by Mercedes-Benz and, of course, the EQ electric brand. Projects like the 190 with the electric drive have helped to provide these answers…and it is very interesting to look into them here once again!

Hans Knol ten Bensel