We drove the Kia Optima SW PHEV: the joys of clever propulsion…

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They are coming our way in increasing numbers: the plug in hybrids, and rightly so. They bring the environmental friendliness of “pure” E power, combined with the unlimited action range and economy of a hybrid, with the added bonus of charging through the grid. The Kia engineers also decided to have a go, and put forward the stylish Optima, also in the estate version. We truly enjoyed it, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Renault looks back to a good year, is present at the Brussels Show and drives the future…

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At the press conference, director general Jean-Paul Renaux first commented about the presence of Renault and Dacia on the forthcoming Brussels Motor Show

Renault Belgium has always something special in store for the Belgian press at the end of another successful year.

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This month they invited us to the premises of the Brussels Bozar, where we could enjoy a fascinating Margritte exhibition, before telling us more about the commercial results, its presence at the Brussels Salon and its (bold) plans for the future…

Just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Renault looks back to a good year, is present at the Brussels Show and drives the future…”

BMW Group Belux strengthens leadership in premium segment in Belgium…

 

BMW i8 SHOOTING LANZAROTE

The i8 Roadster will be seen on the forthcoming Brussels Show, and was also to be admired amidst a fashion show at BMW’s Brussels Brand Store… 

At the posh suite 101 of its stylish BMW Brand Store in Brussels, we saw smiling faces. And with good reason:  BMW consolidates further its no1 position in the Belgian premium market, while Mini confirms its strong stance in the compact luxury car segment. BMW Motorrad has become this year absolute overall Belgian market leader. On the forthcoming Brussels Motor Show, world and European premieres are to be seen…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “BMW Group Belux strengthens leadership in premium segment in Belgium…”

We drove the MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4: plug-in hybrid power in a heart winning package…

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Don’t we all just love the iconic Mini. It comes to us now in many versions, all breathing this unique Mini style and personality. The BMW group has indeed developed a talent in declining the classic and iconic Mini character in many totally modern and up to date cars. This Countryman version amply proves the point: state of the art plug in hybrid technology has been put into this Mini, which makes it the car to have and cherish for the coming decades…

Just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We drove the MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4: plug-in hybrid power in a heart winning package…”

Renault re-invents car traveling with the SYMBIOZ…

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ
2017 – Demo car SYMBIOZ

Renault presents a new demo car, which embodies a car that is in real-life conditions autonomous, electric and connected.

The result is a whole new life-on-board experience and as much pleasure while driving as with hands off the steering wheel.

Sitting in the SYMBIOZ, the driver can automate driving and use travel time for other activities. Renault believes that car travel will become a multi-sensory, personalized experience, with a cabin reconfigured differently for each driving mode. The car becomes part of the personal ecosystem for both driver and passenger.

Renault SYMBIOZ demo car showcases design elements –both interior and exterior– and key autonomous driving and connectivity technologies that will be progressively deployed in the range in the coming years.

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

Taking your mind off…

The Renault SYMBIOZ demo car is equipped with level 4 autonomous driving technology,known as “mind-off”. What this means in practice: no need to pay even a minimum of attention to the road.

The car itself is capable of maintaining safety or moving to a safe position. Thanks to the combined engineering, automated driving,and geo-positioning expertise of Renault, IAV and TomTom, the Renault SYMBIOZ Demo car is capable —on authorized highways—of adjusting its speed to maintain safe distances with surrounding cars, of staying in its lane even when cornering, of safely changing lanes (to overtake another car or exit the highway, for example), and of navigating autonomously in traffic jams

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

Renault SYMBIOZ demo car is connected to road infrastructures in the Sanef network (Sanef is a subsidiary of the Albertis group, the world’s leading highway operator). The car passes automatically through toll gates and is warned in advance of any hazards ahead including roadworks, accidents, congestion, or a turn for the worse in the weather

It shows its colors…and is made for easy life

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

To announce its presence and let other drivers know they’re sharing the road with an automated vehicle, Renault SYMBIOZ demo car lights up in blue when the autonomous driving mode is activated.

More than a slogan, Easy Life is the philosophy Renault has cultivated for years now, thanks to its people-centric innovations. The SYMBIOZ demo car onboard connectivity system allows driver and passengers uninterrupted access to their digital lives and offers a wide range of services, all the better to make use of their new-found time on the road.

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

Always connected…

Occupants of the car are identified by their smartphone regardless of where they are sitting.

The smartphone interacts with the SYMBIOZ human-machine interface to adjust personalized functions such as preferred seat settings, air-conditioning settings, and music preferences.

Thanks to a full suite of connectivity features (GPS, 4G, Wi-Fi), occupants enjoy permanent access to their digital environment, media, networks, and services. The driver’s smartphone synchronizes with the SYMBIOZ demo car to allow access the personal calendars, trip itinerary and information about tourist attractions in the vicinity.

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

Onboard the SYMBIOZ demo car the “mind-off” experience expands even further, thanks to the virtual reality options designed by our partner Ubisoft and available while traveling in autonomous mode. Wearing virtual reality headset and with the seat inclined in “zero gravity” position, the driver plunges into an immersive and contemplative world, fully relaxed and detached from the pressures of the road.

French design and impressive performance…

The Renault SYMBIOZ demo car’s exterior design is intrinsically aligned with Renault’s signature “French Design” styling: sensual and warm, with fluid lines and a dynamic presence accentuated by the “champagne” body color in a pearlescent finish.

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

As a 100% electric vehicle, the Renault SYMBIOZ demo car takes its place in the long-game strategy of Renault’s zero-emissions commitment. This vehicle is the fruit of more than a century of work in automotive engineering

The Renault SYMBIOZ demo car delivers a maximum power of 500 kW and a peak torque of 660 Nm. The two electric motors are located on the rear axle, and are powered by a battery pack with a 72 kWh capacity.

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

Accelerations are breathtaking, with 0 to 100 achieved in 6 seconds. 500 km autonomy is possible in real life conditions and batteries are charged up tp 80 pct in 30 minutes.

Feeling at home

When connected to the digital life of the user, the Renault SYMBIOZ demo car becomes an extension of the home. The traditional divides separating the car from the home and workplace are blurring…

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ
2017 – Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

The journey starts at home: the Renault SYMBIOZ demo car communicates with your devices (tablet, TV, smartphone or PC) to update you on the status of the vehicle and your next journey. Once on the road, you can access security cameras, adjust thermostats, or control devices and connected appliances at home.

2017 - Démonstrateur SYMBIOZ

Parked inside the house in its dedicated spot, the Renault SYMBIOZ demo car shows us that the automobile can play an increasingly important and integrated role in our daily lives.  With the ‘valet parking’ function activated by a simple call from a smartphone or smartwatch, the empty Renault SYMBIOZ demo car leaves its parking spot to come pick up passengers inside or in front of the house.

A brave new world for Renault, and for us!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

Swedish families help Volvo Cars develop autonomous drive cars

Volvo Drive Me - Familie Hain
The Hain family comprises Alex and Paula (45 years old), and their daughters Filippa (17) and Smilla (14). The Hains were the first people chosen to take part in Drive Me earlier this year.

Volvo is focusing on autonomous driving. It has signed a framework agreement with Uber, the ride sharing company, to sell tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021. But that is not all. Volvo has served families the world over with safe, reliable cars and it wants to continue this good tradition into the autonomous driving age.

So families and Volvo are joining hands, once again. Swedish families who will test its cars on the public roads of Gothenburg and feed back their impressions to Volvo Cars engineers.

The first two families, the Hains and the Simonovskis from the Gothenburg area, have now received the Volvo XC90 premium SUVs with which they will support the Drive Me project. Three more families will follow early next year and over the next four years, up to 100 people will be involved in Drive Me.

Volvo Drive Me - Familie Simonovski
The Simonovski family comprises Sasko Simonovski (44), his wife Anna (41),  and their children Elin (10) and Villiam (8). The Simonovski family was the second family chosen to take part in the Drive Me project.

Both families will contribute to Drive Me with invaluable data by allowing engineers at the company to monitor their everyday use and interaction with the car, as they drive to work, bring the kids to school or go shopping for groceries.

Volvo Cars plans to have a fully autonomous car commercially available by 2021 and the data derived from Drive Me will play a crucial role in the development of these autonomous cars.

“Drive Me is an important research project for Volvo Cars,” said Henrik Green, Senior Vice President for the company’s R&D department. “We expect to learn a lot from engaging these families and will use their experiences to shape the development of our autonomous driving technology, so that by 2021 we can offer our customers a fully autonomous car.”

The Hains and the Simonovskis have received Volvo XC90s fitted with Volvo’s latest driver assistance technology as well as an array of cameras and sensors to monitor their behavior and provide the car with information on its surroundings.

Playing it (very) safe…

During these first stages, the families will keep their hands on the steering wheel and supervise the driving at all times when using their cars. But, over time, all participants in the Drive Me project will gradually be introduced to more advanced assisted driving cars, after receiving special training.

Even then, testing these more advanced cars will initially take place in controlled environments with supervision from a Volvo Cars safety expert. Volvo is clear about this: no technology will ever be introduced if there is any question over its safety.

Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars
Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars

Volvo has big plans with Uber…

Earlier last month, Volvo announced that it has signed a non-exclusive framework agreement with Uber. “The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” told us Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive. “Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. The agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”

Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars
Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars

Volvo Cars’ engineers have worked closely together with engineers from Uber to develop the XC90 premium SUVs that are to be supplied to Uber. The base vehicles incorporate all necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies that are required for Uber to add its own self-driving technology.

Volvo will use the same base vehicle in the development of its own independent autonomous car strategy, which is planned to culminate in the release of its first fully autonomous car in 2021. A brave new (Volvo) world will unfold soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel