E-driving is not only cool, it can also give you lots of driving pleasure. BMW has proved this point now already over 100.000 times last year with its E-fleet, more specifically i, BMW iPerformance and MINI vehicles with fully electric or plug-in hybrid drive systems. Of course, the i3 being its most popular icon. Indeed, this cleverly designed and styled car has grown into just that: a symbol of clever and durable mobility.
We drove for you the nimble and lively “s” version, and we loved every meter we drove it.
The BMW Group continues to drive the expansion of electro-mobility as part of its Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT.
To achieve this, the company and is adapting its production structures to growing demand for fully and partially electrified vehicles.
Just seven months after opening its battery factory in China, the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture laid the foundation for a comprehensive expansion of the plant. At the “High-Voltage Battery Centre Phase II”, BBA will produce the new, more powerful batteries of the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology for the fully-electric BMW iX3. Starting in 2020, the BMW iX3 will be built at the neighbouring BBA plant Dadong.
Production of battery cells…
One fact which probably you did not know: China is the BMW Group’s largest single market and understandably the pacesetter for e-mobility worldwide. With six electrified models currently available, the BMW Group offers Chinese customers the widest range of options in the premium segment.
In 2017, the BMW Group more than doubled its sales of electrified vehicles in China from the previous year and expects this growth to continue in 2018. Earlier this year, production of the new BMW 5 Series Plug-in Hybrid got underway at the BBA plant Dadong. Expansion of the battery factory underlines the BMW Group’s commitment to China.
Loving care and attention to detail, also in China…
Production of fully-electric cars to be integrated into existing structures…
The BMW Group is indeed pioneering in electromobility. You could see this already in our columns, dear reader, at the interview of Mr. Robert Irlinger. Just type “Irlinger” in the search window, and read on…
The company’s Leipzig plant began building the fully-electric BMW i3 in 2013. Today, the BMW Group produces cars with combustion engines on the same lines as plug-in hybrids at ten locations worldwide.
The mounted battery cells are installed and tested at the end of the production line…
Three battery plants in Germany, the US and China supply local production of electrified vehicles with batteries. In the future, production of fully-electric vehicles will also be integrated into existing manufacturing structures.
In addition, two enhanced flexible vehicle architectures will be suitable for all drive forms, thereby reducing complexity in production. This gives the BMW Group maximum production flexibility and enables it to respond quickly to market and customer demands worldwide. It also ensures optimal utilization of production capacity, avoids high investments and creates job security.
Ii is all happening in CVhina: the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture
The BBA Brilliance Automotive joint venture was founded in 2003. Over the past 15 years, it has become one of the most successful premium automobile manufacturers in China, encompassing production and sales of BMW automobiles in China, as well as local development tasks.
In 2017, the BBA automotive plants in Tiexi and Dadong produced almost 400,000 vehicles for the Chinese market – an increase of around 30% year-on-year. The maximum capacity of the two plants will reach 520,000 units per year from 2019.
Some more astonishing facts: since 2009, the joint venture has invested more than 52 billion RMB (approx. 6.7 billion euros) in the BBA plants, and employs more than 16,000 people.
In 2014, the BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. extended their joint venture contract early and laid the foundation for deepening the successful cooperation. The extended contract is valid for ten years (from 2018 to 2028).
At the Annual General Meeting, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Harald Krüger, unveiled an initial design concept for the BMW iNEXT. The pure-electric BMW iNEXT will be built at Plant Dingolfing from 2021. The company’s new technology flagship incorporates all major strategic areas of innovation in a road-ready vehicle. It is not much to go for yet, but nevertheless, a silhouette is a silhouette, but at eleast the shareholders, and you dear reader, got an idea of it.
Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, commented: “The iNEXT project is our building kit for the future. It will benefit the entire company and all our brands. For the first time, we are combining all key technologies for future mobility in one vehicle. The iNEXT is fully electric, fully connected and also offers highly automated driving. Later this year, we will be presenting the BMW iNEXT as a Vision Vehicle.”
The BMW Group has been working on its strategy for future (e) mobility for years now. Since 2007, they we have grown to a new level, thanks to their Strategy Number ONE. With this strategy, BMW put its BMW EfficientDynamics technology package and, even more importantly, BMW i on the road. Development on the clever and iconic i3 then started in 2008.
Already back in back in 2010, BMW decided to offer all types of drives in all vehicle segments from the next decade on, and to do so depending on market demands: state-of-the-art, efficient, clean combustion engines; plug-in hybrids starting in 2015; and fully electric, battery-powered drives from 2021 onward.
ACES as strategy in NEXT…
BMW the revised the strategy in 2016 to – Number ONE > NEXT – and has added new topics, namely digitalization, autonomous driving and the far-reaching rollout of e-mobility.
When BMW started to implement this revised strategy in 2016, they realigned their organizational setup in research & development. In doing so, they focused on two top priorities: Digitalization, which includes the extension of connectivity, the application of artificial intelligence, and the development of autonomously driving premium vehicles. The second priority was Drive technology, with EfficientDynamics NEXT for the combustion engines, and the development of semi- and fully electrified vehicles with battery and fuel cell technologies.
The BMW mix of (future) drivetrains: Battery operated/Plug-in-hybrid, fuel cell and last but not least combustion engine...
The driving force of these numerous trendsetting technologies is iNEXT, which is enabling the entire company and all brands to deal with these issues of the future.
In 2021, when the BMW iNEXT is scheduled to hit the roads, it will have integrated all strategic innovation topics for the mobility of tomorrow.
All the more reason to have a talk on the last Brussels Salon with Robert Irlinger, Senior Vice-President BMWi and Peter Henrich, CEO of BMW Group Belux.
The writing is on the wall. Diesel powered cars are “out”. Many companies now only allow their staff to choose petrol engined cars as their company car. Indeed, leasing companies in our country now push their corporate clients to do so. Soon we will be assisting at a massive resale value loss of diesel engined cars all over Europe, with the average European car owner, the majority of which own a diesel, paying the bill. Actually, this is already happening.
This loss in resale value also threatens the quality cars made in Germany, despite their longevity and mechanical stamina. This is the last thing they want to see. On top of that comes the ban on diesel cars in cities, which is now legally possible in Germany. In the light of all these uncertainties, who wants to purchase an expensive (German made) diesel with an expected long service life?
So something has to be done, in order to save the millions of owners of (German) diesel cars of financial disaster and even the possibility that they are not able to use their car any more for worry free urban mobility.
Audi has worked on it, since 2014. They come up with “clean” e-gasoline and e-diesel fuel. After this report here was published on our site, we talked to the Audi people in Germany, and they added some further comments based on out further questions. Just read on what they have achieved so far, and find their answers at the end of our report…
The Leaf has certainly come of age, and this amply shows. The new Leaf has a more dynamic shape, with more sleek lines and bolder profiles. But that is not all. Advanced technologies, as Nissan calls it, have also been built in this new Leaf. Like an e-Pedal and ProPILOT autonomous drive technology, which is further enhanced with ProPILOT Park. We could extensively test it all at the presentation held by the dynamic people of Nissan BeNeLux recently.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
E-power in synergy: The BMW 530e iPerformance parked in front of the Schréder R&D centre in Liège.
E-mobility is set to conquer our (mega)cities, and car manufacturers are revamping their model range to prepare for the electric age. BMW is indeed also at the forefront of this development with it’s I-drive range, and also with the plug-in hybrid iPerformance models, which combine combustion engines with electric power. The latest 5-series comes now with a 530e iPerformance, and we were keen to drive it.
But that is not all. The dynamic PR people of BMW Belux Group decided to combine the presentation of the 530i Performance with a visit to the Belgian R & D Centre of Schréder in Liège, where we could see how the cars were charged by their clever 11 or 22kW electric vehicle (EV) charger, incorporated in the multi-functional Shuffle streetlight column, of which more here below.
Your servant pulling out the socket at the Schréder “Shuffle” modular lighting/recharging pole…
It was in the cards: with our vehicles detecting road conditions electronically through their driving assistance systems, it was only logical that these data could be send via the cloud to other drivers. This is something Volvo has paid attention to already two years ago, and is now a standard feature on Volvo’ sold in Sweden.
Recently the first “1st European Conference on Connected and Automated Driving”was held in Brussels at the European Commission. Here Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, asked governments and car makers to join hands in sharing traffic data in order to improve global traffic safety.
Indeed, sharing anonymised data related to traffic safety in real time can provide a strong boost to overall traffic safety while safeguarding the privacy of individual road users, Mr Samuelsson said. Volvo started doing exactly this in Sweden and Norway two years ago, in collaboration with local authorities.
An excellent practice, which should be adopted all over Europe, we should think…We tell you here somewhat more about it.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Volvo is sharing data since 2015…
In 2015, Volvo Cars started a collaboration on sharing safety data with the road administration authorities in Sweden and Norway. Via a cloud based network, all Volvo cars in a certain area share anonymized information about road friction from their anti-skid systems. The info is transferred in real time to other Volvo drivers notifying them of icy road conditions. The same information will be shared with road administrations so that they quickly can address icy road conditions.
The same approach is used to warn drivers when another vehicle turns on its hazard lights, which may indicate a potential dangerous situation on the road ahead. These technologies, Slippery Road Alert and Hazard Light Alert, are standard on all SPA-based vehicles on sale in Sweden and Norway: the XC90, S90, V90, V90 Cross Country and the new XC60.
Developing a regulatory framework for autonomous cars…
Of course, there is also the very important matter of autonomous driving. Volvo Cars underlines here the need to put safety first when developing a regulatory framework for autonomous cars. When it comes to autonomous driving, it is for Volvo important that the user interface is crystal clear about the role of the driver.
Mr. Samuelsson expressed his concern about the so-called “Level 3” autonomous driving modes. “In this mode the car is in charge of the driving, yet the driver must still be prepared to take over in case of emergency, which could be a matter of a few seconds. Volvo considers this Level 3 driving mode unsafe and will thus skip this level of autonomous driving,” he said.
Consequently, when Volvo launches its first autonomous cars in 2021, they will be at Level 4, in other words completely unsupervised on applicable roads. This means that these cars will be able to manage emergency situations and bring the car into a safe state by itself without driver interaction and that Volvo will assume liability while the car is in autonomous mode.
The discussion is now only beginning, but we can say here that the Volvo point of view is quite logical and exemplary. We will follow the developments in these columns…
The French have a gift for elegance and beauty. And we must admit that the Renault styling department is going from strength to strength lately. The 32nd Festival Automobile International at the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, France, has singled out on January 31st the Renault TREZOR as the most beautiful concept car of 2016.
“I would like to thank the jury for this award which will inspire us to pursue our design strategy,” says Laurens van den Acker, SVP Corporate Design, Renault. “The TREZOR’s powerful, sensuous lines pave the way for the styling and technologies that will be features of our upcoming models. It also marks the beginning of a new cycle of Renault concept cars which will be revealed soon.”
“The jury decided this award should go to the TREZOR because of the extreme beauty, sensuality and elegance it exudes,” observes Rémi Depoix, President of the Festival Automobile International. “It is the epitome of a concept car and we were notably won over by the cohesion of its overall design and the attention that has been paid to the details. It is a fine creative work which, we hope, will inspire Renault’s future roadgoing models.”
A harbinger of the styling language of future Renaults
The lines of the Renault TREZOR are warm, sensuous and refined, while its assertive front end incorporates signature C-shaped lights. In terms of their styling, Renault’s upcoming models will draw their inspiration from the TREZOR’s DNA as their forms become even more fluid and mature.
The TREZOR’s interior design, meanwhile, places the emphasis on driving enjoyment and features a large enveloping touchscreen display that reinforces the cockpit feel. This customisable, connected interface juxtaposes warming, prestige materials like wood and leather. The interiors of upcoming Renault models will take their inspiration from these increasingly refined styling trends and connected technologies.
For the duration of this year’s Festival International de l’Automobile, the Renault TREZOR will be on display at the Hôtel des Invalides alongside other concept cars selected by the jury.You will have to hurry though: this display will be open to the public from February 1-5, 2017. For further information, go to www.festivalautomobile.com/gb/index.php.