The future has begun. We were therefore quite delighted when the dynamic PR department of Toyota Belgium offered us a test drive of its revolutionary Mirai into the new year. The first acquaintance was already quite promising, the first kilometers were enjoyed behind its wheel in utter refinement and comfort, with the Mirai being a breeze to cruise, drive and park.
Soon you will read more about our experience with this car, which is making a totally ‘mature’ impression, and brimming with new technology.
More news about long-term hybrid driving might be coming in these columns, as we are looking to replace our faithful 23 year old Volvo 850 with a (used) Toyota Hybrid, and report to you about our findings in long-term daily use.
Here follows the second part of the interesting BMW conference held at the BMW Brand Store in Brussels, and here we focus on the presentation of Els Ampe, alderman Public works, Mobility and Dutch speaking matters in Brussels, on the mobility needs of the city of Brussels. She presented here on this photo the pedestrian space project in the centre of Brussels, adding civic pleasure and wellness to the streets in Brussels…
Recently BMW Group Belux organized a very interesting conference at their Brand Store in Brussels, where Eddy Haesendonck, President & CEO of BMW Belux (here on the right) gave us a status update on the world wide figures and trends of the BMW Group, followed more specifically by the figures and trends in Belgium for BMW Group Belux.
But the focus at this meeting was also on the outlook he presented, namely on how we prepare ourselves for the mobility of the future. This is where we will focus on mostly in this report.
Interesting was also the presentation by Els Ampe, (see first photo) alderman Public works, Mobility and Dutch speaking matters in Brussels, on the mobility needs of the city of Brussels. More on this in the second part of this report, which we will present soon here too in these columns.
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.