Lexus design event at the 2018 Milan Design Week: focusing on limitless co-existence

 

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The rays representing each individual form a magnificent “together”, underlining the philosophy of limitless “co”existence…

The Milan Design week, held until 22nd of April, holds also a remarkable event from Lexus, in the framework of their annual Lexus Design Award in Milan. The venue is at CAVALLERIZZE, the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e dellaTecnologia Leonardo da Vinci Via Olona, 6, 20123 Milano MI, Italy.

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The exhibits are “CO-” created by featured designers, actually the 12 finalist designs of the Lexus Design Award 2018 (4 prototypes and 8 panel displays). The visitor is taken on a unique experience trip through the building to evoke “Co”togetherness and community…

Just read further…

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We drove the Mazda MX-5 1.5 SKYACTIV-G SkyCruise: the purest joy of roadster driving.

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Never mind the season: this MX-5 teaches you what car driving is all about, and it is the ultimate four wheeled pleasure, whatever the weather, whatever the road. Many people have seen the light, and have bought an MX-5, and therefore it is the most sold open two seater sportscar in the world, actually more than a million of it have already hit the road. About seeing the light, did you know that Mazda is an ancient Iranian god of light?

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The fourth generation of the MX-5, called the ND series, was presented for the European market on the Paris Motor Show in September 2014. The RF (Retractable Fastback) version came late 2016.  A lot of detailed and clever engineering has gone into the car to improve it even more. We drove the roadster for this test over French wintery roads, and are totally smitten. It is surprisingly comfortable, yet has lost nothing of its agility and handling, together with a masterfully willing engine and delightful manual 6 speed gearbox. Pure joy remains built in. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We spoke with the men and woman behind the new BMW 2 series Gran and Active Tourer: the art of creating a bestseller…

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They prepared the new BMW Series 2 bestseller: Pascale Goudvis and Armin Hultzsch spoke with us in Brussels…

On the Brussels Show, we spoke with Armin Hultzsch, Head of Project BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer, Marcus Tauchen, Project Management Office BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer and Pascale Goudvis, Product Management BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer.

The car is very important to BMW in this Sports Activity Tourer (SAT) segment, and this was a good reason for this interview…so just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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A range of interviews with a focus on BMW and MINI… its cars and its (electric) future.

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On the Brussels Salon, Dr. Peter Henrich, President and CEO of BMW Group Belux presented us the new i8 roadster, and his dynamic PR Team arranged for us a range of interviews…

The Brussels Salon was an excellent occasion this year to make some very interesting interviews and have some in depth face to face talks and discussions with the people who are shaping our automotive future and individual mobility.

At the 2018 edition of the Brussels Show we focused on BMW and Mini, last but not least thanks to the very dynamic and pro-active PR team of BMW Belux, notably Christophe Weerts, Corporate Communcations Manager and Saschia De Rudder, Corporate Communications, who kindly invited us to have talks and interviews with their important people who visited the Brussels Show.

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Dr. Peter Henrich greeting here Jean-Philippe Parain, stepping here out of the brand new facelifted BMW 2 series Active Tourer…

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Jean-Philippe Parain presenting the many qualities of the BMW 2 series and lifting a veil on the forthcoming novelties, like the X2, which will presented on January 15… 

So we had an interview met Jean-Philippe Parain, Senior Vice-President Sales Europe BMW, zooming in on the BMW sales results in the European market outside Germany,

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Sebastian MacKensen showed us the new MINI’s and a prototype of its full electric version…at the Brussels Show. 

then we had an in depth discussion with Sebastian Mackensen, Senior Vice-President MINI, on the MINI brand and its (bright) future, and we concluded the day with Armin Hultzsch, Head of Project BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer, Marcus Tauchen, Project Management Office BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer and Pascale Goudvis, Product Management BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer. There the 2 series bestseller(s) took centre stage, and we discussed the many challenges involved in designing, developing and producing these impressive BMW’s which represent for some 70 pct of the buyers a first acquaintance with the brand.

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Dr. Peter Quitus, on the left of this picture, in discussion with us, together with Dr. Peter Henrich on the right…

To deepen out things further, we were also invited to participate in two round table discussions, one with Peter Quintus, Sales Manager BMW M GmbH, and secondly but last but not least a long discussion about BMW’s electrification successes, and its future plans and projects in this field, with Robert Irlinger, Senior Vice-President BMWi.

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Dr. Peter Irlinger, discussing with us the electric future of BMW…

Soon you will be treated in these columns to the full interviews and the many interesting insights which were developed here.

Needless to say that the subjects will form an interesting platform for further discussions, and we will deepen them further out over the year, widening them throughout our automotive world.

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

 

BMW Group Belux strengthens leadership in premium segment in Belgium…

 

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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

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A tale of men, women and cars: the Volvo people at Torslanda…

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The communication manager of the factory, Anneli Ericsson, introduced us to the man and women we interviewed, and we admired her for her kind, meticulous professionalism, as much as we are also grateful to Annika Bjerstaf, Editor and Press manager of Volvo Car Corporation, who accompanied us also during the visit and offered us together with her colleague the “surprise” to take our 850 on the assembly line. 

We start off here with a new series on our site, focusing on the human element. For cars are first and foremost a creation of man. A result of human ingenuity, creativity, talent and last but not least  craftsmanship. So we decided to put this all forward. We start here with a portrait of the people we met at Sweden’s largest factory, Volvo Torslanda, close to the beautiful city of Gothenburg, brimming with industry and quality of life.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Lexus has started off production of its stunning LC Coupé for Europe…

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After our recent visit to the Volvo factories in Ghent and Torslanda, our interest in manufacturing has been enlivened, and we will also focus more often on this very interesting subject. So when we heard that Lexus is now building its bold looking LC Coupé for the European market, we decided to bring this item for you in this report. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Quality takes time and needs a proper, ideally equipped place, according to Lexus. That’s why they have transformed their Motomachi plant in Japan, formerly home to the LFA supercar, to create a highly focused working environment, dedicated, as they put it, to delivering the highest standards of precision, quality and craftsmanship. Indeed, the place looks immaculate and the workstations are quite spacious.

The final assembly area has been reshaped and made an all-white area to help the engineers maintain the best focus on their work. The average time for each person’s task is almost 20 minutes, so there is more time to ensure every part of the process meets Lexus’ exacting quality requirements.

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The line culminates in a new glass-walled booth where every millimetre of the car’s bodywork is subject to intense scrutiny beneath a battery of LED lights. The area for exhaust silencer inspection is surrounded by thicker glass panels so that the slightest abnormality in sound can be detected. The operation and quality of functional components, such as the doors, are also checked here. Just look at the following photo…

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The LC is built by a team of specially selected and trained Takumi craftspeople, all of whom have years of experience in Lexus manufacturing.

As well as being assembled in the same facility as the LFA, the LC benefits from a number of technologies which Lexus first developed for production of its hand-crafted supercar. These include the use of a special process, Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) for the production of CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Parts) composite material. By adapting RTM for volume production, Lexus has been able to incorporate CFRP in key areas of the LC, which makes a significant contribution to reducing the car’s weight.

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One clearly sees how car bodies can be lifted to the ideal height to work on, with the bodies being transported on skids moving on electromagnetic strips between the workstations.. 

The LC, scheduled to arrive in European showrooms in August, will be available with two powertrains. The V8-powered petrol LC 500 is equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission, a world-first for a passenger car. The full hybrid LC 500h benefits from the new Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System, a next-generation technology that delivers multiple benefits in terms of performance and an enhanced driving experience, including higher torque and more direct, linear acceleration from start-off.

We can’t wait to see it in the flesh on our roads and get behind the wheel of these gems, before the end of the year…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Recalculate your life, but never lose Compass…

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The ink of our latest post on the new Jeep Compass was just dry, when we heard about a gripping TV commercial, starring the new Compass. We could not miss this, and give here some further info and the link…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Today, Saturday June 3, hundreds of millions of TV viewers worldwide will watch the final of Europe’s top competition, as Juventus takes the field. The Jeep brand has been supporting the team all the way to the big match and uses the occasion to show to the  main European markets their  new  “Recalculating” commercial, starring the new Jeep Compass immediately after the digital preview on June 2.

“Recalculating” is a 60-second commercial that offers a creative take on the sat-nav voice applying it to the important decisions and tough challenges encountered in one’s real life instead of road directions.

The characters are shown making headway and tackling the obstacles that come their way – be it professional opportunities or game changing events tied to family.

Life is unpredictable and throws many a curve, but in the film this offers the characters an opportunity to strengthen their spirits, further work on their identity and grow as a person. Indeed, wherever life leads you, in the new Compass you would never miss the right path to reach your goal…

We insert the spot here… enjoy!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Our 850 Volvo visits the Swedish Torslanda factory, and is driven on the assembly line!

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Editor and Press manager of Volvo Car Corporation Annika Bjerstaf photographs our Volvo 850 on the Torslanda plant assembly line…

The trip to Sweden with our faithful Volvo 850 proved to be a wonderful, comfortable and restful experience, and leaves us with many sweet memories, which we will present to you in various reports. But first of all, the highlight of our trip: the visit to the Volvo Torslanda factory, near Gothenburg. We were received by Editor and Press manager of Volvo Car Corporation Annika Bjerstaf and her colleague, communication manager of the factory, Anneli Ericsson. They had prepared a magnificent surprise for us…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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The new XC60 is now rolling off the assembly line in Torslanda…

They showed us proudly the facilities and the finishing line of the cars built in Sweden’s largest workplace. The production now includes for instance the second generation XC90 and the latest XC60, which rolled off the production line for the first time in April 26 this year. The XC60 is the fourth model based on Volvo’s in-house developed SPA vehicle architecture, following the introduction of the top-of-the-line 90 series in recent years. SPA actually stands for Scalable Product Architecture. No doubt, we will tell you more about this and present and drive the new models for you soon.

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…and so was our 850! 

Production shows state of the art techniques, as you can expect. Bodywork welding is of course fully robotized. The paint shop is one of the most modern in the world.

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Here you see Ms. Anneli Ericsson on the left, introducing Lena Nihlmar to the right, one of the factory employees having worked two decades ago in Torslanda on the 850. Soon more about her working experiences then and now in a following report…

Miss Annika Bjerstaf and Anneli Ericsson had organized meetings with factory colleagues who had worked in the Torslanda plant at the time the 850 was built. We will present them soon in a following report, where we will tell you also more about Volvo’s human centered production techniques. They will appear as proud premieres in our new series “men, women and cars”, shaping and creating our automotive world.

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But this was not all. “We will take your car inside the factory”, said Anneli Ericsson, with a meaningful smile on her face. She asked me for the keys, and drove it inside. “Sorry, you will still have to wait a bit here, as the car is very wet and dripping. Just a few minutes patience.” But soon enough she asked me to sit on the passenger seat of my faithful Volvo, only to see a charming Volvo employee getting behind the wheel, and… drive it on the production line behind a sparkling V90!

We just show you the film below, as indeed, we did not believe our eyes: our 22 year old Volvo on the production line in the Torslanda plant! Here follows the link:

Actually, this was also a first for the Swedish plant, as the station wagon version of the 850 was exclusively built in Ghent. Only the sedan version of the 850 was being built in Torslanda.

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It brought sweet memories to the older employees on the production line, and awe and surprise to the younger ones, with one of the younger women on the line responsible for inspection of the flush fitting of the doors also performing a quick checkup on our 850!

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As the car was then carefully driven off the line, we met with Lucinda Dimiz, one of the women who was responsible for finishing the doors on the 850 at the Torslanda plant. As one of the covers of the illuminated reflector lights inside the rear doors had gotten loose, this was a job miss Dimiz could tackle with ease, we thought. I quickly grabbed the loose cover out of the centre console where I had carefully kept it, and yes, and she installed it again on our Volvo 850 in the proverbial few seconds. “When I took the cover in my hand, I immediately remembered again how to fit it”, she said with a broad smile.  Thumbs up, as you see on the accompanying photos…

Soon more about the Torslanda plant and is people, which I will present further in the new series. But the tale of this wonderful production line experience surprise had to come first!

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Our Volvo in front of the Torslanda factory, ready for a further thrip through Sweden, before heading home…

Hans Knol ten Bensel