Ford Australia will bring the most advanced, highly equipped and freshly styled Ford Focus to Australian customers in late 2018. The new German-made Ford Focus will bring the latest safety, technology and European sophistication to more Australians looking for a dynamic, practical passenger car.

“We already enjoy highly-sophisticated and praised Fords from Europe, which include the current Focus ST and Focus RS models – now, our state of the art plant in Germany will be the single-source for the entire Focus range,” said Ford Australia CEO and President, Graeme Whickman.

ALL-NEW FORD FOCUS: SMART, SOPHISTICATED, SETTING THE STANDARD
The first vehicle to be built on Ford’s clean-sheet C2 global platform, the new Ford Focus sports a sophisticated new chassis with advanced driving technologies with the goal of providing an energetic, engaging and rewarding fun-to-drive experience with increased powertrain and cabin refinement.

The all-new Ford Focus continues the tradition of being a groundbreaking, standard setting vehicle in terms of safety, technology and value for money by offering a host of advanced features in an stylish package.

Focus will have Autonomous Emergency Braking with Night-time Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection as standard across the range. This technology is designed to detect people in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path. The system automatically applies the brakes if it detects a potential collision and the driver does not respond to warnings; is now also designed to detect cyclists and functions in the dark using light from the headlamps.

Focus will also come standard with a Rear wide-view camera, offering a near-180 degree view to the vehicle’s rear for improved visibility when reversing from parking spaces or driveways.

Focus also introduces optional features previously only seen on high-end offerings, such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) now enhanced with Stop & Go for effortlessly negotiating stop-start traffic.

ACC with Stop & Go helps the Focus maintain a comfortable driving distance from vehicles ahead and adjusts the vehicle speed using information from the on-board navigation system or as it senses changes in traffic conditions. ACC works at speeds up to 200km/h.

The new optional Stop & Go feature is designed to bring the vehicle to a complete halt when it detects stopped traffic using up to 50 per cent of total braking force, and automatically pull away if the stopping duration is less than three seconds. For stopping durations greater than this, the driver can push a steering wheel button or gently apply the accelerator to pull away.

Additional optional DAT designed to help Focus drivers avoid accidents and distraction include:

  • Evasive Steering Assist, designed to detect slower-moving and stationary vehicles ahead using radar and camera and provides steering support to enable drivers to manoeuvre around a vehicle if it detects that a collision is imminent. Operates at city and motorway speeds.
  • Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, designed to warn drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles detected that may soon be crossing behind them and can for the first time now apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions if drivers do not respond to warnings

BODY AND SOUL: UNDER THE SKIN OF THE NEW FOCUS 
The Ford Focus will offer a choice of fuel efficient and advanced engines, as well as a new quick-shifting eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.

Two engines will be the core of the Focus range; an entry-level 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine and a new 1.5-litre EcoBoost. The EcoBoost 1.5-litre is a turbocharged three-cylinder that develops high torque at low rpm for greater drivability, with advanced construction for improved efficiency. A combination of port fuel injection and direct fuel injection helps deliver high power and responsiveness alongside enhanced fuel-efficiency, with a particular increase in fuel-efficiency under light engine loads. This is further enhanced by Ford’s industry-first cylinder deactivation application for a three-cylinder powerplant.

Mated to this engine is an intelligent eight-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission. This quick shifting and intuitive transmission features Adaptive Shift Scheduling (ASS). ASS identifies hard cornering, uphill and downhill gradients and adjusts the gearshifts accordingly, resulting in a more stable, engaging and refined driving experience.

NEW-GEN FOCUS: Manufactured in Europe
The all-new Ford Focus is manufactured using industry-first processes at Ford’s Saarlouis assembly facility, Germany – delivering best-ever Focus quality and craftsmanship.

A new 6,000 metre2 hot-forming facility enables ultra-high-strength, lightweight boron steel components to be manufactured on-site, and is the first hot-forming production line in the industry to feature fully automated unloading for optimised efficiency.

Forty-metre furnaces use gas and magnetic induction to heat boron steel plates to 930 degrees C, making them pliable enough to be moulded by 1,250 tonne presses. The water-cooled plates are then precisely cut into their final shape inside special cells each containing a laser that slices through the boron steel with a 3,000 degrees C beam.

An advanced new form and pierce process improves fit and finish of the entire Focus front end by using cameras to measure the optimal location for the position of mounting holes, within tolerances of 0.1 millimetres. To ensure ultimate precision, a second camera system monitors the position of the apparatus and can adjust to tolerances of 0.1 millimetres to account for expansion and contraction in changing temperatures. The process enables mounting holes to be positioned with 0.5 millimetre accuracy.

The first Ford-application of a new laser-welding technology operates with greater speed, flexibility and efficiency, and is capable of delivering wobble-welded seams for more strength. Also introduced is advanced tri-focal laser-brazing – the fastest at Ford with an operating speed of 60 millimetres per second – for cleaner, stronger and more precise joints between roof and body side.

“Innovation in every area has helped us create an all-new Focus with unprecedented craftsmanship and delivering an unparalleled driving and occupant experience,” said Joe Bakaj, vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe. “The all-new Focus is the fulfilment of the Focus promise and as of today, sets the benchmark for others to follow. I am immensely proud of the team that has helped deliver what I believe is the best car we have ever made.”

More detailed specification will be announced closer to the Ford Focus’s Australian launch.

  • The new clean-sheet, German-made Ford Focus range will launch in Australia in late 2018 with advanced technology and a fresh new look for one of the world’s best-selling nameplates
  • Standard Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Lane Keeping Aid will be joined by an advanced suite of available Driver Assist Technology, including optional Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go capability
  • Focus will offer two new-generation three-cylinder powerplants including a brand-new 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine, and a new eight-speed torque-convertor automatic to deliver improvements in efficiency, drivability and lower running costs
  • Focus benefits from state-of-the-art technology, with sophisticated cutting-edge manufacturing techniques and construction enabling improvements in fit, finish and overall quality

In Duisburg, Germany overnight, Mercedes-Benz Vans revealed the new Sprinter complete with fascinating design, safety features at the highest level, maximum cost-effectiveness, customer and sector-oriented details and a connectivity package that takes infotainment systems and telematics applications into a new era.

Global CEO of Mercedes-Benz Vans Volker Mornhinweg, said "In the logistics and transport world of the future, adaptability to specific needs and the changing expectations of customers will be a defining success factor. Just building a good vehicle is therefore not enough. The new Sprinter must be more than the sum of its parts. With new connectivity services, a new telematics generation and an unprecedented number of variants, it is a comprehensive system meeting an enormous range of commercial transport requirements. This means that the new Sprinter achieves precisely what its preceding generations demonstrated before it: it sets new standards."

CEO and Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand Diane Tarr, said "Since its introduction in 1998 we have lead the market with the first two generations of the Sprinter. With such a vast and configurable range of variants, we have provided sector specific solutions covering a range from classic courier services over the last delivery mile, major motorhome manufacturers, service providers, eGrocery delivery, construction, manufacturing, rental, passenger transportation and of course Ambulance services. Amazingly we are now adding even more, opening the Sprinter to new sectors through additional variants and features, whilst providing a far more intelligent, user friendly and interactive Sprinter range. Not to mention we will further bolster safety through a range of new assistance systems, previously only found in the passenger car range.”

Adaptable in every detail: It is possible to generate 1,734 different Sprinter variants just using the basic parameters such as body type, powertrain concept, cab configuration, body length, tonnage and cargo space height. This variability makes the new Sprinter the ideal vehicle for many different transport needs and sectors.

Front-wheel drive and new transmissions: The proven powertrain concept around rear- and all-wheel drive is augmented by a new front-wheel drive. With this version, for design-inherent reasons, the payload increases by 50 kilograms compared with rear-wheel drive, while an 80-millimetre lower loading edge makes for significantly more convenient loading/unloading and getting in/out of the vehicle. The technical highlights of the new Sprinter include two newly developed transmissions for front-wheel drive – a 9-speed automatic transmission with torque converter as an innovation in the large-van segment and a likewise newly developed 6-speed manual transmission. In combination with front wheel drive, a new tractor head variant is available, allowing maximum scope when designing and using bespoke bodies.

Driver's workplace sets standards: Ergonomically optimised, safe and comfortable - these attributes make the cab an ideal workplace. The improvements include ergonomically shaped seats and optional memory function with electric seat adjustments, Keyless Start and optimised air conditioning. A versatile stowage concept ensures that everything has its place.

Practical with high load-carrying capacity: Loadable wheel housings and extended cargo space heights in combination with front-wheel drive make for greater versatility of the cargo space. The maximum loading capacity is 17 m3, while the tonnage extends as far as 5.5 tonnes. Super-single tyres as an alternative to twin tyres at the rear axle are now permitted for gross vehicle weights of up to 5 tonnes. Whatever the model and tyres, the rear doors of the new Sprinter can be opened to the side walls even more easily. There is no longer a mechanically released catch in the 90-degree position, and the door can be conveniently opened with one hand.

Designed for safety in every respect: Also in the large-van segment, Mercedes-Benz Vans once again lives up to its role as an innovation driver and pioneer in the introduction of state-of-the-art safety technologies. The available assistance and control systems in the new Sprinter include DISTRONIC radar based cruise control, Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST, a modern Parking Package with 360-degree all-round visibility and a rain sensor with integral Wet Wiper System for optimal vision also during windscreen cleaning.

Fusion of form and function: The exterior of the third-generation Sprinter ushers in a new era in which the vehicle's quality in the solution of transport problems is not the only thing in demand. In a modern fleet, the vehicle also takes on the role of company ambassador and acts as a figurehead especially for small and medium-sized firms. Firmly established in the passenger-car sector, the Mercedes-Benz design strategy provides the basis for this while impressing with a pure and yet sensual design.

Completely new multimedia system: The third-generation Sprinter sets totally new standards with the completely new MBUX multimedia systems (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). The name for the new infotainment system, MBUX, sends the message that the focus is on the user experience (UX) and the system is celebrating its parallel premiere in the new A-Class. The flagship among infotainment systems leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to connectivity and state-of-the-art technology. It comes with such features as a10.25-inch display with HD resolution and is controlled from a touchscreen. This control forms the communications centre for all the information that comes together there. The optimised voice control is activated by keywords, and also registers everyday speech. The infotainment system responds to the statement "The fuel tank is empty" by suggesting filling stations in the area or along the chosen route. Messages can also be dictated, and are reliably recognised. Comprehensive internet connectivity is one of the most important new features and a high-speed (LTE-capable) internet connection is integrated into the vehicle.

Leap in efficiency thanks to internet connection: With state-of-the-art connectivity hardware and Mercedes PRO connect services, the new Sprinter is part of the Internet of Things. The innovations designed to make day-to-day work easier and more efficient include simpler fleet management and optimised communication between fleet manager and driver. This allows small and medium-sized fleets in particular to achieve a new quality of vehicle management.

18 connectivity services go online: With the market launch of Mercedes PRO connect as an ex-factory solution, 18 central fleet-, vehicle-, driver- and location-based services will be introduced in 21 European countries. Among the services are vehicle status, vehicle logistics, fleet communication, maintenance management and a digital trip list. The new services are implemented, among other things, with an all-new telematics generation featuring an up to 10.25-inch HD display and touchscreen control.

The systematic electrification of fleets is part of the comprehensive strategy: The eVito, which became available for ordering in November 2017, will kick off the process this year, followed by the eSprinter in 2019. The cooperation with Hermes is an example of a strategic partnership. The pilot project with this logistics company envisages the addition of 1500 electric vans to the fleet in Germany by 2020.

The Total Cost of Ownership – where the new Sprinter scores points: Good value retention and easy maintenance: the new generation impresses with classic Sprinter strengths.

Engine details:

  OM 651
Displacement 2143cc
Cylinders 4/in-line
Output 114hp/84kW at 3800rpm 143hp/105kW at 3800rpm 163hp/120kW at 3800rpm 177hp/130kW* at 3800rpm
Torque 300 Nm at 1400-2400rpm 330 Nm at 1400-2400rpm 360 Nm at 1400-2400rpm 400 Nm at 1800-2400rpm
Cylinder bore/piston stroke 83.0mm/99mm
Compression ratio 16.2:1
Turbocharger 2-stage (RWD), 1-stage (FWD) 2-stage (RWD), 1-stage (FWD) 2-stage (RWD) 1-stage (FWD)

*130kw only for camper vans

  OM 642
Displacement 2987cc
Cylinders V6/72°
Output 190hp/140kW at 3800rpm
Torque 440 Nm at 1600-2600rpm
Cylinder bore/piston stroke 38.0/92 mm
Compression ratio 18.0:1
Turbocharger 1-stage (RWD)

Transmission details:

  OM651 - 4 Cylinder Diesel OM642 - V6 Diesel
  FWD RWD AWD RWD AWD
6-speed manual transmission STD STD STD - -
           
7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission - Optional Optional STD STD
9-speed automatic transmission Optional        

The proven 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission can now also be operated by "Drive Select". It is now available for all diesel-engine rear-wheel drive variants and all all-wheel drive variants. The transmission impresses with smooth gearshifts, high fuel economy and low maintenance costs.

Honda has invested in advanced bi-directional charging technology at its European R&D site in Offenbach, Germany, which is helping to balance demand and store energy more efficiently across the facility.

The new charging system incorporates renewable energy generation and is a test bed for hardware that will be available to private households in the future.

The technology installation in Germany follows the debut of the domestic Honda Power Manager Concept at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The concept previewed a fully integrated energy transfer, which takes power from the grid and can return stored energy from electric vehicle (EV) batteries – through ‘Vehicle-to-Grid’ or ‘V2G’ technology. This latest trial installation at Honda’s Offenbach site applies the same principles on a larger scale.

Through bi-directional energy transfer, electricity is drawn from the grid or is generated by photovoltaic solar panels and is used to charge EVs plugged in to the system. While an EV is plugged in, the energy held in its battery can be transferred back to help stabilise the grid at times of short or surplus supply.

Jörg Böttcher, Vice President of Honda R&D Europe, said: “With the installation of the latest bi-directional charging technology at our R&D site in Germany, we are adding the next technology to our Smart Company project, which will further enhance our research activity in the field of zero-emission society and future mobility.”

With the help of the bi-directional hardware and with the technology of The Mobility House*, Honda aims to optimise energy management at its European R&D campus, maximising the use of renewable solar power in particular. The project is testing the interaction, compatibility and power flow between specific electrical components, including the renewable energy cells and the EV batteries. The installation represents a collaboration between Honda R&D Europe, energy service provider The Mobility House and Swiss technology company EVTEC.

The investment in the bi-directional energy transfer technology further enhances the world’s most advanced public charging station for plug-in vehicles, which was launched at Honda R&D Europe in summer 2017. Its state-of-the-art 940V capability can deliver up to 150kW of energy, enabling as many as four vehicles to charge simultaneously with different types of connectors. Since its installation in June, the EV charging station has supplied power for 447 charge sessions and has saved 3.87 tonnes of CO2.

The new BMW M5 (fuel consumption combined: 10.5 l/100 km [26.9 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 241 g/km) is the most exciting and emotionally enthralling high-performance sedan from this model range ever released by BMW M. The sixth generation of this fantastically sporty machine will be launched in 2017 complete with the M xDrive system, whose all-wheel-drive technology enables the business sedan’s dynamic prowess to be experienced in even greater depth.

Quite apart from its notably enhanced performance, the new BMW M5 also boasts far greater everyday practicality and supreme poise. It therefore constitutes another evolutionary step in every respect for an exceedingly successful vehicle concept that first emerged in 1984 with the launch of the original BMW M5.

A superior drivetrain: M xDrive.

High-performance driving dynamics on the one hand paired with the everyday practicality and qualities of a business sedan on the other: this neatly sums up M’s traditional approach to model development – one which strives to harmonise individual drive components into a flawless whole.

“The core component of M xDrive is a central intelligence unit with M-specific software delivering integrated control of longitudinal and lateral dynamics. The new drivetrain technology – making its debut on the new BMW M5 – therefore combines all of the agility and precision of standard rear-wheel drive with the supreme poise and traction of the all-wheel-drive system,” explains Frank van Meel, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW M GmbH. “As a result, the new BMW M5 can be piloted with the familiar blend of sportiness and unerring accuracy on both the race track and the open road – and in various weather conditions, too.”

The M xDrive system enables a wonderfully fleet-footed rear-biased set-up by only bringing the front wheels into play when the rear wheels aren’t able to transmit any more power to the road and additional tractive force is required. Even when it is being driven in a particularly sporty manner and unleashing high levels of power, the new BMW M5 with M xDrive behaves predictably and can be controlled with ease by the driver, paving the way for an even richer experience of the business sedan’s extraordinary performance capabilities.

The driver can choose from five different configurations based on combinations of the DSC modes (DSC on, MDM, DSC off) and M xDrive modes (4WD, 4WD Sport, 2WD).

The configurations allow the drive system’s characteristics to be tailored to both the driver’s personal preferences and the nature of the journey. Purists can opt for classical rear-wheel drive by completely deactivating the all-wheel-drive system.

All in all, the new drive system engenders class-beating handling dynamics accompanied by unrestricted everyday usability. This is made possible by a central intelligence unit with M-specific software for integrated control of longitudinal and lateral dynamics. The result is optimum performance in each of the different configurations. With the advent of M xDrive, the engineers have succeeded in fusing the classical qualities of standard rear-wheel drive with the benefits of the sports-focused BMW xDrive.

This all adds up to a sense of dynamic flair that astounds even seasoned DTM drivers: “I’m a big M5 fan,” explains BMW works driver Timo Glock, for example. “I often drive long distances and I need plenty of room for my family, but I wouldn’t wish to give up the chance to explore the car’s sporting character. With M xDrive, not only can the new BMW M5 be steered with the usual precision and agility, it also offers me something I really appreciate, living in Switzerland: a noticeable boost to traction and controllability – even when driving in particular environmental conditions, such as wet weather and snow, and in both everyday driving situations and when pushing the car to its performance limits.”

Sportiness and smoothness: eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic.

In the new BMW M5 the task of relaying the engine’s power falls to an extremely slick eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic. Thanks to its incredibly short shift times and optimal ratio spacing, the transmission combines with the new M xDrive system and the further improved turbocharged V8 engine to form a perfectly orchestrated whole.

In addition, the transmission offers impressively smooth start-off characteristics, makes manoeuvring easier and has a wide ratio spread that helps to keep fuel consumption low. The driver has the usual choice of three shift programs, as well as the option of changing gear manually using shift paddles on the steering wheel and even performing sporty multiple downshifts. The eight-speed M Steptronic forms part of a new, finely honed overall package that turns the BMW M5 into a high-performance sedan offering genuine everyday practicality, and also resolves the apparent contradiction between sportiness and comfort.

More powerful and more efficient: the newly improved turbocharged V8 engine.

Lurking under the bonnet of the new BMW M5 is the latest version of the 4.4-litre V8 engine featuring M TwinPower Turbo technology. The further improved high- revving engine outperforms its predecessor in terms of power output and torque. The enhancements implemented by the engineers include higher injection pressure, new turbochargers, more powerful lubrication and cooling systems, plus a modified, lighter exhaust system, which generates an even clearer rendition of the unmistakable M soundtrack. Thus equipped, the V8 propels the sedan to still greater feats of dynamic performance.

However, it is the combination of engine, M xDrive and eight-speed M Steptronic, even more than the upgrading of engine’s technical specifications, that really sharpens the high-performance character of the new BMW M5; it takes the dynamic driving experience to a far higher level than the relatively moderate increase in power alone would allow.

Hardware and software with an M-specific set-up.

The principal hardware components of M xDrive are based on those of the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system and the Active M Differential, while the M-specific driving dynamics control software ensures innovative deployment. The drivetrain has been reinforced for greater rigidity and strength to factor in the high torque, rear-biased configuration and 2WD option. While the transfer case splits a portion of the engine’s drive between the front and rear wheels in a smoothly adjustable ratio (depending on requirements), the Active M Differential is responsible for then distributing the drive between the rear wheels. This active control element is part of the M xDrive system’s functionality and its locking effect can be varied between zero and 100 per cent, as the situation demands.

This ensures enhanced traction, agility and handling stability when the car is being driven in a very sporty manner or on roads with differing levels of grip – i.e. exactly when it is needed. Since M xDrive includes M-specific dynamics control capability, stabilising interventions from the DSC system are only required in extreme situations. And so the engine’s huge power can be converted into propulsive force with virtually zero losses. The upshot of all this is that the new BMW M5 can be guided with even greater precision and directional accuracy, responds sensitively and directly to the driver’s inputs and thus requires few steering corrections when driving at the limit.

À la carte handling dynamics: 4WD, 4WD Sport or 2WD.

Every time the engine is started, the BMW M5 defaults to 4WD mode with DSC on. Even in this basic configuration, which initially allows a certain amount of slip at the rear wheels to produce the agility for which M models are renowned, M xDrive offers tangible benefits in situations such as accelerating out of bends. The sedan completes the 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) or 200 km/h (124 mph) sprints in the sort of times that leave its predecessor trailing in its wake and will make fans of sporty driving everywhere instantly prick up their ears.

Drivers with an even greater thirst for sporty action can tap into the car’s full performance potential by engaging a second configuration: M Dynamic Mode (MDM) with the M xDrive system’s 4WD Sport mode has been configured for ultra-sporty and dynamic handling. As a result, the new BMW M5 becomes far more agile than in the standard configuration and channels even more drive to the rear wheels

At the same time, MDM permits far greater wheel slip, allowing the enthusiastic driver to send the sedan into a controlled drift and experience the remarkable agility of the new BMW M5 – a familiar trait of M models – to the full. The onset of oversteer is telegraphed in good time while the linear increase of sideslip angle makes it easily controllable, particularly as MDM aids stability at the limits of performance.

With DSC deactivated, there is a choice of three modes (4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD). In 4WD mode, M xDrive has a neutral set-up that lends itself to optimum controllability and outstanding traction. This is of particular benefit on roads that are in mediocre or poor condition. At the same time, 4WD mode also lets the driver explore the dynamic performance capabilities of the new BMW M5 with the DSC control system deactivated.

Engaging 4WD Sport mode alters the M xDrive configuration for even greater agility and sportiness. The blend of absolute precision, delightful handling and phenomenal traction it reveals is a sure-fire route to supreme driving pleasure. 4WD Sport mode’s set-up has been fine-tuned with the assistance of highly experienced specialists and is geared towards track use in dry conditions.

With 2WD mode activated, the new BMW M5 offers the keen driver the experience of driving a high-performance sedan with rear-wheel drive only, delivering a pure form of driving enjoyment that captivates in its own unique way. The combination of incredibly agile handling, terrific feel and exceptional controllability can be attributed to the Active M Differential.

The BMW Group is using the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach to present its exciting new take on a BMW roadster. Dynamic, progressive and an irresistible purveyor of thrills, the BMW Concept Z4 boasts lithe and compact proportions, a dynamic silhouette and an emotionally appealing use of forms.

The attention-grabbing design study offers a look ahead to the series-production version of the car set to be unveiled over the course of next year.

“The BMW Concept Z4 in an all-out driving machine,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “Stripping the car back to the bare essentials allows the driver to experience all the ingredients of motoring pleasure with supreme directness. This is total freedom on four wheels.”

A statement of unbridled driving pleasure.

The sporty and progressive BMW Concept Z4 encapsulates the BMW Group’s vision of a modern roadster. “The BMW Concept Z4 expresses the new BMW design language from all perspectives and in all details. From the dynamic- looking front to the striking flanks to the clean-cut tail end: a few lines and the subtle interplay between surfaces are enough to generate a sense of power and emotion,” adds van Hooydonk.

BMW’s roadster tradition, reloaded.

The BMW Concept Z4 adopts classical roadster design cues, such as a long wheelbase, a low-slung, stretched silhouette and a compact rear end, wraps them in a fresh, confident package and enriches them with the contemporary BMW design language. A shorter bonnet and crisp overhangs ensure the driver sits closer to the centre of the car than in previous BMW roadsters. This gives the new proportions a focused, sporty and agile feel. The outline of the car follows a distinct wedge shape, which fills the BMW Concept Z4 with dynamism before it even pulls away. The large domes stretching out rearwards from the cabin elegantly integrate the function of rollover bars and provide a sporting conclusion to the low-to-the-road silhouette at the rear.

Reimagining the design language and surfaces.

The clearly sculpted shark nose at the front end spawns dramatic surface contouring that extends the full length of the flanks. The new direction taken by BMW’s design language can be seen here in just a few precise lines that form clear surfaces, while the body’s volumes are powerfully sculpted. The surfaces and forms therefore create an extremely modern and emotionally engaging impression. The large Air Breathers rearwards of the front wheels act as the source of the flanks’ elaborately modelled surfaces (they appear to be shaped by the flow of air as it exits the Air Breathers). Light and shaded surfaces develop in a rising movement towards the rear, then twist to form muscular wheel arches and athletic volumes.

All of which shines a bright stylistic spotlight on the car’s rear-wheel drive. The dramatic interplay of lines and surfaces underscores the wedge shape of the flanks and infuses them with even greater dynamism. And the low door sills, with their distinctive crease, makes the body appear closer to the road, emphasising the low-slung sensation when viewing the car from the side.

The expressive Energetic Orange frozen exterior paint finish showcases the contrasts of light and shade in the surfacing, accentuating the three- dimensionality of the exterior. And the 20-inch light-alloy wheels in a sporty bi- colour double-spoke design provide harmonious finishing touches to the styling of the flanks.

Low and progressive – the front end.

The design of the BMW Concept Z4’s front end is undeniably sporty in nature. The relationship between the low-set, broad kidney grille and the positioning of the headlights higher up sparks deliberate associations with the BMW Z8 and lends the BMW Concept Z4 a certain flamboyance. In place of the customary bars, the inside of the kidney grille features elaborately designed mesh, whose vertical orientation recalls the sporty, functional kidney design of early BMW roadsters such as the BMW 328 Mille Miglia. In a departure from the BMW norm, the Concept Z4 provides a vertical interpretation of the classical four-eyed

headlight look, with two overlapping tubes on each side. The turn signal indicators point diagonally towards the kidneys from above and underline the dynamic flair of the front end. And the clamshell bonnet with stylised gill vents curves over the wheels, creating an intriguing and virtually seamless sweep over the front end as a whole.

The front apron cuts a genuinely athletic figure with its sculptural design language. Its trio of large air intakes are a nod to the powerful engine further back and so carry the promise of a dynamic driving experience. The large carbon-fibre insert in the central air intake is straight out of the motor sport playbook and champions the use of detail to emphasise the front end’s dynamic presence.

Together, these design elements compose a fresh and memorable face for the Concept Z4 – one which pays a very modern and sporting tribute to the celebrated roadsters of BMW’s past.

Athletic and eye-catching – the rear end.

The design of the BMW Concept Z4 likewise references details and qualities from BMW’s rich roadster tradition and updates them for the years ahead. The wide and low design of the rear picks up the lines of the car’s flanks and massages them into a modern rear of beguiling clarity in terms of surfaces and styling elements. The powerfully flared wheel arches give the car broad haunches, which are emphasised by the slim, L-shaped rear lights and therefore further enhance the car’s sporting stance.

Above the rear lights, the boot lid – complete with prominent spoiler – stretches across to the burly wheel arch extensions, sending out a message of power-infused agility. Below, large air outlets in the rear apron create their own dynamic impression. The carbon-fibre diffuser adds a sporty and exclusive flourish and signs off the rear end at its lowest point to the road.

Exterior and interior in unison.

The kinship between the interior and exterior of the BMW Concept Z4 is evident in both forms and colour scheme. The design language of the interior takes the powerful, three-dimensional character of the exterior and adds another voice to the dynamic chorus. Much of the interior adopts the colour of the car body, creating a clear visual link between the interior and exterior. Only a classy chrome trim strip provides separation.

Maximum focus on the driving experience.

At the same time, the interior serves to reinforce the total focus on the driving experience too. The driver’s seat as well as the door trim panels, instrument panel and centre stack that encircle the driver are finished entirely in black, meaning that they stand out prominently from the coordinated orange shades of the exterior and the rest of the interior. Together they form a clearly defined area that wraps around the driver like a capsule, producing a very sporty sensation.

This creates a pure-of-purpose driving environment with a pronounced “cone of vision”, where the steering wheel as well as the surrounding black surfaces appear to be surging forward and, in so doing, accentuate the cabin’s powerful driver focus.

The instrument cluster and central information display form a high-quality cluster of screens that are integrated into the driver’s cockpit to flawless ergonomic effect. The two displays are now positioned at almost the same height and in close proximity to one another, which gives the impression of a single, cohesive unit. They work together to deliver the right information at the right time. The driver can choose which elements they wish to call up (via touch command) from the content available in the information display – route guidance, playlists or other infotainment features. Above the instrument cluster, the Head-Up Display presents the key driving information within the driver’s direct field of view.

Prominent surfacing.

Emerging from the driver’s side of the cabin is a sporty instrument panel of inherent lightness. The clever arrangement of surfaces and edging breaks up the considerable volumes and engenders the impression of a powerfully chiselled muscle. The clear wraparound design from the doors to the instrument panel enhances the sporty, cocooned feeling in both seats.

Pared back to the essentials.

In keeping with the focus on the essentials, all the controls are grouped into “function islands”. Nothing distracts from the driving experience. Trim elements inside the cabin are likewise minimalist in nature. Indeed, it is instead the classy materials, carefully applied polished chrome accents and swish, hexagonal laser- cut motifs in the seats that do most to create the interior’s exclusive ambience. Carbon-fibre door sill finishers and embossed asymmetrical logos in the seats and instrument panel set the seal on the interior’s sporting profile.

The new, second-generation MINI Countryman represents a more distinctive and mature proposition than its predecessor. A striking design language envelops the exterior of the urban all-rounder, while the interior is awash with creative details underscoring the premium character of the new MINI Countryman (combined fuel consumption: 7.0 – 2.1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 159 – 49 g/km). The new car is clearly recognisable as a member of the MINI family, yet has a character very much its own. “We see the new MINI Countryman as the adventurer of the family, always up for new experiences – either in the city or off the beaten track,” explains Christopher Weil, Head of Exterior Design at MINI.

The silhouette – powerful and rugged

Ever since it was launched in 2010 the MINI Countryman has been winning over drivers with its distinctive design. The second generation of the Sports Activity Vehicle is equally as compact as its successful forebear and makes a convincing statement through its authentic design. “It was clear to us that the new MINI Countryman needed to go a step further aesthetically and yet still remain a MINI,” says Oliver Sieghart, Head of Interior Design at MINI.

“In terms of its design, the Countryman is the most rugged and upright model in the MINI family.” Visual anchor points shared elsewhere in the brand family include the floating “helmet roof”, the chrome strip on the shoulderline and the clear silhouette, which incorporates classical MINI design features. And the new MINI Countryman extends the theme, with headlamps fully encircled by daytime driving light rings for the first time. Indeed, the evenly illuminated rings are a signature element, ensuring the striking contours of the headlights are visible during both the day and night.

The design language of the new MINI Countryman is now more pared-back and modern. The car has sharper lines and catches the eye with its taut surfaces and details. For example, metal edging has been added to the distinctive black band that wraps around the car and takes in the wheel arches. This edging is purposefully squarer in execution, rather than rounded. The flanks, with their precise surfaces, give the car its contours and create tautness. The edging around the wheel arches catches the light and sharpens the focus on all four wheels. The lights, the front grille and the hallmark side scuttles are also more prominent in appearance.

Meanwhile, the optional ALL4 package gives the Countryman’s design a more muscular off-road character. With its roof rails, additional black bumper accents and silver-coloured underfloor protection, the new car cuts an even brawnier figure.

The interior – pure and practical

Alongside the classical strengths of an SAV (think raised seating position, all-wheel drive and a spacious interior), the new MINI Countryman also offers customers a wealth of details and an authentic design. Tauter surfaces enable greater clarity and inject sharper graphic appeal into the design of the interior. Horizontal segments lend the cockpit area a visually broader and more modern look. The use of high- quality materials and scope for customisation – e.g. through the addition of chrome accents or backlit trim strips – bring an exclusive character to the new MINI Countryman.

And the variety of details available, from subtle to extravagant, is undeniably large. “The MINI brand has a long tradition, which we are keen to express in a modern interpretation rather than just reference,” says Sieghart. That means seats with diagonal stitching, whose contemporary interpretation and colour scheme lift the classical seat cover profile to a new level thanks to a dash of creativity and a fine sense for the aesthetic. A standout feature is the interior option MINI YOURS – British Oak illuminated, where translucent sections in the trim strips help to generate vivid patterns. This option provides different expressions for daytime and night modes and infuses the interior with a special aesthetic appeal.

The plug-in hybrid model – electrifyingly new, electric in yellow

The new MINI Countryman sees the MINI brand add a plug-in hybrid model to its line-up for the first time. This variant can be identified from the outside by numerous accents in yellow, such as the MINI E logo and the charging flap next to the side scuttle. The interior also contains elements which single this out as the plug-in hybrid model in the range, including accents on the steering wheel and instrument cluster, instruments adapted to electric driving and an extended user interface, which clearly highlights the car’s plug-in hybrid functions. Plus, the start/stop button in the centre console is no longer red – as in all other MINIs – but yellow instead.

The seventh generation of the BMW 5 Series will also be built at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing in Lower Bavaria. Production of the new BMW 5 Series Sedan will ramp up before the end of the year, ready for market launch in early 2017. In preparation for the new model, there has been extensive refurbishment and construction in all technologies at the Dingolfing plant in recent months. Several hundred million euros have been invested in measures including a new body shop to the west of the plant and restructuring of drivetrain unit installation at the vehicle assembly facility.

“Dingolfing will remain our competence centre for production of upper-class BMW series,” according to Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Production. In addition to manufacturing all BMW 7 Series and BMW 6 Series models, the site will continue to produce all variants of the new BMW 5 Series and also serve as the lead plant for the BMW 5 Series’ international production network. For the first time, additional units of the new BMW 5 Series Sedan will also be built by Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr AG & Co KG at their plant in Graz.

“The high level of flexibility within our global production network and reliable cooperation with our partner, Magna Steyr, will enable us to respond swiftly to the strong customer demand we anticipate for the world’s most successful business limousine,” adds Zipse.

The BMW 5 Series has been the market leader in the premium upper-class segment for many years, with more than 347,000 units sold in 2015.

Integration of new BMW 3 Series and 4 Series models means that production volumes at the BMW Group plant in Dingolfing have risen significantly. As a result, the site now produces around 350,000 vehicles per year. “The decision to build 3 Series and 4 Series variants here proves that we are competitive and makes us less dependent on the lifecycle of our large model series,” explains Dingolfing Plant Manager Josef Kerscher. However, as a consequence of this successful growth, the plant can no longer accommodate the expected volumes alone. Nevertheless, the bulk of the BMW 5 Series models will still be produced in Dingolfing.

“We are delighted to have a highly-professional partner like Magna Steyr produce this successful model for us. They will certainly benefit from our years of experience building the BMW 5 Series: Our staff here in Dingolfing will work very closely with the plant in Graz,” adds Kerscher.

The BMW 5 Series Sedan is the second BMW model to be produced by the Austrian contract manufacturer; the first was the BMW X3, which was manufactured by Magna Steyr between 2003 and 2010. Magna Steyr currently also builds the MINI Countryman and the MINI Paceman for the BMW Group.

Production of the new BMW 5 Series Sedan will get underway at the end of the year at the main plant in Dingolfing and at Magna Steyr in Graz in early 2017.

Hyundai Motor’s ix35 Fuel Cell is the star of the world’s first fuel cell powered zero-emission car sharing service BeeZero, to be launched in Munich, Germany this summer. BeeZero, run by a newly founded subsidiary of The Linde Group, will feature 50 Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell electric vehicles for public use.

“The new BeeZero car sharing offer is pioneering sustainable mobility,” says Thomas A. Schmid, Chief Operating Officer at Hyundai Motor Europe. “Featuring the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell, BeeZero will not only be the first car sharing service using hydrogen-powered zero-emission cars, but will also offer comfortable and reliable transportation for the public’s everyday needs.”

“We expect to gain valuable information from day-to-day fleet operations which we will use to further develop our hydrogen technologies and to help expand the hydrogen infrastructure,” said Dr Christian Bruch, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG. “BeeZero synergises two mobility trends that are gaining a lot of ground at the moment -car sharing and zero emissions -and will bring the benefits of fuel cell technology to a wider group of potential users.”

600 kilometres on a single tank

The BeeZero car sharing service will be run on a zone-based model. The fleet of fifty ix35 Fuel Cell cars will be available in Munich’s city centre and also in the areas of Schwabing, Haidhausen, Au and Glockenbachviertel. As with conventional car sharing services, the cars can be easily booked online or via a smartphone app.

The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell can travel about 600 kilometres on a single tank, making it ideal for longer journeys too, to the Bavarian lakes or the mountains for example, and not just for short trips in the city. Hydrogen fuel for BeeZero is sourced from sustainable production processes, making it completely carbon neutral.

Automated driving takes a step forward in Germany on Wednesday, with the commencement of the PEGASUS research project, which aims to set out more cost-effective and safer test methods for automated driving including motorway tests at speeds of 130 km/h. The project will run for 40 months, with government funding of €16.3m, and brings together 14 industry partners, most of them from Germany’s innovative SME landscape, two scientific research institutes and a technical inspection company.

“Automated driving is a crucial driver for innovation and value creation, playing a significant role in automobile location Germany,” said State Secretary for Economics and Energy Matthias Machnig. “We need these procedures and standards in testing in order to maintain our position at the forefront of the automobile, supplier and service-provider industries.”

Germany’s commitment to automated driving and e-mobility has long been an integral part of the country’s renowned car industry’s long-term strategy, with the stated aim of having 1m e-cars on the road by 2020.

“Germany continues to lead the way in research and innovation, using small, flexible companies grouped together in order to find efficient, cost-effective and potential global standard solutions,” said Stefan Di Bitonto, Senior Manager Transportation Technologies at Germany Trade & Invest. “Such companies benefit from projects such as these and become global leaders in tiny but critical niches with a variety of global applications, making them perfect investment targets.”

A model car that reacts independently to an obstacle that suddenly appears and brakes accordingly: approximately 50 students from all over Germany are currently working on this scenario in the Audi Autonomous Driving Cup. They will present the capabilities of the model cars they have programmed themselves in the final of the competition in the Audi museum mobile at the end of March. The Audi Autonomous Driving Cup is primarily aimed at students of informatics, computers science, electrical/electronic engineering and mechanical engineering. Ten teams from universities all over Germany have qualified for the competition, which Audi is holding for the first time this year.

“Rapidly advancing digitalisation and connectivity in the automotive industry are bringing a lot of exciting challenges,” said Audi’s Board of Management Member for Human Resources Prof. Thomas Sigi. “That’s why we are searching worldwide for the best experts. The Audi Autonomous Driving Cup is a good opportunity for us to personally get to know young people with promising talent who would like to shape the innovations of tomorrow with us.”

The students received the model cars from Audi last autumn. The Audi Q5 models on a scale of 1:8 are powered by an electric motor and have a top speed of 40 km/h. They are all equipped with a sophisticated camera as well as various infrared and ultrasonic sensors, which Audi uses in a similar form also in series-produced vehicles. The participants were also provided with uniform basic software. Their task in the past six months has been to develop their own software architecture to evaluate the data from the camera and sensors, interpret the situation and control the car accordingly.

In the final of the competition in the Audi museum mobile in Ingolstadt, the students will now demonstrate the effectiveness of their software on an area of approximately 300 square metres. In direct competition with the other teams, their cars have to show how well they react to oncoming traffic and traffic at crossroads, difficult parking situations and obstacles that appear suddenly. The goal is to get through the course as fast as possible and without any mistakes. Accidents, lost time or inaccurately executed driving maneuvers lead to point deductions. The evaluations also take account of a scientific discourse in which the students describe to the jury how they programmed their vehicles, as well as a “freestyle” driving demonstration. On the last day of the competition, the participants have the opportunity to present their own creative solutions or driving manoeuvres. The team with the most points at the end wins prize money of 10,000 euros, with 5,000 euros for the second-placed team and 1,000 euros for the third.

Teams from 10 German universities have qualified for the first Audi Autonomous Driving Cup: Offenburg University, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Kassel, the University of Leipzig, the Technical University of Ingolstadt, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Leibniz University in Hanover, the Technical University of Munich, the Karlsruhe Informatics Research Center and the University of Freiburg. The participants’ chances of future employment at the premium automobile manufacturer are good. This year alone, Audi intends to recruit more than 6,000 employees worldwide. About 4,000 of these new entrants will be employed at the German sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, primarily in the fields of lightweight construction, connectivity and electric mobility. In addition to internships and help with dissertations for students, Audi offers various entry programs for graduates and applicants with work experience. In the development program for academics, for example, participants develop valuable expertise in two areas during a four-year period and gain experience with interfaces to related specialist departments. In addition, Audi cooperates with 31 partner universities worldwide and supports highly qualified and talented young people: at present, more than 140 doctoral students are working on their theses in research projects financed by Audi.