Gentle refresh for Volvo XC90

When Volvo Car South Africa first showed the XC90 to the public during the Ocean Race stopover in Cape Town the true import and magnatude of the design styling megajump to modernity was rather lost considering the glitz, glamour and clamour of the boats and activities around it.

At the official launch in 2015, where the car became the central figure, the new thinking in Volvo design became very clear, bolstered by the fact news from abroad was already showing similar processign for the XC60 and the flagship sedan.

New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine in Birch Light Metallic

Now, the XC90 has been given a refresh that sees the T-shaped ‘Thor’s Hammer’ DRL lights and the iron mark continue with new wheels added and a six-seat configuration in the mix.

“The overall impression, both exterior and interior, has a strong connection to the key elements of the Swedish lifestyle: the generous space, the celebration of light and the focus on well-being,” says Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director of Volvo Car South Africa.

New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine in Birch Light Metallic

The most striking interior feature is a tablet-like touch screen control console, which forms the heart of the in-car control system. This system is virtually button free and is an innovative way for drivers to control their car and access a range of Internet-based products and services. It also helps create an interior that is modern and spacious.

“The interior is pure and uncluttered, while still radiating the sophisticated confidence and formality that luxury SUV customers expect. The simplicity is perfectly in tune with our Scandinavian design heritage. It opens up generous surfaces and gives us the opportunity to create a modern, luxurious interior architecture,” says Maruszewski.


As well as ample space for passengers, there is a flexible load compartment with up to 1 856 litres of space.

The 2020 XC90 can be ordered with a range of different seating configurations. From the seven-seat family SUV, to the brand new six-seat configuration, the XC90 has been created to best fits people’s preferences and lifestyles. New interior materials including a slate grey upholstery and new décor inlays offer further options for personalisation.

The New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine in Birch Light Metallic

The top-of-the-line system in the XC90 features a 1 476-Watt Class D amplifier and 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers. The subwoofer – a Fresh Air design – is integrated in the car, which means the volume of the passenger compartment is used as a resonance chamber. The subwoofer is located in the right rear wheel well and the air for the speaker element is taken from the wheel well. In practice the passengers are sitting inside a speaker enclosure. Using this design, a speaker does not need to take up so much space within the car.

The second-generation XC90 came with two world-first safety aids: Run-off Road Protection and automatic emergency braking at junctions. Should the car inadvertently leave the road, Run-off Road Protection automatically tightens the front seatbelts to keep occupants in the safest possible position.

To help prevent spinal injuries, a collapsible energy-absorbing section between the front seats and seat frame cushions the vertical forces that can occur if the car lands on a hard surface. The XC90 was also the first car in the world to feature automatic emergency braking that activates if the driver turns into the path of an oncoming vehicle at a junction.

The new XC90 offers a range of 2,0-litre, four-cylinder powertrains coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The turbo-charged diesel engine equipped to the Volvo XC90 D5 Geartronic AWD delivers 173 kW at 4 000 r/min and 480 Nm of torque from 1 750 r/min. The XC90 T5 AWD is equipped with a 187 kW petrol engine, which features a high-pressure turbo. It delivers 350 Nm of torque at 1 500 r/min to 4 800 r/min. Fuel consumption is a claimed 7,6 l/100 km.

The supercharged and turbo-charged petrol engine equipped to the Volvo XC90 T6 Geartronic AWD delivers 235 kW of power at 5 700 r/min and torque of 400 Nm at 2 200 r/min – 5 400 r/min. It consumes 8,0 l/100 km (combined).

The New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine in Birch Light Metallic

The range-topping Volvo XC90 T8 Geartronic AWD has a 300 kW (235 kW + 65 kW) petrol engine that is also supercharged and turbo-charged. It works in conjunction with an electric motor, delivering power of 300 kW (235 kW + 65 kW) and torque of 640 Nm (400 Nm + 240 Nm). Fuel consumption is 2,1 l/100 km (combined) while emissions are a low 49 g/km.

 Volvo Car South Africa is launching a new R-Design version distinguished by 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, black door mirrors and a gloss black mesh front grille. Inside, there are leather/nubuck sports seats and a perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel complete with gearshift paddles.

R-Design XC90s also get a powered front passenger seat with memory function (to match the driver’s seat), sports pedals, black headlining and upgraded interior lighting. There’s even an exclusive R-Design leather-clad remote key fob.

The New Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine seat configuration

The 2020 XC90 comes standard with Volvo On Call and, according to Maruszewski, Volvo on Call is a key to the digital world.

“One app gives Volvo drivers control over their car’s functions. It also provides access to a world of convenient services,” he says.

“It becomes your personal assistant. It can tell you about the best coffee spots in town and send the destination to your car’s navigation system. It knows when you have appointments, where they are and how to get you there.

“Motorists who forget to lock their car will get a notification message. And Volvo On Call automatically contacts the emergency services if you are involved in an accident and tells them where you are,” Maruszewski explains.

Volvo On Call is entirely free of charge for five years. Thereafter, it can be extended for a fee.


Luxury people-mover

The luxury people-mover market segment gains a new player with the addition of the Limited version of the Ford Torneo Custom, avaialable only in short wheelbase format.


“It is easy to see why the Tourneo Custom is one of the top-selling people-movers in Europe, as it offers exceptional flexibility with outstanding levels of space and comfort for a wide range of applications,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager, Marketing at FMCSA.

“The Tourneo Custom Limited adds a luxurious dimension to this model range, making it ideal as a practical and spacious vehicle for active families, or to serve as an upmarket shuttle providing first-class travel.”

 The Limited features a five-bar trapezoidal chrome-finish grille, accompanied by slim headlamps that are styled to seamlessly flow into the crease lines of the bodywork, these headlamps incorporating daytime running lights, automatic headlight activation and manual headlamp levelling.

Rectangular front fog lamps, housed in a chromed bezel, are positioned on the outer edges of the front bumper.

Full colour-coding sets the Limited model apart from the rest of the range, incorporating body colour finishes for the side mouldings. The polished look is complemented by 16-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels.


Inside, ‘Salerno’ partial leather trim unique to the Limited model is used for the front seats and well as the second and third-row seats. Both front seats benefit from a heating function for cold days, manual lumber adjustment for the front passenger seat, while the driver seat offers 10-way power adjustment.

The Tourneo Custom Limited benefits from the wide range of interior refinements that were introduced with the new range in 2018, including improved trim throughout – from the headliner to the side panels and carpets.

The Limited has a 2 933 mm wheelbase and 4 972 mm overall length – 367 mm less in both cases compared to the long-wheelbase Ambiente and Trend variants – which makes it easier to manoeuvre in everyday driving situations. Common to the Trend and Limited derivatives is a rearview camera, while front and rear parking sensors are provided across the range to assist with positioning the vehicle in tight spaces.


The Tourneo Custom range incorporates an extensive range of advanced driver assistance features as standard, including anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with Hill Launch Assist (HLA), Load Adaptive Control (LAC) and Roll-Over Mitigation (ROM).

In Limited guise a towbar is fitted as standard, which incorporates Trailer Hitch Assist as well as Trailer Sway Control that mitigates against a loss of control when towing.

In the event of a collision, occupants are protected by dual front, side and full-length curtain crash bags. Additionally, ISOFIX child seat mounting points are provided in the centre of the second and third-row seats, as well as on the driver’s side in the middle row.

All models are equipped with a six-speaker audio system incorporating Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity and steering wheel-mounted controls. Electronic cruise control is standard across the range.


 The Tourneo Custom Limited is powered by a 2,2-litre four-cylinder Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel engine paired with a six-speed manual gearbox and offers 114 kW at 3 500 r/min, upping the ante compared to the 74 kW and 92 kW units that power the Ambiente and Trend models respectively. The maximum torque output is 385 Nm from just 1 600 r/min versus the 310 Nm and 350 Nm outputs of the lower-spec models.

It is approved to tow a 1 600 kg braked trailer or 750 kg for unbraked trailers.

Ford Tourneo Custom:

2.2 TDCi LWB Ambiente 74kW 6MT                         R568 700

2.2 TDCi LWB Trend 92kW 6MT                              R591 300

2.2 TDCi SWB Limited 114kW 6MT                        R637 200

All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a 4-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, 3-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A 6-year/90 000 km service plan is included, with 15 000 km service intervals.


All about the grille

The biggest talking point on the BMW X7 at launch was the enlarged kidney grille at the front – perhaps a strategic move to ready people for the similar treatment now meted out to the saloon car where the surface area of the grille has grown by 40%.


Now available in South Africa in both long and short wheelbase format, the line-up of power units for the new BMW 7 Series has also been updated and includes a new eight-cylinder engine, a six-cylinder in-line unit and plug-in hybrid systems offering extended electric range.

The standard 7 Series (5 120 mm) and its long-wheelbase twin (5 260 mm) are both 22 millimetres longer than their respective predecessors. The new model’s width (1 902 mm) and height (1 467 mm / long-wheelbase version: 1 479 mm) remain unchanged.

The extensive design refresh at the front end – which now rises 50 millimetres taller at its foremost point – also sees more sharply cut contour lines on the bonnet and a larger BMW roundel. TThe grille teams up with the slimmer headlights and BMW Laserlight with a high-beam range of up to 560 metres can be specified as an alternative to the standard Adaptive LED Headlights.

The modified rear apron adopts the design language of the air intake trim at the front of the car. The integrated exhaust tailpipes have broader chrome surrounds, while the three-dimensional rear lights of the new BMW 7 Series are around 35 millimetres slimmer than on the outgoing car.


The M Sport package, Design Pure Excellence line and new additions to the selection of exterior paint finishes and light-alloy wheels provide fresh scope for individualisation. Added to which, extended BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line is now available as an option in conjunction with the M Sport package.

Inside, Nappa leather with extended quilting has been added to the options list. The three-dimensional surface structure – encompassing large expanses of the front and rear seat cushions, backrests and the armrests integrated in the door trim and the centre console – gives the interior a sumptuous feel.

A feature of the newly designed standard leather steering wheel is the modified arrangement of the multifunction buttons. The likewise standard wireless charging tray for compatible mobile phones is now located just ahead of the cupholders.


The latest version of the BMW Touch Command rear-seat control unit has updated hardware and BMW Operating System 7.0 software. The optional Rear-seat entertainment system now comes with a pair of 10-inch, full-HD touchscreen displays including Blu-ray player.

The choice of power units for the new BMW 7 Series includes petrol and diesel engines with six, eight and 12 cylinders, as well as an all-new plug-in hybrid drive system. Topping the range is the 6,6-litre V12 engine at the heart of the BMW M760Li xDrive, which produces 430 kW and now comes with a gasoline particulate filter to minimise emissions.

Meanwhile, the BMW 750Li xDrive features a newly developed V8 engine with 4,4-litre displacement and maximum output raised by 60 kW to 390 kW.

The plug-in hybrid system now employs a specially adapted six-cylinder in-line petrol engine and a more advanced high-voltage battery. As a result, the system can unleash a combined output of 290 kW with the Driving Experience Control switch set to SPORT mode.

The three models achieve an electric range between 50 kilometres and 58 kilometres.

The six-cylinder in-line diesel engine with a 3,0-litre displacement and up to four turbo-chargers rounds off the local drive system line-up for the new BMW 7 Series. The 195 kW engine for the BMW 730Ld represents the first step on the diesel ladder for the new BMW 7 Series.

All variants of the new BMW 7 Series feature adaptive suspension including electronically controlled dampers and two-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling. Among the options customers can choose from are Integral Active Steering and the Executive Drive Pro chassis system available for all models except the plug-in hybrid variant.

The Driving Assist Professional provides a comprehensive package of functions aimed at making driving as comfortable and safe as possible. They include Lane Keep Assist with active side collision protection, the evasion aid, the Cross Traffic Alert, Wrong-way warning systems, plus Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function.


The standard-fitted Park Assist helps the driver with parking and manoeuvring. And it now also includes the Reversing Assistant, which can reverse the car for distances of up to 50 metres by steering it along exactly the same line it took when moving forward.

The new BMW 7 Series comes with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional as standard. This comprises a navigation and multimedia system, together with a fully digital, high-resolution instrument cluster behind the steering wheel with a screen diagonal of 12,3 inches and a Control Display measuring 10,25 inches across.

The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant is another element of the operating system and the digital companion can be activated with the spoken prompt ‘Hey BMW’ and helps the driver to use various vehicle functions – updated seamlessly by Remote Software Upgrade.

The driver and passengers can also use natural voice commands with the help of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant to activate the Experience Modes and the vitality and relaxation programmes, which offer need-based compositions of various functions – such as interior lighting, air-conditioning, fragrancing and shading, not to mention seat massage, heating and ventilation.


The case for electric vehicles

The case for electric vehicles will form part of an address by Bruno Grippay from Nissan International, an outspoken supporter of electrification, at the upcoming NAAMSA Conference at the Festival of Motoring taking place at Kyalami on August 22.

Grippay, with more than 30 years’ experience in many aspects of the global motor industry, will talk on the topic ‘Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Sharing’ in line with the theme Automotive Trends, Technology and Consumer Behaviour under the overall conference theme of Reimagining the Future Together.


Grippay began his career with Renault in France where he served in human resources and purchasing for over a decade. He then moved to Renault’s Alliance partner, Nissan, where the has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility in France, Japan, Brazil, and the United States.

Most recently he served as Vice President of Product Planning, Programme Management, Market Intelligence and Design for Nissan India. It was here where was an outspoken advocate for the development and adoption of electric vehicles in that country.

Grippay has become an invaluable asset to the organisation and a recognised leader in his fields of expertise. His current position is Regional Driector – Connected Cars and Intelligent Mobility Coordination for Nissan Africa, Middle East, and India.

Bruno Grippay

Another big plus for this year’s conference is the fact the newly appointed Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, has confirmed that he will attend the conference as another a keynote speaker, addressing the topic of “Is Government ready as a catalyst and an enabler for change?”

His presentation will be followed with great interest as it will be his first opportunity of addressing such a wide audience of people from the South African automotive industry, from OEMs and dealers to members of related organisations.


“The response from the industry to this year’s conference is very heartening,” says conference organiser Neil Piper, Head of Content Management at Messe Frankfurt South Africa. “Bookings are going well and those still wanting to attend should book quickly because seating is limited.”

The conference, which also offers ideal networking opportunities, will run from 08:30 to 13:30, when it will be followed by a light lunch.  The annual NAAMSA Automotive Conference in association with the Innovation Group and AutoTrader.


Dash cams – more than just fun

Anyone with social media access has been exposed to the sometimes funny, sometimes tragic video clips of motorists misbehaving taken by dashboard cameras – but, these go way beyond amusement and are vital for fleet managers looking to stem the tide of rising costs.

Whether for educational purposes to demonstrate how hijackings occur or for laughs by documenting ‘instant karma’ incidents, dashboard cams have become a fixture inside many vehicles.


However, this technology was originally and still is implemented to ensure drivers, particularly those employed by logistics and transport companies, have proof of incidents such as hijackings, road rage incidents and motor vehicle collisions.

Although, dashcams today are used for light-hearted humour, there is a more serious side to this technology. Logistics companies need to make sure they have a complete solution that allows real-time driver monitoring and event notifications as they happen, providing vehicle owners and fleet managers with greater visibility and control over their vehicles from the minute they leave the depot, until they return.

Several companies, especially those dealing with truck fleets, Right Track for example, offer setups that show in-cab footage of the driver as well as a forward facing camera recording the road ahead.

“When most people think of a dash cam, they think of a simple set up with a recording device that saves to an SD card which must later be removed from the dashcam so that footage can be downloaded,” says Laurence Smith, Executive at Graphic Image Technologies.

“This might be sufficient for individual use, but when dealing with a fleet of trucks or vehicles, such a simplistic set-up is ineffective. However, this is no longer the case now that dashcam technology has advanced to the point where it has become effectively an off-site vehicle DVR (Digital Video Recorder) system, combined with front and rear dash cams built with multiple sensors and 4G connectivity to provide real-time cloud-based vehicle tracking and monitoring.

“Add easy scalability to the mix thanks to a cloud platform, and today’s dashcam system is everything logistics companies, shuttle services, taxi associations and car hire corporations have been waiting for, and more.”


Like all other industries, the transport and logistics sector is under huge pressure to reduce the risk involved in moving goods and people, and that is where modern dashcam solutions shine.

Now fleet managers and operational managers have access to a live stream on any device, as well as the ability to view multiple vehicles on a single screen. The latest dash cams are equipped with smart sensors that are capable of registering and recognising trigger events, such as sudden stops, sharp acceleration or collisions, to automatically send a 10-second video clip of the event to be stored in the cloud, while simultaneously sending email or SMS notifications, allowing operators to respond directly to vehicle incidents timeously.

“When it comes to post-event investigation, no longer will fleet managers have to trawl through reams of footage to isolate an incident because all events footage will be easily managed through a central events dashboard that logs events by description, date, time and type,” says Smith.

“This also means such footage cannot be tampered with or destroyed. This makes dashcam footage exceptionally useful for evidentiary purposes in insurance claims and criminal cases. Fleet managers are now able to see exactly what is happening inside their vehicles and with access to hard evidence of driver behaviour, they are better able to monitor fleet performance and driver safety.”


Today’s smart dash cam solutions will offer full GPS tracking of single or multiple vehicles, in real-time, to deliver total transparency into each vehicle’s trip with deep contextual information. For example, point-by-point location information, time, and travelling speed, all of which make it simple for the operator to locate the necessary footage relating to a specific event.

Such solutions have a distinctive edge in that they offer intelligent analytics and automated reporting for true visibility into driver behaviour and vehicle treatment, which is exactly what fleet managers and car rental companies need.

“To get the most out of such cloud-based dash cam systems, fleet operators must look for offerings based on low upfront hardware costs and affordable annual subscription fees. Such solutions provide scalable, reliable vehicle monitoring and tracking services that will be ideal for everything from small applications (such as security-conscious families) right through to large-scale applications like fleets of trucks, taxis and buses.

“Useful for so much more than footage to share on social media for a laugh, today’s cloud based dash cam system is a game-changer, giving business owners and fleet operators the peace of mind that comes from complete visibility into every driver, every vehicle and every trip made.”

Road Review – BMW X5 30d

The latest generation BMW X5 – 20 years on since the company first launched the Sports Activity Vehicle – bristles with technology, provides a supremely comfortable ride, is agile and, quite simply, ticks all the boxes relevant to its executive status but . . .!

Like the humans that occupy the interior, time moves on and the body undergoes natural and expected changes such as a gentle thickening around the tummy, or middle-aged spread, and the X5 has done just that but, like humans, can go a step too far and become, well, fat.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, and all road reviews are a mix of fact and subjective opinion – mine being the X5 has gained a couple of millimetres too much in height and width, losing the svelte look of its shapely predecessor.

The wheelbase is 42 mm longer than its predecessor’s (now 2 975 millimetres), there is a 36 mm increase in vehicle length (to 4 922 millimetres), with an extra 66 mm of width (now 2 004 millimetres) and a 19 mm increase in height (to 1 745 millimetres).

Shaving a few millimitres off the width and height would, I believe, give it a smoother outline that would enhance the body contours – without taking much away in terms of interior space.

The most striking feature of the front end is the large BMW kidney grille with single-piece surround. The new BMW X5 comes as standard with LED headlights, while BMW Laserlight with Adaptive LED Headlights can be specified as an option.

At the rear, too, all the lights feature LED technology. The three-dimensional design of their glass covers lends them a sculpted, technical edge. Diagonal accent lines give the rear a compact and brawny appearance.


Modern, clearly structured and elegant surfacing radiates a feeling of space inside the new BMW X5. The instrument panel is broken up by sweeping horizontal lines, which combine with electroplated trim elements to emphasize the width of the interior.

The raised seating position, driver-focused cockpit and new design and arrangement of the controls offer the person at the wheel the best possible view of proceedings.

As usual with BMW there are a host of options for buyers to consider in the quest to personalise their vehicle as much as possible.

The new BMW X5 comes as standard with 18-inch light-alloy wheels, the xLine model features its own 19-inch light-alloy wheels and M Sport brings 20-inch M light-alloy wheels in twin-spoke design. Further variants in 18-inch to 22-inch formats are available as options.

Other new features designed to maximise the feel-good factor and luxurious ambience on board the BMW X5 include the four-zone air-conditioning system and the panoramic glass roof, whose clear surface is 30% larger than on the outgoing car.


The Panorama glass roof Sky Lounge, generates a special and exclusive aura when darkness falls, with LED light spreading evenly across the glass surface to illuminate more than 15 000 graphic patterns and generate a display reminiscent of a starlit sky.

The Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System has 20 speakers and 1 500-watt output and the optional Rear-seat entertainment Professional system comprises a pair of 10,2-inch full-HD touchscreen displays, a Blu-ray-compatible DVD player, two USB ports, an HDMI socket and two headphone jacks.

The system is part of the new display and control concept and allows those in the rear of the vehicle to select and operate entertainment functions. The rear-seat passengers can use both their own media sources and those available in the front compartment. A navigation map and BMW ConnectedDrive services can also be accessed in the rear seats.

Folding down the 40 : 20 : 40 split rear seat backrest increases boot capacity from 645 litres to a maximum 1 860 litres. The new BMW X5 also has a two-section tailgate for ease of loading.

The BMW X5 xDrive30d is powered by a straight-six diesel engine, with displacement of 3,0-litres and featuring a single turbo-charger with variable inlet geometry. The common-rail direct injection system, meanwhile, propels fuel into the combustion chambers at up to 2 500 bar.

Maximum output of 195 kW is reached at 4 000 r/min, while the 620 Nm of peak torque is available from 2 000 r/min – 2 500 r/min.

Capable of reaching the 100 km/h mark from rest in 6,5 seconds, the new X5 xDrive30d returned combined fuel consumption of 6,6 l/100 kilometres during my test cycle.


Managing that drive is an improved version of the 8-speed Steptronic transmission where a wider ratio spread and new control electronics help to increase the powertrain’s overall efficiency.

The latest generation of the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is now able to split drive torque between the front and rear wheels with even greater precision and speed, as the situation demands. For added efficiency, full power can be directed to the rear wheels only in situations where all-wheel drive is surplus to requirements.

This engine is exceptionally responsive – especially in Sport mode – and the gearbox intuitive enough to thottle and brake inputs to offer the right gear at the right moment without any real need to use the paddle shifters, often making the change faster than human hands could muster.

Built on a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle, the X5 now comes as standard with the Dynamic Damper Control system, whose electronically controlled dampers sharpen the car’s handling dynamics at the same time as increasing ride and suspension comfort.


The driver can select Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering for more dynamic driving qualities or an Off-Road package, which is being offered here in a BMW X model for the first time.

The standard equipment of the new BMW X5 includes Cruise Control with braking function and the Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, which now also alerts the driver when cyclists are detected.

The optional Active Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go function is capable of braking the vehicle to a standstill and sending it on its way again automatically. For greater convenience in stop-start traffic, the period between stopping and automatically moving off has been extended to up to 30 seconds.

Available as an option, the Driving Assist Professional package comprises the Steering and lane control assistant as well as the Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision protection.

If the road markings are clear, the X5 will happily steer itself along the highway, keeping precisely to the centre of the lane – naturally, it remains up to the driver to remain vigilant and look for (and avoid) potholes and the like.


At the start I mentioned the X5 bristles with tech – and it does. Again, the level and actual fitment depends on final personal choice at the time of purchase.

However,  Open Mobility Cloud, which allows the personal mobility assistant to interface the car with the customer’s digital devices takes it all to new levels.

For instance, the BMW Connected app can import appointments and addresses from the customer’s calendar entries straight into the navigation system to begin route guidance. The system also calculates the optimum departure time based on real-time traffic information and notifies the driver with a message on their smartphone.

As the vehicle is also linked up via the Open Mobility Cloud, it is able to access the calculated route directly when the navigation system starts up. In addition, BMW Connected automatically stores places the driver has visited regularly as well as personal mobility patterns.

The integration of Microsoft Office 365 turns the new BMW X5 into a mobile office. Users of a Business Essential or Business Premium account with Exchange function are able to safely access their email account from their car and easily manage appointments and contacts, so there is absolutely no need for them to use their smartphone while driving.


All information and data appear directly in the Control Display. Drivers can have emails read out to them and are able to use voice commands to dictate and send new messages while on the move. In addition, calendar appointments can be confirmed, cancelled or transferred straight to the navigation system, as can contact addresses.

There is so much in the way of standard and optional equipment that make the X5 truly special in addition to the way in which it handles, smooths out bumps and returns a pleasurable driving experience – just lose a few millimetres.

Auto industry disruptors speed up

Disruption in the motor industry will pick up the pace in the next few years with five major elements in play as it adapts and changes around the world.

This is according to Abdullah Verachia, global strategist, speaker and facilitator on making sense of disruption who believes the movement from combustion to electric is becoming much more pervasive.

Abdullah Verachia

“We will also see fully-connected digitised cars that do much more than get you from A to B. Cars are becoming spaces to work, to shop online, to watch movies, to connect to medical professionals, and more.”

Next is new forms of mobility.

“As we see rapid urbanisation new forms of mobility will become the new normal. These include current options such as Uber, Lyft and better public transport but also sharing applications like ZipCar.”

Fourth on his list is the changing nature of work which, he believes, will mean less trips and thus less dependence on vehicles which makes new mobility options more attractive. Lastly autonomous vehicles.

“Autonomous vehicles are still far off in its pure form but will become very prevalent in elements such as highways,” he says.

So, is South Africa lagging behind other parts of the world when it comes to Industry 4.0 in relation to the motor sector?

Verachia says both yes and no.


“South Africa is particularly great in terms of model launches that align to global cycles. Where we are lagging is in terms of the redefined concept of urban mobility. I was in Munich recently and drove 11 different cars through a car app. I was able to drive through multiple cities through seamless mobility.”

He adds that there are, however, mavericks in the South African motor industry doing interesting things.

“WeBuyCars has really transformed the buying industry. They have created a seamless, frictionless car-buying experience.”

He also mentions the Daytona Group that has opened a motoring haven in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg by aligning to the global trend of motor retail being about an experience and not a transaction.

But what does the largest retail motor association in South Africa, the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), have to say about this changing landscape? Jakkie Olivier, CEO of RMI, says it is challenging the South African motor industry to start assessing their businesses and where they need to be in the next five, 10 or 15 years.

“We saw how, almost overnight, the taxi industry was transformed with the introduction of Uber. While not all changes will be as rapid, we need to prepare for the likelihood that these disruptors will become the norm in the not-so-distant future.”

He says understanding the possible impacts is important.

“We know alternative fuels and electric vehicles will affect how vehicles are serviced and repaired. This will have an impact on how technicians are trained and qualified. It will also have an impact on the traditional repair workshop and motor body repairers’ business.


“Then comes the parts industry. The number of replacement parts in an electric vehicle, for example, is far less than in a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle. Businesses are going to need to be flexible and adaptable or will become obsolete,” he says.

Olivier says the RMI is encouraging its associations to become immersed in what is happening internationally in their area of specialisation and to engage with stakeholders both locally and abroad.

“It is a challenging time for the industry and we cannot afford to be left behind. The sector is a major employer with great potential for entrepreneurial businesses. We have to ensure businesses remain relevant and new entrants into the industry can succeed.”

Verachia says the South African public is going to have to embrace many changes over the next few years.

“Vehicle ownership is archaic. We have to redefine how the sharing economy fundamentally challenges the ownership models in the auto sector.”

He says the Internet of Things and Sensors will allow us to do preventative rather than reactive maintenance. This, Olivier says, will be a big step forward in terms of safer roads and responsible driving.

Verachia ends with the Gautrain as an example of how public transport can truly redefine mobility.

“The train has become an anchor spine between Tshwane and Johannesburg. We have to amplify this by using the model to provide safe, effective and workable public transport for all,” he concludes.