Update BMW i3 launched

Improvements to the electrically driven BMW i3 include a mix of aesthetics, features and new digital services along with an additional model variant.

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The BMW i3 has been the top-selling premium electric car in its class since 2014, although with just two units sold in South Africa in May and three in April, it has not yet established a foothold – so much so, the new model was launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town and not Durban because of the extremely low volume of sales in that city.

The new BMW i3 has a number of design tweaks and the trademark BMW i Black Belt running from the bonnet over the roof to the car’s rear end is now complemented by A-pillars and roof lines that also sport a black finish.

The front and rear aprons are restyled and there is a chrome-design trim strip running across the full width of the rear.

The new BMW i3 comes equipped with all-LED headlights as standard, which employ LED bulb units for dipped beam and high beam as well as the daytime running lights. The new turn signal indicators also feature LED technology and are integrated into the front apron in the form of horizontal strips.

The design principle of the four-seater model means there is no need for either fixed B-pillars or a transmission tunnel. Doors that open in opposite directions allow the occupants to get in and out with the greatest of ease.

The Loft, Lodge and Suite equipment lines are available for the new BMW i3 as alternatives to the standard Atelier version.

The Lodge interior design option includes a new covering for the seat surfaces in Solaric Brown that combines natural leather tanned using an olive leaf extract with a wool-based textile material. In fact, more than 80% of the surfaces visible to the passengers are made from recycled materials or renewable resources.

The synchronous electric motor powering the new BMW i3 generates a maximum output of 125 kW. Its peak torque is 250 Nm, all of which is available instantly from a standstill, as is usual with electric motors.

This means 0-100 km/h is achieved in 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is limited to 150 km/h.

Located low in the vehicle floor, the lithium-ion high-voltage battery provides a range of 290 km to 300 km based on the NEDC cycle, 235 km to 255 km as per WLTP and up to 200 km in everyday use. The combined electric power consumption of the new BMW i3 on the NEDC cycle varies between 13,6 and 13,1 kWh for every 100 kilometres.

The handling characteristics of the BMW i3 are improved by the optimised Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. This comprehensively revised, faster responding traction control system guarantees confident handling under all driving conditions.

The BMW i3 now features a globally unique form of wheel speed limiting that ensures increased directional stability, both under dynamic acceleration and on the overrun with strong regenerative braking.

A 28 kW two-cylinder range extender petrol engine is available as an option. The engine drives a generator that produces power as required while driving to maintain a constant level of charge in the high-voltage battery. This extends the car’s overall range in everyday use by 150 kilometres, increasing it from around 180 kilometres to a maximum of 330 kilometres. The all-electric range of the new BMW i3 with range extender is 225 to 235 kilometres as per NEDC and 190 to 200 kilometres as per WLTP.

On the NEDC cycle, the new BMW i3 with range extender returns combined consumption figures of 0,6 l/100 km.

The optional Parking Assistance package includes Park Distance Control, a reversing camera and the Parking Assistant. Once a suitable parking space parallel to the road has been selected, the Parking Assistant takes control of acceleration, braking, gear selection and steering.

The new BMW i3 comes with an updated version of the iDrive operating system, which provides an intuitive interface for controlling numerous vehicle, infotainment, communications and navigation functions. In vehicles equipped with the Navigation system Professional, the Control Display has a diagonal of 10,25 inches and an increased resolution of 1 440 × 540 pixels. The main menu is also presented in the form of horizontally arranged tiles with a live mode.

The voice recognition system has also been further optimised. With the aid of Natural Language Understanding, spoken instructions can now be executed more quickly and precisely.

Charging at home is extremely user-friendly thanks to the BMW i Wallbox which, in its most recent incarnation, can supply 11 kW of power to charge the high-voltage battery. This allows enough energy for an electric range of around 180 kilometres to be transferred in under three hours – five times quicker than with the standard charging cable.

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Rhino wrangler

The job of saving South Africa’s rhino population from the insiduous – and growing – poaching threat is a thankless and often dangerous task.

Being able to respond quickly and efficiently is vital and Goodyear has now extended its sponsorship of Wrangler tyres for the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, the seveth year this has been renewed.

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“The rangers made a specific request to have Goodyear Wranglers fitted to the vehicles,” says Wilderness Foundation’s chief operations officer, Matthew Norval. “This is the seventh year that VW has sponsored Amarok vehicles for our Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative. Our rangers were delighted that Goodyear Wranglers were again fitted to their vehicles, as they have proven the tyres offer better traction and are much more robust than other tyres we have tried.”

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Norval is positive about the impact that the initiative has had over the last few years.

“Wilderness Foundation Africa started the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative in 2011, recognising the rhino poaching crisis was of national and international significance and affected all levels of society. Wildlife crime is the fourth most profitable illicit trade in the world, estimated at up to $213-billion annually.”

The Initiative has a four-pronged approach in response that includes:

  • Support anti-poaching actions on the ground in private and state protected areas
  • Curb demand for rhino horn in user countries
  • Increase security and law enforcement activities through the Wildlife Operations Group, a multi-agency partnership coordinated by Wilderness Foundation Africa
  • Increase public awareness

“We are working in partnership with various organisations to address the issue.  Goodyear South Africa has been on board since the start,” says Norval.

“Goodyear is proud to be a partner that assists proactive rhino protection and anti-poaching activities. As a leading 4×4 tyre brand in South Africa we are honoured Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure tyres were the rangers’ tyre of choice and contributes to their safety and comfort on challenging terrain,” says Tracy Maclear, Goodyear South Africa Group Marketing & Brand Manager.

Geshen Govender, Goodyear Consumer Product Manager explains the benefits of having these tyres fitted to the conservation vehicles.

“Being an all-terrain tyre, the Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure is suited to both on- and off-road travelling. The Kevlar reinforced layer, coupled with Durawall technology, resists punctures and cuts in off-road driving conditions. The optimised tread design ensures even pressure distribution across the tyre footprint for improved mileage.  The tyre is a well-suited fit to their requirements.”

In a separate, but related gesture, Goodyear also named Wilderness Foundation Africa as its beneficiary during the recent Speed Stars television show that aired on Ignition TV. Goodyear South Africa made a cash donation of R10 000 towards the Foundation’s continued conservation efforts.

“Goodyear’s donation was very welcome.  We appreciate their ongoing commitment to our cause and the loyalty they exhibit to the preservation of the wilderness”, says Cheryl Reynolds, Relationship & Communications Manager at Wilderness Foundation Africa.

 

Big money up for grabs

The 2018 surfing calendar in South Africa has been firmed up with the confirmation Volkswagen South Africa is continuing the headline sponsorship of the City Surf Series with more than R1-Million in prize money up for grabs in the race to Nelson Mandela Bay.

“For us, getting involved with the City Surf Series was a no-brainer as the Volkswagen brand has been associated with surfing for many years with surfers using their camper vans and Kombi’s to go on surfing tournaments,” says Matt Gennrich, General Manager for Group Communications.

The second edition of the City Surf Series (CSS) will see six events, culminating in the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing presented by Hurley, taking place in different cities along South Africa’s coastline from March to June.

Each of the CSS events will feature Qualifying Series (QS) rated men’s, women’s junior men’s and junior women’s competitions, Surfing South Africa (SSA) longboard men and women and Stand-up Paddling (SUP) men and women’s categories.

A major change from last year’s series is the upgrading of the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing women’s event to a QS3000, making it the biggest women’s QS in Africa. The Nelson Mandela Bay Pro men’s event has also been upgraded to a QS1500.

“Another exciting addition is the launch of a new event, the Port Alfred Classic, which will feature men’s and women’s QS Longboard events with the two disciplines also added to the Volkswagen SA of Surfing presented by Hurley,” says Johnny Bakker, Surfing South Africa president.

“As Nelson Mandela Bay is the home of Volkswagen, we are also proud that the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing has relocated from Durban to Nelson Mandela Bay,” added Gennrich.

The Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing events being hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay are expected to bring in an estimated 4 000 to 6 000 visitors and an R18-million cash injection for the city.

Not only will the CSS events support the local economy, all events will give back to the community and environment by incorporating Learn to Surf Initiatives as well as Community Clean-the-Beach programmes.

In the 2017 edition of the CSS, more than 300 previously disadvantaged children across the five events were taught to surf.

2018 City Surf Series Event Schedule:

  • Volkswagen Nelson Mandela Bay Surf pres. by Billabong: 30 March to 2 April
  • Royal St Andrews Port Alfred Classic pres. by Quiksilver (Inaugural event): 6 to 8 April
  • Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro pres. by Reef Wetsuits: 13 to 15 April
  • ZigZag Durban Surf Pro pres. by G-Force: 18 to 20 May
  • Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neil: 14 to17 June
  • Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley: 19 to 24 June

 

Road Impressions BMW X3 xDrive 2.0d

The boys were shooting the breeze, comfortably ensconced in Orca’s Pub & Grill, rehashing the good and bad of the week gone by and celebrating the fact it was Friday, when one mentioned he had heard the fishing was pretty darn good at Port St Johns.

We all nodded as was expected on hearing such news and he went on to say he had a friend who had a friend who owned a cottage and maybe he could call and see if we could use it and it was only 240 km away so we could leave early the next morning and be there in time for some good fishing in the afternoon and maybe even a bit of fishing on Sunday morning before we left to come back home.

The nodding accelerated like an M3 on launch control and then they looked at me. Me, because I was the one with a BMW X3 and that, everyone knew was a whole bunch more comfortable than a clapped out double cab.

Now, when it comes to fishing, I don’t. My wife lets me drink at home.

However, not being one to shy away from a road trip, I nodded like a Toyota ad and early the following morning, loaded with cooler boxes, enough beer to float the Nimitz, the requisite boerewors and chops and a whole bunch of fishing gear, we switched into Steppenwolf mode, got our motor running and headed off down the highway.

My friends are not small but the four-cylinder 1 995 cc diesel engine with eight-speed Steptronic transmission fitted to the X3 just did not even notice the weight. With 140 kW on tap at 4 000 r/min and maximum torque of 400 Nm available from 1 750 r/min, it simply gurgled along quite unphased.

The test unit came with adaptive cruise control fitted, making the more boring sections of the trip heading towards Kokstad a lot less stressful and a whole lot safer considering the notorious N2 in that area is often referred to as ‘Death Alley’.

While the lads waffled on about ‘spoons’ and ‘ties’ and sinker weights, I paid attention to the fuel consumption – in normal mode averaging 5,6 l/100 km and in Sport mode 5,7 l/100 km, both cruising at the requisite 120 km/h and including stop/start traffic or town driving, well village really.

This is now the third generation of the BMW X3 and, while exterior dimensions may be largely unchanged, it has a five-centimetre longer wheelbase, long bonnet and extremely short front overhang so the proportions emphasise the 50:50 distribution of weight between the front and rear axle.

At the front end, the kidney grille treatment and fog lamps feature a hexagonal design for the first time on a BMW X model.

There are three trim variants available and we had the xLine model that has radiator grille and other exterior details in Aluminium satin finish and specifically designed light-alloy wheels

The interior of the new BMW X3 follows BMW tradition and the xLine model features standard-fitted sports seats with cloth/leather upholstery.

The all-wheel drive system at the heart of the X3 is interlinked with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) meaning the power split between all four wheels can be constantly varied to produce the best possible handling characteristics.

There is a reasonable road to Port St Johns but no, fishing is not a simply a matter of driving to a venue and offloading the gear – it involves driving past the venue to locate an obscure trail through the bush that (hopefully) will end up at a pristine part of the beach where nobody has ever been before.

Fortunately, the dune bush is soft and gentle and leaves the paintwork intact – for the rest, the X3 chugged through the soft sand with nary a misstep or signs of running of breath.

As far as the chassis technology is concerned, the third generation of the BMW X3 continues to rely on a double-joint spring strut axle at the front and a five-link rear axle.

BMW engineers succeeded in bringing about a considerable reduction in unsprung mass by fitting aluminium swivel bearings and lighter tubular anti-roll bars as well as optimising wheel location at the front.

Handling dynamics, straight-line stability and steering feel have all benefited from the uprated axle kinematics and the electric power steering system with Servotronic function.

Roll moment has been redistributed a long way to the rear and the rear bias of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system further increased. Intelligent AWD management allows adjustments to be made as the driving situation demands while still maintaining maximum traction.

To maximise safety, meanwhile, Driving Stability Control (DSC) including anti-lock braking, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Automatic Differential Brake (ADB-X), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) are all standard kit.

The high ground clearance of 204 millimetres helps to ensure unhindered progress through the sand to the declared ‘ideal’ fishing spot. Why, I have no idea since nobody caught a thing and the only danger came from a rapidly depleting cooler box – including the water for the designated driver.

The approach angle (25,7°) and departure angle (22,6°) of the new BMW X3 together with its breakover angle of 19,4° create plenty of margin for negotiating steep sections or crests. Moreover, with a fording depth of 500 millimetres, the BMW X3 can tackle water crossings with ease as well – something suggested by one of the lads and quickly turned down, since the tide was coming in rapidly.

In addition to the iDrive Controller fitted as standard, specifying the Navigation system Professional opens up the possibility of touchscreen and gesture control – functions that have so far been exclusive to the current BMW 7 Series and new BMW 5 Series.

In addition to the adaptive cruise control the test unit was fitted with steering and lane control assistant, and Lane Keep Assist with side collision protection – all part of the optional Driving Assistant Plus safety package.

I am not a huge fan of either, considering the state of some of our roads and the appalling driving of many of their occupants, meaning the systems are hectically active and become rather intrusive.

So, lack of fish notwithstanding, the fishing trip provided good grounds (pardon the pun) to enjoy the new X3 but I cannot wait to get home….because then I can have a beer.

Confidence remains

Confidence in the South African auto industry remains high with ongoing major investment projects in both plant and people – despite the concerns some have raised about ‘alternative’ facilities being opened in other African countries.

BMW Group South Africa  has put its best foot forward with the opening of its news R73-million Plant Rosslyn Training Academy able to host 300 apprentices a year.

In 1978, exactly 40 years ago, BMW Group South Africa opened its first training centre at BMW Plant Rosslyn. Development and empowerment of workers for the automotive and manufacturing sectors has been a focus ever since. Even in this pre-democracy era, the company was ahead of the times in training learners irrespective of their ethnic background.

Since then 2 000 people have been employed by BMW Plant Rosslyn, after successfully being trained at the Training Academy.

Tim Abbott, CEO BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, says: “Global automotive production stands on the brink of momentous change with an increased focus on digitalisation and electrification. The workforce of tomorrow needs to keep pace with these trends. At BMW Group South Africa we are investing in the skills of the future.”

The facility focuses on both theoretical knowledge and practical application. Modern manufacturing skills such as robot programming, Advanced Computer Numerical Control (CNC) simulation and training on electric vehicles have been included in the new Academy.

An accredited Trade Test Centre has been incorporated into the building, allowing learners to achieve their trade qualification in-house. This functionality will also be extended to the public in the course of 2018.

Minister, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize (Department of Higher Education and Training) adds:  “In June 2017, Cabinet approved the Human Resource Development Strategy towards 2030. One of the strategy programs talks to the skills that are produced based on the partnerships that can be encouraged within the country.  The country can only achieve this if companies such as BMW continue to encourage Work integrated Learning. Students from the TVET colleges will benefit immensely with such partnerships.”

The Training Academy will continue to provide skills development for existing BMW Group South Africa employees and managers. This includes training on the advanced technologies that will be used in the production of the new BMW X3, which will kick off within a couple of months.

In addition, the following programmes will be offered for external applicants:

Learnerships:

  • Mechatronics
  • Autotronics

Trades:

  • Millwright
  • Electrician
  • Fitter
  • Fitter and turner
  • Motor mechanic
  • Spray painter
  • Panel beater

Harsh inevitability

The inevitable is a harsh, and often, ugly thing and, faced with that pending prospect, petrolheads around the world are looking despairingly at the accelerating impetus of electrification.

Volvo made the first across the brand move by announcing all its new cars would feature some level of eletric power and now, Jaguar Land Rover has followed suit by putting 2020 as the date for some degree of eletric power on all its vehicles.

To add insult – as far as the petrolheads are concerned – to injury, Jaguar is re-creating the iconic E-Type once acclaimed by Enzo Ferrari as ”the most beautiful car in the world” as a fully electric entity called E-Type Zero.

I can understand why the original E-Type is the icon it is. As a self-confessed Jaguar fan I actually never liked the looks and with handling akin to that of a blacmange pudding, actively disliked the car. However, I feel as affronted as thousands of others at this pillaging of automtive history.

Really, Jaguar should have re-created the car with a rip-snorting V8 engine as its final ‘hurrah’ to the internal combustion engine.

Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, says: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles.”

E-type Zero is based on a 1968 Series 1.5 Roadster and features a cutting-edge electric powertrain for 0-100 km/h in just 5,5 sec. It was engineered by Jaguar Classic at the company’s new Classic Works in Warwickshire, UK.

“With I-PACE we started with a clean sheet and engineered a bespoke, tailored, pure electric SUV from the ground up, creating a beautiful design with everyday practicality. It’s a performance SUV, it looks stunning, is great to drive and will be on sale next year,” he says.

The Jaguar FUTURE-TYPE is a vision for the car of 2040 and beyond. The fully autonomous virtual concept explores mobility for the connected world of tomorrow, where vehicles could be shared not owned.

“With Future Type’s interface, you can separately access your different digital orbits of work, family or play, dialling up what you do need, and dialling down what you don’t.

“At its heart is Sayer – the intelligent steering wheel that will revolutionise the way you live your life. Named after Malcolm Sayer, designer of the E-type, this steering wheel doesn’t just stay in your car – it lives in your home and becomes your trusted companion.

“Sayer is the first voice activated AI steering wheel that will be able to carry out hundreds of tasks. The advanced speech recognition software will allow it to answer your questions, connect you to the news, organise your travel and select your entertainment.

“Sayer knows what’s in your fridge and can even order your shopping or a pizza. You will never run out of milk again. It will be your go-to device. It is not just the ‘key’ to your car, it’s your membership card for our on-demand service club. A club which offers either sole ownership or the option of sharing the car with others in your community.

“For our customers, driving is about much more than getting from A to B. It’s about living life from A to Z. You will always be able to experience the sheer thrill of driving with the option to take the wheel. But this is a steering wheel like never before.”

Ian Callum, Director of Design, Jaguar says: “FUTURE-TYPE offers an insight into the potential for driving and car ownership in the future. It is part of our vision for how a luxury car brand could continue to be desirable, in a more digital and autonomous age,”

“Our FUTURE-TYPE Concept is an advanced research project looking at how we can ensure an on-demand Jaguar will appeal to customers in 2040 and beyond. Whether it’s commuting to work, autonomously collecting children from school or enjoying driving yourself on the weekend in the countryside, if there’s a choice of on-demand cars driving around city streets, we need to ensure customers desire our 24/7 service over our competitors.”

Jaguar Land Rover is already testing driverless cars in the real world. Autonomous Urban Drive can enable a vehicle to operate without a driver through a city, obeying traffic lights as well as negotiating T-junctions and roundabouts.

“Designed and developed in the UK, this research technology is already in use in a Range Rover Sport and takes us a step closer to achieving level four autonomy in Jaguar Land Rover’s future vehicles within the next decade,” says Speth.

“The new Range Rover Velar is designed to take you further. Enhance your life. It contains intelligent technology in the form of its quad core processor; the brains behind the beauty of the Velar.

“The Touch Pro Duo infotainment system incorporates two high-definition 10-inch touchscreens. We call this tailored technology Blade – your own digital butler. You can interact with your car from anywhere in the world. You can start it with your smartphone, lock or unlock it, locate it, check your fuel levels or even warm the cabin up before you get in.

Blade learns your daily drive, anticipates your needs, serves what you want, when you want it… but never intrudes.”

Fully electric automobiles is the inevitability. It is something we must accept and as much as I cry my petrolhead tears into my pretzels, I do understand it is the way of the future.

However, it is time to stop equating electric cars with ‘saving the planet’. While the end product may be mostly emission free, the production process still has a very long way to go and until this is entirely free of any emissions or harmful waste pre, during and post production the end product is not going to fix our environmental problems.

Hell, even horses are not entirely emission free!

That said, electric cars have madegreat strides in terms of practicality – and they still have a way to go!

The boring vanilla Nissan Leaf has got with the programme and the recently launched revise is a dynamic looking car that can be confidently taken onto public roads with the knowledge onlookers will not be snickering behind their hands as it passes.

“The new Nissan Leaf drives Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which is the core brand strategy for Nissan’s future,” says Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan. “The new Nissan Leaf, with its improved range, combined with the evolution of autonomous drive technology such as ProPILOT Park, and the simple operation of the e-Pedal, strengthens Nissan’s EV leadership as well as the expansion of EVs globally. It also has core strengths that will be embodied by future Nissan models.”

The new Nissan Leaf offers a range of 400 km, allowing drivers to enjoy a safer and longer journey. The new e-powertrain gives the new Nissan Leaf 110 kW of power output and 320 Nm of torque, improving acceleration and driver enjoyment.

When activated, the car’s ProPILOT Park technology takes control of steering, acceleration, braking, shift-changing and the parking brake to automatically guide it into a parking spot. It enables the driver to park safely and simply, even when parallel parking.

The new Leaf’s revolutionary e-Pedal technology transforms the way people drive. It lets drivers start, accelerate, decelerate and stop by increasing or decreasing the pressure applied to the accelerator. When the accelerator is fully released, regenerative and friction brakes are applied automatically, bringing the car to a complete stop. The car holds its position, even on steep uphill slopes, until the accelerator is pressed again.

The new Nissan Leaf’s design includes a low, sleek profile that gives it a sharp, dynamic look. Familiar Nissan design features include the signature boomerang-shaped lamps and V-motion flow in the front. The flash-surface grille in clear blue and the rear bumper’s blue molding identify the car as a Nissan EV.

For customers who want more excitement and performance, Nissan will also offer a version with more power and longer range at a higher price in 2018 (timing may vary by market).

The new Nissan Leaf will go on sale in October in Japan. The model is slated for deliveries in January 2018 in the US, Canada and Europe. It will be sold in more than 60 markets worldwide.

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