Renault-Nissan alliance takes Google Android for a drive

RENAULT’S alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi said yesterday it would start equipping its cars with the Android operating system to make dashboards smart.

Under a deal with web giant Google, the Renault-led group – the world’s largest auto alliance by sales volume – will begin incorporating the most widespread operating system into its vehicle dashboards starting from 2021.

“The main objective is to offer (drivers) the same experience in their cars as smartphone users have on their devices,” the French-Japanese alliance’s business development chief Hadi Zablit told AFP.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, which sold 10.6 million vehicles worldwide in 2017, will give drivers access to the hugely popular Google Maps while driving.

Drivers will also have access to the artificial intelligence-powered Google Assistant, while they will be able to download applications from the Google Play Store.

Zablit said the objective was to offer customers “a digital continuity between the car and the outside world”.

He also said drivers will not be restricted to Google, and that they will be able to download other operating systems, including Apple iOS.

In China, where Google is blocked, the auto alliance will offer drivers unspecified alternatives.

The agreement is the first of its kind, with Bloomberg News noting that many auto makers have long “tried to keep Google and Apple at arm’s length, hoping to keep control of such valuable data as a driver’s whereabouts, driving patterns, shopping preferences and infotainment use”.

Zablit said the agreement was just one of several steps in a “collaborative effort we will undertake with Google”.

The auto group also plans to put 12 new electric models on the road, while it seeks to develop its self-driving vehicle technology. – AFP Relaxnews

First-ever BMW i8 Roadster unveiled

BMW Malaysia today unveiled the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster, “the Icon of a New Era that epitomises the progressive hybrid sports car”, at the Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry (CEPSI) 2018, at which BMW Malaysia is the official E-Mobility partner.

The i8 Roadster’s unveiling was officiated by the Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin who was a special guest at the landmark conference.

“The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster is the ultimate icon for Mobility of the Future. The open-top hybrid two-seater sports car redefines driving enthusiasm, freedom and demonstrates e-Mobility as the visionary way forward for the convertible sports cars segment,” said BMW Malaysia managing director and CEO Harald Hoelzl.

The first-ever i8 Roadster is equipped with the most acclaimed features placing it in a league of its own. This year, BMW i8 scored its fourth consecutive win of the International Engine of the Year Award since 2015, a well-deserved recognition of BMW i8’s supremely designed drivetrain. Furthermore, a string of prestigious accolades, including the iF Design Award and the Red Dot Award, testify to the quality and allure of the brand-new LifeDrive architecture for BMW i models.

Emotion-packed design, a character all of its own

The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster imbues emotional appeal in its spectacular design, by carrying over the BMW i design language into a distinctive vehicle concept. The taut soft-top roof has a visual lightness to go with its low physical weight and serves as a defining element of the silhouette in reinforcing the road-hugging impression made by the car’s low centre of gravity. The body’s dynamic wedge shape can also be best appreciated when viewing the two-seater in profile. A “Roadster” designation is attached on the C-pillar.

When opened, the car’s broad roof retracts fully into the rear end. A unique mechanism allows the soft-top to be folded into a compact package and stowed away in a perpendicular position, creating around 100 litres of additional storage space behind the seats. The all-electric roof opens and closes quietly in 15 seconds, a process which can be initiated while travelling at up to 50km/h. Dropping down the roof raises the rear window by around 30mm, where it can also serve as a wind deflector that reduces turbulence for the occupants. The height of the fully retractable rear window can be varied as desired at the touch of a button in the cockpit.

“The Icon of a New Era” features a brand new LifeDrive vehicle architecture which offers a horizontally split structure comprising an aluminium chassis and a carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) passenger cell to offer an exceptional degree of design freedom. This clever engineering trick enables the optimal positioning of the necessary drive components to ensure the best possible handling, in addition to ensuring a noticeable weight advantage with the carbon passenger cell.

The open-top two-seater comes with newly designed frameless gullwing doors made from CFRP with an aluminium outer shell, while the windscreen frame is made entirely from CFRP. This ultra-strong high-tech material is ideally equipped to provide exceptional rigidity, maximising the car’s occupant protection even if it rolls over. CFRP is also used to manufacture the side skirts with their extra-large cross-section. Additional struts and panels in the front and rear axles also help to maximise the body’s rigidity. The unladen weight of the vehicle stands at 1,595kg, a remarkably low figure for an open-top car.

The first-ever i8 Roadster comes in Exterior E-Copper with Accaro interior design, and will be available at authorised BMW i dealerships from tomorrow.

The retail price (on the road, without insurance) for this car starts from RM1,508,800.

Volkswagen to end iconic Beetle in 2019

VOLKSWAGEN announced on Thursday it would end production of its iconic “Beetle” cars in 2019 after adding a pair of final editions of the vehicles.

The move comes as Volkswagen emphasises electric autos and larger family-oriented vehicles, said Hinrich Woebcken, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America.

But Woebcken opened the door to reviving the model at some point, alluding to the company’s 2017 decision to unveil a revamped Volkswagen Bus as a possible template.

“Never say never,” he said in a statement.

Volkswagen plans to offer the two final edition models in both coupe and convertible styles. The cars will include nods to earlier versions and be priced at $23,045 (RM93,540) and up, the company said.

“The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” Woebcken said.

The saloons made their US debut in the 1950s and were popularised with the 1968 Disney movie “The Love Bug.”

US sales ceased in 1979, but the vehicle continued to be produced in Mexico and Brazil, according to Car and Driver. VW revived the “New Beetle” in the US 1997.

However, the vehicle’s history goes back to the Nazi era, having first been developed by Ferdinand Porsche with support from Adolf Hitler. –
AFP Relaxnews