“It is the pinnacle of achievement to create something that survives the test of time, is immune to the eccentricity of certain epochs – in other words, has a timeless character.” (Prof. Dr. Ing. h.c. Ferry Porsche)
So, here’s to Christmas and the birth of the …. Porsche 911 ! An altogether splendid book.
The ultimate book to celebrate 50 years of the icon has appeared in Motorbuchverlag (Paul Pietsch).
Hotel Überfahrt seen through someone else’s perspective, plus Audi slope to the right.
A ship, a hospital? No, an international hotel, one of the very best, and part of the Althoff group: Hotel Überfahrt in Rottach-Egern (five stars). We reached it in our little Cayman S with the optional Sport Chrono package. Tremendous fun it was with this neat little car, which in red stood out nicely in the snow.
As to Hotel Überfahrt, we just managed the dessert which was upper crust in itself. It has to be said: Christian Jürgens and his team deserve the three stars – for exquisite ideas, a brilliant team and all one needs to have a grand gourmet holiday. No need to argue how these 3 stars came about. The Michelin group must surely have had reasons enough to allocate this best of the best certificate to Jürgens.
In fact, Tegernsee is inundated with good cuisine. There is “das Tegernsee”, a design hotel, there is Bachmair Weissach, and-so-on, and-so-forth. From the very refined to the simple kitchen: Tegernsee has it all. An incredible lot has changed over the years, and Tegernsee has become much more international than it used to be. Hard to swallow for some of the inhabitants.
CaymanS en route to Tegernsee. (photos+text: roe).
Stuttgart University has published a book on the above topic. It deals with mobility in all its various aspects. Above all, mobility is seen in a positive way, a. o. alluding to the fact that spiritual mobility preconditions less real mobility, i.e. less traffic congestions. Easier said than done and instigating lots of debates.
Quite obviously, electric mobility nowadays plays a major role again, at least as regards traffic in cities. The question of sound has yet to be resolved, as cars without “noise” can prove extremely dangerous in today’s hustle and bustle. This is also discussed in the book, by professors, doctors and other specialists, the focus being on tomorrow’s (individual) mobility.
And who is paying the bill? (sketch SHALA)
Kurt Möser, Marcus Popplov, Elke Uhl (ed.), Auto. Kultur. Geschichte (ISBN 978 3 981 466515), Stuttgart University + IZKT. 10 Euro.
The German car manufacturer Opel has had many a bitter pill to swallow. Will America reduce it to the max? Would America mistakingly invest in the wrong industry? Ultimately, America has not lost belief in the very traditional OEM. And no, it is not all about China. Opel can herald its best car portfolio of all times.
To support this notion of an OEM worth surviving, Opel is back with an impressive motorsports programme which is cost efficient. Motorsports Commercial Director Jörg Schrott can look back on a successful 2013. Among other things, Opel has managed to win a very potent partner, namely the German ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobilclub, e.V.). The motoring association is supporting the Opel Rally Cup.
And, most notably, during Essen Motor Show a new Concept Car was presented to the public: the so-called Opel Monza Concept. “The Opel Monza Concept breaks the conventions of automobile design, particularly in the interior,” says Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. “With trailblazing LED projection technology, we create a completely new infotainment world with a unique sense of space. This comes with connectivity possibilities between drivers and their family, friends and acquaintances, and even with the entire internet community. Aspects that have been unimaginable to date.”
Do I really have the best possible car insurance for my car as regards vaiue for money and service?
… but what does “Best Price” actually mean?
Same procedure as every year. Yes, it is this time of year again which signals end-of-year rally all around. As far as car insurances in Germany are concerned, the latest possible date to swap one’s insurance for a seemingly better one is 30th November. Which is why since at least the middle of October we have been getting bombarded with news, be it online, radio or print, telling us to change our insurance policy, i.e. the insurance provider, and where to go. To quote from the film “Dinner for one”, a blockbuster in Germany but rather unknown in the United Kingdom, although it is a very British slapstick film: We’ll try and do our very best … in explaining the basic outlines of car insurances to you.
Does better inevitably mean cheaper? One myth can be done eradicated immediately, and that is that a clever person can save up to 3,000 Euro per annum by changing his or her car insurance. After all, the average rate per annum for a car insurance amounts to something like 700 Euro. So, how save 3,000 Euro? An impossible and misleading teaser offer.
Meet the experts: Goslar podium discussion in Cologne – with moderator Carola Ferstl.
On a more academic and realistic basis the “Goslar Diskurs” in Cologne tried to bring some light into the darkness of the insurance jungle. Six professionals from the realm of journalism, academia, industry and of course insurance.
One thing became clear right from the outset: Car insurances always have to take online portals into account. Not only the Swabians and the Scottish watch their pennies and are therefore looking for alternatives to reduce their annual contributions, and therefore increasingly avail themselves of the Internet. In fact, Professor Horst Müller-Peters from the Institute of Insurance Industry in Cologne (IVW), states a rapid increase in online contracts. In a study for the Goslar Institute, an institution of the HUK-Coburg insurance group, he emphasised that “even at the conclusion of automobile insurance policies there is no way around the Internet.”
It is a matter of course that customers today first browse the internet to compare offers. And many of them conclude a direct online contract without having spoken to an insurance agent, let alone met one face to face.
For the insurance companies, a lot is at stake, because for them, the automobile sector has always been considered a dooropener with which they hope to conclude other contracts with new customers. The automotive business, therefore, is highly competitive, even though it has for years run a deficit. Per euro of income, companies on an average
It is not about pettifogging, it is about saving money without losing any value of the insurance cover.
have to pay 1.15 Euro caused by damage and costs. Because the storms of the recent past have not only shaken the building but also the vehicle insurances.
It is not least due to such influences that insurance premiums frequently rise even though the personal risk characteristics – as for example the no-claims bonus – have improved. To counter this development, clever contemporaries just as the energy and tourism sectors avail themselves of the information of relevant Internet portals to compare prices and services in the hope of finding more favourable solutions.
Between 2007 and today, the amount of online car policies has increased from nine to 23 per cent. At the same time, the number of vehicle owners who approached an insurance agent or a broker decreased from 75 to just above 40 per cent. 37 instead of the previous 16 per cent of customers now use both the internet and the traditional way, i.e. they gather informadtion from the Internet, but conclude a contract offline. Experts expect that especially the younger generation that grew up with the internet will increasingly sign their contracts online. “The digital consumer is revolutionising the car insurance market” was a preliminary conclusion drawn by Müller-Peters.
Money for free? Better study the policy in great depth.
By changing one’s insuranc, it is indeed possible to save up to 100 Euro on an average. But for doing so, one needs to spend hours if not days in the internet to compare a multitude of offers in detail. However, no comparison portal can provide full market transparency, because none of these portals has all of the companies with all tariffs on offer. What is more, the portal providers are quite obviously pursuing their own interests. Evident proof are commissions of an extent to cause tears to well in the eyes of many a seasoned sales representatives.
Check24 as supposedly independent body is currently the market leader. Transparo which operates on behalf of HUK-Coburg is the closest competitor. A bank (Sparkasse) is behind
Fierce competition for clients among insurance portals.
Autoversicherung.de, and preisvergleich.de (comparing prices) is present with various subtitles and acts increasingly aggressive in negotiating more favourable terms of a broad appeal. www.nafi-auto.de provides a useful overview. It is a software provider for brokers allowing the consumer to gather information without being able to conclude an insurance policy. In other words: After consulting nafi-auto.de the consumer still has to got to a broker who works with the insurance company of his choice, or alternatively turn to the homepage of the chosen insurance.
To sum up: Better does not automatically cheaper. And to find out about the ratio money
To be handled with care!
towards related service via the Internet a lot of time is needed. More often than not saving money is not really a bargain, as it means less service. Money presents from an insurance are for those who still naively believe in Father Christmas. They might be all the more disillusioned afterwards when they discover their “cheap” insurance turns out very expensive after all, as it will not cover a damage incurred.
Preisvergleiche von Auto-Versicherungen via Internet sind sehr mühsam, weil unübersichtlich und extrem zeitraubend. Niemand sollte sich dem Trugschluss hingeben, die in manchen Lockvogelofferten vollmundig in Aussicht gestellten, bis zu vierstelligen Beträge sparen zu können. Und auch den umfassenden Versicherungsschutz zum Nulltarif kann selbst das virtuelle Zeitalter (noch) nicht bieten.
There is a better way to fly… According to Altair engineers, they had significant involvement with both the A380 and 787 programmes, helping to reduce the weight of both aircrafts.
Aesthetics of Lightweight: Dallara, Airbus & Art
“It is our vision to radically change the way in which companies design products and reach decisions.” Mere waffle? Far from it. The man who said it has a solid engineering background as consultant to the automotive industry, beginning his career with the Ford Motor Company in 1978. Seven years later, together with two partners he, James R. Scapa, better known as Jim Scapa, founded Altair engineering. What started out as a small scale consultancy in Troy, Michigan, in the then new field of computer-aided-engineering (CAE), has become a global player indeed, with more than 2,000 employees in 19 countries. Added to which the Altair portfolio of clients reads like an impressive who’s who of the producing industry. For a first impression of how digitalisation works in an engineering process, this is what CEO Scapa has to say about innovation intelligence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeX1J8tUIWg.
Digitalisation is omnipresent. And apart from being a most valuable tool for engineers in the production industry, even artists have become infatuated with the clever Altair software.
Design to the Xtreme or: The making of …
So what could the above turn out to be? The result of the rapid simulation process is a sculpture by the London based designer and author of the famous trouser chair Assa Ashuach. And thus it happened, Altair as a software company has entered the London Design Museum – as part of the show Future is Here. Further proof that this company is avantgarde and anything but antiquated. The Israeli, whose work focuses on progressive design and manufacturing, relied on Altair’s programmes solidThinking Inspire and OptiStruct to model his futuristic Femur stool. The stool is exhibited in the Design Museum till the end of October 2013.
3D print of the stool.
Here is the animated version of the genesis, an unusual piece of seating furniture based on the human anatomy: http://altair-2.wistia.com/medias/rk9lr93q7w. Its creator Ashuach claims that 3D design starts with zero and that it is all about materialising one’s thoughts. This is precisely how Altair would like to see industry employ the software, because only starting from scratch, on a white sheet of paper, makes one reach the best results in weight reduction and durability. However, most use the software as a tool to improve existing design with the aim of reducing weight by removing material where possible.
The making of the Femur stool relied on the same work process as designing cars, parts of cars, parts of aeroplanes, trains and other industrial objects. As the artist explains: “In this project we used a new algorithm that removes any redundant material according to stress zones on the object’s surface. An optimisation of the exterior and material use was made to achieve a light and economical form.” What is unusual for the arts, has become widespread practice in industry, where saving time for production, weight and material means saving money and energy.
Less is more – Learning from Nature
The stool elegantly demonstrates Altair’s capabilities in the field of lightweight design, optimisation and additive layer manufacturing. The name Femur stool indicates that like the human pelvis and femur, this piece of art follows the human bone structure. Meaning, this shaping is driven by the mathematical intelligence of human bone formation. Bionics, i.e. analogies from nature, is much acclaimed in the car manufacturing industry for mimicking human nature, as it helps to reduce the drag coefficient. The difference with Altair’s software OptiStruct is that it does not simply copy nature as a static process. Rather, the company meticulously collects data, be it from the human ossification, from the structure of cobwebs, leaves or trees. This data allows fast and detailed calculations for industrial constructions, resulting in significantly reduced weight and a simultaneously increased lifespan..
For the artist, the looks of an object and perhaps its lifespan are of paramount importance, industry is keen on reducing weight, saving energy and improving the entire lifecycle. Drastic reductions in the CO2 emissions from passenger cars have been ordained by the European Commission and due to the global climate protection agreement of Kyoto will also be introduced worldwide sooner of later. The OEMs are therefore under enormous pressure to reach these goals. In Europe the fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) by 2015 and the hotly debated 95g/km
Curse of modern times: CO2
by 2020. The 2015 and 2020 targets represent reductions of 18% and 40% respectively compared with the 2007 fleet average of 158.7g/km. These goals are not only extremely ambitious, they are highly unrealistic, a typical example of the green ivory tower of the EU.
Weightwatching is the Watchword
The experts all agree that there is still enormous potential for improvements and increased efficiency regarding vehicles with combustion engines. No stone is left unturned on the search for greater efficiency. Apart from building ever more efficient engines and recuperating energy while driving, one of the most important aspects is saving weight. Each gram gained translates directly into less CO2 per kilometre. Rule of thumb: On an average, 100 kilograms less weight lead to about half a litre of fuel saved.
Holistic design of a vehicle concept with OptiStruct.
“Slimline is beautiful” could be the motto for the car industry. And this does not only imply using lighter materials in the intelligent material mix. The secret lies in an efficient change of shape, in other words in innovative lightweight construction. Altair is certainly a leading global provider of technology that strengthens client innovation. It therefore comes as little surprise that in the automotive sphere all the OEMs, be it Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Dallara, Daimler, Ferrari, Fiat, Ford, GM, Honda, HWA, Hyundai, McLaren, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, Tata, Tesla, Volvo or VW, plus the suppliers all use Altair software one way or another to make their products more efficient. With over 3,000 clients, Altair serves the automotive, aerospace, government and defense, heavy equipment industry sectors as well as the consumer products, ship building, energy, electronics, life sciences, and architectural engineering and construction markets.
Time is money
Efficiency in the workflow and designing process is crucial in a cost-intensive production industry. This is why Altair wants to revolutionise the whole process. In the automotive industry, the established development process puts priority on the fulfilment of functional targets such as crash safety, fatigue as well as comfort and noise. As a result, weight
Single item designed by OptiStruct: Steps towards optimised VW engine mount for dynamo, A/C compressor and control pump.
targets are frequently not fulfilled early in the development process, which leads to late weight firefighting and often unfavourable compromises between weight and functional targets. The introduction of numerical optimisation methods has improved the possibility to find better compromises. Still, as long as the usage of numerical optimisation is focused on component based, on-demand firefighting, large weight saving potential is left unused. It must be a goal in vehicle development to better utilise the potential that numerical optimization methods provide to help saving mass. The Altair engineers will not grow tired
McLaren takes advantage of Altair’s advanced material modelling for its Formular 1 racing-car.
of emphasising how important it is to approach lightweight construction holistically. “We want to give the designer a tool with which he can come up with better solutions right from the beginning.” This means the designer will no longer start with the “white sheet” in front of him.
The old time-consuming and expensive approach.
Thanks to frequently repeatable and fast simulation he can fall back on design suggestions which deliver the most efficient structures within any given framework, before he gets down to work. Real tests become replaced by virtual tests. And ideally, the Altair engineers use their methods and programmes for optimisation to collaborate with the respective OEM from the very outset. As in the case of Opel where the optimisation process concerns the development process of a passenger car.
Simulation – Inspiration – Innovation
Ideally, the Altair team would suggest using design optimisation techniques on every single component in a product, in order to ensure the entire structure is as lightweight as possible. In reality however, this is rarely possible as development schedules need to be
Optimised wheel suspension at the racing-car builder Dallara. (photo: Dallara.)
met with a limited amount of resources. So when faced with an existing design and often hundreds of components that could potentially be optimised, the challenge is to find out which ones could yield the biggest weight savings. The answer is to screen a product’s components during the early stage of the development process. The screening process helps to answer several vital questions when assessing where to focus time and energy such as:
Which steps are necessary to enhance the product?
What does this mean economically?
How large is the economic and technical potential of an optimisation project?
How much will it cost and how much effort will be required for an optimisation project compared to its benefit?
What are the consequence-, synergy- or interdependency-effects which may come up during the optimisation project?
What are convenient or realistic development targets?
The Altair vision … massive weight reduction through CAE by means of cloud computing coupled with high-performance computing.
Be it on isolated issues such as weight reduction of an aluminium frame at Ferrari, the concept design of a cross car beam at Fiat Group, or a more comprehensive approach, as in the case of Porsche, with virtual vehicle development under the constraints of changing products and processes – Altair HyperWorks, OptiStruct, HyperStudy, HyperMesh and all the sub-programmes will help to produce viable solutions fast. Thus,
The Altair Way: Revolution of the design process as simulation-driven innovation.
Daimler uses HyperMesh for Brake Disc Morphing and to check the durability of the Brake System in specific cars. OptiStruct comes in for multibody dynamic simulation, because it is all about how to best shape the brake discs in order to avoid brake noise and vibration issues. Many more examples can be given from the car industry.
In essence, Jim Scapa and his company focus on two main areas. In the analytics realm it is advanced material modeling, including composites, in business analytics it is solutions provided to analyse massive amounts of data for rapid descision-making.
Sebastian Vettel’s “Hungry Heidi” was constructed without the aid of Altair. But as costs for Formula 1 continue to be cut who knows what the future will bring.
Waste not, want not. Efficiency is the Car Industry’s Watchword.
Efficiency and Sustainability seemingly unlimited
In the Western World we take for granted having a bath or taking a shower. We hardly think of efficiency or sustainability while doing so. Not so the Car Industry. Thus we hear from Volkswagen that 32 bath tubs per car produced are too many. Efficiency, sustainability, ecology are three big words of which the car manufacturers have become acutely aware, not least because of ever more stringent regulations from Brussels. The Volkswagen Group and VW pride themselves in “thinking blue”. The company claims that sustainability has become firmly entrenched in its statutes. By 2018 the Volkswagen Group aims to replace Toyota as the World’s number one car manufacturer, at least this is what CEO Martin Winterkorn proclaims. The programme is called “Mach 18 Factory”, “Mach 18″ being the overall watchword – meaning something like “make it to being Number 1 worldwide by 2018!”
On the way from Number One in Europe to becoming Number One in the world, Volkswagen assesses its Think Blue Factory as one in which the “bath tubs per car” have to be significantly reduced, using as little water as possible, and as one in which remnants from the pressing plant are used for other components. Volkswagen considers environmental topics as paramount in the production process and announces a further reduction in the waste of resources of 25 per cent by 2018.
Truly a Survival of the Fittest?
Regarding the type of engine, combustion has been, still is and will remain to be the most successful solution for cars. However, the European Comission in Brussels keeps installing new regulations, especially as regards levels of CO2 emissions. So, national governments in Europe pump money into other systems keeping them artificially alive, just to meet the unrealistic environmental targets. Accordingly, the German government and Chancellor Angela Merkel have just announced further substantial unreasonable subventions for e-mobility. Can one not stop flogging a partially dead horse and rather invest in cars powered by the ever-improving combustion engine?
Déjà vu: Electricity lost out on the combustion engine. The massive Lohner-Porsche Electromobile from 1900.
Whereas according to Darwinian survival of the fittest, the combustion engine would easily survive for many decades to come and further improve its CO2 emissions, it might well become an endangered species on account of Brussels’ and Germany’s interventionism. The e-hype of these past years is quite unbelievable. While new technologies need the passion and support of all engineers and financiers involved, there is a limit when it comes to probabilities and cost-benefit analyses. It has been shown that neither the well to wheel analysis nor return on investment calculations for purely electric cars makes any sense. And why not invest this money in hydrogen cars that emit nothing but water, can cover the same distances as combustion engines and take as little time to refill? One cannot help thinking of haphazard decisions taken at random. As a matter of fact, these decisions are the result of guesswork. Firstly, General Elections in Germany are looming, generating varied lobbying and irrational promises. Secondly, the German car industry with its focus on premium cars needs to sell enough e-cars to meet the severe CO2 limits that by 2020 allow no more than an average emission per new car of 95 gram of CO2 per kilometer. This is achieved by means of super credits. To quote the European Commission: “Each low-emitting car will be counted as 3.5 vehicles in 2012 and 2013, 2.5 in 2014, 1.5 vehicles in 2015 and then 1 vehicle from 2016 onwards. This approach will help manufacturers further reduce the average emissions of their new car fleet.”
So far electric cars are merely a gimmick; some will be bought for illogical reasons. They are far more expensive, the batteries will not last as long as the car’s lifecycle and take hours to reload, added to which the distance one can cover remains a fraction of that covered with a petrol or diesel engine. Instead, one must ask whether it would not be better for the German government to stand up for reasonable regulations. VDA President Matthias Wissmann
Outspoken lobbyist for the German car industry and a man with a long political background in traffic and transport, Matthias Wissmann.
at any rate has dampened the great expectations for e-mobility in Germany. “If we reach the goal of one million electric vehicles on German streets one or two years later, that is not a problem. What is really important is that the German car industry remains in the lead regarding technological innovations and market share.” The President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry wrote a letter to the German Chancellor a few weeks ago asking her to vehemently oppose CO2 regulations that would be nails in the German car industry’s coffin.
Outrageously Different: The “BMWi Way” set to hit the road
BMW claims to have found a Columbus’ egg. With the motto “Born electric” the Bavarian premium brand is set to revolutionise the future of mobility once again. Its Columbus’ egg being an innovative lightweight and drive train concept. The BMWi range of cars is to consist both of fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The Bavarian optimism as regards the electrification of the powertrain is not shared by the majority of the OEMs. And yet the BMWi representatives are convinced that their concept which they started as “Project i” back in 2007 and have since pursued in secrecy will prove a sustainable success.
“Born electric” – BMW believe in the success of their i models.
The brains behind BMWi claim to have re-invented the car again, having reshaped it from scratch. The decisive factor for their electric models is the use of Carbon Fibre Composite materials with the use of which BMW endeavours to achieve a reduction of weight by 50 per cent compared to steel, plus a superior stiffness and good crash behaviour. The BMW i3 as fully electric car in the small segment will hit the road before the end of the year. The sportscar i8 will soon follow as a plug-in hybrid. “We have made no compromises with these purpose-built cars that support our emission free range of models. They represent two extreme poles in our otherwise classical offer of cars”, explains Hildegard Wortmann from Product Management and Aftersales. BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer adds: “It is an even bigger step than that from the carriage to the car.” In other words, BMW is breaking the rules of conventional car production. BMW wants a revolution, and somewhat confusingly calls it “i”, because it has nothing to do with i phone or i pad. Except that it might appeal exactly to that generation, which could be called generation “i”, as in “i” for innovation. Or …
“i” for Iconic Change under the name of sustainability?
“You say you want a revolution – Well, you know – We all want to change the world. You tell me that it’s evolution – Well, you know – We all want to change the world. You say you got a real solution – Well, you know – We’d all love to see the plan. You ask me for a contribution – Well, you know – We’re doing what we can.” With “Born electric” BMW might turn out to be as revolutionary as the Beatles in the 1960ies, with their new hairstyles and quite revolutionary songs and ideas. As in the Beatles song “Revolution” the car manufacturer has a “real solution” with which it wants to change the world.
The Beatles and BMW: Revolutionaries of their time?
The Bavarians are not only building entirely new cars, where an aluminium chassis sits on a carbon body and introduces new freedoms in design, but they deliver a 360 degree carefree package with it, or at least intend to do so. They call it “the BMW i 360-degree package for customer-friendly, (easy and convenient), electric mobility.” As BMW explains: “Through the 360° Electric programme, BMW i will offer solutions for all aspects of electric mobility. Under this banner it has entered numerous partnerships which will support the overriding goal of ensuring that, by the launch date, the charging options for the BMW i3 and BMW i8 will include customer-friendly, sustainable and convenient solutions for home garage charging.” Needless to say, all these partnerships are centred on the concept of sustainability.
This manufacturer of sporty premium cars is convinced of its opportunity to change public perception, to lead the premium segment and to develop a sustainable business. Quite a sizable commitment! But of course BMW is relying on governmental support as regards further tax reductions for the e-cars and a speedy installation of the necessary infrastructure. And who is the clientèle for the BMW i cars? No doubt, they will attract the so-called Lohas, i.e. that section of society that follows a lifestyle ofhealth and sustainability. Most importantly for BMW though, the Lohas must be sufficiently wealthy.
Purely electric. The Californian pioneer Tesla and its Model S.
PS: As you may have noticed the issue is highly controversial. Huffington Post displays an opposing view from Bill Destler who strongly believes in e-mobility. He takes the view that “electric cars are our future”:
Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and the Italian way of life
Amazing things are happening in and around Ingolstadt. Imagine driving right into the centre of Munich into the Postpalast for the eve of the Audi annual press conference – what should first catch one’s attention? A Lamborghini! Beside it was a Ducati, the famous motorcycle brand that Audi acquired in 2012; much to the dismay of AMG. In November 2010 this highend modifier of Mercedes-Benz vehicles signed a contract for intensive marketing cooperation with the motorcycle manufacturer and itself had encouraged Daimler to purchase the brand. Apart from Ferdinand Piëch being a fervent fan of these motor cycles, on a more rational basis Audi wants to oust BMW not only from its throne as premium car manufacturer but also compete with the Bavarians on two fast wheels. Besides, with the acquisition of Ducati Audi is continuing a great past. Back in the 1950ies, the NSU Motorenwerke AG, or simply NSU, in Neckarsulm used to be the world’s biggest producer of motor bikes. The factory resumed car production in 1957 with the NSU Prinz and engineered such technologically advanced, if commercially unsuccessful cars, as the NSU Ro 80 in the 1960ies. In 1969 VW bought the whole company and Neckarsulm briefly became the headquarters for Audi. Nowadays Neckarsulm coexists with Ingolstadt as German production sites for the premium cars with their increasingly Italian flavour.
Stell Dir vor, Du kommst zu Audi nach Ingolstadt – und denkst, Du seist in Italien. Or, in other words: Imagine driving to Audi in Ingolstadt and ending up in Italy. A colourful parade of Lamborghinis, Ducatis and Audi cars lined the entrance to the Audi World in Ingolstadt. A similar scenario presented itself in Neckarsulm about two months later during the 124th Annual General Meeting of Audi AG. No doubt about it, Audi has has combined the Italian passion for design with its German dependability and fascination for hightech.
By now the secret is no longer a secret: Audi has become Audi Group hosting four brands of world renown: The Audi cars as such heralding premium in every respect, the Italian lightweight sportscar Lamborghini, Ducati motor cycles and Italdesign Giugiaro. It therefore comes hardly as a surprise that the company has turned Italian. The overriding idea is is to combine Audi hightech with Italian design.
Quattro-phony – The Audi Family nowadays consists of four members. Lamborghini was the first to join Audi, back in 1998.
Giugiaro has designed cars for renowned car manufacturers, many of which have become icons of style. One just has to think of the Lotus Esprit, the Lancia Delta and, of course, the first Golf and the Audi 80. The latter, incidentally, was the first Audi that Ferdinand Piëch, then CEO of technology, gave to his wife Ursula. In fact, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche initiated groundbreaking innovations, most notably the permanent “quattro” all-wheel drive in 1980 and the diesel direct injection TDI in 1989. Having reached an age where most people enjoy their years of retirement Piëch is still presiding over Volkswagen Group. However, the one person he fully trusts is his wife Ursula. The patriarch and most powerful man in the car industry has consequently bequeathed his industrial inheritance to her.
We are Family …
After being elected member of the supervisory board of Volkswagen AG in April 2012, just one year later,
Ursula Piëch – most influential lady in the car industry.
Ursula Piëch has also joined the supervisory board of Audi AG. The VW Group no doubt has essentially become a family affair with the Porsche and Piëch family members holding the majority of shares. Presenting herself to the shareholders in a short and rather personal speech, the former nursery school teacher and governess was refreshingly outspoken about her liaison with Ferdinand and how she became involved with cars. “I have always been curious and thus have had a vested interest in every new car or development.” She went on to narrate that her first Audi was an Audi 80, which as she remembers caused derisive smiles by the public. The same applied to the introduction of the four-wheel drive “quattro”. Audi was anything but a premium brand at that time. Undoubtedly, the rise of the clever, discreet and yet outspoken 57 year old Austrian has only just begun. She is surely on her way to becoming the most influential lady in the car industry, even more so, should VW really become the biggest car manufacturer worldwide, a target that CEO Martin Winterkorn has proclaimed for 2020. No sooner had Ursula Piëch stepped out into public, than she overtook two mighty females in the car industry, namely Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler presiding over the huge supplier carrying her name and Susanne Klatten, BMW heiress and Germany’s wealthiest female ever.
As for Audi, with almost breathtaking speed the car manufacturer has managed to develop from a more or less non-descript VW annex in the 1960ies and 1970ies to a fully fledged autonomous and leading premium car manufacturer.
The Audi Way
And in spite of the overall tense economic situation, especially in Europe, Audi is growing against the tide, achieving one record after another. From January to 30th April 2013 sales have risen yet again. Approximately 503.000 cars have been sold, resulting in an increase of 6.7 percent. Another record: For the first time in the Audi history the company has passed the 500.000 mark after just four months. These impressive figures are not least due to the popular SUV family Q3, Q5 and Q7. And CEO Rupert Stadler confidently announced further growth for the months ahead: “We want to and will continue to grow.”
On the fast lane: Another member of the RS family and premiere for a member of the SUV family. The RS Q3 has 310 hp (420 Nm) and a maximum torque of 5,200 rpm.
Audi is quite obviously mastering the tide against the odds. Spain has reached its lowest market volume since 1986, demand in Italy is back to the level of 1979. The automobile market as a whole has been thrown back by more than 33 years. In spite of all that, Audi has managed to grow, even in Europe. This growth has mainly been due to the United Kingdom where Audi in 2012 achieved a new sales record of more than 123.000 cars and an increase of seven percent compared with the year before. Even in Germany Audi managed to grow by 3.6 percent and for the first time has captured the throne on the home turf of the “big three” to become premium brand number one ahead of BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The Cascading Sonorous Humming of this Wickedly Breathtaking Beautiful Beast, the Aston Martin Rapide S – a genuine example of fully fledged sportsmanship
“Are you a member,” intonated the voice behind me. My answer was prompt and perky: “No, I am not, but I have come with a member.” This incident which happened to me at one of the posh golf clubs in Surrey many years ago reminds me of the “U and non U” of the Aston Martin society, a society very much aware of its unique tradition and quite rightly so. Its philosophy embraces exquisite luxury and true sportiness. The mythical attraction is further heightened by the impossible missions which 007 alias James Bond, gentleman and sportsman through and through, accomplishes with sheer prowess and virtue. In short, Aston Martin has become a legend and is going stronger than ever – regarding racing, sales figures and renown.
This year, this marque with its impressive Headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, celebrates one hundred years of sports car excellence with a Grand Tour from the Middle East through Central Europe and Great Britian to America and ultimately Asia – starring the Aston Martin Vanquish. In fact, the legendary British carmaker has heralded a succession of exquisite celebrations throughout the year. One such unforgettable event was the launch of the Aston Martin Rapide S in Catalonia, Spain, in springtime to which we feel honoured to have been invited. It soon became very clear that the Aston Martin team has managed to unleash yet another iconic masterpiece of engineering and design.
Rapide S evoking the premium brand’s 100 year history
A secretive mystique envelops all 65 000 exemplars of these beautiful sports cars. 65 000 is the number of cars sold in the course of a century. A mere 15 000 Aston Martins were sold up to the turn of the millennium, eighty per cent of them in the United Kingdom. Since Dr. Ulrich Bez joined the company as CEO the marque has begun to compete on the international market. Since then a further 50 000 of these handcrafted cars have been sold, world-wide. Just think: this makes even the premium, expensive and highly sought-after Porsche 911 a mass product. The selected few who can pride themselves on calling an Aston Martin their own, are acutely aware of driving an exquisitely special car, a car full of controlled understatement. The marque, like the British Monarchy, has managed to outlast quite a number of difficult times. It therefore comes hardly as a surprise that this epitome of Britishness in style, demeanour and sturdiness, this first-rate charismatic brand is employed in Her Majesty’s Service. The royal seal “By Appointment to His Royal Highness the Princess of Wales – Motor Car Manufacturer and Repairer” has a definite ring to it and makes these cars so supremely British and so very special.
After all, how many countries can boast not only a surviving monarchy, but one that for centuries has been enjoying widespread acclaim? As for the elitist car manufacturer Aston Martin, the marque has become another uniquely British institution enjoying worldwide acclaim and admiration. An Aston Martin accordingly has to be driven in style. It is a majestic, a royal and an overtly sporty car – as became obvious once again when the Earl of March and Kinrara, better known as Lord March, host of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and generally Goodwood supremo, chased the new Vanquish up the famous 1.16 mile Goodwood hillclimb with its blind corner and sudden wall towards the end of the hillclimb.
Oh happy day…
It has spirit, it has soul, it has sound, it has speed, it has style, and it has luxury. In fact it does not leave any wish unfulfilled. Driving an Aston Martin is racing and revelling on Cloud 9. How is this possible? Any Aston Martin model is quite simply constructed with love. A small dedicated team accounts for the genuine authenticity of these cars, be it a Vanquish, a Rapide, a Vantage or one of the DB models. The latter being named after Sir David Brown, who in 1947 purchased the company for just over £20,500. The most famous of the so far over 14 individual DB models and derivatives is the Silver Birch DB5 figuring in the James Bond film “Goldfinger” and regarded by many as the most beautiful Aston Martin ever, the most famous of the James Bond cars and possibly the most famous car in the world. And, just in time for the 100 years celebration, Sean Connery’s DB5 has made its reappearance in the latest Bond film “Skyfall”, the most historic James Bond film to date.
Skyfall starring the DB5
Over the years, quite a number of different Aston Martins have figured alongside the MI6 agent in Her Majesty’s Service. This liaison has proved very successful as it combines genuine Britishness in the best possible fashion.
Noblesse & Tradition Obligent: Rapide S
Just as the loving hands of the masseurs in the Spa of the Mas de Torrent, which served as headquarters during the Rapide S launch, manage to accomplish a maximum sense of care and well-being, the Aston Martin is handled with maximum devotion during the act of being shaped into existence. This car is yet another example of the designers’ belief in simplicity. The Rapide S’ pure design means that it is incredibly well proportioned, the “S curve” being the typical Aston Martin signature. But design is not only shape. To the Aston Martin team it furthermore includes colour and the play with shades. “The team has looked closely at the individual contour lines of each of the cars to determine not only the right colours and shades, but also to create a template by which the paint changes from dark to light and where the graduated effect sits,” Aston Martin design director Marek Reichman explains.
As one presses one of the buttons on the lavishly designed dashboard to start the engine, go into reverse or start the sport mode, it feels a bit like acting in her Majesty’s Secret Service as MI6 agent.
Always “Q”ed in.
The car certainly conveys this aura – an aura which in Spain was distinctly augmented by the presence of the men in black servicing the dozen Rapide S sports cars cruising and speeding through flat and mountainous Catalonia. The new luxury Gran Turismo Rapide S with its new 6.0-litre V12 engine producing 558 PS is the most powerful four-door Aston Martin to date. Naturally, it can be ordered in Skyfall silver. This is further proof that the bonds between 007 and Gaydon remain forever strong.
Wings of speed
“More power, more beauty, same soul”. This demand on the new model has been miraculously accomplished. The stunningly elegant four-door silhouette perfectly suits the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Once the naturally aspirated V12 powerplant is started, the beast instantly awakens to life. Its sound just takes one’s breath away. Why listen to the undoubtedly perfect 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system, when the engine of the Rapide S delivers an aural experience like no other! The wolf in sheep’s clothing cannot hide its true character, which besides the race car qualitities of this luxury sports car is further emphasised by the impressive and striking new full grille. It is almost double the size of the Rapide’s front grille, imbuing the new car with an even more sporting, forceful demeanour. And Dr. Bez is extremely proud of the fact that this innovative new front grille design also complies with the latest European pedestrian protection regulations. Aston Martin holds a patent on the construction of its aluminium front grille which will move rearwards on impact, whilst the central and outboard chin stiffeners give rigidity to the lower structure and support achievement of the leg impact regulations. This ingenious solution means that Aston Martin can remain true to its design ethos, and avoid the use of plastic grilles and nose cone bumpers that stretch up in front of the bonnet.
It would be tedious to enumerate all the various changes distinguishing the Rapide S from its predecessor, the Rapid. The fact is: This car is not just a facelifted Rapide, which in 2010 was Aston Martin’s first four-door coupe. The Rapide S has an entirely new engine, rocketing its power from 477 to 558 horsepower and its torque from 600 to 620 newtonmeter.
Handcrafted with love
Moreover, the whole design has been aesthetically further heightened, making this Aston appear very sporty, longer, extremely sleek and elegant at the same time. Needless to say, every sinew, every stretch of hand stitched leather, every appealing detail of the Rapide S is so enticing and full of life because it has been chiselled with the outmost love and dedication.
Congratulations and Celebrations
Aston Martin. This uniquely charismatic brand with its honourable racing history will celebrate its centenary in a racy fashion. As early as 1959 the DBR1 won Le Mans. Many successes in racing were to follow. In fact, with the Vantage GTE, the V12 Vantage GT3 and the V8 Vantage GT4, Aston Martin boasts a full portfolio of race cars. Sir Stirling Moss, an Englishman and sportsman through and through and considered the best driver never to have won the Formula One World Championship – due to his chivalrous and altruistic behaviour towards his rival Mike Hawthorn – likes to remember his races in the DBR1: “At Goodwood I could really push the DBR1 to its limits. And on the Nürburgring, which in my opinion was the best circuit in the world in my time, the DBR1 was a great car to drive around there. It handled beautifully, you could really throw it around, which was how I wanted to drive. The brakes were great and the car had lovely balance.”
The models in the decades to follow have kept their lovely balance and have excellent brakes. And as research and development never stops, one highlight in this year’s string of centenary events will be the hydrogen Rapide S starting in the Nürburgring 24-hour race. In January the FIA gave this car its seal of approval. About 20 per cent of the qualifying laps were driven with zero emission using hydrogen. This hydrogen Aston Martin Rapide S will signal a premiere in racing history. CEO Bez is convinced that in 20 to 30 years to come Aston Martin will be able to deliver sports cars exclusively using hydrogen, thus producing zero emission.
Apart from the Nürburgring in which Aston Martin apart from its hydrogen car will compete with a line of its most impressive cars, the charismatic marque will parade one hundred Aston Martin road cars around the famous La Sarthe circuit. And for the devoted Aston Martin customers there are Centenary Editions of the V8 Vantage, DB9 and Rapide – each restricted to 100 examples. These cars are now available to order in each of the 46 countries in which Astons are sold. Befitting their low-volume status, the Centenary Edition cars feature a bespoke paint finish and solid sterling silver Aston Martin wing badges with tailored ‘trans flux’ enamel inlay.
Will iconic cars like the Aston Martin Rapide S soon be consigned to the history books, as Jeremy Clarkson predicts with sadness? No, never ever. We firmly believe in the ultimate sanity of mankind. It would thus be utter madness and ludicrous to get rid of these beautiful sculptures of speed emitting inimitable sounds of music. We do however go along with the view of the protagonist of the BBC car series “Top Gear” on the 12 cylinder Vantage, which no doubt also applies to the Rapide S, as to any other Aston Martin creation: ”It is fantastic. It is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.”
Der Streit um das Kältemittel R 1234yf geht in die nächste Runde.
Okay, man kann verstehen, dass Opel andere Sorgen hat, als Forschungsgelder in die Entwicklung eines alternativen Kältemittels zu stecken. Aber der Sache haben die Tests im Schulterschluss mit dem TÜV – es findet sich meist einer, der seinen Gütestempel drunter setzt, diesmal also der TÜV Rheinland – letztlich geschadet. Denn dass Daimler sich ursprünglich daran machte, Tests unter Realbedingungen durchzuführen, um dann einer unsicheren Zukunft in Sachen Klimaanlagen entgegenzusehen und um viel Forschungsgelder für die Entwicklung einer Alternative, einer umweltfreundlichen CO2-Klimaanlage, in den Hand nehmen zu müssen; diese Vorstellung ist ebenso bizarr wie unlogisch.
Der neuerliche Vorgang hat ein Geschmäckle: Opel wird von General Motors gegängelt, könnte ohne die amerikanische Konzernmutter besser dastehen, durfte Modelle nicht auf den Markt bringen, macht letztlich gute Miene zum bösen Schließungsspiel.
In Amerika ist das Kältemittel R 1234yf als Lösung aller Probleme begrüßt. Alleinige Lieferanten des Mittels sind die beiden amerikanischen (!) Chemiekonzerne Dupont und Honeywell.
Caution! R 1234yf
Auch wenn ihr Kältemittel formal umweltverträglicher ist als das bisherige Kältemittel R134a, so ist es doch viermal zu schädlich wie CO2. Deshalb: Premium Hersteller deutscher Landen vereinigt euch und bleibt dran an der Entwicklung einer CO2 Klimaanlage. Und Politiker in Brüssel: Gewährt den OEMs die dazu nötige Entwicklungszeit. In der Zwischenzeit sehe jeder, mit welchem Kältemittel er’s treibe und wie sich die Käufer entscheiden.
Es kann nicht angehen, dass der TÜV Rheinland am Ende noch das Umweltbundesamt aussticht. Zur Erinnerung. Untersuchungen der Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und –prüfung (BAM) hatten das Kühlmittel als gefährlich eingestuft: “Die Untersuchungen der BAM zeigen, dass mit dem Einsatz von 1234yf Gefahren verbunden sind. Die Gefahren ergeben sich aus dem beim Brandfall und bei hohen Temperaturen bereits ohne Brand aus dem Kältemittel 1234yf entstehenden Fluorwasserstoff.”
Da entsteht schon mal die Frage nach der wahren Motivation für die Tests von Opel – wohlgemerkt mit General Motors als ständigem Aufpasser bedrohlich im Nacken. Ob es wirklich um die Sicherheit der Insassen geht und nicht eher um einen Persilschein für den Verkauf der Autos, die das Kühlmittel 1234yf an Bord haben? Denn klar ist: Der Opel Mokka muss ein Erfolg werden. Und er klimatisiert nun mal nach „bester“ amerikanischer Manier mit 1234yf. Ein Schelm, der Böses dabei denkt?
PPS: Auch in Deutschland hat jetzt, am 6. Mai 2013, endlich ein weiteres Online-Medium sich des wichtigen Themas angenommen – unter dem Titel: Jetzt beginnt die Schlammschlacht ums Kältemittel. Dazu ist anzumerken: Die Schlammschlacht beginnt freilich nicht erst jetzt – nur wurde die Diskussion in den Medien bisher fast verschlafen. Ist nun mal nicht so sexy wie Fahrzeugpräsentationen…