OPINION

Opinions from our team of automotive experts.

  • Beyond the Robo-Taxi: Great Customer Experiences Will Define Self-Driving

    Beyond the Robo-Taxi: Great Customer Experiences Will Define Self-Driving
    Robo-Taxi

    Beyond the Robo-Taxi: Great Customer Experiences Will Define Self-Driving – When most people talk about why autonomous vehicles will be successful, they tend to focus on the self-driving software alone. Don’t get me wrong, the self-driving system is incredibly important to develop, but it’s just one part of building a safe and scalable self-driving service that consumers can trust.

    As we look to the initial launch of a commercial self-driving service in 2021, Ford is focused on what it will take for customers to embrace the technology, trust us enough to take a ride, and keep coming back.

    Focusing on the customer experience is critical because the opportunities for Ford and the self-driving industry are massive. In the years to come, self-driving vehicles could help expand access to transportation, jobs and goods across numerous cities. At Ford, we know all of this is possible if you construct a service on top of the software that provides an experience centered around the customer and the customer journey every step of the way.

    Scott Griffith

    As we ramp up our focus on tackling the customer-facing aspects of our self-driving service, we are excited to welcome Scott Griffith to the team at Ford Autonomous Vehicle LLC. Previously the CEO of Zipcar, Scott is taking on the critical role of leading the development and execution of our go-to-market strategy.

    His responsibilities will include further developing Ford’s autonomous vehicle brand and marketing, defining the customer experience and product attributes needed to deliver this vision, and building out the company’s fleet management and regional operations.

    Scott is no stranger to the challenges of launching a new mobility service with large-scale operations. He spent more than a decade helping Zipcar become the largest car-share service in the U.S. Achieving that meant developing a new brand and a trusted service that drove a fundamental change in consumer behavior moving urban dwellers from car ownership to car-sharing.

    leading that kind of transformation is also fundamental to the adoption of self-driving vehicles and it involves many aspects of the business that haven’t been frequently discussed, including the launch and scaling of a self-driving service. This comprises working with local municipalities, insurance providers, parking operators, first responders and many others to understand how a new self-driving service can be successfully deployed.

    Fleet management is also a critical component to delivering an experience people will value and want to use again and again. Being able to operate a technology-enabled fleet with a high utilization rate and rapid recovery is critical for our self-driving service to become seen as trusted, reliable and efficient. This means developing a fleet management vision that delivers on customer expectations around cleanliness, maintenance, service recovery and durability of our self-driving vehicles. This is all important to delivering the great customer experience that Scott’s team will be focused on building.

    “Finally, you have heard me talk about the importance of building a self-driving service that’s scalable and where and how big you launch is key to this. Having deployed a similar strategy at Zipcar, Scott understands the importance of perfecting the customer experience and achieving scalability city by city before expanding nationally. Operating in a limited number of cities will enable us to nail the business model and customer experience and gain a comprehensive understanding of the collaboration needed to launch an entirely new service. This will make ramping up in the next dozen cities much less difficult. There are no shortcuts when it comes to launching a self-driving vehicle or service. In fact, it is the hardest thing the auto industry has faced since people made the jump from horses to cars. We need people to trust our technology enough to get in the vehicle, and then to love the experience enough to come back. Alongside an excellent team at Argo AI that’s focused on the self-driving system and Ford engineers who know how to safely integrate advanced technology into vehicles, Scott and his team will keep us laser-focused on building a world-class service people embrace.”

    – By Jim Farley, President, New Business, Technology and Strategy, Ford Motor Company
  • #DRIVETOGLORY – the journey begins: 365 days to The 2020 Ryder Cup with Worldwide Partner BMW

    #DRIVETOGLORY – the journey begins: 365 days to The 2020 Ryder Cup with Worldwide Partner BMW

    The opening match of The 2020 Ryder Cup will tee off in exactly 365 days at Whistling Straits (Kohler, Wisconsin, USA). To mark both this occasion and a week-long celebration, which will culminate in the official Year to Go Celebration at Whistling Straits next week, Worldwide Partner BMW started the countdown to the largest golf tournament in the world, under the campaign slogan “#DRIVETOGLORY”.

    For the first time, qualification for Team Europe began at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour, where it will also end in 2020. Further cementing BMW’s Worldwide Partner position, qualification for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team will conclude at the 2020 BMW Championship.

    Stefan Ponikva, Head of Brand Experience Customer stated that BMW Ryder Cup is unlike any other golf tournament – the prestige, emotions and interest around the world makes it unique. As a global golf partner for three decades, and a long-term partner of Ryder Cup Europe, BMW is proud to be now a Worldwide Partner for the first time next year. This elevates the role of BMW as a significant global golf partner.

    “#DRIVETOGLORY GETS TO THE HEART OF THE RYDER CUP, AND WHAT MAKES IT SO FASCINATING. WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE QUALIFICATION JOURNEY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC, AND WE ARE ANXIOUS TO WATCH BOTH TEAMS TAKE SHAPE.”

    During the #DRIVETOGLORY journey, Worldwide Partner BMW will deliver the Ryder Cup Trophy at noteworthy events connected to the rich history of The Ryder Cup.

    Qualifying for the European team started in style last weekend, when the iconic Wentworth Club hosted the European Tour’s flagship event. Victory at the BMW PGA Championship saw England’s Danny Willett (ENG) take the top spot in captain Padraig Harrington’s (IRL) ranking list, after the first week of the qualification campaign.

    Next September, the qualifying period will close at the BMW PGA Championship (10th to 13th September 2020). By the end of that tournament, nine of the 12 players in the European team will be confirmed before Captain Harrington selects his three wild cards to complete Team Europe.

    Qualifying for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team began at the WGC-Mexico Championship in February and will culminate with the 2020 BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club near Chicago next August. The U.S. Captain will make his picks on September 1 or 2, 2020.

    Next week, both Captains will be at Whistling Straits for the official Year to Go Celebration, which will feature a press conference, media interviews, filming of a joint social media video and a special appearance together on “Feherty Live – Countdown to the Ryder Cup” with NBC golf analyst David Feherty. There are just 365 sleeps until the next Ryder Cup for every player on both sides of the Atlantic, including past participants Francesco Molinari (ITA) and Tommy Fleetwood (ENG). Last year, in Paris, the dream team known as “Moliwood” became the first European pair in the history of the competition to win all four of their matches together. It was the start of a “bromance”, which Worldwide Partner BMW has cheekily acknowledged in a video clip.

  • BMW Concept 4

    BMW Concept 4
    BMW Concept 4

    BMW Concept 4 –The 68th IAA Cars show in Frankfurt is the venue for the unveiling of the BMW Concept 4 – a future-focused interpretation of the BMW Group’s enduring DNA that represents the magic of coupe driving at its most exciting.

    “The BMW Concept 4 embodies the aesthetic essence of the BMW brand. It combines perfect proportions with a clear and precise design,”

    Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design.

    The front end – the new face of the 4 Series range.

    The BMW Concept 4 hovers close to the road. The distinctive kidney grille, remarkable air intakes and prominently sculpted surfaces provide an immediate advert for the car’s performance and its engaging character as a driver’s car.

    Grabbing the attention at the heart of the front end is the vertical kidney grille.

    “The kidney grille has always been a signature feature of BMW cars. The BMW Concept 4 presents a confident and classy take on this iconic feature. At the same time, the BMW Concept 4 offers a look ahead to the expressive face of the 4 Series range.”

    Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design

    The vertically oriented grille fits seamlessly into both the proportions of the front end and BMW’s illustrious past.

    Indeed, its form and design reference legendary classics such as the BMW 328 or the BMW 3.0 CSi and therefore shine the spotlight on the BMW brand’s long and successful history as a maker of fine coupes.

    The kidney grille is also home to some elaborate details. The grating itself contains horizontal trim elements with a faceted cut which create a neat contrast against the sporty design of the front end and lend depth and exclusivity to the grille. Look closer and another highlight is revealed: the intricate grating within the kidneys and air intakes, which is made up of an array of small “number 4s” joined together.

    The slim and focused twin headlights are slightly angled and team up with the kidney grille to lend the front end a modern look with a strong identity. The striking LED light elements have no glass cover; instead they are worked into the body like three-dimensional sculptures. This allows them to bring an even greater sense of modernity and technical sophistication to the front end.

    The sharply contoured bonnet extends the lines of the front end through powerful volumes and edging of precision. The bold surfacing frames the kidney grille like a gemstone.

    The side – the aesthetic essence of a modern BMW coupe.

    The BMW Concept 4 displays BMW’s signature proportions at their most modern form yet. The stretched bonnet, long wheelbase, flowing roofline and short overhangs create a modern, elegant and dynamic coupe outline and send energy coursing through the low-slung body even while it’s standing still.

    Within the silhouette, the ultra-pure surfaces of the new BMW Concept 4 form a powerful main body. The interplay of tautly chiselled volumes and a small number of extremely precise contours create a rare sense of emotion and dynamism.

    The expressive exterior paint tone Forbidden Red accentuates the car’s surfaces particularly vividly; those in the light at any one time project a rich, glossy red, while shade creates an almost black effect and a striking contrast. The interaction of contours and volumes therefore exude a dramatic sense of radiance and depth.

    The athletic body incorporates a slender glasshouse with a narrow window aperture, which further emphasises the dynamism of the side. The long, sweeping roofline flows smoothly into the boot lid, giving the rear end a high-class and sporty aesthetic.

    The bulging rear wheel arches lend visual expression to the power coursing through the rear wheels and accentuate the muscular shoulders higher up. The slender area above the front wheels, meanwhile, strikes a neat dynamic balance. Its tempered volumes enhance visual agility and lightness. Together, the two sets of wheel arches give the new BMW Concept 4 a powerful and confident stance.

    A horizontal main line between the wheel arches takes the place of a classical contour line in shaping the character of the flanks. It runs relative low down along the side of the car, creating a low visual centre of gravity.

    Further down, another character line rises dynamically from the rear of the front wheels towards the boot lid, bringing extra agility into the mix.

    Sophisticated details at second glance.

    Look at the BMW Concept 4 more closely and further classy details are revealed. The minimalist, two-section exterior mirrors emerge harmoniously out of the weather strips. The lower section in polished aluminium extends the weather strip in a flowing movement and becomes a mirror surface, while the aerodynamically optimised rear section is in body colour and rounds off the design of the mirrors in dynamic fashion. On the inside of the mirrors is an apparently floating BMW logo, which only comes to light on more detailed inspection.

    The light-alloy wheels of the BMW Concept 4 are equally rich in detail. The 21-inch items represent a heavily “dished” take on the sporty five-spoke design, drawing the eye into their centre-points. The fronts of the intricate spokes have a high-polished finish, while the set-back surfaces are finely ground to create a slightly darker effect and give the rim design a sophisticated contrast.

    The rear end – clear, eye-catching, dynamic.

    The rear of the BMW Concept 4 sits low over the road, as befits a sporty car. The character line transitions from the flanks into the rear end in a broad, horizontal sweep and visually reduces the coupe’s height off the ground even further. Picking up where the front end left off, generously sized and clear surfaces with only a small number of lines are the dominant theme. Purism runs through every element of the rear end and creates a prominent tail graphic.

    The sporty glasshouse is indented into the powerful body, allowing it to chisel broad and athletic shoulders into the BMW Concept 4’s design. The vertical air outlets frame the lower section of the rear and emphasise the car’s broad stance. The LED rear lights consist of a single fibre-optic element, which lends the familiar BMW L shape a cutting-edge “heartbeat” graphic and dispenses with a glass cover. Their contours underscore the sportingly horizontal focus of the rear end and accentuate its brawny stance on the road.

    The striking diffuser integrated into the muscular rear apron sets the seal on the car’s rear-end design. Its vertical fins break up the clean surfaces of the car’s tail to send a statement of fine sporting pedigree, while the High-gloss Black paint finish with metallic particles lend it additional visual impact.

    The pair of exhaust tailpipes highlight a new and dynamic free-form, a detail of the BMW Concept 4’s design that expresses what this car is all about: the modern essence of a coupe oozing aesthetic appeal from every pore.

  • Automotive art and street art come together in the Aventador S by Skyler Grey at Monterey Car Week 2019

    Automotive art and street art come together in the Aventador S by Skyler Grey at Monterey Car Week 2019

    Automotive art and street art come together in the Aventador S by Skyler Grey at Monterey Car Week 2019 – On the occasion of Monterey Car Week in California, Automobili Lamborghini presents a unique Aventador S interpreted by the art of Skyler Grey, the young American artist considered the rising star of world street art.

    The one-off Aventador S by Skyler Grey symbolizes the fusion of two artistic concepts: on one hand the automotive art of Lamborghini, where the unique design form, always characterized by taut lines, three-dimensional volumes, and geometries and stylistic elements of the past is combined with groundbreaking technological solutions; on the other hand, the art of Skyler Grey.

    At just 19 years old Skyler has been called the “Fresh Prince of Street Art” and his iconographic pop style has often brought him comparisons to artists the likes of Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He is the youngest artist to have his work exhibited in museums and international art fairs, and he was named in the 2017 Forbes “30 under 30” list of the most influential artists worldwide.

    “Because of the affinity we feel with the world of art, we wanted to experiment with a new creative approach, entrusting Skyler Grey with the interpretation of a car that is already itself a work of art. It is a project connected with our new paint shop in Sant’Agata Bolognese, a place where technology and art meet and where our specialists are tasked with turning our customers’ dreams into reality, in the search for aesthetic perfection.”

    Katia Bassi, Chief Marketing & Communication Officer of Automobili Lamborghini

    Delivered to the artist as if it were a blank canvas, the car was painted in the new Lamborghini paint shop just recently inaugurated in Sant’Agata Bolognese.

    The creative process, which lasted nearly a year, along with three weeks in the paint shop, was carried out in collaboration with an interfunctional team of technologists and specialists in painting, logistics, assembly and quality, who were involved in the project from the feasibility phase right through the production process. Despite the high level of complexity of the work, with the support of the team the artist has brought to life the first street-legal work of art on four wheels.

    Skyler Grey used the main techniques of street art, including airbrushes, spray guns, rollers and stencils, to personalize the car body in his typical pop style in orange and yellow.

    The orange base color, Arancio Atlas (orange), was the canvas on which Grey expressed all his creativity in interpreting the Lamborghini trademark. The exterior parts are enlivened with bold, irregular brushstrokes in yellow, dark orange and white, interspersed with splashes of color and paint dripped onto the surface using the drip painting technique.

    The body, thus characterized by the alternating of three colors, was then animated by stylized images of bulls running along the side, depicted emerging from the air intakes in a race and from the iconic Campbell’s soup can, as a reference to Warhol’s “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans”.

    Like at the bottom of any artist’s canvas, Skyler Grey’s signature appears on the bodywork accompanied by the unmistakable lightning bolt above his name, confirming the authenticity and uniqueness of this work of art.

    The interiors, in Nero Ade (black) leather with contrasting orange stitching, are personalized on the rear panel with an embroidered image of a cartoon bull, situated between spots of colored paint with a splash effect. The artist’s design for the bull was entrusted to the artistic embroidery skills of Lamborghini’s upholstery specialists.

    The Aventador S by Skyler Grey, purchased by an art collector, will be the first Lamborghini to be certified via innovative blockchain technology.

    Lamborghini Sicura

    The car is part of the pilot project “Lamborghini Sicura”, launched in collaboration with Salesforce and aimed at protecting the car as a work of art. It involves a process of authenticity certification, which makes use of Salesforce Blockchain technology to guarantee data security and incorruptibility.

     The protection system aims to prevent counterfeiting; to trace and certify all the information related to the model; and at the same time favor an increase of value for all the stakeholders.

    The Aventador S by Skyler Grey is on display from August 15-18 2019 at The Lamborghini Lounge Monterey, a ocean-view villa in an exclusive and privileged position, situated at the famous 18th hole of the Pebble Beach Golf Course in Monterey.

    The concept of the space is inspired by art in its various forms and was designed according to the motto “Created to Inspire”. The private villa is conceived as the home of an art collector and Lamborghini fan, where guests are taken on an experiential journey in an environment where the world of Lamborghini art and design, blend together in perfect harmony under the banner of art.

    Lamborghini is represented by a display of the newest models, in interactive areas dedicated to the creative process of their design and to their personalization, all in an intimate, friendly and informal atmosphere.

    The artists invited to enliven the lounge, in addition to Skyler Grey with the Lamborghini he has interpreted and his most famous works, include Italian artist Alfredo Sannoner, a master calligrapher, with his italic art and search for beauty and perfection in writing.

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