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BMW Group

BMW, bersama dengan kerajaan Thailand dan duta besar Jerman untuk Thailand, telah memulakan pembinaan sebuah kilang untuk menghasilkan bateri khas untuk kereta elektrik. Kilang ini akan membantu BMW menghasilkan kereta elektrik di Thailand bermula dari separuh kedua tahun 2025.

Kilang bateri baru ini akan meliputi kawasan seluas 4,000 meter persegi dan akan menjadi sebahagian daripada operasi BMW di Thailand. Ia akan mengambil bahagian bateri dari tempat lain dan mengumpulkannya untuk membuat bateri besar untuk kereta elektrik. BMW membelanjakan banyak wang, kira-kira 1.6 bilion baht (sekitar RM211,153,426), untuk projek ini, dengan kebanyakan wang digunakan untuk mendapatkan peralatan terbaik.

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After a joint ground-breaking ceremony attended by Milan Nedeljković, Board Member for Production at BMW AG, representatives of the Thai government, and the German ambassador to Thailand Ernst Reichel, construction has commenced for the BMW Group’s local manufacturing facility for Gen-5 high-voltage batteries. This facility will enable the BMW Group to produce fully electric vehicles locally, with production scheduled to begin in the second half of 2025.

The forthcoming high-voltage battery assembly facility will cover 4,000 square meters and will be an integral part of BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand. The assembly line will convert imported battery cells into modules, which will then be integrated into high-voltage batteries. The BMW Group has invested over 1.6 billion baht (approximately RM211,153,426) in the project, with a significant portion earmarked for state-of-the-art equipment and systems, totalling almost 1.4 billion baht (approximately RM184,759,247).

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BMW Group Logistik, in collaboration with Trailer Dynamics, has successfully tested an electrically powered semi-trailer in real-world logistics operations. This innovative e-trailer concept achieved remarkable fuel savings when paired with a diesel truck. The testing occurred over various distances and routes, and the results were promising.

  • Short and Medium Distances: The e-trailer, when combined with a diesel truck, achieved average fuel savings of over 46% for short and medium distances.
  • Long Distances: For long-distance routes, the fuel savings exceeded 48% compared to conventional trailers.

The e-trailer is unique in that it features its own battery and electric drive axle, which assists the semi-truck’s engine. Integrated sensors optimize the load ratio, further improving fuel economy. The e-trailer’s powered axle not only reduces the tractor’s energy consumption but also provides additional power during acceleration and on inclines.

The tests were conducted over both medium and long distances, with up to 250km per day on motorways and main roads. The e-trailer data was collected automatically during these journeys. Over long distances, energy modules for BMW electric cars were transported over 450km, resulting in significant diesel savings. The e-tailer’s battery was charged with 100% green energy, further contributing to its environmental benefits.

A remarkable achievement was demonstrated on the final day of testing, where an electric Volvo tractor was used in combination with an e-trailer. This combination achieved a driving distance of more than 600km without recharging and, therefore, a 100% CO2 reduction when using an e-truck and e-trailer together.

While e-trailers come with a higher initial weight that affects payload capacity, the increased total weight for trailers allowed in the EU helps offset this concern. The higher acquisition costs are balanced by lower operating costs, especially over long distances.

The BMW Group is committed to reducing its environmental footprint and supports the development of innovative technologies in transport logistics to achieve these goals. These e-trailer pilot projects are a significant step in realising their “Green Transport Logistics” strategy.

Sime Darby Motors, a unit of Sime Darby Berhad, is one of the major players in the automotive business in the Asia Pacific region. Its involvement over the past 40 years has covered retail, distribution and assembly in nine markets.

It now adds Indonesia to the list with the establishment of a joint venture between its subsidiary Sime Singapore Ltd. and Galeon Group. The joint venture company, known as PT Performance Motors Indonesia, will handle the BMW Group brands, BMW and MINI.

PT Performance Motors Indonesia is Sime Darby Motors’ first venture in Indonesia. It will start off in Jakarta and Medan with two dealerships representing BMW and MINI. Moving forward, it will expand into other provinces in Java and Sumatra to grow the BMW Group’s network in Indonesia.

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For all its life, the Mini has been primarily manufactured in England. Even when the Mini became the modern MINI after the name and model rights were acquired by the BMW Group, the original factory in Oxford was also acquired to continue production of the model.

Of course, besides England, the Mini was also assembled locally in some countries, including Malaysia. Same with the MINI, which has been assembled at the Inokom plant in Kedah. Soon, the new MINI model will be produced in Germany for the first time, at the BMW Group’s plant in Leipzig. This makes the production facility the first plant at which vehicles of the BMW and MINI brands are manufactured together.

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Since the days of Henry Ford who said ‘you can have your car in any colour you want as long as it’s black’, the process of painting a car constantly evolved. In the earliest days, the work was done manually and took around 40 days to complete painting a car. Today, with automated processes using robots, the complete job can take about 18 hours (including passing through the oven). The principles are essentially the same but the technology has become more advanced to achieve higher quality, especially the finish.

However, one constraint in painting cars in factories that assemble them is that variations are very limited. Even the number of colours is controlled for optimization and for personalisation, the work has to be done outside of the normal process. Factory managers would love to do it Henry Ford’s way with just one colour.

However, in today’s market, customers want choice and those who can afford it also want a degree of personalisation. This is especially so in the premium luxury segment and the manufacturers even have special divisions to cater to such specific requirements.

Increasing scope of individualisation
At the BMW Group’s factory in Dingolfing, Germany, a new pilot painting process has begun where several paint colours can be used and designs applied without stencils or masking the vehicle as the process is free of overspray. This highly innovative application method not only increases the scope of individualisation for customers but also contributes to sustainability by reducing waste and energy consumption.

The process developed by the BMW Group, in collaboration with Durr (a well known company in this field) is known as EcoPaintJet Pro application. It applies waterborne base coats and 2K clear coat without electrostatics, relying instead on jet application. In the conventional procedure, paint is atomised by a rotating bell with 35 to 55,000 revolutions per minute and adheres electrostatically to the body.

Different approach to painting
The paint is applied using an orifice plate that enables high edge definition with a variable paint thickness of between 1 and approximately 50 mm. This requires maximum precision from both the robot and application technology. It also means two different colours of paint can be used, eg for a contrasting roof, with stripes and other designs applied on various parts of the bodywork.

The focus of technology and material development was on achieving the maximum range of applications. It will now be possible to paint every exterior component – offering customers virtually limitless options for individualisation.

No need for masking
Until now, custom designs like this can only be realised using manual masking, a time-consuming process. With the new technology, the material and personnel costs this previously entailed will be also eliminated, making it possible to realize these options at a lower cost. The precision of spraying means there is no overspray and therefore no excess paint particles to be disposed of.

A further contribution to sustainable production comes from lower energy consumption. Since paint separation is no longer required, the amount of air needed is also les. At around 7,000 operating hours, this results in energy savings of more than 6,000 megawatt hours and reduces the carbon footprint by nearly 2,000 tonnes per year.

BMW M4 Coupe used for trial run
The technology is being used for the first time for 19 BMW M4 Coupes. These will have custom two-tone paintwork and M4 identification on the bonnet and tailgate. With the paintwork for the M4 small series, the BMW Group is testing the possibilities of the new process. These unique vehicles will initially be used in the company’s own fleet. Wider use of the innovative paint process is scheduled to begin in 2022 when other factories in the BMW Group production network adopt it.

BMW Art Cars now available for viewing from anywhere in the world and with AR too

BMW’s famous Art Car Collection has been shown at exhibitions around the world (including Malaysia in 2006) and now it is also being presented in augmented reality (AR) for the first time, enabling people all over the world to digitally experience the rolling sculptures.

The move is in time for the 50th anniversary of the BMW Group’s cultural commitment. The support for cultural institutions and artists around the world and, based on mutual appreciation and curiosity, BMW connects people all over the world.

BMW Art Cars in AR

BMW Art Cars in AR

To put the Art Cars in the digital universe, BMW teamed up with Acute Art which developed an app for the purpose. The Acute Art app uses cutting-edge technology that works best on high-end smartphones with the latest software. The supported devices are iPhone X or newer and Samsung Galaxy S8 or equivalent models. The app requires a phone with at least 4 GB of RAM and the Apple iOS 11 or Android 8.0 Oreo (API 24) operating system. It is free of charge for download from the App Store and Google Play.

Art Cars since 1975
On the initiative of the French racing driver and art lover Herve Poulain and in close collaboration with Jochen Neerpasch, then BMW Motorsport Director, the artist Alexander Calder was asked in 1975 to design Poulain’s BMW racing car. Since then, a total of 19 artists from all over the world have designed BMW automobiles of their time. They showed different artistic statements and reflected cultural and historical developments in art, design and technology.

BMW Art Cars in AR

The first BMW Art Cars will be accessible via the app are the ones done by Alexander Calder (BMW 3.0 CSL, 1975); Michael Jagamara Nelson (BMW M3, 1989); Ken Done (BMW M3, 1989); Matazo Kayama (BMW 535i, 1990); Esther Mahlangu (BMW 525i, 1991); Jeff Koons (BMW M3 GT2, 2010); and John Baldessari (BMW M6 GTLM, 2016). The other Art Cars will be integrated into the Acute Art App every two weeks from today.

The app can be used to place them individually or as a group. For this purpose, the real Art Cars were scanned from numerous angles using the photogrammetry method and every detail of the artistic work and the surface of the car were recorded. The vehicles were then digitally put together to create a realistic AR version of themselves.

BMW Art Cars in AR

Part of BMW’s cultural commitment
“The BMW Art Cars are an essential part of BMW’s 50 years of cultural commitment. They are finally entering the digital world and are accessible everywhere and for everyone. I am thrilled to work with Acute Art as we both strive for innovation and cutting-edge technology. I can hardly wait to place the Art Cars in my living room and get behind the wheel of these extraordinary masterpieces!”  said Pieter Nota, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for customers, brands and sales.

During this year’s Art Basel in Switzerland, the BMW Group will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its cultural commitment with this interactive exhibition of BMW Art Cars in the Acute Art App. On September 21, in addition to the presentation of the BMW Art Car by Alexander Calder, guests will be invited to experience the BMW Art Cars in a specially created augmented reality area.

Winning design of BMW M4 GT4 livery contest on show at Pavilion KL this Wednesday

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BHPetrol Euro5 Diesel

Tomorrow’s MINI will continue to have its practical minimal footprint but offer yet more interior space and versatility. To preview some of the ideas that MINI designers are exploring, the brand used the BMW Group’s #NEXTGen event to present the MINI Vision Urbanaut concept.

The purist mono-volume design of the Vision Urbanaut gives new meaning to the ‘Creative Use of Space’ approach. In signature MINI fashion, the wheels are positioned at the outer corners of the body, with short overhangs rounding off a compact and agile appearance.

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

In fact, the wheels are used as visual highlights of the concept car. Finished in the colour Ocean Wave, a turquoise blue which sparks associations with the beach and the sound of the sea, the abstract Union Jack profile of the wheels reminds one of the British heritage. Their shape recalls skateboards, further highlighting the car’s nimbleness and non-conformist MINI twist.

Evolution of MINI design elements
The front end represents a clear evolution of two time-honoured MINI design icons – the headlights and radiator grille. Positioned under a milled aluminium structure with slotted openings, the headlights are only visible when switched on. Thanks to their multicolour dynamic matrix design they can display different multi-coloured graphics, which creates a new form of communication between the car and the outside world.

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

The enclosed grille itself is octagonal in shape, representing an evolution of the traditional hexagonal form. Since the Vision Urbanaut does not have a combustion engine requiring cooling air, the grille assumes a new function as an ‘intelligence panel’ for automated driving.

As with the headlights, multicolour dynamic matrix rear lights behind milled aluminium covers. The distinctive, convex surfaces also pay homage to previous MINIs and the classic Mini. One small detail – the contour of the rear windows – references the form of the front grille and underscores the car’s stylistic consistency.

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

The windows show a pattern in body colour, fading in a gradient from bottom to top. This creates a harmonious transition from the vehicle body to the windows and roof. The pattern also provides a certain amount of privacy without having to darken the windows; the interior remains bright.

Designed from inside out
As an innovative space concept, the Vision Urbanaut was designed from the inside out. The designers created the spacious interior experience before developing the exterior, using floor plans, pieces of furniture plus wooden scale models to provide an indication of size. Over the course of the project, augmented reality was employed to create a digital model, which was then systematically optimised.

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

Unusually tall for a MINI, but only 4.46 metres in length, the Vision Urbanaut provides an interior space that can be used in many different ways and offers a whole new ease of movement inside the car.

The interior thus provides the ideal environment in which to go on a journey but is also the aim of the journey. Having arrived at the chosen destination, it can transform into a living room in just a few simple steps. Occupants enter the innovative cabin through a large sliding door in the side of the car. The cutting-edge slide and swivel mechanism is the ideal design for urban driving conditions where space is at a premium. There are no other doors on the driver’s side or front passenger side.

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

Extremely variable layout
An extremely variable 4-seat layout provides the basis for the bright interior. The two front seats are designed to rotate, while the backrests for the generously sized seat surface in the rear can be folded manually (left rear seat) and turned around (right rear seat).

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

When the car is stationary, the dashboard lowers and the driver’s area becomes a comfortable seating corner – the ‘daybed’. Added to which, the windscreen can be opened upwards when stationary to create a kind of ‘Street Balcony’.

The darker environs of the cabin’s rear section provide a quieter space – the Cosy Corner. This area invites passengers to enjoy some time to themselves. With the door open, it is even possible to sit on the floor. A small integrated table is the car’s centre point, a place where passengers can interact.

The MINI Token is the centrepiece of the Vision Urbanaut’s experience worlds. It is roughly the same size as a worry stone and activates the three preconfigured MINI moments – Chill, Wanderlust and Vibe – when placed in purpose-designed slots in the table.

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

MINI Moments
“MINI sees its future self primarily as an enabler of and companion for unforgettable times – what we might call ‘MINI moments’. The MINI Vision Urbanaut uses three curated MINI moments – ‘Chill’, ‘Wanderlust’ and ‘Vibe’ – to present a wide range of possible usage scenarios,” said Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design.

“The Chill moment, for example, invites you to catch a breath and pause in the here and now. The car becomes a kind of retreat, a haven where you can relax – or work with full concentration – during a journey. Wanderlust is the only MINI moment where the MINI Vision Urbanaut is being driven or driving with automated driving functions. The Vibe moment puts time with other people at centre stage – in every way,” he explained.

The exterior and interior change to reflect the MINI moment at hand. Even the wheels, transparent and illuminated from the inside, change their appearance according to the selected MINI moment.

MINI Vision Urbanaut concept (2020)

All-electric powertrain, of course
Nothing is mentioned of the powertrain but, as would be expected, it is a pure electric drive which would use the BMW Group’s advanced technologies in electrified powertrains. Given more mention is the Vision Urbanaut’s responsible use of resources. As well as maximum space within a small footprint and the all-electric drive system, the Vision Urbanaut is committed to a responsible approach to materials. This is achieved not only by reducing the number of components in the exterior and interior design, but also by enabling dual functions such as the dashboard/daybed.

In addition to the use of recyclates, this also means ensuring that the design is free of chrome and leather while using recycled materials. The dominant material in the interior is knitted textile, and the use of cork on the steering wheel and sections of the floor adds a special touch thanks to its natural feel, and ensures an authentically pleasant interior climate.

MINI ideas that were just for laughs on each year’s first day of April

When people started buying hybrids and electric vehicles, the issue of battery pack costs was not so apparent. Perhaps it was due to having used batteries in conventional cars which could last a few years and replaced periodically at a relatively low cost. However, the battery pack in an electrified vehicle (hybrid/EV) is different from the typical 12V battery in millions of vehicles. While the small battery in the engine bay provides electricity to start the engine primarily, the battery pack in an electrified vehicle actually powers the vehicle.

Due to the need to store large amounts of electrical energy, the battery packs have to be bigger and use more advanced technologies and materials. Conventional 12V batteries have typically used a lead-acid combination and though improved over the years, their process of generating electricity through chemical reaction has not changed.

Unlike the conventional 12V battery (left) that has been used for decades in millions of vehicles, battery packs in hybrids and EVs are much larger and cost a great deal more.

Because battery pack technology is still evolving as storage capacity increases, the cost of the new technology is still high, not to mention the economies of scale are still lower than for conventional lead-acid batteries. This means they cost much more and for the early owners of electrified vehicles, there was the sudden shock of discovering that the cost of replacement was very high.

In Malaysia, depending on the model, the price was RM7,000 upwards. This led to reduced appeal for electrified vehicles and in order to provide peace of mind, the companies selling such vehicles began to offer a separate warranty on the battery pack which was longer than the factory warranty for the vehicle.

The prices have come down a bit and the battery pack for some Honda models sold in Malaysia is around RM5,500. Like those 12V batteries, the battery pack can last a while though there is no specific service life promised. Extreme operating conditions or rare system problems can shorten the life which is why the warranty is useful. But this does have an effect on resale value since the next owner would have to consider the added cost of replacement at some point in time.

BMW battery
Battery pack in a BMW 530e M Sport (one section exposed to show the cell module inside).

To address this key concern for electrified vehicle ownership, BMW’s high-voltage battery presents solutions to concerns around repair and maintenance by developing their batteries where single modules are replaceable. In the case of a lithium-ion battery pack (increasingly used) that houses multiple modules, there are multiple cells.

In most cases, if a battery pack starts to have problems or has reached the end of its service life, the whole unit has to be replaced – at considerable cost. However, the high-voltage battery pack used in BMWs does not necessarily require this expensive approach.

In the 530e M Sport, for example, the battery pack gas up to 6 cell modules. Should one of the modules be faulty, it does not mean the whole battery pack needs to be replace. Just that module can be changed and the cost is RM5,000 per cell. Although built to last the lifetime of the vehicle, BMW Group Malaysia still offers a comprehensive warranty coverage of 6 years/100,000 kms for the battery packs in its vehicles which should give peace of mind to owners.

BMW recharging

The lightweight battery pack is capable of storing a great deal of energy, giving the 530e M Sport a maximum output of 83 kW which can get it to a maximum speed of 120 km/h in full electric driving. Recharging time is dependent on the type of system used but said to be under 3 hours with the BMW i Wallbox, with a fully charged battery pack giving an all-electric range of up to 40 kms.

BMW Battery technology
BMW Group’s high-voltage battery technology is available in the plug-in hybrid variants of both BMW and MINI models.

BMW’s high-voltage battery technology is available in the plug-in hybrid variants of the 5-Series, 7-Series, as well as the all-electric i3s and the MINI Plug-In Hybrid.

Production of High-Voltage Batteries for BMW Hybrid Vehicles underway in Thailand

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They’re arch-rivals in the global marketplace but when it comes to collaborating, it’s a different matter. Given how expensive R&D costs are, carmakers often decide to work with selected partners or even form consortiums so that the costs can be shared. Each one may bring certain areas of expertise to the collaboration as well, reducing duplication and cost.

Daimler AG and BMW Group have recently announced their cooperation on automated driving as a long-term strategic move. This will focus on joint development of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and automated parking (all to SAE Level 4).

In addition, further talks are planned to extend the cooperation to higher levels of automation in urban areas and city centres. This underscores the long-term and lasting nature of the undertaking, which will extend to encompass a scalable platform for automated driving. The non-exclusive cooperation is also open to other carmakers and technology partners, with results being made available to under license if they want to use the technologies.

Swift market launch
A key aim of the cooperation is the swift market launch of the technology, expected to feature in passenger car systems for private customers from 2024. The two companies will each implement the technologies in their respective products independently.

The cooperation will see more than 1,200 specialists working together, often in mixed teams based at locations of both companies. Efforts will focus on developing a scalable architecture for driver assistance systems, including sensors, as well as a joint data centre for data storage, administration and processing, and the development of functions and software.

Along with Aptiv, Audi, Baidu, Continental, Fiat Chrysler, HERE, Infineon, Intel and Volkswagen, the BMW Group and Daimler have published a white paper entitled ‘Safety First for Automated Driving’. As well as covering all relevant safety methods for Level 3/4 SAE automated driving, the paper introduces a traceability system, which extends from the primary goal – being safer than the average driver – right down to the individual safety objectives of the various components.

Current development by both companies
Daimler AG has been working on series development projects not only for specific Level 3 vehicles but also for Levels 4 and 5. Long a leader in active safety systems, it programmed its systems largely in-house right from the very beginning.This year will see the launch in San Jose, California, of its first pilot programme, with Bosch, on self-driving vehicles (Levels 4/5) in urban environments.

This will be the next milestone within the existing cooperation between both partners and the cooperation will continue as planned. Early in the next decade, Daimler will bring to the market not only highly automated (Level 3) vehicles but also fully automated (Level 4/5) vehicles. It is the only carmaker in the world to be so well-positioned to apply autonomous driving in every relevant context, from passenger cars and vans to buses and trucks, and is therefore relying on scalable solutions to deliver automated driving.

The BMW Group has developed technology with unique scalability from Level 2 – 4 that both enables a high level of flexibility and ensures it will be viable in the future. Around the world, more than 70 test vehicles are testing the latest technology, collecting data in order to improve machine learning with artificial intelligence through simulations. The generation of technologies that is currently under development will go into production as Level 3 automation in 2021 in the BMW iNEXT where it will also be Level 4-enabled for pilot projects.

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