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Ai interview with Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development and Purchasing

In-car information and entertainment have become one of the main differentiators at the premium end of the market. One of the vehicles on display drawing most of the attention at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show was the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept car.

Automotive Industries (AI) interviewed Dr. Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development and Purchasing at the Geneva Motor Show, and asked him what had driven the design of the vehicle.
Draeger: The concept study, in a two-seat roadster guise, presents the automobile as a fully integrated part of the networked world in both its design and technological innovations.

AI: What is the potential of current and future in-car technology for optimizing comfort, safety and infotainment?

Draeger: Today, the BMW Connected Drive portfolio comprises of more than 50 innovative functions. I don’t think we have time for all of them, but briefly, they enhance comfort while driving; they take in-vehicle infotainment to the next level; and they improve safety.

AI: How do these three layers interact to optimize comfort, safety and infotainment?

Draeger: Let me start with the comfort features. Sometimes, I have to sort out a few things while I am on the road. This often means that I need a new phone number or address. In those cases, it would be great to have someone to take care of finding the information for me. BMW ConnectedDrive can help with that.

The idea is that your Smartphone will automatically link to the vehicle as soon as you enter. In the future, the car will even synchronize your calendar and will know when and where you have an appointment. The address you have entered in your phone will instantly be transferred to the navigation system, which in turn will look for the best route. This also includes updated traffic information and parking spots close to your destination. And in case the time and place of your appointment change, ConnectedDrive makes rearranging things and notifying people so much easier – almost like a personal assistant.

Our idea of infotainment is customized information. We offer intelligent solutions by networking passengers with the surrounding world. Our goal is to provide them with the correct and most relevant information. Another important aspect is for the driver to be able to use these services easily and intuitively. There will be additional infotainment services for the front passenger. The system shows for instance that the car is passing by a museum, and which exhibit is currently on display. Drivers or passengers will then be able to purchase tickets via data transfer.

AI: The headlights and rear lights with their integrated sensors are monitoring the traffic and external environment, feeding information directly to the driver. How do you manage the integration of individual components to perform a number of different roles?

Draeger: The layering principal in the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive requires individual components to perform a number of roles. This can be seen in the headlights and rear lights with their integrated sensors monitoring the traffic and external environment which feed information directly to the driver allowing him to take appropriate action.

AI: What was the inspiration for the design of the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive car?

Draeger: The concept embodies the dynamic BMW design language with its long wheelbase, set back seating position and long bonnet, but combines it with taut surfaces and distinctive flowing lines. It results in an interesting play of light and shadow, making the car appear as if it is accelerating even at a standstill. The sliding doors, inspired by those on the BMW Z1, disappear into the body of the car. This allows the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive to be driven with the doors open, emphasizing the link between the vehicle and its environment

AI: How does the Advanced Head-Up Display you showcase in Geneva compare to the one currently in production? 

Draeger: Advanced Head-Up Display takes the technology even further with Augmented Reality, placing a three-dimensional display of key information in the direct sight line of the driver, eliminating the need for the driver’s eyes to refocus. The three-dimensional display allows the real view to be overlaid with virtual information, highlighting hazards allowing the driver to assimilate all of the information quickly and take appropriate action.

AI: How does the instrument cluster assist the interaction between the driver and passengers?

Draeger: In addition to Advanced Head-Up Display the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive is equipped with a freely programmable instrument cluster to provide the driver with additional information, optically emphasized to a greater or lesser degree. For the first time passengers get their own information display – out of the driver’s field of vision, allowing them to evaluate information, music or navigation details and pass them onto the driver with a simple touch of a finger.

AI: What is BMW’s next step towards emission-free mobility?

Draeger: The BMW ActiveE is the group’s next systematic step towards an emission-free, mass-produced electric vehicle. Based on the current BMW 1 Series Coupé, the BMW ActiveE is the second electric test vehicle to be created by the BMW Group. With four seats and a luggage compartment of 200 liters, the BMW ActiveE is the first electric vehicle from the BMW Group to combine the space and comfort of a traditionally powered BMW with a fully electric drivetrain. Intelligent packaging ensures that the driver and all three passengers have the same head, leg and shoulder room as they would in a standard BMW 1 Series Coupé. 

At the heart of the BMW ActiveE is a powerful electric synchronous motor which propels the car from zero to 60mph in just nine seconds, delivering 168hp and maximum torque of 250Nm, from a standing start. The top speed is electronically limited to 90mph. The BMW ActiveE maintains the dynamic driving style that is typical of a BMW, with a low centre of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution to enhance traction and power transfer of the high torque.

Replacing the engine block, transmission and fuel tank are three large energy storage units containing lithium-ion cells, developed in conjunction with SB LiMotive. These modules are protected by a steel plate battery housing with integrated liquid cooling system, to keep the batteries at optimum operating temperature helping to increase the range. These housings also help to ensure that the BMW ActiveE meets the same stringent safety standards as the BMW 1 Series Coupé, meeting and exceeding the levels legislated.

Starting in 2011, a test fleet of over 1,000 BMW ActiveE vehicles will be trialed in the USA, Europe and China and will provide valuable insights into the everyday use of the electric vehicle. The knowledge and insights gained from the field trials of the BMW ActiveE will be fed back for the future development of the Megacity Vehicle, due to go into production in 2013. BMW UK will be leasing BMW ActiveEs to select customers. Further details will be announced in due course.

AI: What were the challenges that you had to overcome to integrate the typical M characteristics for the compact vehicle market with the new BMW 1 Series M Coupe?

Draeger: In the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, we combined the technology of a high-performance car with the agility and lightness of a compact model to create a whole new dimension of sports-style driving pleasure. With this two-door model, we are now realizing for the first time in this vehicle class the concept of racing-oriented performance characteristics in a car developed for everyday use. This further extends the company’s model range, paving the way for younger target groups to be able to access the hallmark driving experience offered by an M car.

AI: What highlights can we expect from the new BMW 6 Series convertible?

Draeger: It fulfills the desires of demanding automobile connoisseurs for fascinating aesthetics, superior driving dynamics and progressive luxury in an open-top premium automobile of the upper class. The new version of this great BMW convertible has the athletic elegance of the bodywork and the soft top in the characteristic fin look. In the sophisticated interior of the four-seater, the elegantly flat, free-standing Control Display of the iDrive operating system, supplied as standard equipment, lends an exclusive touch. The driving experience is characterized by optimized comfort and a heightened level of sporting zest.

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