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Tesla, BMW Lose Key Battery-Car Talent

Apple and Chinese start-up Future Mobility go poaching.

by on Apr.20, 2016

Several key members of the BMW i team, including the head of i8 development, have bolted.

It still refuses to acknowledge any plans to develop a car of its own, but consumer electronics giant Apple has reportedly been poaching a number of auto industry veterans for what is believed to be known internally as Project Titan – and that now includes a senior Tesla executive.

Chris Porritt, a one-time Aston Martin designer, had been more recently working at Tesla, helping in the development of its two current products, the Models S and X, as well as the upcoming Model 3 battery-electric sedan. According reports in several Silicon Valley publications, Porritt will now serve at Apple as Special Projects Group PD Administrator.

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Porritt, however, isn’t the only battery-car executive jumping ship. German automaker BMW has reportedly lost a number of key members from the team that developed it i3 and i8 electric vehicles. The group, which includes Carsten Breitfeld, leader of the team behind the i8 plug-in sports car, will now work on EV development for the Chinese-funded start-up Future Mobility Corp.

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New Study Finds Big Gaps in Headlights

“Most need improvement,” warns IIHS.

by on Mar.30, 2016

A BMW 3-Series is put through the IIHS headlight test process. The car ranked "poor."

They’re among the most basic safety devices found on every vehicle on the market, yet nearly 120 years after the invention of the electric headlight, most still fall short of effectively lighting the way, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In its first-ever test of headlights, the insurance trade group found only one of the 31 midsize vehicles it tested – the Toyota Prius V, earned a “good” rating, with another 11 rated “acceptable.” The rest of the group were in need of serious improvement, according to the IIHS.

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“If you’re having trouble seeing behind the wheel at night, it could very well be your headlights and not your eyes that are to blame,” said IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer David Zuby.

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Legislation, Not Technology, Key Obstacle to Autonomous Driving, Warns BMW Board Member

German maker wants to combine battery power, autonomous tech in future products.

by on Mar.28, 2016

The BMW Vision shows its flexible body panels, forward and rear gullwing doors and living room-like cabin.

While some automakers hope to have their first autonomous vehicles in production by 2020 – and perhaps even sooner – the BMW board member in charge of global sales thinks that is far too optimistic.

The reality is “probably 2025 or beyond,” cautioned BMW veteran Ian Robertson. “The technology will be there before the legislation is there,” Robertson said, during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com.

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The Bavarian automaker, best known for its sporty and high-performance cars and light trucks, has also been a long-time proponent of autonomous vehicles, its senior executives first discussing the concept of self-driving technology before the turn of the millennium. (more…)

BMW Expects to Take Long-Forbidden Step with M Brand

A true BMW M7 to finally join line-up.

by on Mar.25, 2016

Led by the M760i, BMW's 7-Series clinched the World Luxury Car category at the New York Auto Show.

As the public days open at this year’s New York International Auto Show, visitors to the BMW stand will get a look at two new, higher-performance versions of the maker’s big 7-Series sedan.

The Alpina B7 is actually produced by a small German partner that has long provided low-volume spin-offs of BMW products, while the M760i is made in-house by BMW. They join an expanding line-up of higher-performance models from the Bavarian maker, including the M3 and M5.

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But those familiar with the sometimes arcane nomenclature used by the Bavarian automaker will notice that these two new models still leave a gap in the line-up. There is no actual BMW M7. (more…)

Mazda Claims Double Win at World Car Awards

by on Mar.24, 2016

Mazda NA CEO Masahiro Moro and WCoTY organizer Peter Lyons with the MX-5 Miata.

For such a little car, the Mazda MX-5 Miata was the big winner at the New York International Auto Show on Thursday morning, collecting not only the trophy for World Car of the Year, but also being honored as the globe’s top automotive design.

The twin win came hours before the first formal unveiling of a special auto show unveiling of the Miata RF. The retractable fastback version of the two-seat roadster generated rave reviews when it was shown to a smaller group of journalists on Tuesday night.

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“What a day for Mazda,” blurted out Masahiro Moro, who recently took over as CEO of Mazda’s North American operations. “This is a brand icon,” he declared, hoisting the hefty World Car of the Year trophy and inviting key members of the development team to join him on stage.

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Genesis NY Concept Set to Become 3rd Sedan in New Luxury Brand’s Line-up

3-Series fighter will also spawn new SUV, sports coupe.

by on Mar.23, 2016

The Hyundai New York Concept will morph into a 3-Series fighter by early 2018 or sooner.

(c) 2016 TheDetroitBureau.com

When Hyundai rolled out its distinctive Vision-G Concept vehicle last summer it signaled changes afoot, something the Korean carmaker confirmed a few months later by announcing plans to spin off the all-new Genesis luxury division.

So, what to make of the equally eye-catching Genesis New York Concept making its debut, appropriately enough, in the Big Apple this week? Plenty. As TheDetroitBureau.com has learned from the proverbial “well-placed sources,” the new show car will morph into a production vehicle set to hit market sometime late in 2017 or early 2018.

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The production version, known internally as the IK, and set to be badged the Genesis G70, will be what one source described as “our (BMW) 3-Series fighter.” More importantly, the underlying platform will serve as the basis of at least two additional Hyundai models, including a compact crossover and a new sports coupe.

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BMW Vision Next 100 Offers Look at Century to Come

Flexible body panels, augmented reality technology and a glowing orb.

by on Mar.07, 2016

Marking its centennial, BMW rolls out the Vision Next 100 autonomous concept vehicle.

The auto industry, we’re frequently told, is in the midst of more dramatic change than it’s seen in nearly a century. So, what will the car of the future look like? For now, flying flivvers remain the stuff of science fiction, but plenty of other sci-fi concepts appear to be coming to your driveway in the near future.

Or so BMW is suggesting with the Vision Next 100 concept vehicle meant to mark the Bavarian automaker’s centennial. In keeping with current trends, the BMW Vision Next 100 will have the ability to drive autonomously – if you want. But slip into “boost mode”, slide out the foldaway steering wheel and it will remind you why the German marque has long been known for building the “ultimate driving machines.”

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“Our objective,” explains BMW Group Design director Adrian van Hooydonk, “was to develop a future scenario that people would engage with. Technology is going to make significant advances, opening up fantastic new possibilities that will allow us to offer the driver even more assistance for an even more intense driving experience.”

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First Drive: 2016 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Coupe

A Bavarian snowmobile

by on Mar.04, 2016

Definitely not the Autobahn.

When you live in Maryland, USA in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. you get four true seasons each year.  Note to Mother Nature:  You can have winter back.  This year’s treacherous winter was epitomized by “Snowmageddon” a Nor’easter fired storm that dropped 36 inches of snow in my immediate area, and paralyzed the Eastern Seaboard from the Carolinas to New England.

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Obviously overwhelmed, it took local authorities three days to begin digging out the roads in my small community.  Luckily, after my trusty snowblower cleared the driveway, my test 2016 BMW 640i Gran Coupe was at the ready.  I know, I know, BMW’s are not normally known for snow and ice prowess, but this Bimmer was outfitted with xDrive, BMW’s high-tech All-Wheel Drive system.

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Farewell to the Phantom, as Rolls-Royce Readies a New Flagship

All future models to be based on lightweight aluminum.

by on Feb.25, 2016

It's the end of the road for the Rolls-Royce Phantom, with a new flagship planned for 2018.

If you’ve been saving your pennies and now have enough to buy a Rolls-Royce Phantom, you better move fast. One of the world’s most luxurious automobiles — and, at a base price of $386,000, one of the most expensiveis about to go out of production.

The current version, anyway. But the Rolls Phantom isn’t going to vanish entirely. A new version of the sedan will make its debut in 2018, and it will mark some major changes at the British-based automaker. Helped by German parent BMW, Rolls-Royce intends to switch all future models, starting with the eighth-generation Phantom, from steel to lighter aluminum frames.

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The goal is to come up with a “contemporary and beautiful Phantom enhanced with cutting-edge technologies and design innovations,” explained Rolls CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes.

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BMW, Toyota Most Admired Auto Companies, Forbes Says

Apple, Alphabet take top overall spots in survey.

by on Feb.25, 2016

The jointly developed charging stations by BMW and Nissan are part of the reason the German maker was one of the 100 most admired companies.

Unless you are now counting Apple and Alphabet, the parent company of Google’s automotive unit, as car companies now that they have begun investing in the motor industry, Toyota and BMW were the only automakers on Fortune Magazine new list of the 100 “Most Admired” companies in the world.

Apple and Alphabet/Google, two of the world’s leading technology companies, ranked one and two on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Admired companies.

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BMW finished 18th and Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, ranked number 28 out of all companies surveyed and was in the top 10 in both talent and running a global business in the survey. (more…)