BMW Brings AI into Its Munich Paint Shop

BMW is piloting new usage of AI in its plants—this time they are giving it a shot in their Munich plant paint shop.

Even though BMW employees top-notch air filter tech, fine dust particles in paint lines will vary according to the ambient air drawn into the lines. If the dust content goes over a certain amount, the wet paint could trap particles making for uneven paint jobs.

Using AI, BMW engineers and AI specialists have found a way to avoid the problem entirely. Now, every newly painted car body goes through an automatic surface analysis in the paint shop. The data gathered during these inspections are helping BMW develop a massive database of dust particle analysis. Now the AI uses the database for comparison to live particle sensor data coming from the paint booths and dryers.

One example how the AI works is when dust levels are rising due to the season or a long dry period the AI can detect this trend and recommend and earlier filter replacement to help mitigate particle levels.

The AI might also use its analytical abilities to suggest that a factory use a different material to remove dust from car bodies before painting.

BMW AI monitors and analyzes 160 features of car bodies and is able to predict paint job quality with great accuracy. AI experts at BMW are confident once they’ve completed the project in Munich the technology will be able to applied widely to all their plants.

 

General Motors Getting Greener

By late 2020 General Motors claims its Spring Hill plant will be 100 percent solar powered.

Their green tariff with the Tennessee Valley Authority should supply as much as 100 megawatts of solar energy per year, equivalent to the yearly usage of 18,000 US households. The energy will come from the Origis Energy solar farm being built in Lowndes County, Mississippi

The project is possible through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Invest program.

This will increase General Motor’s renewable energy usage to 50% of its electricity usage by 2023. General Motor’s coal is to have 100% renewable electricity usage at all its GM-owned cites by 2030.

Green tariff solutions are a primary part of General Motor’s renewable energy plan. They let the company work with utility providers to provide renewable energy for its facilities.

At 2,100 acres Spring Hill is the largest GM facility in North America. 700 acres of used for farming, another 100 are a wildlife habitat that includes wetlands and native grasslands. The wildlife habitat received a Gold rating from the Wildlife Habitat Council. The actual plant itself makes Acadias, Cadillac XT5s and XT6’s as well as several of GM’s engines.

General Motors is ranked number 12 on the United State’s EPA National Top 100 List for largest green power users from their Green Power Partnership program. The EPA has stated that General Motor’s choice to use green energy helps to promote voluntary switch over to renewable energy and helps develop those resources.

 

Jaguar F-Type Getting an Update

Jaguar is restyling its iconic F-Type under the new directorship of Julian Thomson. Many believe that the all-aluminum, front engine, British icon has never looked better.

Obviously diving into their heritage Jaguar is now writing “Est. 1935” on various places on the F-Type. Besides looks though the F-Type is experiencing other changes that may have some excited and others not as these are performance changes.

The F-Type range’s engine no longer employs a six-cylinder option, instead they are offering a detuned and supercharged V8 in the mid-range model. This is now the only engine with rear or four-wheel drive available.

The F-Type also has four choices in trim levels; however, not every engine is compatible with each trim package. As an example the basic-level trim which includes passive suspension, open differential and 18 inch rims can only come with the four cylinder P300. The P450 is most compatible with the R-Dynamic trim comes with electronic limited slip differential and adaptive dampers as standard.

Finally a convertible is going to be about £5500 more than a coupe.

Ford’s Puma Getting the ST Upgrade

A new ST version of the Puma crossover will arrive later in 2020 according to its maker, Ford Motor Company.

Leaked imagery of the Puma ST suggests it will be borrowing its body look from they Hyundai Kona N. This imagery does not reveal how the Puma ST will differentiate itself from the standard Puma. The wheels suggest a design like the Fiesta ST and it is thought by some the Puma ST will borrow its powertrain.

The 1.5 liter, 3 cylinder engine of the Fiesta ST gives 197bhp and 214lb ft. Enough to give the so-called “supermini” a take of speed of 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and its speed tops out around 114mph. The larger, higher ride Puma will have to make performance sacrifices if it uses this unmodified powertrain.

From what has been seen of prototypes, it will have a standout lower body kit that rounds the whole vehicle with a splitter-style front bumper and a new rear bumper that will house the twin tailpipes.

Other upgrades could include a stiffer suspension and larger brake discs. Options could include a limited slip differential, selectable driving modes and perhaps launch control function.

The Puma will be Ford’s third Euro-model to get an ST version and will be Ford’s first “hot” SUV to launch overseas. Its rivals will include the aforementioned Hyundai Kona N as well as their HR-V.

 

The 11 y/o Nissan Z Finally Gets Upgraded

It seems everyone, including Nissan, forgot about the now eleven year old Nissan 370Z which is no about as competitive in the sports car realm as a pair of roller skates. However, Nissan is finally giving the Z an upgraded successor.

The new Z35 isn’t a complete rebuild. It will use the latest of Nissan’s FM platform and it will share some components with the Q60 Infiniti coupe. For one, the Q60’s V6 that gives the Q50 and 60 400 horsepower is a likely borrowed component. While the Q’s only offer seven speed automatics the Z35 being a sports car has a chance at a manual transmission. While Nissan could make the new Z all-wheel drive, that isn’t what the Z is and will likely stick with the front-engine, rear wheel drive sports format.

It is said that Nissan has chose the original Datsun 240Z as a styling inspiration. Many are hoping for smoother lines than the very busy look of some of Nissan’s recent concepts. Rounded headlights and 300ZX style taillights reportedly will give it some touches of retro nostalgia.

The two-seater’s nostalgia will stop with the exterior as the new Z will benefit from a modern makeover with the latest Nissan infotainment system and a new dashboard.

Some suspect the pricing to be in the neighborhood of $40k which would undercut the new Toyota Supra.

 

 

Ford Now Refitting to Produce Medical Supplies

As General Motors was picked for a government contract to make ventilators, Ford is getting on the medical supply train all on its own. Ford revealed recently that they will be making breathing machines along with other medical supplies like face masks and reusable gowns that will be made out of a silicone-coated nylon the company typically uses in a very different way.

The material is usually used to create Ford Motor Company’s air bags. The material has many qualities Ford was looking for to make these gowns. Liquid permeability and that it can be washed and reused up to 50 times. Ford worked with a local Detroit hospital to design these “isolation gowns.” They are set to manufacture 1.3 million of these gowns by early July.

The facemasks Ford creates will be distributed to its own plant workers but Ford intends to get them certified for medical use. They will also step up manufacture of battery powered, air purification respirators they have worked to develop with 3M.

 

The Ford Bronco is Coming Back and Eyeing Jeep

It has been fifty-five years since the first Ford Bronco hit the road and it has been 24 years since the last one left the factory. However, now, Ford Motor Company is buffing up and reviving this treasured namesake—some say in a bid to heat back up a long-standing rivalry with the Jeep brand.

Leading the way will be a mid-size offering, an SUV based on the popular Ranger pickup. Insiders are hinting that after this initial, new Bronco SUV others will follow. Even something that is being described as a car-based Bronco Sport that might be revealed later this year and even a performance Bronco Raptor might be under consideration.

Ford has made it abundantly clear that the Bronco reincarnation is aimed at the Jeep Wrangler, one of the most iconic sports utility vehicles of all time. The rivalry between the two dates back to 1965 when the original Bronco was released as a compact two-door vehicle that had the Jeep CJ in its sights (the Wrangler’s ancestor).

Ford sees this as an opportunity to build a franchise around the beloved Bronco name—something that took Jeep eighty years and about six company owners to make happen.

 

Chrysler-Fiat Challenged Kids and Families to Truck Design Sketch Battle

Recently families and kids all over the world got an unusual chance to take part in designing a future pickup truck. This via a contest judged by Fiat Chrysler’s top designers.

There were a range of winners from a very pro looking computer rendered sport truck to a more childlike 10 wheeled “Rampool” family trickster and finally a pickup with an igloo modeled cab and wings rising up from the truck bed.

This is an expansion of Drive for Design, the program has had an almost decade long history of promoting automotive design from high school students. This year with many of us sheltering in place the designers added an extra contest: a 24 hour long sketch battle.

This sketch battle was open to children of all ages and from anywhere in the world. The yearly Drive for Design contest is just for US high school students. It includes a summer scholarship program which sends students to a design class at the College for Creative Studies, Detroit MI.

Three former Drive for Design winners ended up interning at FCA and the company even recently hired a former winner.

Three Drive for Design winners have become design interns at FCA, and the company recently hired a former winner.

The sketch battle was intended to give kids and families something to do together while they couldn’t go to school or work because of shelter in place and similar orders. Entries came from the US, India, Malaysia, West Africa and Europe.

 

Land Rover Replacing V8 Engines with Mild Hybrids

Land Rover is looking to trade out the V8 turbodiesel in the Range Rover Vogue and RR Sport with new six-cylinder mild hybrid diesel engines. Land Rover is already using four-cylinder mild hybrid engines in the new Discovery Sport and Evoque. The new six-cylinder diesels plus the Discovery Sport and Evoque will form the base of Land Rover’s high end stable.

No details have been confirmed but the rumor is the engine will be 220kW 3.0-litre six-pot mild hybrid. It will be available on the higher end versions of the Range Rover Sport. The expectations of this new powertrain include big fuel savings and better stop/start because of the integrated belt starter.

The more advanced version of that engine will give you 257kW and is likely to end up in the HST variants. This will replace the 4.4-litre diesel V8 from Ford. Rumors speculate this engine will provide 700Nm of torque and 0-100 time of around 6.5 seconds for the Range Rover Sport.

These engines will both be used in the larger Range Rovers. It is also thought these two engines will end up in the Jaguar F-Pace eventually.

 

VW Announces New Electric SUV and Sports Models

German automaker Volkswagen announced its new electric performance vehicle will be based on the ID 4 SUV which will include the gas model’s 4-wheel drive.

Volkswagen noted that these initial electric performance cars will be intended toward a different audience than long-time GTI fans. Using the ID 4 is then a good idea as with that dual motor set up that provides extra power and 4-wheel drive they can appeal to customers that would never be interested in a the single-motor, rear-wheel drive ID 3 format.

The first ID 4 offering will have just a rear wheel drive engine which will give the car 201bhp and 229lb ft of torque from a read electric motor. The 4-wheel drive model will follow, which will add a front motor and increasing output to 302bhp and 332lb ft of torque. These models will be available with several battery options, the best offering about 310 miles of range.

The ID 4s will be followed up with a coupe version, the ID 5. A GTX version of the ID 5 is in the works as well.