BMW iX3: More than Meets the Eye When Going Green

BMW now has plans to continue to electrify its line up with an EV version of the X3 compact SUV with the new iX3 (not to be confused as a sibling of their i3 EV). And while it may feel like BMW is a bit late in joining the party when it comes to EV SUVs they have announced plenty about their plans for the iX3 to get drivers excited.

Range is the name of the game when it comes to EVs and BMW is promising over 440 km from the 74-killowatt-hour battery pack. Where the range will end up when the iX3 is on the road driven by consumers it is hard to know as some vehicle’s ranges have ended up less than what one would expect based on EPA testing.

The iX3 will combine the electric motor, electronics and transmission into a single unit. This saves on space and weight—the latter always being of concern when it comes to EVs. So far BMW has only mentioned rear-wheel drive and initial ratings have the iX3 at around 286 HP and 295 pounds-feet of torque.

As far as “going green” BMW is attempting to go beyond reducing fossil fuel usage. The car maker claims they are trying to be eco-friendly in all areas of production such as where and how raw materials are gathered, daily usage and recycling potential. BMW is also trying to address the environmental issue of used batteries by planning a second life for the iX3 battery packs after their use in the vehicle.

Land Rover Buys Custom Off-Road Company Bowler

Land Rover has bought Bowler, a popular off-road Land Rover tune up company, for its Special Vehicle Operations arm. Bowler is well know for their off-road performance cars and tuning vehicles for rally events, and specifically Land Rover tuning.

Land Rover believes that Bowler will add much needed know-how to the brand in terms of low-volume production of durable components that will perform in extreme conditions. Creating unique vehicles like custom Land Rovers for competition is a fast growing business, according to Land Rover, and that this kind of production will amplify the primary attributes of the brand.

Bowler had already formed a partnership with Land Rover in 2012 to create the Defender Challenge by Bowler, a rally series that took place between 2014-2016.

Land Rover has said that initially the day to day operations, location and 26 person staff of Bowler will not change for up to a year giving the merger a chance to stabilize. The rest of the plan, according to Land Rover, was simply to grow the business Bowler is already doing.

Many believe Land Rover will continue to use the Bowler name when creating off-road variants. It is a known name by a team who has demonstrated what all you can do with custom Land Rovers.

Audi Testing Exoskeletons to Assist Workers

Automaker Audi reported that they are currently experimenting with a pair of exoskeletons intended to help their workers when they are doing overhead jobs by protecting their joints and reducing stress on their muscles. At this time about sixty of their workers will be using these exoskeletons over a period of weeks at specially selected workstations in areas such as the paint shop, tool construction and assembly floor.

Audi stated that the production of their vehicles requires lots of jobs where overhead work cannot be avoided and that sometimes options for traditional ergonomics and other solutions run out.

Currently Audi are testing the Paexo by Ottobock and the Skelex 360 by Skelex.

Extensive testing needs done so the exoskeletons can be fitted to employees’ specific needs. Thus they are being tested in a variety of capacities: installing brake lines; screwing underbody paneling in place or applying sealing and corrosion protection.

Both types of exoskeletons being tested are worn like a backpack—across the shoulders and with a belt around the hips. Shells protect the wearers arms when doing overhead jobs. The shells absorb and redistribute some of the arms weight onto the hips via the structure of the exoskeleton. This weight redistribution takes stress of the shoulders. And it is all done mechanically—no motorized parts are involved.

Audi has had some success using exoskeletons in their Gyor, Hungary plant.

Ford Welcome’s Some Employees’ Furry Friends to Work

When Ford, for the first time in seventy years, went outside its own organization to hire a CFO besides an impressive resume Tim Stone came with something unusual. He brought his furry pal Finely, a 7 year old Australian shepherd that comes to work with Stone nearly every day.

Finely isn’t just a well-behaved office mate whose job description focuses on stress-reduction. He is kind of a mascot for a new program at Ford offering 1,300 office employees the chance to bring their dog to work.

This comes as part of a larger program to grab from the pool of hard to attract tech talent to the Motor City. Other initiatives include a campus redesign that does away with hierarchy and turning an old train station into a modern office space.

In a search for hundreds more tech experts. Places like Seattle and Silicon Valley have long offered similar campus layouts and bring your pet to work programs. Studies show that having access to a dog can not only reduce stress but increase productivity. One Amazon campus has about 7,000 registered dogs.