Audi opens high-tech complex in Neuburg an der Donau

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  • Under one roof: Audi driving experience centre, Motorsport Competence Centre, Audi Sport customer racing and functions of Technical Development
  • Site is located 20 km west of the company’s main site at Ingolstadt 
  • Prof. Dr. Hackenberg: “This is where we develop and build our high-performance racing cars”

Ingolstadt/Neuburg an der Donau, August 30, 2014 – AUDI AG has officially opened the high-tech Audi Neuburg complex after a construction period of just two years.

The 47-hectare site was opened by Prof. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board of Management Member for Technical Development of AUDI AG, and Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of AUDI AG.

Under one roof, the complex accommodates the Motorsport Competence Centre with Audi Sport customer racing, the Audi driving experience centre and functions of the Technical Development division. Audi has invested significantly in the new site, which is approximately 20 kilometres west of the company’s main site in Ingolstadt, and provides employment for a total of 460 people.

More than half of Audi’s investment by the year 2018 will flow into its sites in Germany, with more than a billion euros each year to be invested in Ingolstadt.

“We appreciate Bavaria’s exceptionally investor-friendly climate and its high-tech attributes. That goes together well with Vorsprung durch Technik,” said Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

“With Neuburg, the Audi family continues to grow. Together with our partners, we have created 460 jobs here. Our domestic sites are our backbone. More than half of our worldwide 76,678 employees work in Upper Bavaria alone.”

Audi Board of Management Member for Technical Development Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg sees Audi Neuburg as a strategically important site in the global development network of AUDI AG.

“This is where we develop and build our high-performance racing cars,” said Dr. Hackenberg.

“The close and successful cooperation between Audi’s racing engine development in Neckarsulm and Audi Sport in Neuburg is an excellent example of how Vorsprung durch Technik is achieved.”

Audi Sport will concentrate its activities at the new Motorsport Competence Centre: The modern building complex is 300 metres long and 100 metres wide; it includes workshops, a test-bench building and a warehouse-logistics hall, as well as the prestigious main building with the engineering offices. The multifunctional complex follows the principle of short distances, with the engineering offices on the same floor as the workshops. This is where Audi Sport develops high-performance technologies for racing cars – also for potential subsequent application in series-production cars.

Audi Neuburg is the interface to Audi Sport engine development at the Neckarsulm plant. That is where Audi engineers and mechanics design and build the racing engines. Audi then tests those engines in Neuburg on state-of-the-art test rigs. The racing cars’ first test drives take place on the 3.4-kilometre circuit in Neuburg. As of the end of October, Audi Sport will organize and coordinate from Neuburg the production activities for Audi’s worldwide racing in DTM and the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans: a total of 20 races in 12 countries each year.

As of May 2014, the Audi driving experience centre offers customer events on the 30,000 square meter driving dynamics area, the handling circuit and the off-road grounds. The central customer building accommodates presentation surfaces with the latest conference facilities. The centre’s own restaurant with a viewing terrace is available to visitors as well as conference and training participants.

The Technical Development division carries out test drives at the Audi Neuburg site with technology demonstration cars, for example to test driver-assistance systems and camera systems of the latest generation.

Audi Sport customer racing will also move to the site in Neuburg by the spring of 2015. The team develops and markets the Audi R8 LMS ultra and supports the extensive customer-sport involvement in GT sport from here.

The Citroen CX turns 40

 

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Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1974, the CITROËN CX is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. It is remembered today as a bold, stylish vehicle with the ability to deliver creative responses to the issues of the time. The CX made its mark with advances in technology, including the turbocharged diesel engine, GTi version, and hydropneumatic suspension for new standards in comfort.

CITROËN unveiled the CX 2000 for the first time at the Paris Motor Show in 1974. It quickly established a reputation for comfort, ergonomics and road holding, claiming the “Car of the Year” award, “Safety Prize” and “Award Auto Style” in its first year on the market.

Designed by Robert Opron, the CX was a two-box saloon, 4.63m long. It was the first saloon in CITROËN’s history to ship with a diesel engine. With the CX, the Marque was able to conquer the European tourer market with an alternative to petrol engines. One year after the 1973 oil crisis, CITROËN was able to demonstrate its innovative capacity and, even then, to show its concern for running costs, with engines meeting high standards in both driving pleasure and fuel consumption. The aerodynamics of the CX played in a key role in these efforts. The acronym CX in itself illustrated the vehicle’s low drag, (Cx being French for the aerodynamic coefficient Cd).

Over the next few years, CITROËN continued to upgrade the CX with further technological improvements including an estate version in 1975, a 2400 GTi electronic injection sports version in 1977 considered as the fastest French tourer of its time and a Prestige version, 28 cm longer, in 1978.

Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1974, the CITROËN CX is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. It is remembered today as a bold, stylish vehicle with the ability to deliver creative responses to the issues of the time. The CX made its mark with advances in technology, including the turbocharged diesel engine, GTi version, and hydropneumatic suspension for new standards in comfort.

Recognised for its style and bold technical choices, the CX was also a highly comfortable car. It inherited the constantheight hydropneumatic suspension of the DS, for impeccable roadholding, as well as the power-operated self-centring steering system seen on the SM in 1970. The same high standards of comfort were visible in the innovations provided for easy use. For example, the C-matic torque converter did away with the clutch pedal, freeing up space for greater comfort. Also, the interior design placed particular emphasis on convenience, with a futuristic driving position, enabling the driver to access all the controls without releasing the steering wheel.

Further reflecting its innovative capacities, the CITROËN CX was the first French car to be fitted with ABS brakes in 1985.

The CX was a huge market success, selling more than 1.2 million units up to 1991. Today, the CITROËN CX lives on through the events and meetings organised by the CX Club de France and l’Amicale
de France. At the same, time, the enthusiasm inspired by the YoungTimers, sports cars of the 1980s that are now collectors’ models, is giving a new lease of life to models such as the CITROËN CX GTi Turbo.

Clayton’s Review – VACC condemns Abbott’s Productivity Commission report on the automotive manufacturing industry

Australian Primeminister Tony Abbott

“As expected, the Australian Automotive Manufacturing Industry Report by the Productivity Commission has proved to be a complete waste of time. It’s delivered little of substance, it’s out of touch with the industry and proved economists have a complete lack of understanding about the automotive industry,” VACC Executive Director, David Purchase, said.

“The Federal Government has issued its initial response to the Report and VACC hopes the Abbott Government will talk directly to the automotive industry and listens to our views, as we are the ones who really know what’s going on.

“With car making on its way out, it is time to focus on the majority of the automotive industry, the Retail, Service and Repair sector. Three out of four employees in Australia’s automotive industry, or approximately 320,000 people, work in the RSR sector. We will be lobbying the Government intensely and calling on it to reject many of the Commission’s views,” Mr Purchase said.

VACC calls on the Federal Government to:

Reject the phasing in of used car imports or ‘Grey Imports’

  • Used car importation should not even have been considered by the Commission as it was outside the terms of reference of the review – it had nothing to do with manufacturing.   
  • The current restrictions on importing used cars from overseas markets work well and do not need to change.
  • The consequence of relaxing used car importation, even progressively, from limited countries of origin and with new regulatory compliance frameworks, is likely to result in more unsafe vehicles on our roads
  • Who is to say how long these so-called cheap cars will remain affordable and what are they cheap compared to? Australia will be flooded by unwanted vehicles dumped from overseas markets, and they will have dubious histories, questionable paper work and suspicious odometer readings.
  • Consumers will face finance, insurance, spare parts and technical information issues making purchasing, maintenance, servicing and upkeep expensive.
  • When dissatisfied buyers try to vent their frustration, they’ll do so, unfairly, on manufacturers, dealers and repairers, who will be able to do little to assist.
  • Purchasers of used car imports face uncertain resale values 
  • The Commission’s view that the relaxation of second-hand vehicle import restrictions should begin with vehicles under five years old, flies in the face of a recent decision by the Victorian Government.  Victoria is to maintain its state roadworthy certificate on transfer system because it recognizes vehicle safety is not about age, but about the vehicle’s condition.

Completely abolish the Luxury Car Tax (LCT)

  • VACC called for the abolition of the Luxury Car Tax, with support from its national body, the Australian Motor Industry Federation, which said the LCT was ‘unconscionable’ and ‘served no purpose other than being a revenue raiser’.
  • At first glance, the Productivity Commission’s view that the LCT should be removed appears to be welcome. However, don’t be fooled into thinking removed means abolished, because the PC recommends LCT is replaced with ‘more efficient sources of revenue’ in the Australian Government’s Taxation White Paper.
  • VACC is concerned the replacement will be a worse option and calls for details of the alternative to be released immediately. 
  • Ken Henry must be wondering why he bothered making his LCT tax reform recommendation in the first place.
  • Simply changing the name of something is not progress. The automotive industry wants the tax on luxury vehicles to be abolished completely. 

Consider LPG vehicle production proposal

  • A joint VACC and Gas Energy Australia (GEA) LPG vehicle initiative, re-employing skilled workers, revitalising car production communities and reinvigorating an important industry has been totally ignored by the Productivity Commission, which claimed it was ‘unnecessary’ and ‘unlikely to have an substantial effect on the industry’.
  • This initiative is well conceived and has been presented to Federal and State Governments at a time when job opportunities in the automotive industry are at a premium. It is baffling that this viable plan has fallen on deaf ears and that a Report into future of automotive manufacturing completely overlooks a sensible and practical proposition.
  • VACC and GEA will continue to promote the LPG proposal

Pleasure Yourself Sans Guilt: 86 VS Pro Cee’d GT

MY15 Kia pro_cee'd

2012 Toyota 86 GTS

MY15 Kia pro_cee'dToyota 86 (22)2012 Toyota 86 GTSMY15 Kia pro_cee'd

 

Yes Yes Yes oh YES: both stylish and sexy, compact, economical

Oh dear me no: I don’t have either!

Once upon a time a sports car was a small but perfectly formed vehicle designed exclusively to give pleasure. It didn’t have an enormous engine and often was sans roof, but above all it was cheap and fun. Picture British, French and Italians wending their way through idyllic countryside in a halcyon time motoring. The sun always shone, the wine flowed, and the cheese and bread tasted all the more picante. The smartly dressed boys wore enormous smiles and squealed loudly at every corner, and the girls wore scarves and picture-hats and were all called Audrey Hepburn. The sun set on those times and the era of the sports car ended with it, until clever Mr Mazda recaptured the spirit in his MX 5. It was relatively inexpensive with few gizmos. It didn’t even have the luxury of power steering but it was nippy and handled like an expensive sports shoes.

2012 Toyota 86 "boxer" engineMY15 Kia pro_cee'd

2012 Toyota 86 GT interiorMY15 Kia pro_cee'd

 

It was to be short lived because the MX5 grew fat on its own success. As it got fatter and fatter, and it cost more and more, the intrinsic sporting heritage ceased to have any real meaning. It became a fairly expensive, not very attractive mid-life-crisis mobile with a folding metal roof. No no no, it all went horribly wrong.

MY15 Kia pro_cee'd2012 Toyota 86 GTS

 

Toyota had a crack at it through the nineties but the naughties brought us a dearth of beige on beige with just a MMMPF of beige with not a youthful note to be had. Then, in a spasm of genius conjured from the last vestige petrolnalian pleasure, the 86 and its twin sister, the BRZ were born. They were an immediate hit especially with chavs in jaunty genuine-fake-Burberry caps. And, those boys who have the merest suspicion of facial hair coiffed into the thinnest of outlines passing as a beards simply went mad for it. However, they all felt the need to rice their rides to within an inch of its life. 86’s are now found with bright LED tail lights or swoops of bright red where factory illumination had once been. They have fat tyres and some are now rumoured to sport a face-peeling 290KW. That is just insane.

2012 Toyota 86 GTS interiorMY15 Kia pro_cee'd

2012 Toyota 86 GTSMY15 Kia pro_cee'd

The runaway success has created and instant classic and a long queue formed with eager buyers laying down many shekels as deposit on their 12 month wait. And lo, it was good. Other auto makers decided they would like a bit of that pie, and with varying amounts of success offered their own versions. None has come close to matching the 86 for ride and price. Mazda is bringing us an under $40k stripped down version of the MX5 in the hopes of clawing back lost ground, but in a shock manoeuvre, the Koreans have muscled in on the action. I’ve said before that the Koreans must not be underestimated, and the Pro Cee’d GT from Kia must have a lot of Euro-snobs worried. Japan too will be watching with interest.

We’ve told you about both the 86 and the Pro Cee’d GT many times so it seemed only fair to put our favourites side by side. I must admit that I thought it would be a bit of a walkover. I thought the 86 would win easily and we would be generous about the Kia so as not to hurt her feeling. It was not to be, no, in fact quite the opposite.

After several days of rigorous testing using only the non-scientific of methods we were more or less deadlocked. The only thing for is was the GayCarBoys Motoring Matrix and several glasses of reasonably priced sweet Italian wine with cheese.

First, we made several observations thus:

The Kia was easier to live with day to day. It was easier to get in and out of, had a hatch, and was several thousand cheaper.

Both cars were very handsome and could not be separated on that score.

Both cars were economical.

The interiors are very different and I’d probably lean towards the Kia for space and the 86 for sporty appeal.

The 86 feels razor sharp with pin-point steering and a notchy gate to the gearbox.

The Kia’s gears were far easier to use, except for the annoying habit of a driver selecting 1st or 3rd while meaning to select 3rd or 1st. It was a particular curse at lights when trying to impress a pretty young things in utes with P plates, but finding with the Kia in 3rd, one only succeeds in snuffing the life from the motor instead of powering off at the green. Perhaps an owner would get used to this quirk.

The Drive:

We took the pair up the old Pacific highway towards the central coast. Canny bikers have known of this track since the new road went in many moons ago. The longer stretches revealed both cars had lovely long legs, but even minor imperfections saw the bum of the 86 bob about uncomfortably, while the Kia felt most recherché. It was almost limo-like in comparison. From its driver’s seat, I wondered why the 86 in front looked like it was driving on a cobbled goat track while we were hardly troubled in the Pro Cee’d. On the drive back I realised that I could feel bumps in it which the Kia ironed out without fuss.

The tight corners were very suited to the 86 and its scalpel-like handling. The Kia was no less precise but much less sharp, if that makes any sense at all. During the last drive, part of which was on a race track, I noted the steering wasn’t quite there but that I quite liked the feel. It was more progressive than the Toyota so is more a matter of taste than performance as to which one a driver prefers.

On another drive, the hairpin switchbacks on the back road to Springwood in the Blue Mountains, demonstrated the ability of the Kia to stay in a slightly higher gear. It then powered out of a corner and up a hill as the turbo gently delivered more grunt. The 86 struggled a little to keep up. Remember, The Kia has 60 more torques and 3 more Kilowatts, but the torque made a huge difference. Both engines are sublime. The Kia’s is smooth and silky and feels like it will rev through to the red then ask for more. The Toyota is willing and slightly more reminiscent of those sporting days gone by. It is louder and has that delicious and distinctive “boxer” burble.

The Recaros in the Kia are far more comfortable than the 86, and in the 86 you need the body of an Olympic swimmer to fit snuggly. The rest of us have bits hanging out rather unattractively to be poked at by naughty 8 year olds in the passenger’s seat who think uncle needs to cut a few champers from his evening ritual.

The Matrix had some 22 points to be rated and after several unsuccessful attempts to enter it into Excel I opted to highlight a few. The Kia was ahead in comfort, economy and performance. The 86 led on overall sportiness, steering feel and handling. One important issue for me was that the Kia takes 91ron but the 86 insists of budget-breaking 98ron fuel. That is often a 20c p/l difference. In the end we thought it would be close but the final score was Toyota – 260 and Kia – 306.5.

I realise this was little more than a couple of the chaps out on a Sunday arvo spin, but isn’t that what these two were built for? We decided that for the track we preferred the 86 but on a long trip we would pick the Pro Cee’d every time. The opening full glass roof was a clincher as if the fuel issue wasn’t enough.

I’m waiting for the next iteration of Toyota’s corporate audio system. The current one has all the good but is so hard to use especially on the move. Big ol’ sausage fingers have no hope, and the play and pause buttons vanish magically when you plug you Iphone in and switch to Ipod mode. I have a love/hate relationship with it but the sound is fabulous.

I want to stress that if given either car for free, a driver would be giddy with joy. He or she would giggle like a schoolgirl and be pleased as punch when handsome strangers spark up chats about it. Purchasing either with our own money would deliver many years of happy motoring, but no matter which, you might secretly hanker for a spin in the other.

 

Toyota 86

Kia Pro Cee’d GT

Price (on-road in NSW)

$33,797-$43,376

$33,764-$37,369

engine

4cyl 2.0L boxer

4cyl 1.6 turbo

fuel type/econ comb

98ron/7.8

91ron/6.1

Power/torque

147/205

160/265

Co2 gms/kg

181g

223

World Premiere: The All-New Volvo XC90

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Months of speculation ended today after Volvo Cars unveiled its All-New Volvo XC90, delivering on its promise to introduce a visually striking, premium quality, seven-seat SUV with world leading safety features, new powertrain technologies, an unrivalled combination of power and fuel efficiency and a superlative interior finish.

Three years in the making and part of a USD 11bn investment programme, the All-New XC90 marks the beginning of a new chapter in Volvo’s history, capturing its future design direction, incorporating its own range of new technologies and utilising its new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology.

“This is one of the most important days in our history,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Group.

“We are not just launching a car, but re-launching our brand. This day marks a new era for our company. The XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in the following years.”

Volvo’s new face

Symbolising this historic day in Volvo’s 87-year history, the All-New XC90 will be the first of its cars to carry the company’s new more prominent iron mark, which has the iconic arrow elegantly aligned with the All New Volvo XC90 gaycarboys (5)diagonal slash across the grille. Together with the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” DRL lights, the iron mark introduces an entirely new, distinctive and confident face for Volvo’s forthcoming generation of cars.

The All-New XC90’s larger bonnet with its new topography, the beltline and the sharpened shoulders connecting with the tattoo-like, new rear lights are other important design signatures that will be mirrored across the range.

To add more visual muscle from the sides, the XC90 comes with a range of wheel sizes up to 22 inches.

“The overall impression, both exterior and interior, has a strong connection to the key elements of the Swedish lifestyle: the generous space, the celebration of light and the focus on wellbeing,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design of Volvo Car Group.

First SUV without compromises

The All-New XC90 is firm evidence of the Volvo-by-Volvo strategy. Its outstanding combination of luxury, space, versatility, efficiency and safety will bring the SUV segment into a new dimension, just as the original XC90 achieved in 2002.

“SPA has enabled us to create the world’s first SUV without compromises,” says Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President, Research and Development of Volvo Car Group.

“You get the in-command feel, generous interior space and flexible capability combined with the agility and smooth comfort of a much smaller and lower car. The adrenaline rush that is key to true driving pleasure is delivered by powertrains that offer an unrivalled combination of power and clean operation. And since the XC90 carries the Volvo badge, world-class safety is standard.”

Unrivalled combination of power and fuel efficiency

The All-New XC90 offers a range of two-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains, all of which provide an All New Volvo XC90 gaycarboys (6)outstanding combination of performance and fuel-efficiency.

The top of the range XC90 Twin Engine, which combines a two-litre, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor, offers an unrivalled combination of power and clean operation: around 400 [300kW] horsepower with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60g/km (NEDC driving cycle).

Most comprehensive standard safety package

The All-New Volvo XC90 offers the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated standard safety package available in the automotive industry. It includes two world first safety technologies: a run-off road protection package and autobrake at intersection capability.

In a run-off road scenario, the All-New Volvo XC90 detects what is happening and the front safety belts are tightened to keep the occupants in position. To help prevent spine injuries, energy-absorbing functionality between the seat and seat frame cushions the vertical forces that can arise when the car encounters a hard landing on terrain.

The All-New XC90 is the first car in the world with technology that features automatic braking if the driver turns in front of an oncoming car. This is a common scenario at busy city crossings as well as on highways, where the speed limits are higher.

City Safety becomes the umbrella name for all of Volvo Cars’ autobrake functions, which are standard equipment in the All-New XC90. It now covers vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians in front of the car, day and night.

“The new technologies will take us a significant step closer to our vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020,” says Dr Mertens.

“Our starting point on safety is the same today as it was when the company was created almost 90 years ago: real-life situations. We study data. We crunch numbers. We innovate. The result is one of the safest cars ever made.”

Three focus areas will help Volvo Cars to reach Vision 2020: safety, connectivity and autonomous drive.

“With the XC90, we take the first step towards self-driving cars. A new function that automatically follows the vehicle ahead in stop-and-go traffic will provide a radically simplified, semi-autonomous driving experience,” said Lex Kerssemakers, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy and Vehicle Line Management of Volvo Car Group.

Luxurious interior

The All-New XC90’s interior is the most luxurious to have been designed for a Volvo. The most striking All New Volvo XC90 gaycarboys (4)feature is a tablet-like touch screen control console, which forms the heart of an all-new in-car control system. This system is virtually button free and represents an entirely new way for drivers to control their car and access a range of Internet-based products and services. It also helps create an interior that is modern, spacious and uncluttered.

“The new interior is pure and uncluttered, while still radiating the sophisticated confidence and formality that luxury SUV customers expect. The simplicity is perfectly in tune with our Scandinavian design heritage. It opens up generous surfaces and gives us the opportunity to create a modern, luxurious interior architecture,” says Mr Ingenlath.

All New Volvo XC90 gaycarboys (2)The All-New XC90 interior combines materials such as soft leather and wood with handcrafted details, including a gearlever made of crystal glass from Orrefors, the famous Swedish glassmaker, and diamond-cut controls for the start/stop button and volume control. Craftsmanship has been in sharp focus during the whole development work.

The genuine seven seater features new, innovatively designed seats that also free up interior space for passengers both in the second and third seat rows. The third row offers class-leading comfort for two passengers up to 170cm tall.

One of the world’s best audio systems

The All-New XC90 features one of the top audio systems available in the automotive world after Volvo Cars audio experts joined forces with their counterparts at the renowned British audio equipment company Bowers & Wilkins.

The top-of-the-line system in the XC90 features a 1,400 Watt Class D amplifier and 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers. It also includes one of the first air-ventilated subwoofers in a car. Integrated into the car body, it turns the whole interior space into a giant subwoofer.

The latest sound processing software has been used to manage the timing of the sound and co-ordination of the speakers. This brings the emotional experience of a world-class live performance into the car.

Two main accessory themes

The All-New XC90 is available with a range of accessories that makes it possible for the owner to create a truly personalised car. There are two major exterior styling themes:

The Urban Luxury package combines a colour co-ordinated bodykit with polished stainless steel details, such as front deco frames, front and rear skid plates and side scuff plates. The 21-inch exclusive polished wheels complete the elegant look.

The Rugged Luxury kit enhances the ruggedness of the XC90 SUV with tech matte black exterior trim, stainless steel skid plates, running boards with illumination and integrated exhaust pipes. This version is supplemented by unique 22-inch wheels.

Ford’s Global Development System and SUV Expertise Underpin Development of All-New Global SUV

 

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  • Ford Asia Pacific gives a sneak peek at the development of a new global SUV that will redefine its segment and play a major role in Ford’s global growth strategy
  • To develop the new vehicle, Ford engineers and designers have listened to consumer feedback at every stage of development, ensuring that the final product meets or exceeds customer expectations
  • Designers look beyond the automotive world for inspiration before sketching and turning their ideas into clay models
  • Advanced computer-aided technology accelerates Ford’s vehicle development process, enabling the global team to engineer, test and review vehicles before a physical car is built
  • Two hundred prototype vehicles complete more than 1 million kilometres of testing in extreme conditions around the world

Melbourne, Australia, August 21, 2014 – Long before an all-new, world-class Ford SUV hits the roads – or Everest Concept - Front gaycarboysventures far off them – Ford knows who will be sitting behind the wheel.

As with any new Ford car or truck, the vehicle development process begins with the customer.

To meet rising global demand for sports utility vehicles – a segment that grew 13 percent in 2013 and is expected to continue growing rapidly – Ford set out to create a tough, flexible and smart SUV that would meet the needs of consumers in Asia Pacific.

The result is a new global vehicle that will challenge both competitors and customer expectations, and will help to drive Ford’s global growth strategy.

The new SUV will build on Ford’s robust heritage and expertise in the segment: As the world’s second-largest utility brand, Ford’s utility sales outperformed the global industry in 2013, rising 35 per cent to more than 1.2 million vehicles.

Research showed that customers in Asia Pacific were looking for a tough and powerful off-road SUV with the flexibility, features, and comfortable and dynamic on-road feel required for everyday driving.

They wanted a bold design, a smart interior and plenty of space for family and friends. In addition to high levels of premium comfort for all occupants, these customers also demanded a vehicle that would be aerodynamic and fuel efficient.

“When we looked at the market, we saw an opportunity to serve a new group of customers with a rugged and refined SUV that’s equally at home both on- and off-road,” said Jim Holland, engineering director, Ford Asia Pacific.  

“We’ve risen to the challenge by making full use of our global One Ford expertise. We’ve created a vehicle that redefines expectations in its segment, builds on our segment leadership and strengthens our global SUV line-up. We expect it to play an important role in our growth strategy as we continue to launch small, medium and large utility vehicles around the world.”

Listening to the customer
The journey began as Ford set out to learn as much as it could about these customers, their needs and their aspirations, and established goals and engineering parameters for the vehicle.

FORD ECOBOOST TECHNOLOGY MAKES AFTERMARKET DEBUT AT AUTOSPORT SHOWThese were the first steps in a development process that has culminated in the most comprehensively researched vehicle Ford has ever created in the Asia-Pacific region.

“At the very beginning, customers tell us what they want to see in a new vehicle. After that, at every stage of the development process, we make use of customer feedback to ensure we meet their needs,” said Ian Foston, SUV chief program engineer, Ford Asia Pacific. “In a region as diverse as this, different markets will have very specific requirements and expectations, and it’s important that we understand them.”

Given the growing importance of the Chinese market, potential Chinese customers in the medium SUV segment accounted for more than 50 percent of Ford’s sample size for customer feedback on the new SUV. But reflecting the vehicle’s potential global appeal and the reach of Ford’s global product development system, designers and engineers sought input from every corner of the world.

Bringing inspiration to life
With initial research completed, designers began to sketch their visions for what a new global SUV should look like, both inside and out. To create a new vehicle design, Ford designers reach far beyond the automotive industry, looking at areas as varied as architecture, lifestyle imagery and consumer products for inspiration.

For this vehicle, the design team based at Ford’s Asia Pacific Design Centre in Melbourne held a sense of balance as its goal, combining toughness, capability and robustness with high levels of sophistication and refinement. The Ford Everest Concept, displayed at auto shows in Bangkok and Beijing, provided a strong indication of their final design.

“We wanted a design that communicated off-road capability, but at the same time moved beyond traditionalFORD ECOBOOST TECHNOLOGY MAKES AFTERMARKET DEBUT AT AUTOSPORT SHOW design cues,” said David Dewitt, SUV exterior design manager, Ford Australia. “We’re saying that you can have a high level of capability, but in something that’s sophisticated and modern. And it was important for us to build on Ford’s design DNA and SUV expertise to create a vehicle that is unmistakably a Ford.”

Adapting and incorporating customer feedback, the design team began turning two-dimensional sketches into three-dimensional models using industrial clay. An ideal medium for modelling due to its wax content – which makes it soft and pliable when warm – industrial clay is used to bring both a vehicle’s interior and exterior to life. Even when viewed up close, a finished model can be nearly indistinguishable from a production vehicle.

Virtual problem solving
As designers perfected their sketches and models, product development engineers worked long hours to ensure the vehicle’s architecture lived up to the requirements of a tough and refined off-road SUV.

With the help of computer-aided engineering, or CAE, Ford is able to improve design, safety and many aspects of the human-machine interface before a physical vehicle exists. This virtual engineering helps Ford to reduce the time it takes to develop a vehicle and, by simulating components and system interactions in minute detail, can help to avoid costly changes later in development.

“In the last decade, CAE has developed incredibly quickly as a part of the vehicle engineering process,” said Foston. “Where before we would have to build many hundreds of prototypes as a normal part of vehicle engineering, now we can optimise systems and components virtually. By the time we get to prototype vehicles, we’re much closer to the final product.”

CAE can also help to overcome the inherent design challenges of a large vehicle. Through extensive virtual analysis of airflows, Ford’s aerodynamics team have worked to give the SUV one of the lowest drag coefficients in its class.

To maximise safety, the CAE team carefully modelled the SUV’s high-strength passenger cage and ran thousands of virtual crash simulations. These simulations are conducted in such detail that a single crash would take a home computer about 12 months to process. But thanks to one of the world’s largest supercomputer rigs, Ford is able to process each simulation in just two to four hours.

The company also made extensive use of the Melbourne design studio’s Immersive Virtual Environment – called the Ford immersive Virtual Environment (FiVE) lab – an advanced visualisation facility that it has recently enlarged and upgraded to give designers and engineers more space to walk around larger virtual vehicle models like the SUV.

Using state-of-the-art technology, the team in Australia was able to virtually review the whole vehicle in real time together with colleagues in the U.S., China and Germany to gain a deeper understanding of how its design appears in real life.

By virtually viewing a stationary vehicle as a customer would – while entering and exiting, and while seated inside – engineers and designers were able to identify and address design inconsistencies, leading to a more harmonious cabin environment.

Venturing into the real world
As advanced as computer simulations are, however, they are still not a complete substitute for real-world testing. While many design details were still being worked out, engineers built early pre-production “mule” vehicles on a smart, tough and capable SUV platform that will underpin the final vehicle.

With bodies welded together out of different existing production vehicles, these Frankenstein creations may have looked odd, but they performed a crucial role: They provided engineers with their first chance to put vehicle systems through their paces in a range of real-world situations and environments, and to begin to identify and solve issues that may not have appeared in simulations.

For a new global SUV designed to be rugged off-road and civilised on-road, this phase of the development process involved taking prototypes to extremes.

Engineers conducted high-altitude testing on New Zealand mountaintops, traversed Death Valley, California and Australia’s Simpson Desert, went drifting on ice-covered lakes in Sweden, visited remote mountain areas in China and faced some of the world’s harshest winter conditions in northern Canada. These trips were augmented by lab-based durability tests that compressed years of hard use into mere days.

Throughout this period, the design and engineering teams continuously refined their work to respond to the needs of customers. Hand-built prototypes, much closer to a final production vehicle in both design and architecture, helped to fine-tune elements like powertrain and suspension characteristics.

Over the course of the real-world test and development program, Ford has produced 200 prototypes, which together will complete more than 1 million kilometres of combined testing on public roads and at Ford’s global test facilities before the vehicle enters production.

“Spending time in different parts of the world is so important to understanding different driving conditions and driving habits,” said Foston. “For example, we found that Chinese drivers come off the clutch more quickly and prefer to shift much earlier than drivers in Australia. In other markets, we discovered the importance of installing a more durable horn.”

Coming near the end of the development process, real-world testing has helped to bring the new global SUV full circle before it is put into production and delivered to customers.  

“We start with the customer, and always have the customer in mind,” said Foston. “Five years and 4,500 man-years later, we have a vehicle that meets and exceeds that customer’s expectations. It’s very exciting.”

Australian Frontline Machinery to unveil Pimped Perentie at National 4×4 Outdoors Show

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  • Australian Frontline Machinery to unveil ‘Pimped Perentie’ at National 4×4 Outdoors Show
  • ‘Pimped Perentie’ project vehicle shows how you can create your own off-road adventure machine
  • Other vehicles on show at Australian Frontline Machinery display to include ex-military Land Rover 4×4, Land Rover 6×6 and the tough, go-anywhere, Unimog off-road truck

Australian Frontline Machinery will unveil a truly unique ex-military vehicle at the upcoming National 4×4 Outdoors Show in the form of a fully restored and modified Land Rover 110, which has been dubbed the ‘Pimped Perentie’.

Set to be one of the stars of the three-day event, which is on at the Melbourne Showgrounds from August 22-24, the Pimped Perentie will be on show to the public for the first time after undergoing a comprehensive restoration and modification program over the past few months.

The vehicle will be on display alongside a number of other original condition ex-military vehicles, showing visitors to the show how easy it is to transform one of these legendary off-roaders into a fun, yet practical, adventure machine.

Project Perentie

At its core, the Australian Frontline Machinery Pimped Perentie is an ex-military Land Rover 110 from the Australian Defence Force (ADF).  The nickname ‘Perentie’ is a reference to ‘Project Perentie’, the tender project of the 1980s that saw the Land Rover 4×4 and 6×6 become the vehicle of choice for the ADF.  It is one of over 2,000 Land Rover 4x4s that have been sold by Australian Frontline Machinery over the past 18 months, but it is now a Land Rover with a difference.

The Australian Frontline Machinery Pimped Perentie started life in 1988 as a Land Rover 110 Cargo.  Not much is known of its early years, but after a complete rebuild in 2010 and a few overseas assignments, it returned to Australia and was dismantled as part of the quarantine inspection process.

Sold by Australian Frontline Machinery, through GraysOnline in November 2013, the dismantled vehicle was purchased by winning bidder and Australian Frontline Machinery director Craig Ley.

“I’d been looking for a vehicle to build with my son Oscar and thought one of the Perenties would be a simple car to start with,” Craig said.

“It was a bonus that even though it had been dismantled, all the parts were in the back.  I also wanted to show some of the fun stuff you can do with one of these vehicles as, whether you want to do major mods or just some cosmetic ones, they always come up great.”

Restoration & Assembly

The first task in the restoration project was to sort through all of the loose parts that had been stored in the cargo area of the vehicle.  Once the vehicle was emptied the ‘pimping’ began, with the camouflage paint scheme replaced with a more urban-friendly gunmetal grey.

“We live in the suburbs, so as much as I do love the camo paint, we thought we’d be better camouflaged out on the road with the grey paint”.

Once the Land Rover had been painted the re-assembly process could begin.  Known for their uncomplicated design and straightforward engineering, piecing the Perentie back together from its flat-pack-like state was relatively simple, “not much harder than building a piece of Ikea furniture” according to Craig.

The seats, seatbelts, instrument cluster, dash and floor panels were all put back into the vehicle over the course of just a few days.  Then the modification process began.

Under the Bonnet

The Land Rover experts at KLR Automotive in South Windsor fitted the Pimped Perentie with their KLR Turbo Kit, which employs a Garret turbocharger to more than double the power output of the 3.9-litre Isuzu diesel engine, but without any increase in fuel consumption.

“We’ve developed this kit specifically for the Perentie and it’s been fitted and tuned to maintain the Land Rover’s legendary reliability” said Brad Pollard of KLR Automotive.  

The conversion uses a new fabricated exhaust manifold, while the original air filter is retained and fed fresh air through a new external-mounted Mantec snorkel.  KLR also upgraded the exhaust to a full 2.5-inch system.

On and Off Road

The Perentie’s bicep building unassisted steering was also given an overhaul with a new KLR Power Steering Kit, which means it is now much easier to manoeuvre the vehicle off-road and on, especially around those not so Perentie-friendly city car parks.

“Our power steering kit really makes driving these Land Rovers more of a pleasure and less of a chore.  Plus it’s available as a DIY kit, with no other mods required, so you can have the job done in around four hours,” Brad said.  

A heavy duty drag link was also fitted and the original drive flanges upgraded to heavy duty ones, turning up the dial on the already exceptional off-road capability of the Perentie.

Compliance

Typically the ex-military Land Rovers sold by Australian Frontline Machinery are road registered as two-seaters.   However, the Pimped Perentie has been certified to seat 10 passengers, two in the front and eight in the rear, so technically speaking it is now an omnibus. 

Seatbelts were fitted to the rear inward facing seats and the seats have been reinforced to meet Australian Design Rules (ADRs).  The Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS) was bolstered with the fitment of additional bars across the rear of the vehicle, which were also padded for the extra protection of passengers seated in the back.

Getting the Look

In addition to the glossy paint job, the Pimped Perentie features a new grey canvas canopy with matching seat covers, new wheel arch mouldings and pressed-steel-look rubber mats.  The original headlight surrounds, as well as the parking and indicator lights, were replaced with those from the current model Land Rover Defender.

Other changes around the front of the vehicle include a new grille and the customised ‘Australian Frontline Machinery’ stainless steel bullbar finisher.  The Perentie’s tough new look was completed with a set of 16-inch matte black Terrafirma alloy wheels, 255/75 BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tyres and a pair of Terrafirma rock sliders, modified by KLR for a custom fit.

What’s Next

Like any Land Rover project, there’s always more work to be done, but in the short term the Pimped Perentie will be used by Australian Frontline Machinery to showcase what a few simple modifications can do to bring out the best in these ex-military machines.  The vehicle will be on display at the National 4×4 Outdoors Show and Fishing & Boating Expo in Melbourne from August 22–24.   

After being unveiled to the public in Melbourne, the Pimped Perentie will return to Sydney where Craig has plans for a few more mods. 

“I’m thinking about putting some speakers in the back and perhaps an LED light bar on the front, but for now at least, I can’t wait for summer so I can take Oscar and his mates up the coast for some serious off-road fun.”

Auction Dates and More Information

Australian Frontline Machinery sells a range of genuine ex-military vehicles, direct from the Australian Defence Force, through unreserved online auction.  Details about upcoming auctions and inspection dates, as well as sample vehicle information, are available on the Australian Frontline Machinery website at www.australianfrontlinemachinery.com.au or check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/australianfrontlinemachinery.