Microsoft billionaire’s innovative and eco-fuelled 112m Aqua vessel to launch after 2024
The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft has commissioned the Aqua ship – a 112-metre (370ft) luxury vessel completely powered by liquid hydrogen – which was publicised last year at the Monaco yacht show by the Dutch design firm Sinot.
Speaking about the project last year, the marine designer Sander Sinot said: “For the development of Aqua we took inspiration from the lifestyle of a discerning, forward-looking owner, the fluid versatility of water and cutting-edge technology, to combine this in a superyacht with truly innovative features.”
The boat has five decks and space to accommodate 14 guests and 31 crew members. In a further environmentally friendly feature, gel-fuelled fire bowls allow guests to stay warm outside without having to burn wood or coals.
But its most cutting-edge feature is tucked away below decks – two 28-tonne vacuum-sealed tanks that are cooled to -423F (-253C) and filled with liquid hydrogen, which powers the ship. The fuel will generate power for the two one-megawatt motors and propellors via on-board fuel cells, which combine hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity. Water is a byproduct.
The vessel is unlikely to take to the seas before 2024, according to the Sunday Telegraph, which reported the Gates commission. When it does, it has the potential to reach speeds of 17 knots (about 20mph) and travel 3,750 miles (or roughly London to New York) before it needs to refuel. The Sunday Telegraph said the boat would have a “diesel back-up” due to the scarcity of hydrogen refuelling stations.
Gates, 64, who is currently ranked as the world’s second-richest man with a $118bn (£92bn) fortune, is a regular superyacht holidaymaker who has not previously owned his own vessel. Typically renting yachts for his own use, in the past he has holidayed off the coast of Sardinia onboard the $330m yacht Serene, which is owned by the Stolichnaya vodka magnate, Yuri Scheffler.
The investment underlines Gates’s long-standing interest in alternative fuels, and his enthusiasm for new technology that could tackle emissions from industry and transport that together make up 75% of the world’s carbon footprint.
He is an investor in Heliogen, a Californian startup that aims to turn sunlight into a source of heat exceeding 1,000C that could help replace fossil fuels. It is the first company in the world to concentrate sunlight to reach temperatures that are high enough to power heavy industry without carbon emissions.
1. Companies Worldwide Strive for GDPR Compliance
Companies around the world are scrambling to get their business and its practices into compliance – a significant task for many of them. While technically, the deadline to get everything in order passed on May 25, for many companies the process will continue well into June and possibly beyond. Some companies are even shutting down in Europe for good, or for as long as it takes them to get in compliance.
Even with the deadline behind us, the GDPR continues to be a top story for the tech world and may remain so for some time to come.
2. Amazon Provides Facial Recognition Tech to Law Enforcement
Amazon can’t seem to go a whole month without showing up in a tech news roundup. This month it’s for a controversial story: selling use of Rekognition, their facial recognition software, to law enforcement agencies on the cheap.
Civil rights groups have called for the company to stop allowing law enforcement access to the tech out of concerns that increased government surveillance can pose a threat to vulnerable communities in the country. In spite of the public criticism, Amazon hasn’t backed off on providing the tech to authorities, at least as of this time.
3. Apple Looks Into Self-Driving Employee Shuttles
Of the many problems facing our world, the frustrating work commute is one that many of the brightest minds in tech deal with just like the rest of us. Which makes it a problem the biggest tech companies have a strong incentive to try to solve.
Apple is one of many companies that’s invested in developing self-driving cars as a possible solution, but while that goal is still (probably) years away, they’ve narrowed their focus to teaming up with VW to create self-driving shuttles just for their employees. Even that project is moving slower than the company had hoped, but they’re aiming to have some shuttles ready by the end of the year.
4. Court Weighs in on President’s Tendency to Block Critics on Twitter
Three years ago no one would have imagined that Twitter would be a president’s go-to source for making announcements, but today it’s used to that effect more frequently than official press conferences or briefings.
In a court battle that may sound surreal to many of us, a judge just found that the president can no longer legally block other users on Twitter. The court asserted that blocking users on a public forum like Twitter amounts to a violation of their First Amendment rights. The judgment does still allow for the president and other public officials to mute users they don’t agree with, though.
5. YouTube Launches Music Streaming Service
YouTube joined the ranks of Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon this past month with their own streaming music service. Consumers can use a free version of the service that includes ads, or can pay $9.99 for the ad-free version.
With so many similar services already on the market, people weren’t exactly clamoring for another music streaming option. But since YouTube is likely to remain the reigning source for videos, it doesn’t necessarily need to unseat Spotify to still be okay. And with access to Google’s extensive user data, it may be able to provide more useful recommendations than its main competitors in the space, which is one way the service could differentiate itself.
6. Facebook Institutes Political Ad Rules
Facebook hasn’t yet left behind the controversies of the last election. The company is still working to proactively respond to criticism of its role in the spread of political propaganda many believe influenced election results. One of the solutions they’re trying is a new set of rules for any political ads run on the platform.
Any campaign that intends to run Facebook ads is now required to verify their identity with a card Facebook mails to their address that has a verification code. While Facebook has been promoting these new rules for a few weeks to politicians active on the platform, some felt blindsided when they realized, right before their primaries no less, that they could no longer place ads without waiting 12 to 15 days for a verification code to come in the mail. Politicians in this position blame the company for making a change that could affect their chances in the upcoming election.
Even in their efforts to avoid swaying elections, Facebook has found themselves criticized for doing just that. They’re probably feeling at this point like they just can’t win.
7. Another Big Month for Tech IPOs
This year has seen one tech IPO after another and this month is no different. Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi has a particularly large IPO in the works. The company seeks to join the Hong Kong stock exchange on June 7 with an initial public offering that experts anticipate could reach $10 billion.
The online lending platform Greensky started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on May 23 and sold 38 million shares in its first day, 4 million more than expected. This month continues 2018’s trend of tech companies going public, largely to great success.
8. StumbleUpon Shuts Down
In the internet’s ongoing evolution, there will always be tech companies that win and those that fall by the wayside. StumbleUpon, a content discovery platform that had its heyday in the early aughts, is officially shutting down on June 30.
Since its 2002 launch, the service has helped over 40 million users “stumble upon” 60 billion new websites and pieces of content. The company behind StumbleUpon plans to create a new platform that serves a similar purpose that may be more useful to former StumbleUpon users called Mix.
9. Uber and Lyft Invest in Driver Benefits
In spite of their ongoing success, the popular ridesharing platforms Uber and Lyft have faced their share of criticism since they came onto the scene. One of the common complaints critics have made is that the companies don’t provide proper benefits to their drivers. And in fact, the companies have fought to keep drivers classified legally as contractors so they’re off the hook for covering the cost of employee taxes and benefits.
Recently both companies have taken steps to make driving for them a little more attractive. Uber has begun offering Partner Protection to its drivers in Europe, which includes health insurance, sick pay, and parental leave – so far nothing similar in the U.S. though. For its part, Lyft is investing $100 million in building driver support centers where their drivers can stop to get discounted car maintenance, tax help, and customer support help in person from Lyft staff. It’s not the same as getting full employee benefits (in the U.S. at least), but it’s something.
Porsche rounded out the 911 family on Tuesday at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show with the introduction of its latest track-bred GT3 variant. At the heart of the new Porsche 911 GT3 is a 4.0-liter, naturally aspirated flat-six-cylinder engine, which produces 500 horsepower and 339 lb.-ft. of torque. The GT3 becomes the first of the 991.2 generation 911s to eschew turbocharging.
Customers can option the GT3 with either a traditional six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed twin-clutch PDK unit. The 2018 Porsche 911 GT3, expected to reach US showrooms this fall with a starting price of $143,600, is available with active rear-wheel steering and carbon-fiber aerodynamic elements.
According to Porsche, the PDK-equipped GT3 can sprint to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 197 mph. In six-speed guise, the Porsche requires 3.8 seconds to reach 60mph before hitting 198 mph. Even though, the six speed is slower off the line, the holy combination of a clutch pedal with a naturally aspirated powerplant will be too much of a draw for Porsche purists to ignore.
There are few cars in the world more iconic than the Porsche 911. Over the years, the rear-engine sports car has gotten bigger, faster, and more technologically advanced. But its spirited driving dynamics and on-track capabilities have continued to make it a favorite among enthusiasts worldwide.
But you often hear the complaint that all current 911s look pretty much the same. And if you ask critics such as Jeremy Clarkson, host of Amazon’s „Grand Tour“ show, he’ll tell you that all Porsche 911s since the model’s debut in 1963 look identical. The truth is, most of the various versions of the current generation of 911s do look similar, yet they can all be identified by numerous subtle but important differences.
Like Taco Bell in the fast-food industry, what Porsche has managed to do so successfully is create multiple iterations of the 911 by mixing and matching the same ingredients, and packaging them in a lot of different ways. And if you’ve ever driven a 911, you’ll probably agree with me in saying there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
So here it is, the most current lineup of Porsche’s 911 Taco Bell menu.
Carrera: The Carrera is the „base“ 911, if there is such as thing. The 991.2 Carrera powered by a 3.0-liter, 370-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, flat six …
… and the Cabriolet is the convertible version of the Carrera.
The Carrera 4 Coupe is a Carrera Coupe with all-wheel drive …
… and the Carrera 4 Cabriolet is the convertible variant.
The Carrera S gets a 50 hp boost from the base Carrera, thanks to larger turbochargers and an upgraded exhaust system on the 3.0-liter 420 hp flat-six engine …
… and here’s the convertible Cabriolet Carrera S.
The Carrera 4S is the Carrera S with all-wheel drive …
… and the Carrera 4S Cabriolet is the convertible edition.
The Carrera GTS is a step up from the Carrera S. With turbochargers even larger than those found on the S, the GTS packs a stout 450 horsepower.
… and the Carrera GTS Cabriolet is yet another convertible version!
The Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS is the GTS with all-wheel drive …
… and Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet is, naturally, the accompanying convertible.
The Targa 4 is a Carrera 4 with an awesome electric lift-away roof!
While the Targa 4S is a Carrera 4S with the special „Targa“ roof.
The Targa 4 GTS is a Carrera 4 GTS with the Targa roof.
The latest generation of the legendary Turbo gets a 3.8-liter, 540 horsepower version of the twin-turbocharged flat-six found in other 911 models. Thanks to a pair of monster turbochargers, the Turbo has become a benchmark vehicle for aspiring supercars everywhere.
There’s a Turbo Cabriolet, as well.
The Turbo S is a Turbo with a 580 hp engine.
And of course … a Turbo S Cabriolet is available, too!
The GT3 is the hard-core, track-oriented member of the 911 family. In the spirit of purity, its 500 horsepower, 4.0-liter engine is naturally aspirated — making it the only 991.2 to refrain from turbocharging.
Finally, there’s the 911R. It’s an ultra-lightweight special edition, with only 991 expected to be built worldwide. The 911R is powered by a 500-horsepower, naturally aspirated, 4.0-liter unit that’s shared with the GT3 RS. It is also the only 911 that’s available exclusively with a manual transmission. The 911R is out of production — which means there will be no 2017 models made. However, they may be a few new cars floating around out there, but they will likely come with an extreme markup over the $185,000 MSRP. The 911R is a 991.1 spec model.
Autonomy, digitalisation, electrification and connected cars are no longer fashionable buzzwords looking to a brighter future.
Today, aspects of all three are already present on our roads, from cruise control functions that read the road ahead and adjust your speed, through to the self-driving Tesla Autopilot and Mercedes Driver Assist functions that are already on stream.
These are technological breakthroughs with far-reaching consequences; they are the result of the march of time and advances in understanding, and they are statesponsored because of the promise of fewer road injuries and accidents. They are an inevitability that will, in the words of Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche, prompt a profound change to cars “as radical as the industry has seen in its 120 years of existence”.
At the heart of this pivotal moment in time stands a generation of car designers with an entirely new rule book at their fingertips. But what does that rule book look like and how radically different is it?
Autocar polled leading designers from around the automotive industry to hear their views.
MICHAEL MAUER, Volkswagen Group head of design, on whether cars will end up looking the same:
“The mobility world of tomorrow gives us designers entirely new creative possibilities. Electric drives and autonomous driving remove any obstacles and change design more radically than has been the case in recent decades.
“But that does not mean we will have uniform autonomous vehicles. The streetscape of the future will become even more varied, even more colourful, even more emotional.”
SATORU TAI, executive design director for Nissan, on changing priorities and the short and longterm challenges:
“Cars may go through a phase of looking similar, but in the long run I think further advancement of technologies will then enable us to have more freedom in shaping unique designs, just as they did in the past.
“With the complete change of powertrains, the layout will become more flexible. We will no longer need an extended bonnet or bootlid. If we only pursue efficiency, I think the overall design of cars will become boxier and mono-volume orientated.
“Since many of the upcoming technologies are about man/machine interfaces, there will be a transition period and I am sure interior design will have more significance than exterior design. To a degree, the interior will influence the exterior design all the more and they will, eventually, resume the relationship they have today.”
GORDEN WAGENER, head of design at Mercedes-Benz, on bringing simplicity to complex solutions:
“Look at how much design has changed this company in the past three years. We’ve made the transition from an old luxury company to a modern luxury company, simply through design. Looking to the future with the challenges to come — digitisation, electrification — I think designers are the people to envision it.
“We’re living in the future; we’re five, 10, even 15 years into the future. Design has never been more important. There’s so much happening and, as designers, we’re really in the driver’s seat here. The new world will become very complex and it’s the designers who will try to make it simple.”
KLAUS BISCHOFF, Volkswagen design chief, on a focus on interiors:
“The biggest shift for design will be the interiors of EVs. Because we have pushed the ID concept’s climate control system into the nose, the dash can be pushed back 20cm — which gives a great deal more room in the cabin. Today’s car interiors are close to the driver, almost hemming them in; in future EVS, space in the cabin will be far greater.”
LAURENS VAN DEN ACKER, design chief for Renault, on whether to go radical or remain conventional:
“The first thing to say is that there’s never been a better time to be a designer. Technology means engineers can do things they couldn’t five years ago and that has opened up all sorts of avenues. Marketeers have realised that in a world of no really bad cars, design is what makes the difference.
“We can write our own future — and I don’t see car sharing taking that away. People will still care what their car looks like. People won’t want to be in a vehicle that looks like a trash can, and besides, most people won’t want to share a car. It’s something personal; it would be like sharing your cat.
“The biggest opportunity in the near future will be space; an electric drivetrain is 40% more compact than a combustion one, so that’s an opportunity. But how far do we go? I’m in favour of change but think customers will still want to see classic proportions. I don’t see a reason for revolution.”
“Consumers’ values will become increasingly diverse, and consumers will become increasingly confident in their ability to choose without following mainstream trends. Acceptance of new, radical design and non-traditional hierarchies will result, and that may signal the end of mass trends in design as people seek new methods of self-expression.
“Size will no longer define the automotive hierarchy and branding strategies will have to change. The paradigm shift from gasoline to electric will not happen overnight; they will co-exist, resulting in each finding its own speciality. Choice will depend on lifestyle and the ‘allrounder’ car of today will be replaced by more specific designs, with the different experiences being offered becoming the brand differentiator.
“There will also be new influences from developing regions, leading to new concepts and ideas based on criteria other than the traditional European view of the car.”
MORAY CALLUM, vice-president of design at Ford, on how the designer’s job is changing:
“There’s more design to do because it’s more complicated. So much more goes into everything. When I started we chose between a 5.0in round headlight or a 7.0in headlight. Now we’ve got around 35 people on headlights, because there are around 50 different parts.
“We’re not just going to the car design schools to recruit now, because our role is getting wider as our relationship with the car is changing. As designers, we have an expanding role around how these systems we add work. For instance, the designer’s job is to make the [infotainment] logic logical to customers; we’ve got more interior designers than exterior designers now. You fall in love with the exterior but live with the interior — and most of the pain points are inside.”
ALFONSO ALBAISA, corporate vice-president and executive design director for Infiniti, on changing limits and how to persuade customers to embrace that change:
“I don’t feel there is a limit to designing cars for the future. The only issue is how we walk with our customer into the future, because the customer’s appetite for change is what we must relate to. Sometimes, depending on culture, the customer can be slightly conservative. This also depends on their social situation, but sometimes they are ambitious and expect significant design changes.
“I think premium customers are open to change if we provide a clear benefit to them. It’s important; if you change something significant, there must be very clear customer benefit. If there is not, the customer will reject it because they have so many good choices in the marketplace.
“In reality, the modern user experience and how it relates to and works with the owner has a much higher value than piping or wood on an interior, and I feel there is a great potential in the coming digital technologies.”
ROB MELVILLE, McLaren chief designer, on whether driver-focused supercars are less likely to change than conventional cars:
“They’ll change too — and soon. Our philosophy is to create breathtaking designs that tell the visual story of their function, and we have an amazing bandwidth of functionality and focus coming in our products. We plan to do this by using our advanced technologies, aerodynamic software and manufacturing processes to create our beautiful yet functional designs. We will continue to be brave and innovate.
“Clever design will be the dominant force and will always predominate over new legislation, which is an opportunity to find new solutions and make cars even more individual. It’s an exciting challenge for the team. The freeing up of crash structures will mean improved aerodynamics, which is fantastic, and the interior space/ volume of the car will be designed to suit our vehicle’s requirements.
“Customers will accept the changes as long as it is authentic, radical design. Radical design just to be trendy lacks integrity and this turns customers off. Our customers are very sophisticated and appreciate radical design that delivers improved experience, usability and fun. It has to put a smile on your face.”
STEFAN SIELAFF, Bentley director of design, on ultra-luxury design — and a history lesson:
“Maybe ‘transport boxes’ will be part of the future, but it will go one step at a time and I can say our customers want our cars because they make a statement, not just because they do a job.
“Bentley will always follow a fusion of performance and luxury; dynamics must be part of the mixture. But even if sometimes you will want to turn the seats around and leave the control to the systems, sometimes, at the right times, our customers will want to drive. It’s a compromise we know at Bentley; for 100 years our owners have done the same, albeit with chauffeurs driving.
“The question is not just about design but also technology. How will that change what we want from the interior space? And even if we give people more space, it won’t be about just opening the car up. Our customers want architecture, not just space.
“I am old enough to remember East and West Germany. In the East there was basically one car, a Trabant, available in five colours. The day the Berlin Wall came down, people were clamouring to change. That history lesson suggests there is no desire to own cars that look identical.”
When the Audi R8 arrived on the world stage in 2007, the German supercar took the automotive world by storm. In short time, the stylish Audi became not just one of the most sought-after machines in the world, but also a pop-culture icon. („Iron Man,“ anybody?)But after a decade of excellence, it was time for a successor.
How do you improve upon an icon? We’ve all heard of the sophomore slump or the disappointing sequel. After all, disasters such as „Jaws 2“ or „Speed 2“ happen way more often than an „Empire Strikes Back“ or a „Dark Knight.“
With the R8, Audi had the tall task of coming up with a sequel to its flagship model. After all, this is Tony Stark’s official ride.
For 2017, there is indeed an all-new, second-generation R8. Recently, Audi dropped off this R8 V10 Coupe Quattro S tronic for Business Insider to check out. Our ibis-white R8 V10 had a base price of $162,900, but with options the car left the showroom at $183,050.
So does the sequel live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
Photos by Hollis Johnson unless otherwise credited.
Our stunning ibis-white test car is the latest car to carry the R8 badge. But it certainly wasn’t the first.
The R8 road car we know today is named after Audi’s all-conquering R8 Le Mans Prototype race cars. In 1999, Audi debuted the open cockpit R8R …
… and the closed cockpit R8C race cars. In its first time out, at the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, the R8Rs finished third and fourth. Unfortunately, neither of the R8Cs made it to the finish.
In 2000, Audi returned with the R8 LMP.
From 2000 until it was replaced in 2006, the R8 LMP racked up an astonishing 63 victories in 79 races.
This includes five outright victories at Le Mans in six years. Its only loss at Le Mans came at the hands of VW Group stablemate Bentley’s Speed 8. And even then, the Speed 8 that won can actually trace its roots back to the Audi R8C.
With this level of success. Audi was keen to provide its rivals with a lasting reminder of its prowess.
The result was the R8 — Audi’s first legitimate supercar. It arrived in 2007 with a 4.2-liter, 420-horsepower V8 and a 185-mph top speed.
Although the R8 immediately became infinitely cool and built a reputation for being great to drive and easy to live with, critics also felt the V8 lacked muscle compared with other supercars of its day.
That all changed with the arrival of a 525-horsepower, 5.2-liter V10 borrowed from the Lamborghini Gallardo. Now the R8 had the face-melting speed to go along with the looks.
For 2017, there’s a new second-generation version of the Audi supercar. It’s available in two different flavors:
The hardcore R8 V10 Plus …
… and the tamer — but still very capable — R8 V10. Our test car was an R8 V10.
Aesthetically, the exterior of the new R8 is an evolution of the first-generation car. The design has aged rather gracefully. After all, you don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Up front, Audi’s domineering front grille makes its presence felt. Whether this new grille is an improvement over the outgoing model is in the eye of beholder.
However, the LED headlights look terrific.
On the flanks, Audi changed one of the previous-gen car’s signature features by splitting the R8’s carbon-fiber blade into two — a potentially controversial move that some will applaud while others will lament.
The R8’s gas cap is still located on the top portion of the carbon-fiber blade.
The rear of the V10 gets an adjustable spoiler, which extends at 75 mph, while the V10 Plus gets a larger unit that’s permanently bolted to the rear deck lid.
Although many of the car’s fans may prefer the aggressive front-end design …
… I find the rear three-quarter view to be the car’s most appealing.
Step inside and you’ll find the most impressive part of the R8.
Although the first-generation R8’s exterior design aged well, its interior has not. For the all-new 2017 R8, Audi has completely revamped the cabin. The result is one of the finest in any supercar. It’s covered in rich nappa leather and alcantara.
Every aspect of this cockpit is focused on the driver.
As you can see, there isn’t much for the passenger to do.
What would normally be found on the center stack …
… has been relocated to the steering wheel.
The start-stop and drive-select buttons are kinda hard to miss.
What makes the R8 really stand out is the inclusion of Audi’s new Virtual Cockpit system. Instead of a traditional gauge cluster and infotainment screen, Virtual Cockpit integrates the two in a single 12.3-inch, high-definition display.
Everything the driver needs to control the car’s many features can be accessed through Virtual Cockpit.
This includes the car’s superb 12-speaker, 550-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo.
The most incredible function the system offers is a full-screen map that’s unlike anything offered by other brands.
The Virtual Cockpit is a fairly risky move for Audi. The company’s infotainment system is one of the — if not the — best in the business right now. And to make such a drastic change could have been a disaster. Fortunately for Audi, Virtual Cockpit is intuitively organized, very easy to use, and beautifully presented.
Virtual Cockpit is controlled either through the traditional rotary controller and script pad, located on the center console …
… or with steering-wheel-mounted buttons.
The sparse center stack is populated only by the car’s climate controls.
Our R8 test car came equipped with a pair of beautifully quilted nappa leather seats. Unlike the seats in many supercars, the R8’s 18-way adjustable seats are not only supportive, but also comfortable.
The R8’s center armrest doubles as …
… cup holders!
Behind the driver is the R8’s 5.2-liter V10 engine. The V10, which is shared by the Lamborghini Huracan, is an absolute gem of a motor. It’s docile in normal driving, but capable of becoming a fire-breathing power plant when called upon.
These days, the R8’s V10 is a dying breed. It’s one of the few remaining supercar powerplants to take a pass on turbocharging or hybridization. As a result, the Audi delivers a more connected driving experience. No need to wait for turbos to spool up!
The R8 V10 Plus gets a 610-horsepower version of the engine.
The R8 V10, our test car, came with a detuned 540-horsepower variant.
According to Audi, the 540-horsepower R8 V10 is capable of making the run to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and can reach a top speed of 199 mph.
The more powerful V10 Plus speeds up the process with a claimed 0-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph.
All R8s get Audi’s highly capable seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Our V10 test car handled the engine’s prodigious power with ease. The shifts were smooth and immediate in every situation we encountered during our few days with the car.
Stopping power comes courtesy of these ventilated wave-design disc brakes.
The R8 is incredibly smooth, steady, and easygoing. It’s very difficult to the push the car beyond its capabilities. The combination of quattro all-wheel-drive and active aerodynamics gives the car endless traction. The V10 offers instant power to get you out of trouble.
Alas, here lies our only issue with the R8 V10: While there’s no doubting its capabilities and competence on both road and track, the R8’s easygoing driving experience lacks the excitement and insanity one might hope for in a supercar.
In fact, you can say that this car offers a very similar experience to other high-performance Audis such as the RS7 and the RS5. This sentence serves both as praise and criticism because the R8 V10’s relaxed nature offers buyers a relatively worry-free ownership experience. On the other hand, this clinical efficiency detracts from the car’s charisma and charm. The driving experience simply doesn’t feed your soul the way other supercars can.
In other words, the R8 V10 is the car choice should you want to tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans in style and comfort, but not if your goal is attention.
More times than not, the purchase of a supercar is an emotional buy and not a rational one. Supercars are generally useless in most daily situations and can be a great hassle to live with. The R8 isn’t. It’s one of the few cars of this genre that can be rationally justified.
Overall, the 2017 Audi R8 V10 is a worthy sequel to one of the most iconic cars in recent memory. Its combination of exotic looks, high performance, and day-to-day usability makes this a supercar you can live with.
Dabei bremste Daimler bislang bei den alternativen Antrieben. Auch die jüngste Elektroauto-Studie geriet mutlos. Gelingt dennoch die Transformation zum Tech-Konzern?
Die Schuhe sind Teil der Inszenierung: Wenn der 63-jährige Chef eines Weltunternehmens mit Jeans und Turnschuhen rumläuft, dann befindet er sich für gewöhnlich im Urlaub oder in der Midlife-Crisis. Dieter Zetsche will augenscheinlich nicht zum alten Eisen gehören. Doch sein Problem ist weniger privater als unternehmerischer Natur: Der Daimler-Boss will das Flaggschiff der deutschen Autoindustrie zur Tech-Company umbauen.
Vor einer Gründerzeit im Neckar-Valley muss er einige Altlasten bewältigen. Zum Beispiel den Erfolg des bewährten Geschäftsmodells: Trotz Rekordabsatzzahlen fordert Zetsche ein radikales Umdenken seiner Mitarbeiter. Statt sprudelnde Erlöse zu feiern, sollen sie sich an einer Revolution beteiligen. Ausgang offen.
Bisher stand Mercedes auf der Bremse
Was Zetsche auf dem Pariser Autosalon verkündet, ist eine Revolution von oben: „Wir wollen nicht nur die Verwandlung unserer Produkte vorantreiben, sondern auch die Verwandlung unserer Organisation signifikant beschleunigen.“ Bisher standen die Stuttgarter nicht nur bei alternativen Antrieben auf der Bremse. Kurz nach einer Welttournee mit Wasserstofffahrzeugen wurde 2013 die angekündigte Serienproduktion abgesagt. Im selben Jahr überließ man BMW i die Vorfahrt bei komplett neuen Elektroautos. Die ersten E-Smarts mit Hochtemperaturzellen hatten 2007 bloß Forschungscharakter. Später half Tesla auch bei der Mercedes-B-Klasse-e-cell mit Batterien nach. Trotzdem oder gerade deshalb zögerte der Elektroingenieur Zetsche, Milliarden auf eine ungewisse Elektro-Zukunft zu wetten.
Zetsche ist kein junger Wilder wie Elon Musk, der als New-Age-Guru einer emissionsfreien Zukunft auftritt. Der Erfolg von Tesla und vor allem die Geschwindigkeit, mit der sich das Start-up weiterentwickelt, sorgen im Daimler-Vorstand allerdings für Stirnrunzeln. Der Elektro-Pionier punktet mit Software-Updates, die neue Funktionen ins Auto bringen. Trotz gravierender Rückschläge wie beim Autopiloten will Tesla das erste autonome Auto auf den Markt bringen.
Die Serienversion des Generation EQ kommt 2018
Bei dem halsbrecherischen Technologietempo gibt es eine Reihe von Unwägbarkeiten: „Unser Zielkorridor für den Elektroabsatz im Jahr 2025 liegt zwischen 15 und 25 Prozent. Genauer können wir es einfach nicht prognostizieren“, gesteht Mercedes-Vertriebsvorstand Ola Källenius. Trotzdem legt Daimler jetzt den Schalter für die neue Elektro-Submarke EQ um. Die Serienversion des Pariser Showcars „Generation EQ“ wird ab 2018 zum Preis eines „vernünftig ausgestatteten Mercedes GLC“ (also für rund 60 000 Euro) angeboten. Mindestens neun weitere reine E-Mobile vom Kompaktauto bis zum Supersportler sollen bis 2025 folgen.
Mercedes will bis 2025 Tesla als Marktführer bei Premium-Elektrofahrzeugen ablösen. Die leistungsstarken Stromer werden aber schon Ende dieses Jahrzehnts Standard sein – als Unterscheidungsmerkmal einer Marke taugen sie dann nicht mehr. Deshalb stürzen sich die Blechbieger in weitere Abenteuer: „Viele Autohersteller wollen heute Mobilitätsanbieter werden. Das ist schön und gut. Aber die Transformation der Branche ist noch viel grundlegender“, warnt der Daimler-Boss.
Daimlers Erfolgsgeschichte geschieht zu langsam
130 Jahre lang definierte sich die Autoindustrie über Hardware. Daimler ist das beste Beispiel, wie schwierig nun das Umdenken ist: Die Stuttgarter haben zwar 2007 das flexible Einweg-Carsharing mit vollvernetzten Smarts erfunden. Doch es dauerte zehn Jahre, um Car2go auf zwei Millionen Nutzer zu bringen. Was Daimler als Erfolgsgeschichte verkauft, geschieht letztlich zu langsam, um mit neuen Wettbewerbern zu konkurrieren. Maßgeschneiderte, automatisierte Mobilitäts-Services könnten dem Verkauf von Privat-Pkw in Zukunft mehr und mehr Konkurrenz machen. Niemand weiß aber, wie und wann sich der Wandel genau vollziehen wird.
Bisher sind die Entwicklungsabteilungen der Autohersteller entlang von neuen Produkten aufgestellt. Genauso wichtig werden allerdings innovative Geschäftsmodelle sein. Daimler will den Technologiewandel vom Kundenerlebnis her neu denken: „Wir erwarten, dass sich das Auto von einem Produkt in eine ultimative Plattform verwandelt. Das ist ein fundamentaler Perspektivenwechsel“, sagt Dieter Zetsche. Diese Plattform ruhe auf vier Säulen: Vernetzung (Connected), Autonomes Fahren, Sharing und Elektromobilität. Zusammen ergeben die Anfangsbuchstaben das Wort Case. „Wir haben gerade einen neuen Unternehmensbereich mit diesem Namen gegründet, um diese Themenfelder zusammenbringen“, so Zetsche.
Noch ist unklar, was die Kunden wollen
Den Kunden in den Mittelpunkt zu stellen, ist eine prima Idee. Das Problem ist nur: Kaum ein Mercedes-Käufer hat bisher nach Elektromobilen gefragt. Geschweige denn Interesse an einer Internet-Plattform gezeigt, über die er seine Luxuskarosse mit anderen teilen kann. Genau das will Mercedes mit einer Sharing-Plattform ab November dieses Jahres in Deutschland erproben.
Zetsche stellt in Paris jedoch klar, das keine einzelne Technologie oder Dienstleistung den Unterschied machen werde, sondern ein neuartiges Gesamterlebnis von Mobilität: „Jede der Case-Säulen hat das Potenzial, die gesamte Automobilindustrie auf den Kopf zu stellen. Aber die wahre Revolution ist die Verbindung dieser Aspekte in einem umfassenden, nahtlosen Paket.“
Zetsches ständiger Balanceakt
Alt und neu, analog und digital, Sakko zur verwaschenen Jeans: Als Vordenker balanciert Zetsche ständig zwischen den Gegensätzen. Seine Grundsatzrede auf dem Pariser Autosalon klingt über weite Strekken wie ein Appell an die eigene Belegschaft: Das Schweizer Uhrwerk als Zeichen für Verlässlichkeit und Präzision im mechanischen Zeitalter – „das bleibt auch in Zukunft wichtig!“, beruhigt er seine Mitarbeiter. Schon im nächsten Moment predigt er jedoch das Credo des digitalen Zeitalters: Ihm gefalle die Idee einer „agilen Schwarmorganisation“, verkündet der Manager mit dem grauen Walrossbart: „Case wird als rechtlich getrennte Organisation ein perfekter Startpunkt für diese Vorstellung sein.“
Mehr Silicon Valley wagen, ohne die Stärken der Vergangenheit aufzugeben, lautet die Botschaft. Noch weiß allerdings niemand, wie dieses Autofahren 2.0 wirklich aussieht, geschweige denn, wie man damit Geld verdient. Elektro-Studien wie der Mercedes Generation EQ und der VW I. D. zeigen in Paris jedenfalls das genaue Gegenteil einer Design-Revolution. Mit ihren mutlos-monolithischen Grundformen pendeln sie irgendwo zwischen Van und Crossover. Bloß nicht auffallen!
Der Fluch der großen Reichweite
Damit sich die Hoffnungsträger wenigstens ein bisschen vom Mainstream unterscheiden, wurde ihnen das Dach tief ins Gesicht gedrückt. Doch der Trick funktioniert nur auf geschickt fotografierten Bildern. Wer versucht hat, auf den Rücksitzen des VW I. D. zu sitzen oder sich unter dem Dachholm des Mercedes EQ durchzuschlängeln, erkennt den Schwindel: In der Serie werden aus halbwegs schnittigen Showcars bleischwere Hochdachautos. Das ist der Fluch der großen Reichweite.
Die Physik lässt sich auch im digitalen Zeitalter nicht überlisten: Stromer mit 500 Kilometer Radius benötigen riesige Unterflur-Batteriepakete, auf denen die Passagiere thronen. Tesla kann dieses hochgebockte Kutschendesign mit einem flachen Batterieformat recht gut kaschieren. Weil kein anderer Hersteller die schmalen Rundzellen von Panasonic verwendet, werden sich die Designer mit ihren Tesla-Fightern mächtig anstrengen müssen.
Auch Matthias Müller beschwört ein „neues Zeitalter“
Dass die meisten Kunden 500 Kilometer Batteriereichweite gar nicht brauchen, ist die Ironie dieses Technologiewandels. Bisher hat kaum jemand die Stromer als Erstauto für die ganze Familie verwendet, geschweige denn Urlaubsfahrten damit geplant. Das Wettrennen um den größten Batterieradius wendet sich also nicht an die umweltbewussten Pioniere, sondern an den komfortorientierten Otto-Normalverbraucher: Einmal pro Woche Tanken ist gelernt. Bloß nicht umgewöhnen!
Auch Matthias Müller beschwört in Paris ein „neues Zeitalter“: „Die Elektromobilität und digitale Vernetzung werden zu Game Changern“. Welche Spielregeln für eine neue Generation von Kunden gelten werden, weiß aber auch das Oberhaupt des Volkswagen-Konzerns nicht sicher zu sagen. Vielleicht sind es digital animierte Innenwelten, die ein neues Markenerlebnis schaffen. Auf dem Mercedes-Stand ließ sich Müller lange die Bedienphilosophie der EQ-Studie erklären. Die hochauflösenden 3-D-Landschaften auf dem Riesenbildschirm sollten ihn wohl von der Tristesse im VW I. D. ablenken.
Mercedes-Benz just made a huge move to take on Tesla.
The German automaker unveiled its all-electric SUV concept at the Paris Motor Show Thursday, and with a competitive price tag and solid range potential, it’s poised to become a big competitor in the EV space.
Called Generation EQ, the SUV concept is expected to have a range up to 310 miles.
The production version of the SUV is expected to hit the roads in 2019, Dieter Zetsche, the head of the Mercedes-Benz car division, said at the Paris Motor Show press event. Mercedes is calling the SUV unveiled today a „close-to-production concept vehicle.“
The car will fall in the same price range as the GLC Crossover, which currently starts at $39,150. That’s a very competitive price for an electric SUV, considering Chevy Bolt’s all-electric SUV crossover will start at $37,500 when it hits showrooms at the end of 2016.
The interior comes with a massive, 24-inch display that shows speed, range, driving data, and navigation information. The display will alert the driver if the car is running low on battery and of nearby charging stations. The steering wheel also comes with touch controls.
The SUV comes with some autonomous features, but not many. Mercedes says the car can automatically adjust the speed and driving dynamics when approaching curves.
The car is part of Mercedes‘ efforts to ramp up its electric-car offerings. Daimler’s chief development officer, Thomas Weber, said in May that Mercedes-Benz was aiming to add four new electric cars to its model range by 2020.
The Paris motor show is heralded as the world’s biggest motor show, claiming more visitor footfall than any other auto show. No wonder car makers are scrambling to prepare their new car launches in time.
Here we round up all the cars, world debuts and major launches at the Paris motor show. Think of it as a handy one-stop shop for everything about the Mondial de l’Automobile, including a continuously updated list of all the key cars unveiled on the day.
Concept car: Not the new 5-series, but a new crossover concept is coming
2016 range updates: Fresh styling, trim and features for Sandero, Sandero Stepway and Logan MCV
i10: Revamped city car gets new tech and fresh styling
i20 WRC: Get your first look at the 2017 WRC entry from Hyundai
i30: Third-gen hatchback family confirmed for the Paris motor show
RN30 concept: New 375bhp hot-hatch concept targets the Focus RS
Q60: UK pricing revealed for sleek new coupe
QX Sport: We’re expecting a refreshed version of the new mid-sized crossover concept from Beijing
VC-T variable compression ratio engines: CO2-crushing new engine tech at Paris
Discovery (above): The all-new Discovery, now revealed in full, is set to be one of the big draws at Paris
UX crossover concept: Latest concept aims to showcase new tech and connectivity features
Kinetic Seat Concept: The humble car seat, as you’ve never seen it before
AMG GT Roadster: French guillotine beheads Merc’s glorious sports car in Paris
AMG R50 hypercar (below): Big Paris shock, as Merc confirms F1-engined hypercar
E-class All-Terrain: Merc chases the Allroad dollar with E-class in wellies
Electric SUV concept: We’re expecting a mid-sized e-crossover
GLC 43 4Matic Coupe: Sleeker version of the twin-turbo GLC SUV steps out
Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6: A closer look at the new super-luxury concept
Clubman JCW: It’s the most powerful version of Mini’s compact estate to date
GT-PHEV Concept: A conceptual look ahead to the next Outlander SUV
Micra: Slicker, more Europeanised supermini takes a bow at Paris motor show
3008: Lumpy crossover enters the mainstream in prettier, more conventional Mk2
5008: Double-oh Peugeot reborn as a family crossover; seen first in Paris
3008 DKR race car: New rally-raid special shown ahead of 2017 Dakar
Panamera (below): It’s the brand spanking new, prettier Panam sports saloon Mk2
Alaskan: La Regie unleashes its first pick-up at its home show in Paris
Koleos: New ‘Initiale Paris’ version of luxury SUV unveiled
Trezor: Sleek EV coupe packs a 345bhp punch
Zoe: Renault’s upped the Zoe’s maximum range to 250 miles
Ateca X-Perience: Rugged new concept showcases potential production car
Kodiaq: A major launch for Skoda as it unveils its first full-size family crossover
Fortwo and Forfour Electric Drive: World premiere of the e-Smart is scheduled for Paris
LIV-2 SUV concept: This one points to the next-generation Rexton SUV, we reckon
C-HR crossover: Final production sight of the new compact SUV, after Geneva design reveal
Gazoo Racing: New umbrella body for all Toyota’s motorsports will launch in Paris
Prius Plug-in Hybrid: European debut for Toyota’s plug-n-play Prius
FCV Plus: Another Euro first for this fuel-cell show car
Ampera-e: New EV features plenty of punch and long range, but we won’t get it – yet
Tesla’s Model S and Model X are soon going to have some serious competition.
Last September, Audi revealed its all-electric e-tron quattro concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The SUV, which is slated to go into production by 2018, will have three electric motors, a range of 310 miles on a single charge, and quick charging capabilities.
Here’s a look at some of the features in the e-tron quattro that we hope to see in the production version.
Like the e-tron concept, Audi will most likely include piloted driving technology in its upcoming all-electric SUV.
The e-tron quattro concept has piloted driving technology, which uses radar sensors, a video camera, ultrasonic sensors, and a laser scanner to collect data about the car’s environment and create a model of the vehicle’s surroundings in real-time.
Audi currently has a lot of this tech in its newer vehicles, so it’s likely we will see a more advanced piloted system in the production version of the e-tron quattro.
Cameras could replace side view mirrors.
The e-tron quattro has curved displays built into the front section of the doors that lets the driver view what is around them. There’s no guarantee we’ll see this in the production version, but automakers are beginning to experiment with new kinds of mirror designs.
It will likely be covered in screens.
The e-tron quattro concept features two touch displays in the cockpit, one to the driver’s left to control lights and the piloted driving systems and one to the right where media and navigation is controlled.
The center console has two more OLED displays for climate control and infotainment.
With its 95 kWh battery, the e-tron quattro has an impressive range of 310 miles on a single charge.
To put that into perspective, Tesla’s Model X SUV with all wheel drive and a 100kWh battery has a range of 289 miles on a single charge. Audi has already said its range will beat this.
It may be able to fully charge in just 50 minutes.
We know the production version will have quick charging capabilities, but we don’t know exactly how fast it will work. However, we’re hoping it’s in line with the e-tron quattro concept’s charge time.
The concept car has a Combined Charging System (CCS), meaning it can be charged with a DC or AC electrical current. It can fully charge with a DC current outputting 150 kW in just about 50 minutes.
The e-tron quattro concept is equipped with induction charging technology, so it can be charged wirelessly over a charging plate.
We can’t say if this is a definite feature the production version will have, but our fingers are crossed.
It will have super fast connectivity.
Audi announced at CES this year that it is the first automaker to support the latest standard for mobile communications: LTE Advanced.
LTE Advanced is the latest enhancement to LTE, meaning that it can deliver larger and faster wireless data payloads than 4G LTE. We can almost certainly expect to see the technology integrated into the upcoming production car.