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KIA unveils new Concept

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At the recent Frankfurt International Motor Show, KIA Motors’ new concept car, the Proceed Concept, made its world debut.

“The Proceed Concept is our bold and engaging vision for a potential member of the next generation cee’d family,” said Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer Europe for KIA Motors. “Embodying the spirit and athleticism of the current pro_cee’d, the Proceed Concept is an extended hot hatch that encapsulates KIA’s performance spirit. It’s an ambassador of all our emotion, our passions and our dynamic values. It’s the pro_cee’d reborn, more beautiful than ever before.

“The pro_cee’d has always been KIA’s performance halo model in the cee’d family. Since its debut in 2008 it has embodied all our driving passion, and the model that succeeded it in 2012 extended this dynamic lineage. However, with many European drivers seeking alternatives to the traditional three-door hot hatch, we began thinking about a new halo model.

“The extended hot hatch you see here could be an alternative for us. It’s a third body type – one that retains the athleticism of the pro_cee’d, but reworked and reimagined to combine a striking new visual presence with a dash of real-world versatility. The Proceed Concept is our vision of how the vibrant spirit of the pro_cee’d could be reincarnated and revitalised for a new generation of drivers.”

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KIA provided the following information:

Low, lean and lithe, the five-door Proceed concept marries its imposing proportions with a compact footprint that hints at its outright agility. The silhouette of the car is complemented by a series of distinctive design cues. The highlight line that frames the glasshouse extends to the rear tailgate, enhancing the car’s dynamic proportions. Together with the glass roof, the acutely angled ‘Sharkblade’, complete with GT logo, reinforces its lack of B-pillars. This in turn emphasises the dramatic roofline as its flows in to the rear shoulders. Lateral strakes further exaggerate the Proceed Concept’s slim waistline, and lend an air of muscularity to the rear of the car.

Daytime running lights have become a key element in a car’s identity, helping other drivers easily identify KIA models, by day and night. However, in low light conditions, cars viewed from the side often lack bold design cues. The Proceed Concept uses light to highlight its fastback shape. Guillaume comments: “This inspired us to take a step further and develop what we call the ‘Luminline’ – an illuminated outline of the Proceed concept’s glasshouse that greets drivers as they approach the car. This serves as a powerful nocturnal visual identifier when the car is on the move.”

Further tactile and visual highlights include atmospherically backlit headlamps in red, stacked rear air vents, and large six-spoke, 20-inch alloy wheels with central locking nut. The rippled surface of its rear light strip is inspired by molten ferromagnetic metal.

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Its stance and proportions may be new, but the Proceed Concept features many of KIA’s now familiar design motifs. The iconic ‘tiger nose’ grille, the sculpted ‘island’ bonnet inspired by the Stinger, the castellated windscreen, the full-length roof glazing, and KIA’s inimitable mix of curvaceous sheetmetal and taut creases. Each element singles out the Proceed Concept as a truly modern KIA.

The Proceed Concept’s body, including the low-mounted ‘Wingcams’, is coated in unique Lava Red paintwork. The result of a highly complex, week-long paintshop process, Lava Red combines 19 hand-applied layers of black, chrome-effect silver and red tinted lacquer for a glossy and lustrous paint finish. Incredibly sensitive to changing light conditions, its depth and metallic sheen further enhances the Proceed Concept’s contours and curves.

Interior design: inspired by bespoke tailoring

“Colour and trim played a key role in the development of the car, and our discussions on the look and feel of the Proceed Concept’s cabin took place at the same time as our talks on exterior form. The two dovetailed together perfectly, which is not always the case,” explains Guillaume.

“Inspired by the world of bespoke tailoring and haute couture, we decided on a truly unique cabin environment enriched with materials used in innovative and unconventional ways – methods that might be familiar to fashion houses, but not in the automotive arena.”

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The seats are wrapped in more than 100 metres of black elastane fabric, cut, trimmed and tailored by hand to create rippled and ruched upholstery, producing a striking contrast with the sleek and shiny instrument panel.

The Lava Red bodywork creates a bold visual link between the Proceed Concept’s exterior design and its interior. Inspired by the visceral power and drama of an erupting volcano, the cabin’s striking colour palette combines fiery reds higher up with charcoal greys and velvet blacks further below. Finished in the same Lava Red as the bodywork, both the dashboard and steering column create the impression of the bonnet flowing into the cabin. The door linings are covered in glossy hand-painted fabric, graduating from solid black near the window line through to reflective red in the footwells.

The instrument and horizontal infotainment panels illustrate three intuitive, colour-coded driving modes – Lava Red for ‘GT’ mode, Forest Green for ‘Eco’ mode, and Ghost White for ‘Autonomous’ mode.

The four individual, interlinked seats feature a contoured welcoming wave – a hat-tip to the KIA Provo concept, unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The split backrests of the seats are held in place by metal exoskeletons to reinforce a sense of structural strength and material lightness.

The concept of combining lightness and strength is carried through to the minimalist and intelligently configured floating centre console. This clean and ergonomically-designed unit houses the Proceed Concept’s aluminium controls, which draw inspiration from the haptic, machined actions of top-end audio controls. The uncluttered console is itself supported by a visible carbon fibre spine that runs the full length of the car’s interior.

The Proceed Concept is a car that unashamedly appeals to the heart of the driver. While KIA embraces the future, it also knows how important it is to treasure the past. Performance cars are all about indulging the senses, and smell is the most powerful sense humans have for evoking memories. Guillaume and his team has recreated the ‘Memory Bank’ for the Proceed Concept – a flush-mounted shelf housed within the dashboard, containing a trio of evocative aromas.

“Each of these three engraved flacons contains a scent synonymous with power, passion and performance; aromas that any petrolhead will instantly recognise,” describes Guillaume. “There’s the warm musky smell of aged leather, the oily fragrance of a garage that’s home to a classic car, and the tang of high-octane motorsport fuel. This is about automotive passion and the love of car culture.”

“The idea behind the Proceed Concept is the same idea that’s behind all of our concept cars – it’s to challenge people’s perceptions of KIA and start conversations around what is and what could be,” says Guillaume. “Because that is what KIA’s power to surprise is all about.”

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Mini embraces innovation

Mini has launched its 2018 models with customisable interior features and major technology upgrades, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Mini has never been known as a high-tech car, due to its small form factor being the differentiator. But now the well-known brand has received a long-awaited strategy overhaul, bringing with it a new technology focus. Even the Mini logo underwent a subtle redesign, opting to use negative space to show the gaps in the wings of the logo instead of a raised metal look. This forms part of the new “MINImalism” strategy. 

Mini’s strategy for now and the foreseeable future is to increase automation in its cars.

Connected Drive, pioneered by BMW, allows for an intelligent connection between the car and smartphone. This enables one to check the fuel level, heat the interior and start the onboard navigation, all without having to be near the car, from a smartphone. When one is in the car, calendar events with location data can trigger the onboard navigation to calculate ETAs and time in traffic, offset on real-time data collected through the smartphone’s Internet connection.

We tested it with both the Mini Connected Drive and BMW Connected Drive apps, and both interfaced well with the car. Surprisingly, the BMW Connected Drive app seemed to interface slightly better with the Mini than the Mini Connected Drive app.

While the app is recommended, it’s not required, because the car integrates excellently with Bluetooth-enabled devices. iPhone users are in luck, because the entertainment system includes CarPlay, Apple’s simplified connected car interface software. This allows for music, maps and other CarPlay-enabled apps to be shown directly on the car’s touchscreen ,as they do on the iPhone, save some text-sizing adjustments. 

Pairing the iPhone is as easy as holding down a button on the steering wheel and tapping the car when it appears in the built-in CarPlay menu on the iPhone. No app download is required.

MINImalism runs through the car’s technology. The Mini’s 6.5-inch touch screen control panel shows an image of the car with layman’s terms of what the internal systems are doing, keeping to minimalist design patterns. The new Mini Coopers come standard with a Harman/Kardon 12-speaker setup, which features in the Mini Connected Drive. 

The steering wheel is redesigned, now featuring more buttons to help keep one’s hands on the wheel. The left side of the wheel features cruise control buttons, while volume and call controls are located on the right side. This bears a strong resemblance to the BMW configuration, featuring similarly placed steering controls. 

With all the Mini’s customisations, the company invites consumers to take it further with optional extra.s Mini Yours Customised (yours-customised.mini) is a web platform where one can choose custom side scuttles, custom cockpit facia, customised LED door stills and even a customised door projection light. These parts are either 3D-printed or laser-cut, depending on the material, to the specification outlined on the web app.

As optional extras, one can opt for a wireless charger in the armrest compartment and secondary front USB port for both the driver and front passenger, to charge their phones simultaneously. A SIM card connecting to the 4G/LTE network can be fitted directly into the car, allowing for use of Mini Teleservices and Intelligent Emergency Calling, with automatic vehicle location reporting. The Mini Find Mate is an extra service that uses wireless tags to track items from the car’s onboard system or from the Mini Connected Drive app. This tag can be attached to frequently misplaced items or travel items, like  backpacks, suitcases and briefcases.  

Future Minis are expected to be electric by 2019 in Europe and are expected to arrive in South Africa in mid-2020. This seems realistic, considering that the BMW i3 forms part of the same group. 

Overall, the Mini range has received a subtle yet effective cosmetic and technology overhaul, delivering loads of functionality in a minimalist package.

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Why SA needs connected taxis

Traffic across South Africa continues to be a headache and digital acceleration may just be the answer in mitigating daily congestion, says CLAYTON NAIDOO, General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, Cisco.

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Creating smart cities and digital workplaces means connecting infrastructure and digitizing transport systems, particularly in the taxi industry. Can you imagine what South Africa roads would looks like in 10-years-time, if taxis were connected?

According to Statistics SA’s 2013 Household Survey, taxi operators transport over 15 million commuters daily.  Around 200,000 minibus taxis, across 2 600 taxi ranks, provide the main mode of transport for 50% of SA’s population earning less than R3 000 per month. 

The impact of the taxi industry on the daily lives of South Africans is huge, research by Transaction Capital, a financial services provider in the taxi industry revealed.   An estimated 70% of people who attend educational institutions make use of taxis, 69% of all South African households use taxis in their transport mix, and a staggering 68% of all public transport trips to work are in taxis. Plus, minibus taxis reach remote places other forms of public transport don’t – the average South African lives within a 5-minute walk of a minibus taxi. 

Sadly, the industry is still faced with challenges when it comes to road congestion, accidents and safety, and with drivers often forced by financial needs to work long hours. But a future where taxis can operate efficiently and profitably, while improving safety and providing a more convenient customer and employee experience, is possible. But it requires a digital business transformation. 

Our cities need to start connecting infrastructure and piloting these digital experiences now. Globally, there will be 380 million connected vehicles on the roads by 2020, but that is only half the battle. The first step toward making the frictionless commute a reality is for local governments to begin investing in technology architectures and physical infrastructure to accelerate connected transportation systems and create workplace innovation. 

On the strategic side, transportation officials can begin by identifying best practice. It is best to first pinpoint a problem that is unique to a city or region. For example, a city with notorious traffic congestion might want to start integrating smart sensors on roadways to alert drivers and connected vehicles in real-time of potential hazards, and possibly prevent accidents before they happen.

How would that look in practice? Let’s take the example of Sipho Ngwenya, a fictional character, from Zola in Soweto, one of the 600 000 people employed in the industry. 

He gets up at 4am everyday to get to the taxi rank where he parks his mini bus overnight. Sipho hopes to be one of the first drivers there to ensure he fills his taxi with commuters, who travel to the northern suburbs of Johannesburg for work and school. 

The earlier he starts transporting people, the better chance he has of generating the daily “rental fee” he pays his boss – the owner of the minibus. If Sipho is even 10 minutes late, the queue of people at the rank may have halved. If his taxi is the last one in the queue, it may not fill up, and he may need to drive around the block to find more commuters. The delay means longer hours for him, his conductor-cum-assistant (guardjie) will have to spend more time calculating and collecting fares, and it will increase his costs – he’ll spend more money on fuel.

Fast forward six-months later, when the Joburg metro area would have implemented the Cisco Connected Mass Transit technology solution to connect the taxi industry. Sipho’s alarm goes off at 4am. He grabs his phone and logs onto the Cisco platform before he jumps out of bed: the weather is clear but there’s been an accident overnight on his route to the rank – he’ll have to take a detour. He checks once again just as he leaves home, and sees that he has time to grab breakfast on his way. 

He is the first driver to arrive at the rank that morning – stress-free and ready to start. The rest of the minibuses are stuck behind the accident. He loads commuters and manages to get all of them to their destinations 10 minutes early, by checking the best routes.  Payments are no longer collected in person – there is now an easy mobile payment option that customers love, especially the young ones. And Sipho no longer needs to search for commuters – they stop his minibus on the road because it is marked as a ‘connected minibus’. This is a smart workplace.

These digital solutions are real and available to the SA taxi world. There are some caveats, though: Cisco’s international experience shows that these solutions are best implemented alongside awareness campaigns for commuters and government incentives to drive adoption, as well as ensuring the regulatory environment is conducive. Luckily, technology itself isn’t too much of a problem: the solutions work with existing IT systems local governments have installed.

Imagine South Africa in a decade. Now imagine a South Africa where traffic congestion is a thing of the past. 

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