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KIA unleashes the Ceed

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KIA Motors has unveiled its latest models at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. Taking centre stage, the new KIA Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon make their world debuts, alongside the upgraded Optima range, and new Rio GT Line.

The new KIA Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon

The third-generation Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon are designed, developed, engineered and built in Europe. Available later this year as a five-door hatchback and Sportswagon, the new Ceed model family strengthens KIA’s presence in the European C-segment with innovative new technologies, a mature and athletic design, and a more engaging drive.

Since the first-generation KIA cee’d started production in Slovakia in December 2006, more than 1,28 million units have been built. A new naming format – cee’d becomes Ceed – consolidates its reputation as a car for the Community of Europe, with European Design. More than 640,000 units of the second-generation model have been built since 2012. In its third iteration, the new Ceed will account for an even greater proportion of KIA’s European sales – up from 15% in 2017.

The new Ceed is lower and wider than its predecessor, and boasts a striking, contemporary new design. Standard ‘ice cube’ LED daytime running lights echo the appearance of earlier Ceed GT and GT Line models. In profile, the sharp, straight lines visually lengthen the bonnet and give the car a more upright stance. At the rear, new LED daytime running lights give the Ceed greater visibility – and recognition – on the road. Straight lines in the bodywork and a subtle rear boot spoiler add stability to the Ceed’s overall presence.

The Ceed Sportswagon’s tourer shape ensures cargo capacity grows to 600 litres, more than many D-segment tourers. The Ceed is also among the most practical C-segment hatchbacks, offering 395 litres of cargo space.

The Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon will be powered by a wide choice of powertrains to meet diverse buyer needs. European buyers can choose between three petrol engines. KIA’s popular 1.0-litre T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine, producing 88kW; a new 1.4-litre T-GDi power unit, producing 103kW; or a 74kW 1.4-litre MPi (multi-point injection) engine.

The new Ceed range is also available with KIA’s all-new ‘U3’ diesel engine. Designed to go beyond the stricter limits laid down by the latest Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard, the new ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi (common-rail direct injection) uses Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology to significantly reduce emissions. Available with a choice of power outputs (85 kW and 100kW), the new 1.6-litre diesel produces 280 Nm of torque.

A Drive Mode Select system enables owners to tailor engine and steering characteristics with Normal or Sport modes. Every engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission, while 1.4-litre T-GDi and 1.6-litre CRDi engines are also available with KIA’s seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

The Ceed is available with KIA’s latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) including a new Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system which combats distracted or drowsy driving by monitoring a number of inputs from the vehicle and driver. Other ADAS features include High Beam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision Warning with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.

The new Ceed hatchback will go on sale across Europe at the end of Q2 2018, while Sportswagon models will be available during Q4.

Upgraded Optima: updated interior and exterior design and new powertrains

The upgraded Optima makes its world debut at the Geneva International Motor Show, featuring an updated design and a pair of new engines. More KIA Optima models were sold in Europe in 2017 than in any previous year, with sales growing from 9,600 to 16,800 units – aided by the introduction of new Sportswagon, Plug-in Hybrid and GT variants.

The upgraded Optima sedan and Sportswagon offer two new powertrain options. KIA’s all-new ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine, producing 100kW and 320 Nm of torque, replaces the earlier 1.7-litre CRDi engine. A new 1.6-litre T-GDi engine, producing 132kW, is also available, sitting between the naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre (120kW) engine and the Optima GT’s 2.0-litre T-GDi power unit (180kW). The new engine is paired with KIA’s seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

Exterior design modifications include revised bumper designs, new LED tail-lamps and a revised head- and fog lamp design. The ‘tiger-nose’ grille is now finished in bright chrome to create a more sophisticated, purposeful appearance. The designs of the Optima GT Line and high-performance Optima GT are also updated for greater on-road presence. Upgrades include new LED fog lamps, 18-inch aluminium alloy wheel designs, and subtle gloss black mirror caps, side sills and air intake grille. GT Line models are distinguished by new dual twin exhausts, while the Optima GT is fitted with chrome twin exhaust tips.

The Optima is available with KIA’s latest 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with navigation and KIA Connected Services powered by TomTom®. The system offers Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.

KIA’s latest ADAS are also available, to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions. The new Optima comes with same Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system available in the new Ceed, as well as other safety features including: Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA); High Beam Assist (HBA), and full LED headlamps with Dynamic Bending Light.

The upgraded Optima sedan and Sportswagon will be available in Europe from Q3 2018.

New sport-inspired Rio GT Line

KIA is also exhibiting the Rio GT Line for the first time today – the latest KIA model to be available in GT Line specification. Like other GT Line models in the KIA line-up, the Rio GT Line features a stylish exterior design. Upgrades include a gloss-black and chrome ‘tiger-nose’ grille, a new 17-inch alloy wheel design, and ‘ice cube’ LED fog lamps, echoing those of the cee’d GT and pro_cee’d GT. The exterior is finished with twin exhaust tips, LED daytime running lights, chrome window trim, a gloss black roof spoiler and sill highlights.

The Rio GT Line is powered by KIA’s lightweight 1.0-litre T-GDi engine, with either 74kW or 88kW, and a manual transmission. In Q3 2018, the 88kW 1.0-litre T-GDi engine will be available with a seven-speed double-clutch transmission, while 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrol engines will also be available in GT Line specification.

The optional large 7.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen HMI (human-machine interface) includes navigation, and Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™. A rear-view parking camera, heated steering wheel, and heated seats are also available.

The new Rio is the safest B-segment car KIA has ever made, featuring an Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS)-body construction and six airbags fitted as standard (front, front side, and curtain). With a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating when fitted with optional ADAS technology, the Rio offers Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian recognition. Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) will also be available to buyers from Q3 2018. The Rio GT Line is also available with KIA’s new Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system, designed to combat distracted or drowsy drivers.

With one of the most spacious cabins in its class, the Rio also features a split-level boot floor, enabling owners to change its height to fit items under the floor and prevent them rolling around, or to keep them out of sight. Luggage capacity is 325 litres (VDA).

The new Rio GT Line will be on sale across Europe from the end of Q1 2018.

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Meet Aston Martin F1’s incredible moving data centre

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team faces a great deal more IT challenges than your average enterprise as not many IT teams have to rebuild their data center 21 times each year and get it running it up in a matter of hours. Not many data centers are packed up and transported around the world by air and sea along with 45 tonnes of equipment. Not many IT technicians also have to perform a dual role as pit stop mechanic.

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The trackside garage at an F1 race is a tight working environment and a team of only two IT technicians face pressure from both the factory and trackside staff to get the trackside IT up and running very fast. Yet, despite all these pressures, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing do not have a cloud-led strategy. Instead they have chosen to keep all IT in house.

The reason for this is performance. F1 is arguably the ultimate performance sport. A walk round the team’s factory in Milton Keynes, England, makes it abundantly clear that the whole organization is hell bent on maximizing performance. 700 staff at the factory are all essentially dedicated to the creation of just two cars. The level of detail that is demanded in reaching peak performance is truly mind blowing. For example, one machine with a robotic arm that checks the dimensions of the components built at the factory is able to measure accuracy to a scale 10 times thinner than a human hair.

This quest for maximum performance, however, is hampered at every turn by the stringent rules from the F1 governing body – the FIA. Teams face restrictions on testing and technology usage in order to prevent the sport becoming an arms race. So, for example, pre-season track testing is limited to only 8 days. Furthermore, wind tunnel testing is only allowed with 60% scale models and wind tunnel-usage is balanced with the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, essentially a virtual wind tunnel. Teams that overuse one, lose time with the other.

In order to maximize performance within uniquely difficult logistical and regulatory conditions, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team has had to deploy a very powerful and agile IT estate.

According to Neil Bailey, Head of IT Infrastructure, Enterprise Architecture and Innovation, their legacy trackside infrastructure was “creaking”. Before choosing hyperconverged infrastructure, their “traditional IT had reached its limits”, says Bailey. “When things reach their limits they break, just like a car,” adds Bailey.

The team’s biggest emphasis for switching to HPE’s hyperconverged infrastructure, SimpliVity, was performance. Now, with “the extra performance of SimpliVity, it means it doesn’t get to its limits,” says Bailey. HPE SimpliVity has helped reduce space, has optimized processing power and brought more agility.

One of the first and most important use cases they switched to hyperconverged infrastructure was post-processing trackside data. During a race weekend each car is typically fitted with over 100 sensors providing key data on things like tyre temperature and downforce multiple times per second. Processing this data and acting on the insights is key to driving performance improvements. With their legacy infrastructure, Bailey says they were “losing valuable track time during free practice waiting for data processing to take place.” Since switching to HPE SimpliVity, data processing has dropped from being more than 15 minutes to less than 5 minutes. Overall, the team has seen a 79% performance boost compared to the legacy architecture. This has allowed for real time race strategy analysis and has improved race strategy decision making.

Data insights helps the team stay one step ahead, as race strategy decisions are data driven. For example, real time tyre temperature data helps the team judge tyre wear and make pit stop decisions. Real time access to tyre data helped the team to victory at the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix as the Aston Martin Red Bull cars pitted ahead of the rest of the field and Daniel Ricciardo swept to a memorable victory.

Hyperconverged infrastructure is also well suited to the “hostile” trackside environment, according to Bailey. With hyperconverged infrastructure, only two racks are needed at each race of which SimpliVity only takes up about 20% of the space, thus freeing up key space in very restricted trackside garages. Furthermore, with the team limited to 60 staff at each race, only two of Bailey’s team can travel. The reduction in equipment and closer integration of HPE SimpliVity means engineers can get the trackside data center up and running quickly and allow trackside staff to start work as soon as they arrive.

Since seeing the notable performance gains from using hyperconverged infrastructure for trackside data processing, the team has also transitioned some of the factory’s IT estate over to HPE SimpliVity. This includes: Aerodynamic metrics, ERP system, SQL server, exchange server and the team’s software house, the Team Foundation Server.

As well as seeing huge performance benefits, HPE SimpliVity has significantly impacted the work patterns of Bailey’s team of just ten. According to Bailey, the biggest operational win from hyperconverged infrastructure is “freeing up engineers’ time from focusing on ‘business as usual’ to innovation.” Traditional IT took up too much of the engineers’ time monitoring systems and just keeping things running. Now with HPE SimpliVity, Bailey’s team can “give the business more and quicker” and “be more creative with how they use technology.”

Hyperconverged infrastructure has given Aston Martin Red Bull Racing the speed, scalability and agility they require without any need to turn to the cloud. It allows them to deliver more and more resources to trackside staff in an increasingly responsive manner. However, even with all these performance gains, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has been able to reduce IT costs. So, the users are happy, the finance director is happy and the IT team are happy because their jobs are easier. Hyperconvergence is clearly the right choice for the unique challenges of Formula 1 racing.

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Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

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Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

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