• Real innovators cannot be stopped. Real innovators do not allow promising ideas to gather dust on a shelf. Pieter Gheeraert is such an innovator. The 29-year-old manager at Volvo Trucks convinced the Swedish headquarters to launch a project worth millions in Belgium. Present-day garages keep track of the cars and trucks they service as this

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    Real innovators cannot be stopped. Real innovators do not allow promising ideas to gather dust on a shelf. Pieter Gheeraert is such an innovator. The 29-year-old manager at Volvo Trucks convinced the Swedish headquarters to launch a project worth millions in Belgium.

    Present-day garages keep track of the cars and trucks they service as this data helps with troubleshooting and maintenance. But why not prevent breakdown through real-time monitoring?

    Collecting data worldwide

    If all Volvo trucks transferred real-time data on the truck’s health status and if the data was managed centrally, logistics companies, garages and Volvo Trucks should be in a better position to respond to potential problems.

    This was precisely the idea nurtured by Pieter Gheeraert, Manager Connected Services Support in de Ghent department of Volvo Trucks.

    After completing the Vlerick ‘Take the Lead‘ training, he managed to convince Volvo’s Swedish headquarters to monitor all trucks worldwide in real time from Belgium.

    Central monitoring from Belgium

    The new application monitors the technical data of trucks centrally, we read in De Tijd newspaper. This is used to compile a list of vehicles requiring maintenance which is sent periodically to garages. Belgium-based central monitoring also helps prevent unexpected breakdowns, by warning the driver that there is a strong risk of a breakdown occurring, for instance.

    15 people develop the platform

    Belgian innovator Pieter Gheeraert lobbied for months. “At first I was given the message that I was going far too fast. ‘We’re getting there’, was the answer from Sweden. After I refocused my pitch and digital strategy, I was able to convince Karin Falk, Senior Vice President at Volvo Trucks. “

    “She thought my project was the right way to go. She decided to shift other projects aside and asked me how many millions I needed.”

    Now, Gheeraert has a few millions to invest. With a 15-strong team from Ghent, he will develop a platform that continuously monitors all trucks in real time via GPS or the Internet.

    For truck updates, like AppleBijkomend, they are also testing whether Volvo can update the software remotely in the trucks. “We want to evolve into a system allowing us to press a central button to enable all trucks to download a general update, as you do on your iPhone. We are already testing this and have received the green light from Sweden to fully deploy it,” Gheeraert told De Tijd.

     

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  • The Belgian SoftKinetic technology is built in more and more BMWs. After the BMW 7 Series luxury line, now it’s the turn of the BMW 5 Series cars. The technology allows the driver to control the infotainment system with hand gestures. Brussels based SoftKinetic is the world’s leading provider of 3D vision and gesture recognition

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    The Belgian SoftKinetic technology is built in more and more BMWs. After the BMW 7 Series luxury line, now it’s the turn of the BMW 5 Series cars. The technology allows the driver to control the infotainment system with hand gestures.

    Brussels based SoftKinetic is the world’s leading provider of 3D vision and gesture recognition solutions. It announced that its 3D Time of Flight (ToF) vision technology is built in the 2017 BMW 5 Series cars.

    University spin-off bought by Sony

    The seed of this success story was planted at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). The company was originally a VUB spin-off specialised in hardware and software capable of recognising and analysing movements in 3D. The electronics giant Sony bought the Belgian company in early 2016.

    Hand gesture control

    In automotive, this 3D Time of Flight (ToF) vision technology is used to control the infotainment system with hand gestures. The vehicle uses personal recognition to adjust optimally to the driver and his/her behaviour.

    This video shows you how the technology works.

    “Just the beginning”

    “SoftKinetic is proud to expand our technology partnership with BMW Group to include both the BMW 7 and BMW 5 series cars,” said Eric Krzeslo, CMO of SoftKinetic. “The infotainment gesture control we see in the BMW cars is just the beginning of the innovation we are bringing to the automotive market.”

    “Our technology can improve driver safety through driver assistance and monitoring and 3D vision cameras that ascertain the environment in and out of the vehicle at all times, paving the way towards the fully autonomous vehicle.”

    Safe driving mechanics

    In recent months, automotive manufacturers have been drawn toward 3D gesture recognition capabilities for the driver.
    SoftKinetic’s technology has been used to give drivers the ability to navigate the in-vehicle infotainment system using simple, predetermined gestures that promote ease-of-use and safe driving mechanics.

    Follow this link for the press release: SoftKinetic’s Gesture Control Technology Rolls Out in Additional Car Model.

     

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  • Volvo Car Gent has started producing the Volvo V60 Twin Engine. The Ghent plant is the first Belgian car manufacturer to roll a hybrid car off the production line. Flemish minister Schauvliege sat behind the wheel of this first “Ghent-made” hybrid Volvo. Volvo Car Gent took over the production of the Volvo V60 in the

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    Volvo Car Gent has started producing the Volvo V60 Twin Engine. The Ghent plant is the first Belgian car manufacturer to roll a hybrid car off the production line. Flemish minister Schauvliege sat behind the wheel of this first “Ghent-made” hybrid Volvo.

    Volvo Car Gent took over the production of the Volvo V60 in the spring. The Swedish plant in Gothenburg needed additional capacity for the production of the new models on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform.

    20,000 to 30,000 additional cars

    Since the V60 also has a hybrid variant, Volvo Car Gent is the first Belgian car manufacturer to have a hybrid variant in its range.

    “Volvo Car Gent is taking over the production of the Volvo V60 until the current model is replaced,” says plant manager Eric Van Landeghem. “On an annual basis, we are talking of volumes between 20,000 and 30,000 cars.”

    Experience with hybrids

    “Getting acquainted with the construction of hybrid models, enabled by the arrival of the Volvo V60 Twin Engine in Ghent, is a great asset for us,” adds Van Landegehem. “A hybrid variant is also planned in the XC40 series. By then we will have gained experience in all aspects of the production of hybrid cars and in handling 400-volt batteries. It goes without saying that we have given all our staff thorough training to ensure safety.”

    Two eco-friendly models

    The ‘Twin Engine’ model combines a combustion engine (diesel powered) and an electric motor. The fuel consumption (according to NEDC standards) is 1.8 litres per 100 kilometres. CO2 emissions are limited to 48 grams per kilometre. The car’s action radius in the purely electric mode is approximately 50 kilometres.

    In addition to the Volvo V60 Twin Engine, Volvo Car Gent is also building this model from now on in the CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) variant. It runs on both petrol and natural gas. This model also scores high in eco-friendliness, since CNG is the cleanest fossil fuel: 95% less fine particles, 30% less CO2.

    Click here to read the press release.

     

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  • The problem with a traditional tail lift? It needs to be lowered whenever you want to take something out of the van. The EasyLoader is the solution. Belgian company LMJ Construct is bringing this innovation to our market. Turnhout-based bodybuilder LMJ Construct has just built the first innovative EasyLoader tail lift into a van. The

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    The problem with a traditional tail lift? It needs to be lowered whenever you want to take something out of the van. The EasyLoader is the solution. Belgian company LMJ Construct is bringing this innovation to our market.

    Turnhout-based bodybuilder LMJ Construct has just built the first innovative EasyLoader tail lift into a van. The unusual characteristic of the tail lift is that it retracts under the roof of the van or truck. Because of this configuration, it does not impede the opening of the rear doors.

    “We discovered this innovation in the Netherlands,” Carl Van Gorp, sales manager at LMJ Construct, told Made in Kempen. “We added it to our range at the beginning of 2017.”

    Tail lift under the roof

    The EasyLoader is innovative in that the tail lift is not in the way when not needed. You only need to open the doors if you have small items to load or unload quickly, while the lift is stowed under the roof of the van. It only requires 18 mm of space. Once you open the doors, you can lower it in one push of the button on the remote control.

    With a loading platform of 1.5 x 1.3m, the aluminium tail lift weighs only 150kg. Yet, it is sufficiently stable to load and unload heavy goods. The lifting capacity is 400, 500 and 650 kg.

    Economical and easy to use

    Other advantages of this new tail lift

    • Operational in under 15 seconds
    • Wireless remote control
    • Electromechanical system, minimal maintenance
    • Can be fitted at the back of all major European van makesUse in combination with tow bar
    • Very low power consumption: 80 A with full load
    • Fitting time: 1 working day

    LMJ Construct and VH-Global Trading are the first Belgian companies to integrate the EasyLoader.

    This video shows you the innovative tail lift in action.

     

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  • In most factories, robots and humans work in strictly separate environments. At Audi, robots and people are now working together for the first time ever on the assembly line. “Hand-in-hand” with humans. In Audi’s new PART4you workstation, the pick robot hands a work-piece over to the operator, relieving him or her from the need to

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    In most factories, robots and humans work in strictly separate environments. At Audi, robots and people are now working together for the first time ever on the assembly line. “Hand-in-hand” with humans.

    In Audi’s new PART4you workstation, the pick robot hands a work-piece over to the operator, relieving him or her from the need to reach over and bend down to take the part from the material box.

    Human‑robot cooperation

    Human‑robot cooperation opens up entirely new possibilities: “The factory of the future will feature increasing interaction between man and machine”, says Dr Hubert Waltl, Board of Management Member for Production at AUDI AG. “That allows us to automate routine operations and to optimize ergonomically unfavourable workplaces.” But also in the future, there will be no factory without people. “People will continue to make the decisions on production processes. And our employees will continue to be essential for future-oriented, successful production.”

    In this instance, the robot is an assembly assistant, a co-worker that adapts to the pace of the line operator, and not the other way around, as described at length in the in-depth article “New human-robot cooperation in Audi production processes” published by Audi.

    Already more than 500 robots at Audi Brussels

    Following positive tests in Germany, robots were fitted to the production line at Audi Brussels this year. They will work closely with the staff. “They assist assembly workers, instead of replacing them.”

    For the production of the A1 and S1, more than 500 robots have now been deployed in Brussels. They perform all kinds of tasks. For example, they take care of loading and unloading component containers. They apply joints, clips and adhesive, they weld parts together and carry out checks and monitoring of robot-driven in-line metrology.

    Working safely with a robot

    The fact that, until now, robots and humans were working separately had a lot to do with safety. Insurers especially are worried about the risk of accidents. “Thanks to a soft protective skin with integrated safety sensors, there is no danger with these robots,” explains Head of the Assembly Technology Development department Johann Hegel to the online Belgian publication Ingeneeringnet. “The technology can also receive the required certificates from the employers’ insurance company as a result.”

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  • Platoon tests are also being conducted in Belgium to pave the way for the advent of self-driving cars. The tests allow drivers and automotive companies to learn how the systems can be operated and improved. Insurance brokerage and risk advisory group Aon is one of the first companies to organise a platoon test in Belgium.

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    Platoon tests are also being conducted in Belgium to pave the way for the advent of self-driving cars. The tests allow drivers and automotive companies to learn how the systems can be operated and improved.

    Insurance brokerage and risk advisory group Aon is one of the first companies to organise a platoon test in Belgium. Assisted by the Transportation Research Institute (IMOB, Hasselt University), Carglass, Prodive Training and Royal Haskoning DHV, they are ensuring that self-driving vehicles are one step closer to becoming a reality.

    During the test, the cars drove in a platoon formation over different types of Belgian roads. They were equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Systems (LKS).

    Feeling safe behind the wheel

    Nearly all drivers reported having felt safe and comfortable in traffic, once they had mastered the systems. “Only by being fully acquainted with the system will the driver manage to operate the vehicle properly. Additional driver training is therefore essential,” concludes the report on the National Platoon Test

    Innovative safety systems on trucks and passenger cars such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Systems (LKS) offer demonstrable prospects for improved road safety. The use of smart vehicles will significantly reduce the number of road fatalities.

    Inconspicuous in traffic

    What are the main findings from this test?

    • Driving in a platoon was the most efficient on the motorway sections, with a constant speed limit and without traffic lights, while traffic was not excessively busy.
    • Once the drivers were accustomed to the system, their interventions became less frequent. They knew better what kind of support they could expect from the systems, and in which situations.
    • At the traffic lights on the motorway itinerary (A12), the platoons proved well able to automatically slow down in response to the deceleration of the leading vehicle.
    • Even during acceleration, the platoon formations remained generally intact.
    • The reaction of other road users towards the platoons was not noticeably different from their interaction with regular traffic. The platoons moved quite inconspicuously through traffic.

    Smoother and more sustainable traffic

    The expectation is that these cooperative, highly autonomous vehicles will contribute to safe, smooth, sustainable and pleasant traffic. Further research will indeed show whether these expectations are met.

    Download here the free National Platoon Test brochure (in Dutch).

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  • A transport company may save between 6,000 and 10,000 euros a year per self-driving truck. This study conducted by VIL also raises questions as to the fate of the truck driver, since this profession is about to be dramatically redefined. Self-driving trucks will arrive on European, and therefore Belgian roads by 2020. High time to

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    A transport company may save between 6,000 and 10,000 euros a year per self-driving truck. This study conducted by VIL also raises questions as to the fate of the truck driver, since this profession is about to be dramatically redefined.

    Self-driving trucks will arrive on European, and therefore Belgian roads by 2020. High time to look at the impact on the truck driver profession.

    Today’s driver is passionate about his/her truck, has a certain desire for freedom and has his/her hands on the steering wheel.

    In the future, he or she will no longer have to actualy drive the truck on long stretches of motorway. This will give him or her some free time to do something else.

     

    Administration behind the wheel

    Which value-adding tasks can the truck driver perform in a self-driving truck? Such was the premise of the Value Added Trucking project investigated by Flemish knowledge centre for the logistics sector VIL.

    • Trip-related tasks, such as the administrative processing of the transport order
    • Non trip-related tasks, such as accepting new transport jobs
    • The registration of practical and commercial information about loading and unloading.
    • Following part of the mandatory 35 hours of refresher courses every 5 years (Code 95).

    The practical tests of the VIL showed that the driver can perform these different tasks electronically.

     

    Up to 10,000 euros saved per truck

    If the driver can perform administrative tasks while driving, a transport company with 10 administrative staff members would be able to require one person less. When calculated for each self-driving truck, this would mean a saving of between 6,000 and 10,000 euros.

    And this also assumes that there is greater safety and maybe higher customer satisfaction.

    Naturally, this is based on the condition that the drivers are able to perform these tasks. “The driver of tomorrow is a polyvalent administrative assistant, preferably with the characteristics of an account manager,” VIL writes in an article on Value Added Trucking. “And carriers will therefore have to determine to what extent their drivers are suitably competent with regard to communication, language skills, computer literacy and multimedia use.”

     

    More fatigue for drivers?

    In collaboration with IMOB/UHasselt, VIL also studied the impact of the work in a self-driving truck on the driver’s fatigue.

    • On day one, the drivers in a simulated self-driving truck were not given any tasks.
    • On day two, they were given a limited number of administrative tasks and training.
    • On the third day, each driver was given a full timetable of tasks.

    The tests show that the excessive workload of day 3 caused them stress. Conversely, the low workload of day 1 led to boredom. Both expressed themselves in increased fatigue.

    The right balance between driving, resting, tasks and training induces a lower level of fatigue and contributes to greater safety for the driver and other road users.

     

    The comprehensive survey report can be purchased from the VIL web shop: Value Added Trucking.

     

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  • The future is green and electric… and you’ll find it in Genk. SML is building the electric vans of Kuurne based Addax Motors on the suppliers’ park of the former Ford plant. “The beginning of a great future.” The Belgian SML used to supply Ford Genk, and now builds suspensions for Audi Brussels. SML has

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    The future is green and electric… and you’ll find it in Genk. SML is building the electric vans of Kuurne based Addax Motors on the suppliers’ park of the former Ford plant. “The beginning of a great future.”

    The Belgian SML used to supply Ford Genk, and now builds suspensions for Audi Brussels. SML has shifted up a gear, and recently began making complete vehicles.

    “We don’t limit ourselves to the production of components for cars,” Rhenus SML Manager, Stefan Maussen, told Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper. “In the past, for instance, we made body structures for the Transit. During the Christmas holidays, we launched the production for Addax Motors.

    Production raised from 150 to 300 units

    The production rate will be increased from the middle of next month, even though the vans will not yet be built on the assembly line.

    “A lot of manual work is still involved in the process,” says Maussen. “But we are able to adapt quickly to the growing demand for electric vans.”

    This year, SML expects to produce a volume of 150 Addax MT 10 and 15 vans. In 2018, this could rise to 300 following interest from Sweden, France and the Netherlands.

    Green transport in cities

    The vans don’t make any noise, neither do they release harmful emissions. Consequently, they are ideal vehicles to bring goods from the edge to the centre of cities, as well as for recreational and holiday parks and even for green waste collection.

    The light vans weigh 600 kg and can take a payload of up to 1,000 kg. They have a maximum range of 110 km on a fully charged battery.

    The Addax MT 10 and 15 cost between 25,000 and 30,000 euros.

    Electric mobility partner

    SML has 40 employees. The company had already landed a major contract with Rolls-Royce .

    Addax Motors wants to become an electric mobility partner for companies. The company is convinced that, in the future, mobility in towns and cities will rely on small personalized, electric commercial vehicles. These vehicles will ensure cost and energy efficient, silent and environmentally friendly transport. Addax Motors is also offering a full service solution which includes the technical, financial and administrative aspects.

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  • It’s Belgian, has three wheels, is all electric and produced from recycled materials for the most part. Visitors to the Brussels Motor Show would know that we are talking about the Ecar 333. Now officially for sale. Four years after it was first unveiled at the Brussels Motor Show, the youngest Belgian car manufacturer has

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    It’s Belgian, has three wheels, is all electric and produced from recycled materials for the most part. Visitors to the Brussels Motor Show would know that we are talking about the Ecar 333. Now officially for sale.

    Four years after it was first unveiled at the Brussels Motor Show, the youngest Belgian car manufacturer has already introduced three versions of its electric car: a city (Urban), a luxury model and a pick-up.

    “Our Ecar 333 meets several of the requirements of responsible motorists,” says Ecar company manager, Xavier Van der Stappen. “They want a vehicle that is clean, economical, fun, innovative and has an extensive range. The roadsters are ideal for anyone who is passionate about new technologies.”

    13 Belgian partners

    The concept of the three-wheeler was developed in Belgium. And production will also take place in our country. 13 Belgian partners are involved, including manufacturer of complex parts Addiparts, insurance and leasing company Alliance Bokiau, design and engineering firm Green Propulsion, electrical and lighting specialist Hella, industrial design firm IOL, producer of small vans Addax Motors and producer of chassis and bodywork JD’C Innovation.

    With regard to the range and battery life, Ecar 333 has teamed up with yet another major partner. Ecar incorporates the Lipo cells of the biggest manufacturers and its Belgian partner NLAB has the tools to ensure the production of batteries which are then available to buy or rent from the first year. NLAB ensures the second life of the battery, by providing an energy storage solution for a period of 20 years.

    500 vehicles by 2020

    The roadsters are now available to purchase. The models shown at the Motor Show are also the first three selling models. Ecar plans to sell a total of 50 roadsters in 2017.

    Negotiations are also underway with an industrial partner to launch mass production in 2018. “We are aiming to produce 500 vehicles by 2020.”

    Low cost lease car

    The Ecar is available to buy or lease. Among other prospects, the start-up company is targeting the government which should lead by example by using eco-friendly cars.

    What are Ecar’s selling arguments?

    • The vehicles have a range of 150 to 300 km.
    • Engine power reaches 30 HP.
    • Maximum speed is 130km/h.
    • The retail price for the basic model is 20,000 euros.
    • A Flemish grant is available, lowering the price by 4,000 euros.
    • Because of the lower operating cost, the lease payment over five years is lower than that of a small city car.

     

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  • From 2019, self-driving buses will shuttle passengers and staff within Zaventem airport. Five consortia were recently shortlisted to tender for the contract. The Flemish transport company De Lijn has shortlisted five bus manufacturers for the construction of a transport system involving self-driving shuttle vehicles at Brussels Airport. In about three years’ time, these shuttles will

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    From 2019, self-driving buses will shuttle passengers and staff within Zaventem airport. Five consortia were recently shortlisted to tender for the contract.

    The Flemish transport company De Lijn has shortlisted five bus manufacturers for the construction of a transport system involving self-driving shuttle vehicles at Brussels Airport. In about three years’ time, these shuttles will be able to transport both employees and travellers transport between various key locations within the airport limits. Even though driverless, the vehicles will move under the supervision of a dispatcher.

    Belgian-Dutch VDL Bus & Coach submit tender

    These five companies were provided with the specifications allowing them to submit a tender. The winner of the contract will be selected in late 2017.

    “The self-driving shuttle is cutting-edge technology that captures the imagination,” says Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts. “This pilot project should turn this vision into a reality. I want to harness innovation to further enhance the services offered by De Lijn. This is an investment in the future, in greater efficiency, and in a more enticing offering for our public transport.”

    Shuttles to run in mixed traffic

    The self-driving vehicles will follow a route within Brussels Airport limits. They will connect the bus and train stations at the airport terminal to the business park at the Brucargo Air Freight terminal. The shuttles will be driving in mixed traffic over large sections of their route and thus interacting with all other existing road users.

    Investing heavily in the future

    De Lijn and partner Brussels Airport Company are investing heavily in this innovation.

    “As an intermodal hub where several modes of transportation intersect, Brussels Airport enjoys working on projects that improve mobility in and around the airport,” says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company. “The automatic shuttle has the advantage of being available to thousands of travellers and employees at any hour of the day or night.”

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  • Audi Brussels has won the ‘Trends Business Tour 2016’ environmental award. In the selection process, the car manufacturer beat strong competition from over 50 other contenders, including energy giant EDF, investment cooperative Energiris, and the organic drinks manufacturer Simone a soif. According to the jury, the decisive criterion in choosing the winner was the balanced

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    Audi Brussels has won the ‘Trends Business Tour 2016’ environmental award.

    In the selection process, the car manufacturer beat strong competition from over 50 other contenders, including energy giant EDF, investment cooperative Energiris, and the organic drinks manufacturer Simone a soif.

    According to the jury, the decisive criterion in choosing the winner was the balanced overall approach implemented by Audi Brussels with regard to sustainable development. The plant consistently strives for innovation and sustainability and brillantly manages to harmonise economic activity with environmental protection, explained jury chairman and Trends/Tendances editor Guy Van den Noortgate: “The jury was especially impressed by the sustainability aspect, which runs through the entire Audi concept, something that is not easy to achieve for large companies. They are like those mega-tankers, for which changing course may prove difficult, but Audi was successful in this respect. Audi Brussels has incorporated sustainability in all its daily, practical and operational activities.”

    Patrick Danau, General Director and Spokesman for the Board of Management of Audi Brussels, couldn’t hide his pride during the award ceremony: “This is a well-deserved recognition for the Audi brand. We are proud on this award.”

    Audi attaches great importance to environmental protection, maximum efficiency and respect for natural resources. For example, the company operates a photovoltaic installation with a total area of approximately 37,000 m², which, incidentally, is also the largest photovoltaic installation in the Brussels-Capital Region. Moreover, a heat pump was installed in the new paint pre-treatment plant. The recovered heat is recirculated in the production process, which leads to energy savings and lower CO2 emissions. Audi’s environmental commitment is meeting customer expectations and has responded to changes in society worldwide.

    The first fully electric vehicle in Audi’s history is set to roll off the Brussels plant’s production line from 2018. The company is currently preparing for the production of this new e-SUV. General Director Patrick Danau stressed that all innovations in the plant comply with the highest environmental standards: “The same applies to our understanding of automotive manufacturing: intelligent and sustainable vehicles must come from a similarly set up production site. All production standards must meet this criterion.”

    Audi Brussels is aiming to lower key indicators relating to the environment, such as energy use, water consumption, solvent use, waste and CO2 emissions, by 25% by 2018 compared with 2011. Already today, the company is wholly powered by green energy and is therefore CO2 neutral. Like all the other Audi sites worldwide, the Brussels plant is a forerunner when it comes to taking all the necessary measures to protect the environment, and implements a certified environmental management system to that effect. Recently, Audi Brussels once again obtained the European EMAS certificate. Developed by the EU, EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) is a very efficient voluntary environmental management system for organisations wishing to improve their environmental performance in a proactive and systematic way.

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  • Regulations often have an interesting effect. They trigger innovation as they prompt companies to develop new products. For instance, Lambrecht Trailers, for instance, developed a brand-new trailer for dry bulk cargo to comply with the latest legislation. Compartmentalized bulk trucks compliant with the requirements of the international ADR regulations were not being manufactured in Belgium

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    Regulations often have an interesting effect. They trigger innovation as they prompt companies to develop new products. For instance, Lambrecht Trailers, for instance, developed a brand-new trailer for dry bulk cargo to comply with the latest legislation.

    Compartmentalized bulk trucks compliant with the requirements of the international ADR regulations were not being manufactured in Belgium as yet. The European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road determines how trucks should be equipped.

    Collaboration between R&D and authorities

    Kortemark-based Lambrecht Trailers worked closely with the regulatory authorities in order to build a trailer to the ADR standards.

    “Our R&D department and the authorities met regularly to discuss matters,” says CEO of Lambrecht Trailers, Luc Lambrecht. “The first challenge was to translate the texts into a clear specification. We kept consulting each other as well while the trailer was being built.  The first Belgian ADR trailer is therefore the product of an intensive collaboration between Lambrecht and the competent international authorities.”

    Safer and more robust

    What distinguishes ADR bulk transport from ordinary transport? These are the main differences compared with an ordinary trailer for animal feed:

    • Plate thicknesses may be up to 30% greater, and the frame is a more robust structure.
    • Overroll bars are fitted above the tank as added protection, ensuring that lids and accessories won’t come in contact with the environment should the trailer tip over or be involved in an accident.
    • Valves or other accessories may not protrude from the vehicle’s perimeter protection.
    • Stringent welding procedures are implemented during the building stage, ans various checks are imposed by external inspection bodies.
    • The manhole must be at least 500 mm.
    • Covers must be hermetically sealed.
    • The rear bumper has to be placed further back to ensure that the tank is not impacted should a collision occur.
    • Electric lines must be insulated to prevent the occurrence of sparks.
    • Orange signs and hazard labels must be affixed to each compartment.

    An innovative format

    Francis Verhelst, technical director at Lambrecht Trailers, sees this achievement as proof that an SME is also capable of innovating when it comes to format: “We may not be the biggest, but many customers have hailed us as the most customer-focused and flexible trailer builder. We have worked on countless calculations and drawings, all of which had to be approved by an external technical service. It was a challenge.”

    The first Belgian ADR trailer was built for the carrier International Thuysbaert which specialises in the transport of cattle feed grains.

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  • The European sale of electric cars increased by 20.2% in the third quarter of 2016, compared to the third quarter of 2015. Almost three times more electric cars were sold in Belgium, an increase of 161.7% and the biggest growth of any European country. In total, 35,237 electric cars were sold in Europe this year,

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    The European sale of electric cars increased by 20.2% in the third quarter of 2016, compared to the third quarter of 2015. Almost three times more electric cars were sold in Belgium, an increase of 161.7% and the biggest growth of any European country.

    In total, 35,237 electric cars were sold in Europe this year, 6,000 more than in the same quarter of the previous year. Moreover, the market of alternative fuel vehicles increased by 7% to 137,423 cars sold in the third quarter of 2016.

    An increase of 161.7% for electric cars in Belgium

    Belgium is catching up, as the sale of electric cars increased between the third quarter of 2015 and that of 2016 by a staggering 161.7%, from 812 to 2,125 cars. As well, 171.5% more alternative fuel vehicles were sold. The bonuses granted by the government to Belgians who buy an electric car have clearly had an effect on the purchasing decision of Belgians.

    If consider all alternative fuel vehicles, 4,833 were sold in Belgium, compared to 2,466 during the third quarter of 2015, which is an increase of 96%.

    If you would like to read the full sales figures, read ‘New passenger car registration by alternative fuel type in the European Union’ of the ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. What stands out most is that the major growth in Belgium can be explained in part by relatively small amounts. Countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom and Germany have a higher sale of green cars in absolute figures and for a longer period.

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  • After successfully integrating the fully automatic robot Robomould in 15 plants in other sectors, Belgian AMS is ready to conquer the automotive world. “We aim for a market breakthrough in the use of plastics in auto parts,” says AMS CEO Johan Potargent. Based in Bilzen, Limburg, AMS is programming the software that controls the precise

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    After successfully integrating the fully automatic robot Robomould in 15 plants in other sectors, Belgian AMS is ready to conquer the automotive world. “We aim for a market breakthrough in the use of plastics in auto parts,” says AMS CEO Johan Potargent.

    Based in Bilzen, Limburg, AMS is programming the software that controls the precise operations of the robots on the production lines of the Audi Q6, Volvo V40 and V60, BMW 1, BMW mini, Mercedes Sprinter, etc. Since 2006, AMS is also a specialist in software used in setting up production lines.

    Up to 1.8 million euros in R&D

    AMS now has the world’s first fully automated rotational moulding machine ready for the automotive sector. With Robomould®, AMS is introducing rotational moulding for plastic parts using industrial robots together with electrical heating of the mould.

    In recent years, the company has invested from 1.6 to 1.8 million euros in the machine. More R&D will be undertaken in partnership with car manufacturers.

    “We are currently investigating ways to enable our machine to produce the AdBlue tanks which will soon be compulsory in every diesel vehicle,” says CEO Johan Potargent. “Our next step is to investigate how different parts, both inside and outside parts, can be produced using rotational moulding.”

    Any shape in plastic

    The advantages of this process are a much lower energy consumption combined with a higher production output, quality and flexibility.

    “In a Mercedes truck for example, a tank that is tucked away under the driver seat can be shaped over the wheel and the step behind the truck cab. It is quite difficult to make this very irregular shape from metal. In plastic we can produce any shape once we have a mould.”

    Reduce weight in automotive

    AMS aims to extend the new Robomould® system to cover the production of parts based on carbon fibre technology in order to reduce the weight and increase the strength of automotive parts.

    “There is not much that can be done to engines anymore,” adds Potargent. “Above all, cars should be lighter to lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. With plastics, it is therefore possible to produce parts such as a bonnet and a boot…. which involves the use of our technology.”

    Audi, Porsche, VW, Mercedes and BMW: the key to market breakthrough

    Potargent has actually partnered with French automotive manufacturers to explore ways to make several “outside parts” of a car from plastic.

    With the world premiere of the Robomould at the International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Hall 2, stand 2105, he hopes to attract the German car manufacturers as well.

    “Audi, Porsche, VW, Mercedes and BMW. The Germans are crucial in enabling the market breakthrough of our technology. Now that everything is ready, I want to speed things up to be the first to launch this solution on the market.”

    AMS is planning to sell up to 30 Robomoulds this year. In 2017, 60 units, and an awful lot more once it has successfully penetrated the automotive market.

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  • Another premiere from Belgium: the potting and transfer moulding technology from Ninix. The former spin-off of BC Components will reveal its innovation at the Internationale Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany. The aim of the development of this new packaging technology for automotive sensor modules was to combine the strength of potting technology with the

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    Another premiere from Belgium: the potting and transfer moulding technology from Ninix. The former spin-off of BC Components will reveal its innovation at the Internationale Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany.

    The aim of the development of this new packaging technology for automotive sensor modules was to combine the strength of potting technology with the advantages of transfer moulding technology and to minimize limitations.

    Advantages of case-less design
    The advantages of the Ninix technology are its design flexibility, customized designs, integration of cables and connectors, less conditioning of the models, less bleeding, lower pressure and lower stress on the electronics.

    The case-less design facilitates superior adhesion of the liquid moulding material to the electronics. Resins with a high glass-transition temperature can be adjusted to meet the specific needs and requirements of the application in question.

    Suitable for mass production
    The technology is suitable for both small series and mass production. The resins cure in just a few minutes without requiring post-curing. The tooling and automation of this new packaging technology can be scaled with the required production series.

    Ninix Technologies innovates in Bruges
    Ninix Technologies is a manufacturer and designer of special machines and tools, high speed automated assembly lines, automated quality inspection systems and vision systems.

    In 2001, the company was established as a spin-off of BC Components, drawing from the strong legacy of more than 20 years of components development and automation knowhow established by Philips Electronics Components. Based in Bruges, Ninix doubled its factory floor space in 2012 with a new building.

    Ninix Technologies NV is one of the exhibitors sharing the “Belgian Automotive” joint stand at the International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Hall 2, Booth 2105 from 18 to 20 October 2016.

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  • The goal of the Belgian start-up Mazaro is anything but modest. Mazaro aims to bring to market a transmission that is better than any other transmission. And that’s exactly what it intends to demonstrate at the biennial International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany. Automotive companies have used the term “revolutionary” in their reaction to the

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    The goal of the Belgian start-up Mazaro is anything but modest. Mazaro aims to bring to market a transmission that is better than any other transmission. And that’s exactly what it intends to demonstrate at the biennial International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany.

    Automotive companies have used the term “revolutionary” in their reaction to the Reversible Variable Transmission technology, and the time has finally come for the Destelbergen-based company to present its invention to the world.

    Reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 16 to 26%
    Mazaro’s innovative transmission system reduces fuel consumption and emissions by 16 to 26 percent. And the system is impressively simplified: it only consists of 139 parts and a handful of bolts instead of the usual thousand.

    Other benefits include immediate throttle response (faster than a sports car), smooth ratio changing, low maintenance requirements and silent functioning. The traction wheels transmit power in a continuously variable way in order to avoid the gear shifting that is typical of most conventional transmissions.

    Solution to a common problem
    Mazaro systems are not affected by ‘drill-slip’, a common drawback in all other continuous variable transmission systems, and operate without a clutch, torque converter, piston rings or synchronizers.

    The systems are the first in the world with the capability to keep the engine on a particular curve at all times, be it the curve for the lowest fuel consumption, the lowest emissions of NOx, SOx or CO2 or any other desired combinations.

    Public transport company would save 16 million euro annually
    In 2016 BeAutomotive published an interview of Mazaro CEO Filip De Mazière and his wife and business partner Caroline De Dijcker.

    “In automotive, a 3 to 4% improvement in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions is heralded as a big improvement,” says Filip De Mazière. “We are talking about 20% fuel savings and a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. All the tests on the test rig prove it… but most of the industry has yet to be convinced.”

    Caroline De Dijcker: “With our transmission, for example, the public transport company De Lijn would save 16 million euro annually on its whole bus fleet. Or 7,400 litres of fuel and 20 tonnes of CO2 less per year per bus! Our version fitted with a flywheel even leads to a 56% saving.

    Looking for partners
    Today Mazaro is looking for partners in niche markets, in particular manufacturers of larger vehicles such as buses, tractors, trucks and rubbish trucks.

    “When it comes to purchasing or production, the focus is on fuel consumption and costs,” says Caroline De Dijcker. “And we bring down both.”

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  • As parents, what do you do when your children regularly take your car for a spin? Do you worry? Or do you install safety features to make sure your darlings get home safely? The Belgian company DongleApps opted for the second solution. Paul Janssens, father of two daughters (aged 17 and 19), and Christophe Neyt,

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    As parents, what do you do when your children regularly take your car for a spin? Do you worry? Or do you install safety features to make sure your darlings get home safely? The Belgian company DongleApps opted for the second solution.

    Paul Janssens, father of two daughters (aged 17 and 19), and Christophe Neyt, father of a daughter and a son (14 and 16) decided against lying awake at night worrying about their children each time they were out. Janssens, the engineer with years of technology experience, and Neyt, the marketer with over 20 years of automotive experience, developed the Safety Stick, or RookieDongle for that purpose.

    Insurance company endorses Belgian technology

    The Antwerp insurance broker Kegels & Van Antwerpen is now giving discounts to anyone who allows their driving behaviour to be tracked by the Belgian technology.

    “Young people can reach savings on their premiums of more than 50%. Companies with their own fleet can quickly achieve savings of up to 40% on their insurance budget,” says Patrick Van Dyck, commercial director at Kegels & Van Antwerpen.

    5 minutes to connect a car

    “It is very easy to set up the device (Plug & Play) in the car,” explained DongleApps manager, Christophe Neyt, earlier to Made in Oost-Vlaandereren. “Installation in a vehicle and activating the application on the smartphone takes less than 5 minutes. It is designed so as not to require any technical knowledge.”

    “Of course, the reports are mainly a way to discuss and improve the driving behaviour of a son or daughter. If they truly drive safely, it is logical that they should be offered a lower insurance premium in return.”

    Easy fleet check for companies

    Janssens’ and Neyt’s DongleApps company also developed a solution for enterprises.  The ProDongle is a small device that is plugged into the OBD port of a car or a van. Thanks to the built-in GPS and mobile connection, it is always connected to the cloud. The system records the distance, speed, driving style, fuel consumption, tyre wear, and so on.

    A growing Belgian R&D team

    Ever since it was founded in 2015, the DongleApps team has grown and now includes product designers, IT developers, database experts, security gurus, graphic designers and enthusiastic testers. The company is based in Wortegem-Petegem, close to Oudenaarde.

     

    Kegels & Van Antwerpen NV is an Antwerp-based insurance broker with a turnover of 6.3 million euros, 56 employees and 14,000 customers.

     

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  • What if your operators could never again make mistakes during the production or assembly processes? How much time and money would that save your business? Undoubtedly enough to merit taking a look at the revolutionary solution proposed by the young engineering company Arkite. The ‘virtual guardian angel’ devised by Arkite in Genk helps operators avoid

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    What if your operators could never again make mistakes during the production or assembly processes? How much time and money would that save your business? Undoubtedly enough to merit taking a look at the revolutionary solution proposed by the young engineering company Arkite.

    The ‘virtual guardian angel’ devised by Arkite in Genk helps operators avoid errors. Their solution is a 3D-sensor that is quick and easy to install at any workstation. Dubbed the Human Interface Mate (HIM), without actually doing the work itself this innovation helps operators do their job correctly, for example by ensuring that the right doors have been delivered for assembly and are free of manufacturing defects.

    Avoiding assembly errors

    The first pilot tests suggest that the HIM works well. Tower Automotive, a subsidiary of the Tower International group, is one company that has Arkite’s sensors monitoring its production line. It produces metal structures and components for the automotive industry, including car doors in Ghent.

    Feedback from the first customers and demo installations show that HIMs can be deployed for any assembly work, selection tasks or to ensure that parts are correctly positioned in welding machines, bending machines or for gluing processes.

    6 advantages of a virtual assistant

    “If a worker has to assemble a thousand doors a day, it’s easy for human error to creep in”, Arkite’s managers, Ives De Saeger and Johan Smeyers, told Trends. “Forgetting a bolt or selecting a wrong nut for example. Our system highlights these problems during the actual assembly process, avoiding the need for subsequent corrections. The technology is designed to ascertain in real time whether the correct sequence of steps is being followed during assembly and whether the right components are being used.”

    Simplicity is crucial here, as is clear from the 6 strong arguments highlighted on Arkite’s website:

    1. Operators can concentrate on working to deliver higher value added.
    2. The system is based on a blue box that uses invisible light signals to detect and flag up errors instantaneously.
    3. The software is intuitive and self-explanatory, enabling companies to program their own virtual assistants.
    4. The HIM only issues procedural instructions as and when necessary.
    5. The virtual sensors created eliminate the need to install or wear physical sensors attached to cables.
    6. Gamification encourages operators to optimise the way they work.

    160 Human Interface Mates in 2017

    De Saeger and Smeyers are already planning to market their HIMs in 2016 and are aiming to sell 40 units this year and quadruple that figure in 2017.

    The unit cost of €17,000 euro per workstation can be recouped in between 6 months and a year.

    Arkite currently has 10 employees, 6 of whom are engineers and programmers, and the company is holding talks with investors in a bid to raise capital of €1.5 million.

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  • Belgian company Stokota is currently supplying the Ministry of Defence with the latest aircraft refuellers built on a Volvo chassis as well as five trailers. The Belgian tanker specialist is ready to claim an important position in this growing international market. Imagine receiving as many competitors as visitors at a trade show! That does not

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    Belgian company Stokota is currently supplying the Ministry of Defence with the latest aircraft refuellers built on a Volvo chassis as well as five trailers. The Belgian tanker specialist is ready to claim an important position in this growing international market.

    Imagine receiving as many competitors as visitors at a trade show! That does not mean there were so few visitors to the Stokota booth at the biennial Inter Airport trade show in Munich – just the opposite. But a surpisingly large number of rivals came to the booth and were amazed at the results achieved from years of quiet work done in the background.

    Stokota (based in Lokeren, Belgium) develops and produces tankers, vacuum trucks, aircraft refuellers and trailers, and special vehicles such as moving-floor trailers.

    It is now fully engaged in the market for aircraft refuellers and hydrant dispensers.

    “In contrast with the stable or shrinking market for heating oil, there are rising numbers of flights. Aircraft are all powered by jet fuel”, says CEO Ronald Lefebvre, explaining the decision to move into this market. “This could boost Stokota’s short-term revenues by 33%.”

    Jet fuel for F16 and C130 aircraft

    The Ministry of Defence is its first major customer. In 2013, Defence went looking for 25 aircraft refuellers and five trailers for refuelling the C130, Alpha Jet, F16 and other aircraft and helicopters. Stokota won the €5.6 million contract.

    Their designs are highly integrated technically, technologically and in terms of safety – and they can be produced at competitive prices.

    R&D in Belgium

    Research & Devlopment is also critical to the company’s new Aviation Fuelling Vehicles division in Belgium. Production takes place in Poland. This winning combination ensures superb designs that can be produced cost-effectively.

    “Technologically, we’ve taken a major step forward”, says designer and business unit manager Rein Van Den Eeckhout. “Nearly everything happens automatically, apart from connecting hoses and earthing airplanes and helicopters. Sensors detect problems and issue a warning if something goes wrong or if, say, a vent has not been properly closed. All possible safety systems are built in to it and the operator needs to do as little as possible. It’s user-friengly, ergonomic and safety.”

    Annual growth exceeding 10%

    Every year, Stokota builds 400 to 480 tanks, with increasing levels of automation. Accordingly, in 2014 it made investments in a 36-metre-long robot welding faciliity.

    For each customer the vehicles’ modular construction means that options/features can be modified as required. This enables Stokota to provide customised solutions that are also standardised and affordable.

    Stokota employs 350 people: 45 in Belgium, 25 in France and 280 in Poland. They generated revenues of €35 million in 2015, with growth of more than 10% the last two years. This trend looks set to continue in the years ahead.

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  • The Leuven (Belgium) based research centre imec is working with German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG on a breakthrough technology. Their CMOS-based 79 GHz radar chip helps brings self-driving cars one step closer to reality. Good vision. That’s what cars need more than ever as they are increasingly required to self-assess traffic situations, and will

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    The Leuven (Belgium) based research centre imec is working with German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG on a breakthrough technology. Their CMOS-based 79 GHz radar chip helps brings self-driving cars one step closer to reality.

    Good vision. That’s what cars need more than ever as they are increasingly required to self-assess traffic situations, and will be taking to the road totally driverless in the future. Who supplies those radar “eyes”?

    Raising road safety

    The Leuven-based imec is a world-leading research centre in nano- and microelectronics. The cooperation with the German Infineon Technologies has produced a radar sensor chip which works on a very high frequency.

    Compared to the mainstream 24 GHz band, the 77 GHz and 79 GHz bands enable a finer range, and therefore a better vision when used in vehicles,” says Wim Van Thillo, program director Perceptive Systems for the Internet of Things at imec.

    “With these advantages, we aim to realise radar prototypes with integrated multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas that not only detect large objects, but also pedestrians and bikers. Since even fog, snow and darkness cease to be a problem for radar systems based on 79 GHz radio waves, they thus contribute to our road safety.”

    New radar system by 2017

    Imec and Infineon Technologies are planning to reveal a complete 79 GHz radar system demonstrator for the beginning of 2017. They are expecting functional CMOS sensor chips samples in the third quarter of 2016.

    This radar technology will complement already existing systems. In its press release, imec refers to the current situation.

    Typically, there are up to three radar systems in today’s vehicles equipped with driver assistance functions. In the future, self-driving cars will use up to ten radar systems and ten more sensor systems using cameras or lidar technologie.

    Close collaboration between researchers and manufacturers

    Ralf Bornefeld, vice president & general manager Sense & Control at Infineon is responsible for the cooperation with the Leuven specialists.

    “In the future, we will manufacture radar sensor chips as a single-chip solution in a classic CMOS process, especially for applications liked automated parking. Together, we will continue to set the industry standards in radar technology and quality.”

    For more details on the 79 GHz band range, read the article in imec magazine.

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  • The two new concept cars unveiled by Volvo Cars will take the Swedish make in a bold new direction and mark the official launch of its global small car strategy. The production plant in Ghent will play an important role in this strategy. The newly-revealed 40 series concepts demonstrate for the first time how Volvo

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    The two new concept cars unveiled by Volvo Cars will take the Swedish make in a bold new direction and mark the official launch of its global small car strategy. The production plant in Ghent will play an important role in this strategy.

    The newly-revealed 40 series concepts demonstrate for the first time how Volvo plans to expand into the large and lucrative global market for premium small cars. The range of vehicles developed by the Swedish car manufacturer combine bold exterior and interior design with industry-leading connectivity, electrification and self-drive technologies.

    Here you can watch the first video of the two concept cars 40.1 and 40.2

    The new concept cars will be the first built around Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA).

    “CMA has helped us to capture something special, something youthful in our new concept cars,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design at Volvo Car Group. “They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out amongst the crowd. This is the flavour of small Volvos to come.”

    XC40 production in Ghent

    The first CMA car in Ghent is expected to be a compact-sized crossover called the XC40. Production of this vehicle will kick off in 2018. The 5,300 employees in Ghent already knew for some time that they would be able to build the new 40 series.

    Pure battery electric and plug-in hybrid Volvo

    Volvo’s new global small car range will include a pure battery electric vehicle as well as Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain variants, in line with the company’s commitment to the electrification of its entire portfolio. Volvo plans to have sold a total of up to 1 million electrified cars by 2025 globally.

    “The new 40 series cars have the potential to improve our market penetration in an important growing segment,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive, adding: “An electric powertrain programme including both a new compact Twin Engine plug-in hybrid as well as a pure electric car are central to the CMA architecture.”

    Production starts in 2017

    Volvo’s small car strategy is an essential element in its ongoing global operational and financial transformation. The Swedish company is currently implementing an ambitious revitalisation plan that will reposition the brand to compete with its global premium competitors within the next four years.

    The first new 40 series car is expected to go into production in 2017.

    Global car sales up by 11.9%

    The announcement of Volvo’s new global small car strategy comes on the back of a strong start to the year in terms of sales and profitability.

    The company’s revenues for the first three months of the year rose by 24 per cent year-on-year to SEK 41.7 billion (EUR 4.50 billion), generating an operating profit of SEK 3.1 billion (EUR 334 million) and an operating profit margin of 7.5 per cent. Global sales for the first quarter of 2016 increased by 11.9 per cent to 120,591 cars.

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  • Electric road transport is not the only growing sector; the same can be said about electric waterborne transport. This is demonstrated by the first ferry powered by batteries made in Belgium. Turnhout-based Leclanché supplied the innovative battery bank powering the BB Green ferry. Quiet and environmentally friendly; zero CO2 emissions, and definitely huge fuel savings.

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    Electric road transport is not the only growing sector; the same can be said about electric waterborne transport. This is demonstrated by the first ferry powered by batteries made in Belgium. Turnhout-based Leclanché supplied the innovative battery bank powering the BB Green ferry.

    Quiet and environmentally friendly; zero CO2 emissions, and definitely huge fuel savings. There are great advantages to electric waterborne transport. Especially when the batteries supplying the necessary current are integrated intelligently into the boat.

    “We have developed and built a first battery pack into a ferry,” says Maxime Smets, project manager for the development integration of the battery pack in the European BB Green project. “And the second eFerry on which Leclanché collaborated has recently been launched.”

    Belgian batteries and innovation

    The energy supply for the BB Green is a Belgian project, initially started under Emrol and continued by the team of Leclanché Belgium. The commuter ferry was built as a prototype with European subsidies and has been sailing in Riga since April, and will soon be in Stokholm. She can reach top speeds of up to 55km per hour.

    Several new technologies make the BB Green a unique project. “There is a large cavity under the hull topped by a large lift fan, a technology called ASV or Air Supported Vessel,” explains Maxime Smets. “The pressurized air blown into the cavity creates a ‘cushion of air’ between hull and water, which reduces wetted surface areas underneath the hull, and thus resistance. Since the boat is made entirely of carbon sandwich, weight and resistance are significantly lower.”

    Plain sailing with 200 kWh battery bank

    Leclanché is responsible for one of the top technologies integrated the craft: the rechargeable Lithium Ion Titanate battery (LOT) bank. With this technology, the batteries recharge to 95% capacity in a mere 15 minutes.

    “Perfect timing for when passengers are embarking and disembarking,” adds Smets. “This allows the battery to have capacity for only one crossing, which constitutes huge financial and weight savings in relation to batteries. The battery module is also quite compact: the 200 kWh are produced by only 8m3 of batteries. Were fast charging not possible, the whole boat would be full of batteries.”

    Since the ferry does not have to be docked for long, she can sail almost continuously. “Similarly, our robots can work 24/7 because they are recharged in only 10 minutes,” compares Smets.

    3.78 million litres of diesel saved

    Leclanché predicts a bright future for these vessels. Huge savings can be achieved, with regard to diesel consumption for instance. If this ferry were powered by diesel, over a period of service of 15 years, it would consume no less than 3.78 million litres of diesel, based on 12 trips a day, 350 days a year. A comparable conventional diesel-powered ferry consumes a whopping 6.18 million litres of diesel.

    In comparison, the electricity used to navigate over a period of 15 years will be 15.9 million kWh.

    Keen to develop this future, Leclanché, which has R&D facilities in Belgium, has established a strong partnership with electric ferry propulsion expert Echandia Marine in the context of this project. As well as with SES Europe (http://www.seseu.com), owner of the ASV technology and project leader.

    Other Leclanché companies are also involved in the development of the world’s largest electric ferry. This eFerry will soon be launched.

    For more information, please read the article Leclanché to provide 4.2 MWh Li-ion battery pack to Green Ferry Project electric ferryboat.

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  • Electric trambus to be unveiled during Paris “Transports Publics” trade show (14 June 2016). Member company Van Hool, which manufactures buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, will present Exqui.City, its first fully electric trambus, during “Transports Publics 2016”, the international Paris public transport show. The brand new vehicle is 18.61 metres long, can carry 107 passengers

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    Electric trambus to be unveiled during Paris “Transports Publics” trade show (14 June 2016).

    Member company Van Hool, which manufactures buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, will present Exqui.City, its first fully electric trambus, during “Transports Publics 2016”, the international Paris public transport show. The brand new vehicle is 18.61 metres long, can carry 107 passengers and has a range of 120 km.

    Since the presentation of the basic concept for this vehicle in Dubai in 2011, 109 trambuses with a length of 18 metres (articulated) up to 24 metres (double-articulated) have already been delivered to eight cities, namely Metz (F), Parma (I), Barcelona (E), Geneva (CH), Malmö (S), Bergen (N), Martinique (F) and Luxembourg. A further 50 trambuses are currently being produced at Van Hool’s plant in Koningshooikt for the cities of Linz (A) and Belfast (UK) and the finishing touches are applied to the 2 trambuses for Hamburg (D). The so-called trambuses combine the flexibility of a bus with the efficiency of a tram because they fully or mainly travel on their own track. The new trambuses have a timeless futuristic design and a high level of comfort with air conditioning, a low sound level and soft interior lighting.

    Jan Van Hool, Director of Design & Development at Van Hool nv, is particularly enthusiastic about the technological advances and commercial results of this concept. “The multi-propulsion platform that Van Hool has developed is now really coming into its own. The different types of drive offer the public transport companies concerned ample opportunity to make economically and ecologically sound choices for modern, contemporary public transport. The fact that various cities from various European countries are opting for this solution gives us the confidence that even more applications will follow. ‘High-Tech from Belgium’ is another strong argument for both the concept and the Koningshooikt site. At Transport Publics 2016 in Paris we will undoubtedly make even more commercial contacts.”

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  • How many electric cars are sold every year in Belgium? More or less compared to the year before? Is Tesla the most popular PEV car in Belgium? How do we compare with Germany and France? From now on you can find all relevant information about the electric vehicles market in Europe on a single portal.

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    How many electric cars are sold every year in Belgium? More or less compared to the year before? Is Tesla the most popular PEV car in Belgium? How do we compare with Germany and France?

    From now on you can find all relevant information about the electric vehicles market in Europe on a single portal. The European Association for Electromobility has launched the EAFO portal www.eafo.eu.

    Tesla and Porsche popular in Belgium

    An example? The 5 most popular electric and hybrid cars in Belgium are:

    1. Tesla Model S (18,2%)

    2. Porsche Cayenne PHEV (18,1%)

    3. Volvo XC90 PHEV (10,7%)

    4. BMW i3 Rex (6,1%)

    5. Volkswagen Golf GTE (5,6%)

    Focus on electricity, hydrogen and natural gas

    The EAFO project will be the new reference for information on development and deployment of alternative fuels’ vehicles, infrastructure and incentives as well as related relevant topics in the different EU countries.

    The short-term focus is on battery electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. Natural gas and other alternative fuels will also be covered in a second stage.

    The Observatory will help support the market development of alternative fuels in the EU and be a key tool for the implementation of Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of recharging and refuelling stations.

    VUB scientific partner

    The EAFO was set up at the initiative of the European Commission. The Belgian Vrije Universiteit Brussel VUB and TNO are research and analysis partners.

    The other consortium Partners are AVERE, the European Association for Electromobility as project coordinator and data collection, POLIS – a leading association of cities and Tobania as IT provider.

    The EAFO project team invites all stakeholders to contribute.

    For general information please contact us at info@eafo.eu.

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  • “Truck platooning is applicable, affordable and available.” Such was the conclusion after the major European test. “We created gold. Now let’s make it a business case,” enthused the organisers of the European Truck Platooning Challenge looking ahead to the future. “It’s a great feeling for all of us to look back at the Challenge,” said

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    “Truck platooning is applicable, affordable and available.” Such was the conclusion after the major European test. “We created gold. Now let’s make it a business case,” enthused the organisers of the European Truck Platooning Challenge looking ahead to the future.

    “It’s a great feeling for all of us to look back at the Challenge,” said André van Lammeren (Director Mobility and Infrastructure, Rijkswaterstaat) who coordinates the European Truck Platooning Challenge. “I’m talking about the massive interest in this project shown by governments, industry, road authorities and operators, knowledge institutes and suppliers of logistics services – plus the commitment they showed, as a community, and the way they collected knowledge and experience. But today is about looking forward.”

    Truck Platooning with DAF and Volvo

    Convoys of self-driving trucks were tested on Belgian roads on 6 April. Volvo Trucks and DAF are among the participants in the European Truck Platooning project, which can be viewed on YouTube.

    Each make was driving separately, with two or three trucks following each other in a convoy. In platooning the driver of the first truck determines the speed and movements of the trucks that follow. Wi-Fi, GPS and radar communication systems linking the trucks tell them exactly which movements to make, when they have to brake, and the road condition ahead of them.

    Westerlo-based DAF Trucks rated the test as positive. “Obviously, a lot more continued development is necessary before truck platooning can be introduced on the road as a new technology,” said Ron Borsboom, member of the Board of Management of DAF Trucks and responsible for product development. “Much remains to be settled in terms of legislation, liability and acceptance.”

    European Commission invested 240 million

    The European Commission is playing an important role in the project. Over the past ten years the European Commission has co-financed 35 projects in the field of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Connectivity and Automated Driving. This represents a total of around € 240 million.

    According to Liam Breslin (European Commission), these projects made a substantial contribution to the advance of technology in the area of automated and connected driving. “Truck platooning will be realised sooner than we think,” said an optimistic Breslin.

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