GREEN ’N GAMBOLLING

Cars are fol­low­ing na­ture’s foot­print by us­ing nat­u­ral ma­te­rial and re­new­able en­ergy. The other trend is au­to­ma­tion— now cars are com­ing out of tight park­ing spots on their own

India Today - - LUXURY SPECIAL -

the big trend in high-end ve­hi­cles, as I had pre­dicted last year, is elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, and the first sprouts of that seed, sown a few years ago, are ready for ev­ery­one to see. Jaguar in­tro­duced the i-Pace this year at a very high-pro­file launch event, and the Audi e-tron as well as the Mercedes-Benz EQC are now ready to hit the road. The third of the BMW i mod­els is also on its way while Tesla con­tin­ues its suc­cess with Model 3. The Chi­nese mar­ket takes the lead in the use of elec­tric ve­hi­cles even as more and more com­pa­nies set in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive tar­gets for elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of their fleets.

The fo­cus now is to get as close to na­ture as pos­si­ble. Whether it is the use of parts that can be re­cy­cled, green en­ergy for pro­duc­tion or nat­u­ral ma­te­rial in the in­te­ri­ors—the trend of go­ing back to na­ture is here to stay. Bent­ley and Rolls-Royce, perched at the peak of the lux­ury pyra­mid, have long used nat­u­ral sur­faces and ma­te­ri­als in their cars. Volvo cars take in­spi­ra­tion from drift­wood for their new trims while Maserati uses silk for door pan­els and other in­lays. Jaguar uses a wool blend fab­ric for its high-end in­te­ri­ors, in case leather steps on the toes of sen­si­bil­i­ties, while Rolls-Royce uses bam­boo. The looks are all sourced from, and in­spired by, na­ture. The power BMW uses to make i cars is fully de­rived from re­new­able sources and it also pro­vides so­lar charg­ing sta­tions for its elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs) and plug-in hy­brid elec­tric ve­hi­cles (PHEVs).

The other trend is au­to­ma­tion. While the ul­ti­mate goal of driver­less cars has been hard to re­alise with the eth­i­cal and le­gal wran­gles and re­quire­ments vary­ing from coun­try to coun­try—and even from state to state in some coun­tries—cars are in­creas­ingly do­ing a lot of things by them­selves. Volvo’s Auto Pilot comes with traf­fic jam as­sist— the driver is free to fin­ish a quick shave or put on a last layer of make-up be­fore that im­por­tant meet­ing—with­out crash­ing. Mercedes cars, in­clud­ing the new C-class, not only keep to lanes but also fol­low the cars in front and can com­plete over­tak­ing ma­noeu­vres on their own.

The new­est car I have driven has, in fact, taken au­to­ma­tion to a new high. The new BMW X5 can re­verse out of a tight or tricky park­ing spots or a dead-end in ex­actly the same way it was driven into, all on its own and for a dis­tance of up to 50 me­tres. This is in ad­di­tion to it driv­ing straight into and back out of a very tight park­ing spot with­out any­one in the car, and only us­ing its key which works like a re­mote con­trol for a toy car. The lug­gage com­part­ment cover can roll up by it­self and stow it­self un­der the boot floor. The boot has steel strips that help to slide suit­cases into the boot; when the car is in mo­tion, rub­ber strips move up to hold the cases in place.

Maybe the next wave of au­to­ma­tion will in­clude the car chang­ing a wheel on its own.

© DAIM­LER AG

The new BMW X5 (above) takes car au­to­ma­tion to the next level. Mercedes-Benz has un­veiled its first all-elec­tric car, the EQC (op­po­site page), while the first all-elec­tric car from a premium car­maker is the Jaguar i-Pace (bot­tom)

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