- ABOUT US _ Drive is an Automotive Design Consultancy building long term relationships with design-driven companies worldwide, designing products that enhance their brand's DNA and position in the market place.
We showed the taxi driver the name of our hotel and he was still none the wiser. Let’s be honest, neither were we.
At this point our bags were being taken from us, “Come with me. He won’t take you he won’t be able to find it, doesn’t have GPS I do, traffic will be light look at my rate card, I will do a deal and charge you 580CNY, see how far it is”.
“Mark, Grab the bags, keep hold of the address and we’ll get it translated over there”. It is easy to forget but something you should always do travelling to China is get the name and address of your destination written in Chinese. Armed with this, we went back to the official taxis. Our ‘saviour’ didn’t look happy but we were on route. As usual it looked busy, chaotic and no quarter was being given by any of the drivers. As we put on our seat belts there was a catch, or rather a lack of one, well the driver didn’t have his on so we should be OK.
Looking around it isn’t quite what you might expect. You will have heard there are many car manufacturers in China, and therefore you may expect the roads to be full of makes you have never heard of, but around Beijing you will recognise most brands with the likes of Ford, Toyota, VW, Audi, and Hyundai filling the motorways. So similar airport journeys in both Great Britain and China!
It is only if you go further from the centre, that the local brands such as Chery or SAIC’s Roewe become more apparent and the further you go the more the balance shifts. This will inform you and help you understand where the wealth is, who is showing off that wealth and their brand awareness for social or business standing.
The taxi driver put his seat belt on, we shared a worried glance that the journey was about to get exciting. Although the horn is weapon number one, and it is a matter of pride to succeed in or prevent someone squeezing into a different lane, there seemed to be no road rage from any of the drivers. With his GPS directing him some 45 minutes later we arrived. We waited with some interest for the usual adding up of the road tolls and meter reading. Total 120, worth the time trying to communicate with the girl at the information desk!
Although a very short visit on this occasion, we did have a day between arriving and our presentation, so we took the opportunity to visit the incredible Great Wall of China and walk along a 4 mile section and back, a great experience.
Then later that day we visited the centre of Beijing to see some of the sites as well as some older parts of town. With a state occasion taking place the level of excitement and security around Tiananmen Square was high, so we made our way to Wangfujing St., walking through the tourist ‘China Town’ with its food outlets displaying live scorpions on skewers and numerous gift stalls with waving porcelain cats. A fantastic day and a nice distraction from the following days design review.
Our presentation went well and we got an opportunity to enjoy a good meal with fellow designers, and exchange views on a number of subjects.
Overall a worthwhile trip and we set off back to the airport as our taxi driver did a good impersonation of Alonso. At drop off, the usual adding up and pointing took place. We handed over the fare, and headed off to check in. As we stood at check in a good 15 minutes after leaving the taxi, I was tapped on the shoulder by our driver. He was placing 10CNY in my hand (£1); he had added up wrong and had spent some time finding us. Refusing to keep it as a tip he put it on our bags, so a shake of the hands and he left. Another insight to this fascinating culture.
China is a very foreign country of extremes, and without visiting difficult to comprehend, but our experiences there are always educational and rewarding.
The Design Museum played host to a fascinating evening where Italy’s famous carrozzerias discussed Italian tradition and creativity in car and industrial design, before a private view of the inspiring Ferrari: Under the Skin Exhibition.
The discussion, extremely well chaired by Richard Charlesworth, felt like you were eavesdropping on a friends’ private evening, with the conversation flowing easily between Fabrizio Guigiaro – Founder GFG Style and Carlo Bonzanigo – Pininfarina Head of Design, as they revealed the beginnings and pedigree of their respective companies, enlightened us on their inspirations, and gave us insight to their particular approaches to design, projects and clients.
Johann Lemercier – Design Manager Centro Stile Ferrari gave intriguing accounts of his experiences having been on both sides of the client / consultancy relationships, as well as clearly outlining the design language approach adopted by Ferrari. Louis de Fabribeckers – Touring Superleggera Head of Design, explained why design houses such as his will always have a place to bring objective and fresh eyes to the in-house design projects of the large manufacturers, whilst new kids on the block Frangivento Italia were keen to explain their ideas to shake up the established order.
Following refreshments and a chance to catch up with colleagues from the industry, there was the opportunity to study the Ferrari exhibition. A history of the man himself Enzo Ferrari, leads on to the comparison of traditional and modern techniques in producing designs, models and production cars.
Ferrari wouldn’t be Ferrari without the motor racing running through its soul, and the exhibition has plenty for a fan like myself to enjoy. Images like the one below capturing a moment in time between Enzo Ferrari and Gilles Villeneuve, the Ferrari 312 engine and crash helmets of heroes providing plenty of conversation topics later that evening at the Italian restaurant over the road!
Special thanks has to go to Paul Torres Mantilla (ITA) who invited us to the event organised by ANFIA – Carrozzieri e Progettisti Group and The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) in collaboration with SMMT and MIA.
The Epsilon Engineers had an extremely successfull trip to the World finals in Abu Dhabi, finishing 5th overall, winning the Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing Trailor challenge and 2nd in the main driving test component of the event. This is an incredible achievement for the team. Congratulations to all involved.
At the recent Niche Vehicle Network Forum, one of the most professional presentations was by Epsilon Engineers: clear and precise with all relevent information presented within the allocated 5 minutes.
Epsilon Engineers is an all female engineering students team of five, year 13 students, based in Milton Keynes. Their aim is to motivate and inspire all girls in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and make their community and school proud.
How they have chosen to do this is by showcasing their passion for design, innovation and engineering in the 2017 Land Rover 4×4 In Schools Technology Challenge. In the UK finals they finished 2nd overall and England Champions, securing them a place in the World Finals at the Yas Marina Grand-Prix Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The Land Rover 4×4 challenge involves team members working together to design and build a radio controlled four-wheel drive (4×4) vehicle to set specifications. The vehicle must be able to successfully negotiate a specially designed test track emulating real life and it must perform as a full scale 4×4 vehicle would do in an off-road situation. Teams also have to show valuable business skills through seeking sponsorships and mentors to support them on their journey.
The Epsilon Engineers, who are determined to break the stereotypes in a male dominated industry, are the only all female team to make the final in Abu Dhabi and they were at the NVN forum to raise awareness and seek financial support.
They impressed and convinced us at Drive to support them, and we wish them every success at the Yas Marina Grand-Prix Circuit 8th – 13th December 2017
If you would like to support Epsilon Engineers follow this link www.epsilonengineers.co.uk
The Niche Vehicle Network (NVN) Forum took place at Silverstone University Technical College over looking the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire.
NVN is an independent association of over 800 niche vehicle manufacturers, specialist technology, design and engineering companies. The event was well attended, over 150 people getting the opportunity to see formal presentations by selected companies on their specific business capabilities and current projects they are working on.
Silverstone UTC proved to be an excellent location for this event, with students on hand to explain about the college with a tour to see the facilities and look at projects they are involved with, such as Formula Student, Europe’s most established educational engineering competition. The conference space on the top floor, with the backdrop of students studying, provided an excellent networking opportunity whilst enjoying the excellent food and refreshments.
Niche vehicle manufacturers including Zenos Cars, Ariel, Caterham, BAC and Delta Motorsport have collaborated with suppliers such as Mahle Powertrain, Emerge Engineering and Surface Transforms to develop technologies and systems.
Last night saw the opening event of the Royal Automobile Club’s London Motor Week.
The Club has been working with the designers of the future at the Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility Programme and have teamed up this year with the RAC Foundation to set the students a project entitled: ‘Inclusion and Empathy – Meeting Special Mobility Needs in the Age of Autonomy’, tasking the students with real life mobility issues in a changing automotive world.
The evening showcased the work of the students and the outcomes they have created to tackle these issues.
The invited guests were able to quiz the designers about their work. Tom Purves, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, was joined by club members, industry experts and leading automotive designers.
With the ‘Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill 2017-19’ currently being debated in Parliament and a Government Policy advisor in attendance, the relevance and importance of the subject matter being discussed is clear.
The Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall is a fantastic building inside and a perfect setting for the event, giving the international students a great insight to the history and traditions of British motoring contrasting with their future creations.
Founded in 1897 with the aim of encouraging the development of motoring in Britain, today the Royal Automobile Club is one of London’s finest private members’ clubs, with its magnificent galleried hall.
For more news on events for London Motor Week