BMWs Rad New Vision

By Douglas Black   October 13, 2016

The BMW Group unveiled its vision of the future this week, and it looks fun.  Following its launch of the Rolls Royce Vision Next 100 and Mini Vision Next 100, the iconic nameplate define the start of their second century delivering automotive excellence and style.

In a world where self-driving vehicles will be gliding riders along with subdued deliberate efficiency, the futurists at BMW Group envision an escape.  Described by Head of Design Edgar Heinrich as a “Great Escape” from the mundane world, the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is a concept motorcycle programed for an age of the symbiotic rider-machine experience with Steve McQueen style.


Futuristic ideas include a self-balancing mechanism that will keep the bike upright but allow for angles and banking suited to the riders skill.  Special rider’s gear include a Visor that gives heads-up display with information like speed, directions, and connectivity directed by eye movement.



The machine comes with a companion suit that provides thermal support and structural support for the centrifugal pressures of performance riding, and the zero-emissions powertrain emulates a boxer-style engine.  Turning the handlebars to steer the bike bends the frame rather than just the front wheel. The amount of force required for the rider to create a turn is adjusted according to the Motorrad Vision’s speed – the higher the speed, the more force that is required to make a turn, preventing over-steer and corrections.


The BMW Motorrad design team sees a future world in which digital elements are more common than are analog. In that respect, most aspects of human life are about virtual control and allowing robotic machines to do the mundane tasks of everyday living. In that world, a motorcycle that allows the rider to be in control would become a Great Escape.

The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is on display in Los Angeles at the Iconic Impulses: BMW Group Future Experience exhibition until the 16th of October.


bmw-cycle-selfieThe author awkwardly aboard a BMW bike at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show.

Douglas Black writes from a room high above the streets of Chicago.  He is also a photographer, historian, amateur astrophysicist, and collector of snake oils (some of which he sells).


Apple And McLaren

mclaren12c50anniversary-0 September 21, 2016  by Douglas Black

It has been widely reported today that Apple is in talks to acquire McLaren.  If this pans out, the F1 and luxury sports car brand could get a big boost.

According to the Financial Times, this acquisition could cost between $1.3 billion and $2 billion.

It has been no secret that Apple has had its eyes on the auto biz for some time.  going so far as a $1 billion investment in the automotive giant Didi Chuxeng, and rumors of an Apple venture into the autonomous vehicle foray.   Picking up McLaren could be a way to hire many engineers who know how to make cars, engines, chassis and more.

Imagine using your iPhone to send your car for groceries and to pick up the kids at school.

Time will tell how this shakes out.


DouglasBlack at CAS2015 1 Douglas Black has been blogging energy efficiency in the built and mobile environments since launching in 1999.

Next POTUS Rides The Beast 2.0 – Whoever It Is

POTUS Limo on test track
POTUS Limo on test track

by Douglas Black  August 11, 2016

The presidential limousine is always a big deal.  Woodrow Wilson was partial to Pierce-Arrows and FDR enjoyed a cigar in the Sunshine Special.  JFK thru Jimmy Carter cruised the Lincoln X-100, suicide doors and all.  Obama has a Cadillac referred to as ‘The Beast,’ will be altered for the next President of the United States. My friends at the website managed to capture photos of the vehicle testing.

According to Joel Patel of Autoblog, “The Beast 2.0 will follow closely behind the current presidential limousine that’s built upon a rugged commercial truck with a sedan-like body.”   Instead of utilizing components from the now-retired Cadillac STS, the new presidential limo borrows parts from the new Escalade.  Still bomb-proof, the prototype sports LED headlights for better gas mileage (what??), has a more angular grille that features Cadillac’s wreathless crest (branding is crucial).


There’s no word on whether the Beast 2.0 will be ready in time for zipping to and from Inaugural Balls in January, but the stealthy photographers reported that GM recently stepped up its testing for the limousine at its Milford Proving Grounds.


DouglasBlack at CAS2015 1 Douglas Black is a writer and photographer in Chicago.


by Douglas Black    May 2, 2016

King Power

Gone is the winter of discontent for Leicester City, champions at long last.  The Premier Football League proverbial basement dwellers, who were considered so unlikely to even stay in the league a year ago that 5000-1 was the wager, yes that Leicester City, are finally champions.

Devine intervention? Perhaps.  Or perhaps we must dig deeper.

The much maligned Chieftain of the House of York, King Richard III, who Shakespeare villainized and called ‘undone’, who history has so despised that his resting place was unrecognized for five centuries, has been the curse of the club.

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen as Richard III

Recently the old bent King was found, his bones discovered under a parking lot, dumped unceremoniously in an ancient toilet pit.  Oh, the game was indeed afoot.  Certainly Richard had likewise inflicted such disrespect upon the team, season after season.

But Richard III has now been given his horse, interred with full honors among his peers, and the King smiles upon the land.  The curse has been lifted.

Yes, it has indeed been made glorious summer by this Son of Leicester.


Douglas Black is a writer, photographer and historian living in Chicago.  Also and astrophysics enthusiast.

DouglasBlack at CAS2015 1

Trucks Surge, Crossovers Debut

February 21, 2016  by Douglas Black

It was quite predictable.  As the great recession ebbs vehicle sales are up.  And America hit the powerball number as well with gas prices half of what they were two years ago, pushing sport utility and pickup truck sales to record numbers.

Tacoma TRD Pro
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Debut

The heavy hitters like GM, Ford, Dodge RAM, and Toyota were showing their big guns this week at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show.  Toyota’s debut reveal was the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro pickup, while Ford released the new 2017 Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package, expanding its Explorer line up to six models, which also includes the Explorer Base, XLT, Limited, Sport and Platinum Edition.

2017 Ford Escape
2017 Ford Escape

2017-Ford-Escape-4 Ford made this announcement, along with unveiling the 2017 Ford Escape sport utility vehicle during the Media Breakfast where keynote speaker Mark LaNeve, Ford’s Vice President, U.S. Marketing, SaFord Escape1les and Service said Crossover SUVs are the fastest growing segment in overall sales, and expected to grow over five years.

According to LaNeve, the millennial generation, specifically active lifestyle young adults ages 25-35 years old, are opening their wallets to crossover utility vehicles, contrary to the notion that they are less interested in car ownership than previous generations.

2017 Kia Niro
2017 Kia Niro

2017-Kia-Niro-4 2017-Kia-Niro-6Other producers are taking notice as well.  KIA is expanding their product line with the all-new 2017 Kia Niro hybrid subcompact crossover vehicle, or as Kia describes it, a hybrid utility vehicle. Designed at Kia’s design centers in Calif., the Niro features high-tech safety features including blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, advanced smart cruise control, lane departure warning and lane change assist, making this a perfect vehicle for young families with active lifestyles.

Cars You Want, Leading Edge and Bleeding Edge. And Other Automotive Stuff I Want To Talk About. ……. …From enerficiency On The Road, Douglas Black

%d bloggers like this: