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Chinese artist Cao Fei’s BMW Art Car #18 revs for Macau as Volvo ships premium S90s to Belgium

Marque unveils artist’s M6 GT3 concept as Daimler, BAIC extend new-energy vehicle cooperation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 3:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 10:55pm

Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei, 39, is the youngest and first Chinese artist to create a BMW Art Car. BMW’s 19 Art Car artists since (a BMW 3.0 CSL in) 1975 have included Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Jeff Koons and John Baldessari. Cao’s work, BMW Art Car #18, was unveiled at Beijing’s Minsheng Art Museum on May 31, and “addresses the future of mobility”, and “is a reflection on the speed of change in China, on tradition and future”, the artist says. The artist uses an M6 GT3, BMW Motorsport’s top customer racing model since 2016. Packed with a with 585hp, 4.4-litre V8 this under-1,300kg racer can top at about 280km/h via a six-speed sequential racing transmission, and it is expected to be raced in the November 17 to November 19 FIA GT World Cup round at the Macau Grand Prix. The car will also be displayed this month at Art Basel in Basel.

Volvo sent Daqing-built S90 saloons by rail to Zeebrugge, Belgium, last week, and became the first marque to export China-made cars to Europe under the “Belt and Road Initiative”. The cars were due to arrive in the Belgian port on May 31, in the same week as Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to the kingdom. Volvo has made high-end, export versions of its S90 premium saloon in Daqing since November. The rail link cuts the factory’s transport time “by two-thirds compared with the [sea] route”, and “the CO2 emissions per tonne-kilometre are reduced by a third”, the marque adds. The weekly Volvo-dedicated Daqing-Zeebrugge trains carry about 120 cars in special containers that hold three cars at different, space-saving angles.The Volvo train frequency is expected to increase “with growing volumes”.

Li also witnessed Daimler and its Chinese partner BAIC Group sign a framework agreement on “further strengthening their strategic collaboration through investments for new-energy vehicles in China”. The two-part agreement reveals Daimler first “intends to acquire a minority share in Beijing Electric Vehicle, a subsidiary of BAIC, with the purpose of strengthening strategic collaboration with BAIC in the [new-energy vehicle] sector”. Second, investment “will also be placed in the upgrade of the current production facilities at their joint venture, Beijing Benz Automotive, paving the way for the introduction of new-energy vehicle production”, the group says. Established in 2005, Beijing Benz makes C-Class, E-Class, GLA and GLC, as well as Mercedes-Benz four- and six-cylinder engines. Beijing Electric Vehicle was established in 2009 by BAIC and other shareholders, and now makes more than 10 electric vehicles in its EC, EH, EU, EV and EX series. German industry title Produktion in March named Beijing Benz’s plant its “Factory of the Year”.

Local Lamborghini dealer Kingsway Cars says it has delivered the first Centenario Coupe in Asia “to its lucky owner in Hong Kong”, but cannot say how much “this highly exclusive masterpiece” cost. However, Car and Driver in March 2016 reported the coupe’s pre-tax US price was “a tick over US$1.9 million” and its Hong Kong price could be significantly greater. The 770hp V12 has four-wheel-drive and is one of 20 coupes and 20 roadsters built to commemorate the centenary of marque founder Ferruccio Lamborghini’s birth. Highly prized in the local Lambo community, the 1,520kg supercar tonnes in 2.8 seconds and reaches 300km/h in 23.5 seconds. It also tops at “over 350km/h” on 20- and 21-inch Pirelli P Zero tyres – and brakes to a halt from 100km/h in 30m.

Volkswagen Hong Kong’s latest Golfs have new wheels and bumpers; more chrome up front, and a “more charismatic rear”, the marque says. Other updates include light emitting diode lights as standard, and more advanced animated indicator blinkers in the GTI, R and e-Golf models. The new cars also have larger touch screens and infotainment systems updates. The Hong Kong Golf range consists of six models, beginning with the 1.4-litre, 125ps Match (from HK$209,980); the 150ps GT Sport (from HK$269,980); and the similarly powered GT Sport Dynamic Pack (from HK$289,980). The new 245ps GTI (HK$419,980) seems as seductive as its predecessors, promising 100km/h in 6.2 seconds via a new two-litre turbocharged and direct-injected TSI engine and a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. It also consumes 6.3l/100km, and still looks a must-have in the expanse of mainland China and Europe. However, the GT Sport might be better value in congested Hong Kong. The GT Sport takes 8.2 seconds to the tonne and consumes about 5l/100km, but costs much less to run in mounting local traffic. The top-of-the-range 310ps Golf R (HK$529,980) tonnes in a supercar-like 4.6 seconds, and might be worth a look for quick, anonymous flits over the border – or keeping in Europe. The new e-Golf has 20Nm more torque, at 290Nm, and an impressive 300km battery range – a 110km increase on the previous version. The plug-in also does 100km/h in 9.6 seconds, 0.8 of a second faster than its predecessor, but its Hong Kong price is still unknown and might be expensive after the city’s government raised electric vehicle taxes on April Fools’ Day.