Tilburg arrival

Unfortunately, I arrived a week delayed in Tilburg due to my Malaria. And I find the recovery of fitness is going rather slowly. Of course, this is not a complaint, as this kind of Malaria is still a life threatening disease and it seems no surprise that a full recovery is not done in days but weeks. I am visiting Tilburg University and Lecture in the Master of International Management, as I also did last year. It is a very enjoyable environment with bright students, nice colleagues and good infrastructure. It is an amazing late summer this year, while in the same period of 2015 I was taking pictures of a commencing autumn here. Most of Northern Europe is experiencing record temperatures these days. And of course many people see this with pleasure and concern at the same time. 

I am also looking a bit deeper into the economic development of Tilburg, including the recovery from the time after the decline of the textile and leather industry. One of the newest achievement is that Tesla has opened an assembly plant, in the commercial zone. The city revived after depression with services, logistics, food and beverage production. It is experimenting with "unconditional minimum income" for every citizen, no ties attached. And it turned itself, not into an architectural beauty, but a modern and clean habitat, which in many ways appears like it could serve as a model for others and future cities. This fits into a research topic I am going to deepen in 2017 with some projects.

Tesla at Tilburg. After a great test drive of the Model S (photo snapped by Jeroen Kuilman).

Tesla at Tilburg. After a great test drive of the Model S (photo snapped by Jeroen Kuilman).

Beijing Motor Show

For professional reasons, I cannot write about specific cars on this personal website. And it is of course not easy to talk about the Beijing Motorshow (Auto China Beijing), without talking about cars. But perhaps even more important than the cars themselves, is the enthusiasm of the visitors. And I cannot deny a bit of pride when I saw that people are crazy about our products in China. Referring to the models exposed alongside the technical exhibits, I even heard that “German engineering is more sexy than the girls hanging on the cars in the other halls”. In our hall though, when I looked from the back at the camera displays and what people were “shooting”, they really focused on our cars and not on our hostesses – even though I personally think also there we made the better choices than many of our competitors. To understand the significance of the selection process of hostesses for us, you have to envision that a few months ago, hundreds of models came to interview in the Volkswagen Beijing Office. Waves of perfume were swinging through the smell of gasoline for days. As Volkswagen engineers are gentlemen, technical terms (for cars) like “ground clearance”, “bodystyle”, “notchback” and “bottom line” were thoroughly avoided not to make the ladies feel uncomfortable. Here and there you could notice some of my colleagues choosing a more colorful tie than normal, or combing the hair in the restroom. Quite sweet, isn’t it? - The Beauty and the Beast.

Visitors on the motorshow were crazy about “cool cars”. And what I found interesting as well as encouraging, is that “cool” is not only about speed and power any more. The few ones which had an exceptiontal technical concept or an outstanding design, drew the crowds as much as those who were just showing off horsepower. And in some cases, all that comes together anyways. For that just see the normal suspects. They are all great again. 

Even the display of New Energy Vehicles was not overwhelming, at least most exhibitors had something on that topic. Some Chinese manufacturers even seem to have noticed last minute that they are missing the display of an electric vehicle and quickly cut by hand a hole in the bumper and glued a household electric plug in, to make it look electric. Like this you can even see electric vehicles with a stick shift, which must be a superior invention (again!). I guess nobody ever wants to steal the Intellectual Property for that. This is a way to stay safe. We coined it the "No brain, no pain strategy". Without knowing it, they at least choose a matching background music: “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies …”. But to be fair, this time such extremely incompetent examples were quite rare, and further consolidation of the industry is ahead. So, I am already looking forward to the next Beijing Motor Show in two years. "Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel" (After the game is before the game), as the Germans say in soccer.

Red Flag ( 红旗)

You see them as museum exhibits, but rarely there is a first generation Hongqi, 红旗 (Red Flag) in the streets in China. It has been a Chinese icon and a proud symbol of the People's Republic of China. 

The first generation 红旗 (Red Flag) has been introduced by First Automotive Works (FAW) in 1958 on the basis of a 1955 Crysler. The car was mainly used by Chinese Government Officials. It became famous beyond China by the coverage of President Nixon's visit in 1972, when Chaiman Mao was riding in the convertible. It was powered by a 147 kW V8 engine, and in 1965 a streched three seat row derivate was launched. The car stayed in production until 1981 without major changes. The second generation Hongqi was a licensed re-badged Audi 100. It was streched and supplemented by a smaller 1.8 l Hongqi Mingshi. Production of the second generation ended in 2006 and the third generation, on the basis of a Toyota Crown Majesta, stayed successless as it did not attract private customers. The forth generation Hongqi, called HQE, was used by Premier Hu Jingtao during the parades of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China in 2009. This car was already shown as a concept in 2005 on the Shanghai Motor Show. FAW announced a fith generation Hongqui for 2012, which will be based on the C6 version of the Audi A6.