One-Millionth Bang & Olufsen Automotive Customer Surprised with Special Rewards

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Acquired by HARMAN in May 2015, Bang & Olufsen Automotive celebrates 10 years in the automotive market and its one-millionth customer. 

STRUER/KARLSBAD – According to Jens Peter Zinck, Vice President and Head of Bang & Olufsen Automotive for HARMAN, the key factors behind the success of the brand in the automotive market over the last 10 years are not a secret. “Bang & Olufsen Automotive started its cooperation with Audi with the launch of its first car audio system in an Audi A8 in 2005. Since then, we have been delivering audio systems with unprecedented sound quality for drivers and passengers. We are proud to celebrate our 10th anniversary in the automotive market – and our one-millionth customer.”

Saying thanks

Audi RS6

Audi RS6

In anticipation of the coming landmark, a surprise awaited the one-millionth customer. In late October, ‎Chairman at BehneMar Middle East LLC and Audi enthusiast, Dr. Rainer Behne, arrived at his Audi dealership in Hamburg, Germany to pick up his new Audi RS6, complete with a special night-blue painting and a Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System capable of pumping out a staggering 1,200 watts through 15 active speakers. While driving home in such an incredible machine would be a red-letter day for anyone, Dr. Behne’s experience was only beginning.

Upon arrival, Dr. Behne was welcomed by Bernd Hartmann, Sales Manager of Audi Zentrum Hamburg Kollaustraße, and Johannes Schüler, Head of Global Marketing for Bang & Olufsen Automotive. They presented him from Bang & Olufsen audio equipment valued up to 15,000 Euros.

Bang & Olufsen acoustic lens

Bang & Olufsen acoustic lens

“Audi aficionados choose the brand for its ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ and Bang & Olufsen is central to this. For me, it was a must to opt for a Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System in my new Audi RS6. In fact, all of the Audis in our company carpool have a Bang & Olufsen sound system on-board. I already knew what the Bang & Olufsen experience was like, but being the one-millionth customer and receiving this incredible prize is truly a wonderful surprise,” said an excited Dr Behne later in the day.  

Falken on the pulse at Tokyo Auto Salon 2016

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Falken Tyre will present its new brand identity at the upcoming Tokyo Auto Salon 2016 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture from Friday 15thJanuary to Sunday 17th January 2016.

The theme of this year’s Falken booth is ‘Experience the PULSE’ with visitors able to feel the PULSE first-hand via bespoke exercise bikes that convert the energy generated when pedalling into exciting video and music playback.

Continuing the theme of energy, other exhibits will include a full-scale model of the Falken-sponsored Red Bull Air Race ‘plane flown by ace pilot Yoshihide Muroya, flanked by the Falken Porsche that competed in the Porsche GT3 CUP Challenge Japan.

Complementing the dramatic vehicle displays will be Falken’s latest line-up of AZENIS, ZIEX, SINCERA and EUROWINTER Series tyres.

HARMAN Continues to Drive Innovation for In-Car Audio with Revolutionary Portable Bluetooth Speaker System at CES 2016

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New connected, personalised, and adaptive car audio solutions demonstrated at the HARMAN Showcase located at the Hard Rock Hotel   

CES 2016, LAS VEGAS January 5, 2016 – HARMAN International Industries (NYSE: HAR), the premier connected technologies company for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, is introducing its latest Car Audio innovations at CES 2016. Drawing from its 60-plus years of experience in acoustic design and signal processing, as well as proven technologies from each of its four divisions, HARMAN is demonstrating its breakthrough solution – the seamless, scalable Infinity Voyager Drive lifestyle audio system. The system leverages next-generation connectivity capabilities, building on the principles of personalisation and adaptability to create unprecedented in-cabin audio experiences for today’s consumers.

HARMAN CES Voyager demo

HARMAN CES Voyager demo

The Infinity Voyager Drive solution is a revolutionary, full-range portable Bluetooth speaker system personalised to fit consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles in and out of their vehicle. Designed specifically with today’s always-connected consumers and music lovers in mind, Voyager Drive is a unique lifestyle audio system that pops into and out of the vehicle dashboard to seamlessly follow consumers from their car, to the house, the beach, campsite, or anywhere else their journey may take them.

A completely new approach to in-vehicle audio, Voyager Drive brings branded car audio to new markets with the first-of-its-kind scalable, versatile audio system designed specifically for entry-segment vehicles. Leapfrogging the constraints of traditional door speaker and head unit architectures, Voyager Drive gives OEMs the ability to offer cost-effective and low-complexity branded audio solutions for this fast-growing segment as well as for emerging markets, making lifestyle audio available to customers that previously have not had access. What’s more, Voyager Drive’s Bluetooth connectivity allows for over the air (OTA) content updates to ensure that the latest entertainment options are always accessible and up to date.

HARMAN CES Voyager home

HARMAN CES Voyager home

“Automakers recognise that premium audio can be an effective way to differentiate their vehicles and appeal to new customers, and they are looking for next-generation features that go beyond traditional sound reproduction,” said John Fitzgerald, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Car Audio for HARMAN. “With our industry-leading technology solutions across a range of categories, HARMAN is uniquely positioned to deliver this level of innovation and experience. We are redefining the concept of automotive audio as adaptive and tailored to each individual in ways never before possible and, for the first time, we are extending these experiences beyond the vehicle to seamlessly connect music to more elements of consumers’ daily lives.”

Voyager Drive is designed to appeal to the fast growing segment of young consumers who demand portability and personalisation without compromising quality. On its own, Voyager Drive provides a best-in-class listening experience to entry segment vehicles through a detachable wireless speaker and six dynamic in-dash speakers. The system can be expanded at any time with the addition of Voyager Drive+, a removable car bass box that functions as a full-range portable audio system in and out of your vehicle.  

In addition, the Voyager Drive lifestyle audio system offers a host of advanced technologies that connect your music to your life and enhance your on-the-go lifestyle in ways never before possible, including:

  • Connectivity capability from HARMAN’s AMX brand that links your music to lighting and other atmospheric elements in your home or vehicle to amplify your experience and reinforce your mood;
  • Wide, immersive, size-defying sound made possible by Dirac Panorama sound stage technology for an improved in-vehicle listening experience;
  • Built-in speakerphone functionality with advanced microphones and SoundClear® echo noise cancellation technology so your calls come through loud, clear and hands-free.  

With its combination of advanced technologies only a company like HARMAN can provide, Voyager Drive truly shifts the traditional car audio paradigm to bring branded lifestyle audio to an entirely new segment of vehicles.

HARMAN at CES 2016
Visit the HARMAN showcase during CES 2016 for demonstrations of the company’s full portfolio of connected car and lifestyle audio systems that enable the connected life. The HARMAN experience showcase is located at the Hard Rock Hotel. Follow HARMAN online during CES 2016:  

HARMAN and Microsoft to Bring Driver Productivity to the Global Automotive Industry

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CES 2016, LAS VEGAS – January 5, 2016 – HARMAN (NYSE: HAR), the premier connected technologies company for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, announced a connected car collaboration with Microsoft Corp. at CES 2016. This project will introduce new mobile productivity services, as well as utilise existing products, services and technologies, including cloud platforms, telematics and driver productivity, to offer better convenience, safety and reliability for drivers and greater operating efficiency for auto manufacturers. Most importantly, the collaboration will integrate key elements of Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite capabilities into HARMAN infotainment systems.

This collaboration is a first for Microsoft in the connected car space and represents a new emphasis on productivity within the car. With access to relevant Office 365 services through intelligent personal assistant software, drivers can complete tasks without compromising safety, including scheduling meetings, hearing and responding to emails, automatically joining conference calls without having to manually input the phone number and passcode, and seamlessly managing events and tasks throughout the day. Drivers will also be able to hold Skype calls and conferences when in park, or on the road with autonomous vehicles. In addition, with HARMAN’s over-the-air (OTA) incremental update capabilities, the most current version of Office 365 will always be accessible to drivers.

“Working with Microsoft is a natural fit for HARMAN as we continue our track record of making the car more sophisticated, productive and intelligent,” said Phil Eyler, president, HARMAN Connected Car. “Drivers want an immersive, and personalised experience in the car. Increasingly, that includes strong demands for richer productivity. This collaboration will bring these functionalities to market with, importantly, great reliability, security and minimal driver distraction.”

“Bringing the power of Office 365 into HARMAN’s connected car systems will provide new productivity solutions and transform the driving experience,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, Microsoft. “By ensuring that Office 365 services are seamlessly integrated with car and driver telematics and performance data, we will allow consumers to be more productive during their driving hours, while enjoying far greater convenience, safety and reliability.”

HARMAN at CES 2016 
Visit the HARMAN showcase during CES 2016 for demonstrations of the company’s full portfolio of connected car and lifestyle audio systems that enable the connected life. The HARMAN experience showcase is located at the Hard Rock Hotel. Follow HARMAN online during CES 2016:

HARMAN Demonstrates First Pupil-Based Driver Monitoring System at CES 2016

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HARMAN’s eye and pupil tracking technology keeps drivers safe by continuously monitoring cognitive load, an industry-first for Advanced Safety

CES 2016, LAS VEGAS – January 5, 2016 – Driving while tired, distracted or over-stimulated may become a thing of the past, thanks to new technology unveiled by HARMAN International Industries, Incorporated (NYSE:HAR), that measures increases in pupil dilation as an indication of a driver’s mental workload. HARMAN’s new proprietary eye and pupil tracking system measures high cognitive load and mental multitasking in the driver’s seat, and signals the car’s other safety systems to adapt to the driver’s state. The technology represents a major step forward in the domain of Advanced Safety and Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) for vehicles.

Adoption of in-cabin cameras is growing rapidly, enabling features such as occupant detection and driver drowsiness monitoring. With the introduction of high cognitive load detection, HARMAN’s eye and pupil tracking technology brings additional value to the driver-facing camera. The technology eliminates the need for complex sensors built into seats and steering wheels, or biometric sensors that require physical contact with the driver. This camera continually captures the driver’s pupil dilation, and a proprietary software algorithm analyses the pupil reflex using advanced filtering and signal processing. The filter isolates and identifies responses triggered by high cognitive load. The calculated outputs are used to intuitively adjust user interfaces, like placing mobile devices in do-not-disturb mode or adjusting ADAS system intervention thresholds to minimize physical and mental distraction to the driver.

“Safety on the road is more important than ever as more vehicles become connected. HARMAN is advancing the state of the art for solutions that balance drivers’ desire to stay connected in the car without a compromise to their safety and security,” said Alon Atsmon, vice president of technology strategy at HARMAN. “Our priority is to arm OEMs with a holistic range of integrated technologies that address both driver wants and needs, and the HARMAN eye and pupil tracking technology is another advanced step toward a more intelligent driving experience.”

HARMAN at CES 2016
Visit the HARMAN showcase during CES 2016 for demonstrations of the company’s full portfolio of connected car and lifestyle audio systems that enable the connected life. The HARMAN experience showcase is located at the Hard Rock Hotel. Follow HARMAN online during CES 2016:  

Strakka Racing previews Bahrain FIA WEC finale

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Strakka Racing looks to end its season on a high, when the FIA World Endurance Championship heads to Bahrain this weekend for the final race of the year.

After 60 hours of racing in seven countries, spanning three continents, Strakka Racing heads to Bahrain this week, aiming to end the tougher than expected season on a high at a venue where it has previously tasted victory.

In 2012, it scored its last class in the World Endurance Championship at the 5.4km Sakhir circuit, winning the LMP1 Privateer class and finishing third overall in the process.

“We all really enjoy driving at Sakhir, especially after our dramatic podium back in 2012,” says Danny Watts. “As a track it really flows and we have the unique challenge of mastering the changing nature of the circuit as the weekend unfolds. It doesn’t get used that often, so when we all arrive the surface has a lot of dirt and sand on it, which means it gets quicker and quicker as each session passes.”

After 60 hours of racing in seven countries, Strakka Racing heads to Bahrain.

After 60 hours of racing in seven countries, Strakka Racing heads to Bahrain.

Despite a desert location, Strakka Racing doesn’t expect temperatures to exceed those witnessed in Texas and with the open-topped Gibson, driver heat management is less critical at Sakhir. “The Gibson’s open cockpit means we get good airflow and it’s a drier heat in Bahrain. We’ve just returned from a Strakka Performance session and are in excellent shape for the weekend.”

Action at the circuit runs from the 19th to the 21st of November with the race starting at 3pm local time, running into the darkness on Saturday. The Bahrain International Circuit – which opened in 2004 – has been on the WEC calendar since its inaugural season back in 2012, and is the chosen venue for the series’ finale for the third time.

Strakka Racing Danny Watts

“We all really enjoy driving at Sakhir, especially after our dramatic podium back in 2012,” says Danny Watts.

Together with the race, Strakka Racing is also taking part in the Bahrain WEC Rookie Test the following Sunday, testing two young drivers in its Gibson. 2010 McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Lewis Williamson, and Strakka’s Formula Renault 3.5 driver Tio Ellinas, will share the car during the five hours of track time throughout the day.

Opening ceremony held at Sumitomo Rubber’s new factory in Turkey

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Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. (SRI), the parent company of Falken Tyre, held an official opening ceremony for the group’s first tyre factory in Cankiri, Turkey, named Sumitomo Rubber AKO Lastik Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S. (SAT).

Official ribbon cutting ceremony

Held on 14 October 2015, SRI’s President Ikuji Ikeda and SAT’s President Norifumi Fujimoto were joined at the ceremony by an audience of around 1,200 locals, along with distinguished guests that included Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ambassador Yutaka Yokoi of the Japanese Embassy to Turkey, Director-General Arda Ermut of the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey, Governor Vahdettin Ozcan of Cankiri Province, Chairman Mustafa Ozcan of SRI’s joint-venture partner in Turkey, and many others.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, President Erdogan pledged that Turkey would “spare no effort in supporting our Japanese friends” and expressed his hope that the two countries “would grow and develop side-by-side”. Meanwhile, SRI’s President Ikeda spoke of his desire to “contribute to the economic development of the nation of Turkey, while preserving and cultivating shared historical bonds”.

Speech by Turkey's President Erdogan

Director-General Ermut, who has played a vital role in launching and coordinating the development, added: “This project is a great source of pride to us and to all of Turkey.”

Against a backdrop of steady economic growth in Turkey, there is growing demand for automobile tyres in the market, while it also benefits geographically from links to Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Russia. With the fully-fledged operation of the new factory in Turkey, Sumitomo Rubber Group will enhance its supply network for Turkey and nearby markets as it looks to further grow and develop its global tyre business.

Strakka Racing aims to ‘takeaway’ points at Shanghai

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With just 12 hours of racing left in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season, Strakka Racing hopes that by building on its pace from Fuji, the team can claim a top-five spot in the points standings at Shanghai.

Long straights and technical medium-speed sections highlight the 5.4km circuit at Jiading, a venue opened in 2004 at which Strakka Racing has only raced once before – finishing sixth overall in the inaugural WEC season back in 2012.

The points situation in the LMP2 Teams’ Championship is extremely tight with just two rounds remaining. A strong points haul at Shanghai could see eighth-placed Strakka Racing climb as high as fourth in the class with just 11 points separating it and fourth in the standings.

“We’re improving every time we go out with the Gibson,” says driver Jonny Kane. “I think a good result here will give us a lot to fight for when we head to the series’ finale at Bahrain. The whole team is motivated to finish above ESM, Sard and Alpine in the standings and it would be a massive achievement for us to do that after the year we’ve had.”


One of the newer Hermann Tilke tracks that’s proved to be popular with drivers, the Shanghai International Circuit has hosted the Chinese round of the World Endurance Championship in each of its first four seasons. Its unique layout inspired by the Chinese character Shang (上), the first character in the name of the city Shanghai – has nonetheless proved very tough to master.

“It’s a really tricky track to set up a car for,” adds team principal Dan Walmsley. “The first corner is so tough on the drivers and requires a lot of downforce to get round quickly. Then there’s the lengthy back-straight into its famous hairpin. It’s a prime overtaking spot, but if the drivers misjudge the braking point, it can completely ruin their lap.”

The WEC race weekend at the circuit runs from the 30th of October to the 1st of November, with the race starting at 11am local time on Sunday.

Double honours for Autofarm at Total 911 Awards


Autofarm named ‘Best independent Porsche specialist for servicing’ and ‘Best 911 restoration specialist’ at the Total 911 Awards 2015

BICESTER – Independent Porsche specialist Autofarm was presented with two awards for excellence and outstanding work in the Porsche industry at the inaugural Total 911 Awards on 22nd October 2015.

Having been shortlisted for two categories in the open public vote, Autofarm was up against stiff competition from the industry. A specialist panel of judges deliberated the shortlisted entries, announcing Autofarm as ‘Best independent Porsche specialist for servicing’ and ‘Best 911 restoration specialist’ at a gala ceremony held by Total 911 magazine at Hexagon Modern Classics in London last night.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have received this recognition,” says Autofarm’s co-owner Mikey Wastie. “Having taken over the business earlier this year, we’ve seen the team continue its tireless work to deliver the craftsmanship associated with the Porsche brand. We’re so pleased to have been recognised within the industry for the efforts invested and the quality delivered, not only by the judges but – more importantly – by the public and Porsche community that voted for us.

“It’s an absolute pleasure for us to go to work, meeting and dealing with such pleasant customers that are as enthusiastic about Porsche as we are. A huge thank you goes to them for their continued support and for their votes in these awards. And an enormous thank you also goes to all the team at the Autofarm workshop near Bicester: it’s their dedication that makes the business the success that it is,” adds Wastie. 

Strakka Racing to run Lewis Williamson at FIA WEC Rookie Test

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Scot Lewis Williamson is set to drive Strakka Racing’s Gibson 015S at the official FIA WEC Rookie Test next month in Bahrain. Williamson, a former McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner is also a key part of Strakka Performance, the team’s driver development programme is looking forward to his first proper sports car test. “I have proper opportunity to show sports car teams what I can do at this test,” says Williamson. “After not racing last year, I want to prove where I am performance-wise. The Gibson 015S has more downforce than I’ve been used to but I have some sim sessions planned to make the most of the test. Sports car racing is where I want to be. Thanks to Strakka Racing I have a chance to show what I can do!”

“Lewis has demonstrated real maturity and has been a true asset for Strakka Performance in the last year,” adds team principal Dan Walmsley. “Inside and outside the car and through the support he provides to all the drivers on our development programmes, he has shown true professionalism and it’s great that Strakka is able to give him his first proper sports car test.”

Strakka Racing is planning to announce next week another driver to share duties during the Rookie test.