BMW Group launches new accident support service

BMW Group has introduced a new support service for BMW and Mini drivers in the aftermath of an accident.

Available free of charge to all BMW and Mini drivers of any age vehicle from today, the service gives drivers assistance and guidance after an accident, right the way through to vehicle recovery, repair and onward travel.

Selected BMW models fitted with the correct on-board software will also be able to recognise when an accident has occurred but when the airbags haven't been deployed. In this situation the driver will receive a notification via their car's central infotainment system, allowing them to start a conversation with the accident support service.

However, drivers of older vehicles without the in-car software will be able to get in touch with accident support via a 24/7 telephone number.

Motorists will be provided with a link to submit pictures of the vehicle's damage and if the car can't be driven, accident support will then organise the recovery of the vehicle to a local BMW or Mini bodyshop and provide onwards transport for the driver.

For non-fault incidents, the accident support team can begin an insurance claim on behalf of the driver.

An online portal will allow drivers to book their vehicle repair in at a convenient time at a BMW Approved body shop close to them. They'll even be able to track the status of the repair and the progression of the insurance claim.

The whole service is being run by BMW in partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Mini Vision Urbanaut concept showcases firm's future direction

Mini has given a glimpse at the future of its vehicles with this - the Vision Urbanaut.

Designed to offer maximum interior space, the concept has been created as a vision of how cars could be used in scenarios above and beyond just driving.

It's based around three Mini 'moments'. The first, 'Chill', turns the car into a 'retreat' according to Mini, where users will be able to relax or work with full concentration. 'Wanderlust', in contrast, will see the driver utilise the automated functions of the car or take the wheel themselves.

Finally, 'Vibe' opens the car to its maximum amount to better allow people to spend time with one another.

Powered by an electric - though unspecified - powertrain, the Urbanaut also utilises sustainable materials throughout its design. When the car is at a standstill, the dashboard can be lowered and turned into a daybed while the windscreen can be opened upwards to create what Mini calls a 'street balcony'.

The central section of the car has been designed to be open plan, offering quick access to all of the major seating areas, while Mini's famous circular instrument is placed on the table in the centre of the car.

A Mini 'Token', meanwhile, is what users will access all of the car's major functions through and is where they'll activate the three preconfigured 'moments', too. Users can also specify their desired fragrance as well as the level of ambient lighting and even the music.

Outside, the Urbanaut showcases an evolution of the traditional Mini lights and grille, while the dynamic matrix headlights and rear lights reflect the different setting that the car is in. The wheels - dubbed 'skateboard wheels' by Mini - are transparent and illuminated from the inside, varying their appearance depending on which 'moment' the car is in.

The vehicle is also accessed via a smart device rather than a traditional key and can be accessed via a pre-defined circle of friends and family.

There are no plans as yet to put the Urbanaut into production, with Mini using the striking concept as a showcase of its future plans instead.

New Kuga Hybrid continues Ford's electrification plans

Ford has bolstered its electrified offering by introducing a new standard hybrid version of its Kuga SUV.

Sitting alongside the regular Kuga and plug-in hybrid model, this latest version combines a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with an electric motor and 1.1kWh battery, resulting in a 600-mile range according to Ford.

The batteries are topped up by either the engine or the energy generated when coasting or braking. The stored energy can then be used to boost performance, support the engine in order to better efficiency levels or to allow the Kuga to drive on electric power for short periods.

Ford claims that the Kuga Hybrid will return 48.7mpg while emitting 130g/km of CO2. Performance is more than brisk enough for most with 0-60mph taking just under nine seconds.

Thanks to a liquid cooling system the batteries don't need a cooling fan, which helps to reduce the overall size of the battery pack. This, in turns, means the Kuga Hybrid can still offer up to 1,481 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

The Kuga Hybrid is available in ST Line Edition, ST Line X Edition and Vignale specifications, giving drivers a wide range of options when it comes to trim levels.

Inside, the Kuga boasts an eight-inch infotainment system running Ford's latest SYNC 3 software, while all cars get a wireless phone charging pad and a premium B&O sound system.

Prices for the Ford Kuga Hybrid start from £33,600.