BMW was incorporated as a business unit in 1916 after the Rapp Motorenwerke was restructured. The company would however wait until 1923 to produce its first motorcycle and 5 years later to produce a car. To celebrate this special fete, the automaker has unveiled a 2016 BMW Vision Next 100 Concept that shows how they see the future of the automobile industry in the next 100 years.
The car is dubbed “the Vision Next 100” and it looks wild to say the least. It is a 4-seat sedan but with two doors. It can be driven autonomously or by a human. Its body features flexible components that shift as it moves. Hundreds of triangles on its body shift to present informational and warning messages.
Such a car may never make it to market but some individual concepts might be used in the near future. I bet many enthusiasts of the “old guard club” will take time to let this sink in given the fact they are yet to take in automatic transmission, direct-injection and electric engines. To be frank, I am also finding it hard to believe a car will have a flexible body…seems like stuff direct from a sci-fi movie; don’t be surprised if James Bond uses it on his next mission.
2016 BMW Vision Next 100 Concept Exterior
The 2016 BMW Vision Next 100 Concept features a wild design different from BMW models as we know them today. It looks like a sporty sedan the size of the 5-Series. It sports a body shell featuring beefy fenders around the wheels. The fenders appear to be made of a flexible material with triangular-looking scales that twist and stretch when the front wheels turn.
The body configuration is different from current models. It features very short overhangs while the windscreen extends to the front hood resulting in a canopy-like cockpit. Except for the signature twin-kidney grille, the blue-and –white roundels and the Hofmeister kick, there are hardly any other BMW features visible. For example, the all-familiar horizontal-shaped headlights have been done away with. New twin and vertical –shaped LED strips take their place. At the rear, the tail lamps feature a 3-D design. However, the deck-lid looks similar to that of the “Bangle Butt” 6-Series coupe.
On the sides, the doors occupy almost the entire side profile. Their hinges are located along the A and C pillars. The door system is similar to the “butterfly door” concept. It allows for easier access to the cabin. Its body exterior panels can also change shape to improve aerodynamics as the vehicle maneuvers. It can also stretch to cover the wheels to achieve a very low coefficient of drag, about 0.18.
Maybe many of its styling cues will be standard styling cues in future but as it is, the model is not likely to make it to production anytime soon, probably in the next 100 years as BMW has envisioned.
2016 BMW Vision Next 100 Concept Interior
The interior looks simpler and less futuristic. The model doesn’t have a center console which results in plenty of legroom all over. The roof is made up of transparent panels which allow sunlight to illuminate the cabin. The triangular scale pattern on the fenders is adopted on the dashboard and on the seats. On the dashboard, BMW says the scales are part of its safety package in that they turn red in color to warn about upcoming hazards.
The vehicle features two driving modes, the Boost mode where the driver is in control and the Ease mode where the vehicle turns into a self-driving car. In Boost mode, the controller like steering wheel emerges from the dashboard where the instrument cluster is supposed to be as the model doesn’t have one. Data is displayed on augmented reality which helps give the driver details on steering points and the ideal driving line. The boost mode focuses on improving the driver’s experience by offering the needed support.
Switching to Ease mode, the steering wheel tucks itself in and the vehicle transforms itself to a self-driving automobile. The headrests turn to the side and the seats and doors emerge to form a single unit allowing the driver and front passenger to face each other for a more engaging conversation. This is aided by a new technology called “Alive Geometry” which features 4D- printed components which can change shape and also interact with the driver.
The luxury automaker hasn’t used a single piece of wood making me wonder whether there won’t be trees in future or whether wood will cease to be used in luxury cars.
Sadly, the automaker seems to have woken up before the specs of its drive-train were revealed. Anyway, it is not unusual for automakers to release concepts without a drive-train.
However it’s a bit awkward though for an automaker famous for delivering some of the most innovative drive-trains. BMW should have taken a risk and come up with an innovative drive-train to back up the design no matter how wild it would have been. However, I bet in future electric drive-trains will be the norm.
Whether the future of the automobile industry will be as BMW has envisioned remains to be seen. Anyway, don’t expect to see such a car anytime soon on the streets. It is even highly likely that you will leave mother earth without having a model close to it having been built.
After Geneva, the German automaker plans to showcase the vehicle at Beijing on May 5th before shipping it to London where it will be displayed on June 16th. The future-looking concepts of Rolls-Royce will also be unveiled at London on that day.
The concept will finally cross the Atlantic and be displayed in the city of Angels (LA) on October 11th. BMW will also unveil their Motorrad Concept in Los Angeles.