The Next 100.
To celebrate our centenary and to look forward to the next century, BMW has designed and developed three Vision Vehicles. They embody the BMW Group’s answers to the questions surrounding the future of mobility: one for BMW, one for MINI and one for Rolls Royce. The BMW VISION NEXT 100 gives you a glimpse into what “Sheer Driving Pleasure” may look like in the future.
Adrian van Hooydonk, the Senior Vice President of the BMW Group Design, says: “If, as a designer, you are able to imagine something, there’s a good chance it could one day become reality. So our objective with the BMW VISION NEXT 100 was to develop a future scenario that people would engage with. Technology is going to make significant advances, opening up fantastic new possibilities that will allow us to offer the driver even more assistance for an even more intense driving experience. My personal view is that technology should be as intuitive as possible, so that future interactions between humans, machines and surroundings become seamless. The BMW VISION NEXT 100 shows how we intend to shape the future.”
– ADRIAN VAN HOOYDONK
The greatest trend in the automotive industry at the moment is autonomous driving: self-driving cars. In the not-too-distant future, most vehicles will probably be completely self-driving – people will get around in robots on wheels. Cars may be shared in share schemes, working more like automated Uber services.
In imagining the future, however, BMW’s designers had to consider that a genuine BMW is always driver-focused. The emotional connection between a BMW and its driver is something they want to retain. The BMW VISION NEXT 100 remains a genuine BMW, offering an intense experience of Sheer Driving Pleasure. The main objective of developing the BMW VISION NEXT 100 was to create not an anonymous vehicle, but one that is highly personalised and fully geared to meet the driver’s every need.
– ADRIAN VAN HOOYDONK
So the BMW VISION NEXT 100 will keep the driver as its primary focus. In fact, the BMW VISION NEXT 100 will go a step further and turn the driver into the Ultimate Driver, with constant connectivity, digital intelligence and state-of-the-art technologies available for support.
With this in mind, the starting point for the BMW VISION NEXT 100 was the interior instead of the exterior. It was designed in a way that gives you the sense that you are sitting in a vehicle that was specifically designed for you, instead of making you feel that you are merely in a vehicle that drives itself.
There are two main modes of operation: Boost mode – where you are in control of the vehicle – and Ease mode – in which you can sit back and let the vehicle take over. In Ease mode, the vehicle becomes a place of retreat with plenty of space, agreeable lighting and a comfortable atmosphere. The steering wheel and centre console retract and the headrests move to one side to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. The seats and door panels merge to form a single unit, allowing you to sit at a slight angle. This means you are in a more relaxed position for easier communication.
In Boost mode, the entire vehicle focuses on you, offering intelligent support to maximise your driving experience. The seat and steering wheel change position and the centre console moves to become more strongly oriented towards you.
The notion of permanent connectivity and digital intelligence designed to support you is concentrated on a concept called the Companion, symbolised by a large polished gemstone centrally positioned on the instrument panel beneath the front windscreen. The Companion mentalises the intelligence, connectivity and helpfulness of the vehicle, which progressively learns to offer the right kind of support to transform you into the Ultimate Driver.
At the moment, the digital world is strongly linked to displays: screens and touchscreens. They will be replaced by more intuitive forms of human-machine communication and interaction. The Vision Vehicle features an innovation known as Alive Geometry, the likes of which has never been seen in a car before. It consists of a three-dimensional sculpture that works both inside and outside the vehicle.
Almost 800 moving triangles inside the cabin are set into the instrument panel and into certain areas of the side panels. In much the same way as a flock of birds in controlled flight, their coordinated movements act as signals, more like gestures than two-dimensional depictions on a display that are easily comprehensible to those inside the car.
In Boost, while you are concentrating on the road, Alive Geometry highlights the ideal driving line or possible turning point and warns you of oncoming vehicles. Intuitive feedback like this has a more physical and immediate impact than a robotic voice or instructions on a screen. In fact, the Vision Vehicle suggests there will at some point be no more displays at all. Instead, the entire windscreen will serve as a giant display directly in front of the driver.
The exterior of the BMW VISION NEXT 100 retains the instantly recognisable athletic silhouette of a BMW saloon, of course. Its copper colour underscores the idea that BMW vehicles of the future should appear technical, yet still have a warmth about them. The large wheels are positioned at the outer edges of the body, giving the vehicle a dynamic stance.
When it comes to aerodynamics, exterior Alive Geometry contributes to an outstanding effect: when the wheels swivel as the vehicle is steered, the bodywork keeps them covered as if it were a flexible skin, accommodating their various positions. The innovative design of the BMW VISION NEXT 100 gives it an extremely low drag coefficient of 0.18.
Questions of power and resources will be integrated into the design. The future heralds emission-free energy and this will affect the appearance of the Vision Vehicle. As BMW Chief Designer Karim Habib says: “Since our assumption was that air intakes in the radiator grille of the future would no longer carry out their original function, we transformed the kidney grille – as well as the traditional BMW twin headlamps and L-shaped taillights – into communication instruments. The kidney grille and lights use colour to signal whether the car is in Ease or Boost mode. This not only enhances the overall appearance, but will also be a great help to pedestrians and cyclists: as a means of communication, the lights indicate whether the car is currently in fully automated mode and has identified the other road user or whether it is being controlled by the driver.”
The designers of the BMW VISION NEXT 100 primarily used fabrics made from recycled or renewable materials. The visible and non-visible carbon components, such as the side panels, are made from residues from normal carbon fibre production. To save resources and support more sustainable manufacturing, less use will be made of wood and leather.
In the future, the choice of materials will become even more important throughout the design and production process. New materials will also be added into the mix. At some point, presses that punch out steel parts may well become obsolete. Technologies such as rapid manufacturing and 4D printing will produce not only components or objects, but intelligent, networked materials, and could soon replace conventional tools to open up unimagined possibilities in design and engineering.
As Habib says: “We will be increasingly tasked with integrating these materials into our designs. As a consequence of this, the shape of vehicles will change – it will have to change. What’s important in my view, however, is that good BMW design must continue to be authentic in the future. If we ignore new materials and the possibilities they bring, that would not be authentic.”
The BMW VISION NEXT 100 opens the door to the future of mobility. No matter what that looks like as we create the future, BMW intends to keep “Sheer Driving Pleasure” at its core. A BMW is about looking to the next bend in the road, feeling the power of the engine and enjoying the sense of speed. It’s about the sensory experience, the adrenaline rush and that intimate moment at which a journey begins.