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BMW unveils vision of the cars of the future

By raccars Published

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2016 marks 100 years of BMW. A special concept celebrates the next 100. What can we expect?

The BMW Vision Next 100 was unveiled in Munich, Germany on Monday as BMW's prediction of the cars of the future, designed to respond to the mobility requirements of future populations. It promises autonomous driving technology, all new manufacturing processes and the use of advanced materials including '4D printing'.

Despite all the modern technology, BMW claims that the car will maintain a personal connection with its driver. It can be driver controlled or completely autonomous. When you are driving, a head-up windscreen display will offer driving line guides, steering guides and other essential information such as speed, while in autonomous mode the driver can turn the seat to face passengers and the horizontal bar steering wheel will retract.

Driver and car in sync

Using the 'Companion' programme which involves digital and sensory intelligence gathering, the car can learn your driving habits and provide support as needed while under driver control. The interior looks rather like some kind of lounging pod, short on screens and buttons. It allows the driver to select between autonomous 'Ease' mode, relaxing and comfortable with ambient lighting, and manually controlled 'Boost' mode to maximise driver engagement.

Exterior lighting displays will advise other road users as to which mode is in use at any time. BMW claims that the cabin was its starting point when designing the concept and offers the sort of quality seen in the flagship 7 Series. The firm claims that this will be the level at which it is aiming for all future models.

The space age BMW

The Vision Next 100 has been built using sustainable materials in the cabin but features futuristic elements such as moving organic LEDs and a whole windscreen head-up display. From the outside it's coppery coloured, space age looking and rides on very large wheels. BMW has applied what it calls 'Alive Geometry' to allow the car to literally change its shape by flexing its bodywork while driving. The 'Star Trek' effect is completed by a set of gullwing doors.

Moving away from the current use of steel in car production, the Vision Next 100 is built from plastic and carbon fibre, much of which has been recycled. It's a reasonably familiar, three box silhouette in sleek, coupe style but using the practical four door, four seater layout of a saloon - BMW's favourite approach to design.

BMW is placing great emphasis upon clean and green motoring in its future, with its 'I' electric sub-brand set to become more and more important, so it's easy to spot the influence of the i8 in the Vision Next 100's design. The familiar kidney shaped front grille, L shaped tail light cluster and the classic 'Hofmeister' shape to the C-pillar are all present and correct but BMW's four headlight set-up has been discarded.

In the interests of aerodynamic performance, the wheels are hidden beneath sculpted bodywork which helps the Vision Next 100 to achieve a drag co-efficient of just 0.18. The concept is slightly smaller than the current BMW 5 Series.

The BMW of the future

BMW hasn't revealed what sort of powertrain the Vision Next 100 will utilise, other than to confirm that the car will be emissions free. The focus of the concept for the moment is to demonstrate how humans and cars will interact digitally in the future without sacrificing the driving pleasure on which BMW has built its brand values.

The firm is preparing similarly futuristic concepts from its Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, which are due to be revealed later in the year. A futuristic BMW motorcycle is also under development as part of the brand's centennial celebrations.

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