Groundbreaking: the BMW VISION NEXT 100

How the BMW designteam developed the spectacular vision car and how it paved new ways into the future of mobility: the story of how the BMW VISION NEXT 100 evolved.

Hendrik Lakeberg
BMW Group

Trying to imagine how we will live and get around in the future is as challenging as it is abstract and fascinating. How will the underlying social and economic conditions change? And what consequences will these changes have for our mobility? What exciting new possibilities will be opened up by new technologies? What impact will digitisation and the networking of all aspects of our lives have on our automotive requirements? We already know the big questions – but where are the answers?

These have been the eternal quest not only of writers, scientists and futurologists: the BMW Group’s designers have been searching for them too. To mark the company’s anniversary year in 2016, the design team looked further into the future than ever before in order to develop a vehicle that would anticipate and meet the mobility needs of people around 20 years from now.

Out of the principal thoughts in the minds of BMW designers when developing their future concept was this: how do we preserve the close emotional attachment between driver and car?

Looking five to ten years into the future is nothing out of the ordinary for automotive designers. But several decades? Now that is a highly unusual task – and one that most designers in the car industry would welcome with open arms. For suddenly their imagination and creative energy are not bound by laws, regulations or economic constraints: the only limiting factor is the power of the mind.

Not that the BMW VISION NEXT 100 has turned into a spaceship or a fascinating but ultimately unrealistic fantasy. The BMW design team specifically identified trends and technological developments which will be most relevant to BMW in the decades ahead. And for inspiration, of course, they delved into the brand’s innovations and design concepts past and present.

The key factor in all of this is the long proven BMW ability to create future solutions based upon appropriate technology and customer benefits. Here’s an example: it was the creation of the first iDrive system in 2001 and its continuous evolution thereafter that made BMW gesture control possible in the new BMW 7 Series. The astonishing Alive Geometry technology and the BMW Head-Up Display, which spans the entire front windscreen of the BMW VISION NEXT 100, are likewise based on this approach of using revolutionary ideas to strike out in ever new directions. At the same time, these technologies raise the interaction between driver and car to an entirely new level.

The principal thoughts in the minds of BMW designers in developing their future concept were these: how do we preserve the close emotional attachment between driver and car? How can the interaction between the two be made as simple, seamless and intuitive as possible? How do we make the vehicle – with all its digital possibilities and intelligence – even more valuable to its owner? How, given the now almost universally accepted vision of the self-driving vehicle, can a car from the BMW brand avoid being just another gadget or mundane means of transport and remain a genuine BMW in future as well? In short, how do we preserve driving pleasure for the years ahead, put the focus back on the person at the wheel and turn him or her into the Ultimate Driver? Some of these questions are answered by the BMW BMW VISION NEXT 100.

By developing permanent connectivity between the car and the outside world, through the interplay between Ease and Boost modes, the Alive Geometry and the concept of the Ultimate Driver, BMW Design is conducting groundbreaking work for the entire sector. As such, the BMW VISION NEXT 100 is a public laboratory test, a celebration of the design and technology aspects of mobility – indeed, of creativity per se. “First and foremost, the aim of the project was to do something exciting for the brand and create something which inspires us as a team,” says Karim Habib, Head of Design BMW Automobiles. But of course the BMW VISION NEXT 100 is not just a sign for those working in-house: it also showcases ideas that might spark new ones, inspiring not just BMW, but the whole world of mobility.