Groundbreaking: the BMW VISION NEXT 100

How the BMW design team developed their spectacular “Vision Vehicle” 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 intriguing. 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 digitization and the networking of all aspects of our lives have on our automotive needs? We already know the big questions – but where are the answers?

This has been the ongoing quest – not only of writers, scientists and futurologists, but of BMW Group designers, 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 20 years from now.

One of the principal thoughts in the minds of BMW designers, when developing their future concept vehicle, was how to preserve the close emotional attachment between driver and car.

Looking five to 10 years into the future is nothing out of the ordinary for automotive designers. But two or more decades? Now that is a highly unusual task – but one that most designers in the car industry would welcome with open arms. For suddenly, their imagination and creative energy are not bound by existing limitations, 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 some fascinating but ultimately unrealistic fantasy. The BMW design team specifically identified trends and technological developments that 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 this is BMW’s proven 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 windshield of the BMW VISION NEXT 100 – are likewise based on this approach, using revolutionary ideas to explore ever new directions. At the same time, these technologies raise the interaction between driver and car to an entirely new level.

In developing their future concept, the principal thoughts in the minds of BMW designers were: 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, but remain a genuine BMW? In short, how do we preserve driving pleasure in the years ahead, putting the focus back on the person at the wheel and turning them into the Ultimate Driver? Some of these questions are answered by the 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 industry. 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 itself.

“First and foremost, the aim of the project was to do something exciting for the brand and create something that 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.