BMW's Vision Next 100 is Pure Fancy

The designers over at BMW must have had their heads up in the clouds. The German automotive group has come up with the most fantastical...

The designers over at BMW must have had their heads up in the clouds. The German automotive group has come up with the most fantastical, futuristic and wonderfully fanciful series of concept cars under the “Vision Next 100” concept, which is the group’s vision of car evolution in the century to come.

Last week’s debutants in London were a Rolls Royce and a Mini, following the BMW revealed in the Geneva Motor Show last March. They were all brilliantly imaginative, but nowhere near feasible (yet). 

The Rolls Royce Vision Next 100 dispensed with much of what cars today still need, like driving controls. Even the way we open car doors are passé – with the Rolls Royce Vision Next 100, you won’t even need to lift a hand to open the door or bend to get in or out; the roof opens along with the door and occupants simply stand up and walk out.

Inside the car, a computer-generated assistant appears in a transparent display. She’s Eleanor, the virtual embodiment of the Spirit of Ecstasy lady, the hood ornament found on every Rolls Royce car. Eleanor had an original – Eleanor Thornton, on whom the Spirit of Ecstasy was modelled. While Thornton was a model, actress and secretary (then mistress) to Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, the virtual version that exists in the Vision Next 100 is not unlike iOS’ Siri - she will take you where you want to go and learn your preferences over time, even suggesting restaurants and places to go (okay, so maybe she is sort of like a secretary).


Meanwhile, while you are being whisked to your destination, you can sit back on silk upholstery and rest your feet on hand-twisted silk carpeting. The car will be propelled by a “zero-emissions powertrain”, which comes with no further detail than that – we’re guessing that the Walter Mitties at BMW have not dreamt that part up yet. But they do expect flexible manufacturing technologies to allow clients to create any shape or size of car they wish – cars will no longer be produced from moulds but will each have a unique design and style. Future car designs will be limitless, though not necessarily road-worthy, we think.

The Mini Vision Next 100 is much smaller than the Minis of today (didn't know that that was possible). It is closer in size to the classic Mini Coopers, but since there will be no accidents in the future and cars won’t need crush zones anymore, the windshield rises directly from the nose.

There’s a steering wheel but it moves out of the way when in self-driving mode or the driver can slide it over to the passenger. Now, that’s actually a feature we wouldn't mind having – to be able to hand over controls when you are tired or in any situation that requires the passenger to take over; although, drivers would have to be accustomed to both left- and right-hand drive, and we speak from experience that it does take a lot of getting used to.

The Mini concept is suppose to predict features from the future but it did bring one back from the past – the bench seat that hasn’t been seen in cars for decades. The exterior of the car is encased in a silver material that can project any colour or pattern.

Of course, all of these might as well be the work of science fiction – much of these features are merely theoretical. But that’s not to say that it is impossible. If we’ve learnt anything from sci-fictions of the past - from the PADD in Star Trek to the hoverboard in Back to the Future - it’s that the future has its beginnings in the flights of fancy today.


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