BMW Celebrates Centenary With ‘Vision Next 100’, Idea Of The Future Of BMW’s Cars

BMW has celebrated its centenary by unveiling its idea of what the future cars of the company would look like with “Vision Next 100.” The new concept car was formally unveiled on Monday, exactly 100 years after the company charter was signed to create BMW.

Packed with plenty of futuristic technology that includes a digital “companion,” the concept car blends sporty coupes with luxury sedan. While celebrating its 100th anniversary, BMW acknowledged the role of artificial intelligence in driving’s future, and hinted that the company was already preparing for that.

“Vision Next 100” shows where the automotive industry will head into future. While the concept shows how the company pictures automobiles way into the future, we can at least expect to see some the components and design elements employed into more immediate product offerings by the company.

“Vision Next 100” is BMW’s boldest statement as of yet of its beliefs that self-driving vehicles free of emissions and environmentally accountable are the only way forward for the automotive industry. As with every other automobile company, these surely hold the keys to BMW’s future. However, the question may be raised as to when.

“If it were up to me—tomorrow,” BMW Chief Executive Harald Krüger told reporters present at the company’s presentation. He further stressed that it was more likely to arrive “in the next 20 to 30 years.”

The most surprising thing we know from the latest concept car is the company’s move away from the typical twin ring headlamp styling. This particular styling is the one that has defined BMW for decades. The future cars will also focus on safety issues and automatic maintenance. So long gone will be the days when one needs jack stand to stay safe under car during repair.

According to Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design, the two-part kidney grille will be there though. However, it won’t serve an air-intake purpose. Instead, the kidney grille will house sensors and radar equipment.

The concept car has two modes. In the mode called “Boost mode,” the driver is in control. However, he will be supported with gadgets like the digital companion, a full-display windshield that warns of hindrances and walkers in the car’s path, along with a 360-degree radar.

But if the driver wants to relax or has to attend to some business such as participating in a video conference, he or she can simply switch to “Ease” mode. In this mode, a robot will take control and the video conference will be exhibited on the windshield. The driver can even rotate the seat to face the other passengers in the car, if any.

BMW along with its rivals—Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG’s Audi—have traditionally dominated the world of premium cars by combining sleek design with horsepower. But now with the dawn of electric vehicles, newcomers such as Tesla Motors and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have already shown that they mean business. So, traditional auto giants like BMW are under pressure to prove that they haven’t lost their mojo yet.

In a statement from BMW, it was stressed that in the near future “most vehicles will probably be completely self-driving—people will get around in robots on wheels.” According to the company executives, the challenge for BMW is to make sure the car ownership still holds the same attraction and pleasure even at the times when car-sharing has been gaining popularity.

“We really believe in individual mobility. As designers our job was to put a face on the future,” Hooydonk told reporters in Munich, while presenting “Vision Next 100.”

The BMW Group is planning to unveil further three concepts later in the year as part of its centennial celebrations. The first will focus on the theme “Every Mini Is My Mini,” and will be Mini Vision Next 100.

The next would be the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100, and this concept will make history as it will mark the first show of a concept car in Rolls-Royce’s 114 year history. Finally, there will be the BMW Motorrad’s Vision Next 100 concept, “The Great Escape.”

All the four concepts will integrate will integrate future mobility with environment and user interface. However, one thing that is undefined is what will power the vehicle. BMW has not yet shown its hand.

Here’s what Krüger had to say, “It will definitely be zero emissions. When you look around the world … there is no alternative to electric mobility.”

While most of the buzz around future cars is surrounding electric vehicles, there are also companies trying to develop models that can operate on water. We have already witnessed the enigma of hydrogen fueled cars and now we can expect to see water fueled cars also in the near future.

“A couple of years ago, if somebody told you it’s possible to have a car fueled through feeding it with saltwater, you probably would have called them a proponent of a conspiracy theory. Just try and visualize that instead of your car spewing out a continuous outflow noxious mixtures of gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, benzene, particulates and hydrocarbons, the exhaust of your car emits only water. It’s now not too hard for us to envision a future where all our motor vehicles are electric, but for us to imagine a future where electric cars are being powered by water; yes, salt water!”, write

[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]