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BMW moves into the future with Vision iNext

Autonomous, all-electric BMW Vision iNext concept to morph into 2021 production car

BMW logo17 Sep 2018

BMW has provided the best look yet at its first autonomous, fully connected, zero-emissions production model with the debut over the weekend of its ultra-high-tech Vision iNext concept.
 
The production version is confirmed to be produced at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany from 2021 and will be the company’s technological flagship.
 
The car-maker says the Vision iNext provides answers to the question: “What does a vehicle look like which no longer needs to be driven by a person but can be if desired?”
 
BMW will use some of the technology from the production iNext in its next-generation i vehicles. This falls under the company’s plan to launch 25 models with electrified powertrains by 2025 – including 12 pure electric powertrains.
 
BMW Group Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said the company was "very interested" in the production version of the Vision iNext, and suggested that it could come to market shortly after its European rollout.
 
However, it is unclear if regulations relating to autonomous driving, as well as relevant infrastructure, will be in place by the time it arrives in Australia.
 
BMW AG board member responsible for development Klaus Fröhlich said the human-centric Vision iNext would help improve people’s lives.
 
“Personal mobility is set to experience significant change,” he said. “The possibilities opened up by autonomous driving and ever-expanding connectivity enable a whole new range of experiences and ways of shaping a journey. 
 
“With this in mind, we have designed the all-electric BMW Vision iNext as a mobile environment that enhances quality of life, a new ‘Favourite Space’ in which we can be ourselves and relax. Indeed, all of BMW’s endeavours will continue to revolve around people – and their needs and desires when it comes to mobility – in the future.”
 
BMW has not revealed any details about the concept’s all-electric powertrain, but international reports have said that BMW has developed its own battery cells which will be used in all upcoming electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
 
The Vision iNext has an SUV body style and is approximately the same size as an X5.
 
Some elements of the bold design are inspired by the i Vision Dynamics concept from last year’s Frankfurt motor show, including the huge double kidney grille, super slim-line headlights, blue accents and the side window detailing.
 
BMW Group senior vice-president of design Adrian van Hooydonk added: “BMW i exists to generate creative, pioneering ideas which transform the way we think about mobility. 
 
“The BMW Vision iNext marks another next big step on that journey of transformation, showing how more intelligent vehicles can make our lives easier and more beautiful,” he said.
 
Given the concept’s all-electric powertrain, the grille is blanked out and instead is used as an “intelligence panel” that houses some of the vehicle’s sensors.
 
It also has massive 24-inch aerodynamic wheels, a long wheelbase and short overhangs, pillarless suicide doors, cameras replacing traditional exterior rearview mirrors and touch-sensitive illuminated graphics instead of regular door handles. 
 
Inside, occupants can choose from Boost or Ease modes. The former allows people to drive the car themselves, while in Ease mode the steering wheel retracts slightly, giving the driver and passengers “a space in which to engage in a wide range of activities”, similar to a living space on wheels, according to BMW.
 
In Ease mode, the display switches from driving related information to an Exploration Mode that gives occupants suggestions of events and places close to them that they may be interested in.
 
Apart from the displays in the driver’s area, BMW says there are no other screens or controls in the cabin, with the “intelligent technology” kept out of sight. 
 
The company envisages that in the future, it might be possible to operate some functions through surfaces made out of cloth or wood. It also predicts that screens may no longer be needed, with projection used on surfaces instead.
 
An Intelligent Beam system can project information and media, and it can also function as a reading light.
 
Via the Intelligent Personal Assistant, occupants can talk to the vehicle by saying “Hey BMW”, with BMW Connected linking with smart devices and home networks to perform tasks via voice command, such as closing a window in their house.
 
The iNext features interactive materials in the interior that light up when an occupant touches it. In some instances, swiping the seat could control another function in the car.
 
The concept will likely be on display at next month’s Paris motor show.

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