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BMW picks Aussie for design challenge

Just rewards: BMW Urban Driving Experience Challenge phase one winner Anthony Franze (right) with phase two winner Cosmin Mandita (left) and BMW’s Dr Mattias Meyer (middle).

Local designer wins BMW contest with futuristic ‘Reward Me’ car-share system

BMW logo3 Jun 2013


AN AUSTRALIAN industrial designer has traveled to BMW headquarters in Munich to display his contest-winning idea for a premium car-sharing system.

Anthony Franze, from Adelaide, took out top honours for the ‘Urban Driving Experience Challenge,’ a collaborative design contest between the BMW Group and design virtual community, Local Motors.

Local Motors is a crowd-sourcing website that uses a virtual community of 30,000 designers, engineers and enthusiasts from around the world to design and create innovative vehicles.

Mr Franze’s entry, called ‘BMW Reward Me’, is an urban car-share system that is designed to give people of all demographics access to BMW vehicles in the year 2025.

Intriguingly, Reward Me uses a points system to reward the driver when they perform a good deed, whether it be letting another car into traffic, picking someone up who needs a lift or assisting a driver with a broken-down car.

The deeds would be monitored by a series of on-board computers, cameras and sensors and points can be redeemed by moving up to a higher level of membership (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) or cashing them in for things such as frequent flyer points.

Mr Franze said one of his objectives for Reward Me was to ensure the car-share system open to everyone.

 center imageLeft: Anthony Franze at BMW headquarters in Munich.

“That was kind of my main goal to make it accessible to people who couldn’t normally afford it,” he said.

“The thing that BMW were really taken aback by was the fact that the system encourages people doing good. I think they like that idea that it goes beyond sustainability, it’s a sort of new area of thinking of doing good deeds.”

Mr Franze cited what he calls the ‘gamification’ of the younger generation as a key inspiration for the Reward Me system.

This idea suggests that a generation brought up on social media, Google and gaming require instant rewards and gratification, and that by 2025, people’s brains will have been re-wired to seek even more instant rewards.

Mr Franze said that BMW were particularly interested in how this ‘gamification’ will influence the next generation but they were also keen on the more social concept of good deeds reaping rewards for drivers.

Close to 3500 individual concepts were submitted for the contest, with BMW whittling it down to 286 entries that met the criteria before Mr Franze was announced the overall winner in November last year.

When informed of the win late last year, Mr Franze said he was surprised but thrilled that he had done so well in the contest.

“I actually didn’t believe it at first. I had to check the page heaps of times and I showed my wife and asked ‘is that me?’ It felt good winning an international competition for sure.”

The prize for first place was a trip to BMW headquarters in Munich to meet with key research and development staff and further develop the idea as well as a cash prize of $7500 that Mr Franze said went on the trip to Germany and a short visit to Italy.

Mr Franze met with BMW Group managing director of research and technology Dr Christoph Grote, and the three-day trip was chaperoned by BMW innovation manager and strategist Dr Mattias Meyer.

Mr Franze said that he received positive feedback and praise from people at BMW, with Dr Grote saying he was pleased with the idea.

“He was very impressed and it was inspirational to talk to him. He was impressed with Local Motors and what we have done.”

A recent product of the Local Motors community is the Rally Fighter, a crossover beach buggy-type vehicle that requires the purchaser to travel to Local Motors HQ in Arizona to assist in the building of it.

Mr Franze got involved with Local Motors a few years ago and regularly contributes to different design ideas started by members of the community.

“There are a few hundred of us that are always talking through stuff, challenging each other and we are getting better at our skills. We are always doing different kinds of competitions,” he said.

Mr Franze’s day job is a product designer for accessories maker Milford Industries in Adelaide but he also has his own side-project where he pursues other design projects.

A love of all things automotive that started from an early age seems to have informed Mr Franze’s career trajectory.

“I think growing up with formula one in Adelaide and everything I kind of got the bug. My family is into cars so it’s the logical progression.”

Mr Franze won the first stage of the BMW Urban Driving Experience Challenge and said he continues to develop Reward Me with the hope that some of the ideas will end up in future BMW product.

“I have got some more ideas for that. Hopefully in the future I get to talk to Dr Grote again, I think he does want to keep the lines open for communication which is good.”

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