When Blade Runner was released way back in 1982, the Ridley Scott directorial gave us a gritty yet futuristic take on how 2019 would be like. The Los Angeles of the “future” had bizarre architecture, sexy androids and flying cars. We are in 2017 and there aren’t any flying cars to be seen up in the sky, not at least on a “commercially produced and sold” level. The topic isn’t flying cars though. The news at hand has got more to do with how manufacturers see their cars in the future. Fortunately (or unfortunately) those folks are more grounded than visionary film makers when it comes to thinking of their future portfolio. And with many of the concepts for the future still coming with wheels, we will probably be driving or be driven around in cars which are firmly grounded on terra firma.
Sci-fi cinephile thoughts aside, we have a new bunch of futuristic cars to ogle at this month, thanks to a certain German car maker with a propeller logo. When BMW decided to celebrate their 100 years of existence, they thought of taking three of their brands – BMW, Rolls Royce and Mini – and creating 3 unique concepts which will give the world a taste of what to expect from these marques in the next 100 years. The common focus shared by all three cars is autonomous driving. However, each concept is a reflection of what each brand stands for – performance, mobility and luxury.
BMW Vision Next 100
It looks like a futuristic adaptation of the i8, though we’d like to call it “M1 of the future”. A cross between a sedan and a coupe, the BMW Vision Next 100 has a reptilian quality in its looks and that owes a lot to the unusual texture on the panels. The wheels are wrapped up by body panels which is quite similar to the Audi RSQ design study that starred in Will Smith’s I, Robot. BMW Vision Next 100 will be built using 4D printing and rapid manufacturing techniques if it makes it to the production line. The car will be having two driving modes – Boost and Ease, with the former letting the driver take charge while the latter allowing the occupants to relax as the car takes over the controls.
What we found to be more alluring is the Alive Geometry concept which BMW has integrated into the concept. Inside the car, it communicates with the driver by a mosaic of 800 sensor-activated triangles that forms a dynamic analogue display, spanning the entire surface of the dashboard. The same technology has been put to good use on the body panels too. The fully-enclosed wheel arches is an example. They gracefully come alive when the vehicle is steered – moving dynamically in sync with the wheels during manoeuvres.
Mini Vision Next 100
In the next century, the Mini will continue to be adorable and that’s what the design suggests. But given how cars are being shared by a lot of people these days, the designers are expecting the trend to grow in the future. The urban-centric design is centered on an “Every Mini and my Mini” them, which is why they chose to focus on making the car adapt to suit each driver. It employs sensors to identify the user and essentially re-skin itself based on the user’s choices and tastes. You can summon it to your location by pressing a button on an app and the Mini Vision Next 100 will change its exterior and interior to match your style as it arrives for the pick-up. Now that’s way better than hailing a cab these days.
Coming to the design, the front windscreen goes all the way down to the place where the front grille should have been and the designers were thoughtful enough to add Mini’s iconic round headlamps. The horizontal tail lamp bar at the rear which doubles up as a spoiler at the rear is another noteworthy design element. The interiors feature a minimalistic design approach which has successfully adapted the timeless interior design of the classic Mini for the future.
Rolls Royce Vision Next 100 (103EX)
We won’t be surprised if rumor mill churns out a piece of news that Rolls Royce had hired a bunch of Hot Wheels designers to create the first sketch for the manufacturer’s vision of a futuristic luxury car. Because the Rolls Royce Vision Next 100 a.k.a the 103EX reminds you of a Hot Wheels racer. Whether that’s good or bad is better left to the beholders. If you ask us, we aren’t completely appreciative of what they have done in terms of styling.
The designers have tried to integrate the lines and signature elements of Rolls Royce cars from both the past and the present into the design, the vertical grille being the most evident one. While the front-end treatment is majestic, even reminiscent of the current generation Phantom, the glasshouse and rear went all-out futuristic with straight lines being replaced by curves. This is where we lost the plot just like the designers did.
Having said that, we do like how they have integrated the Spirit of Ecstasy as a virtual assistant and chauffeur who answers to the name Eleanor. Eleanor will take care of the driving and will serve as a guide during your journeys. The completely autonomous Rolls Royce 103EX has also done away with the driver’s seat. The interior features a large OLED display which takes up the place that would have been occupied by a dashboard in a regular car. Wrapped in luxury, the Vision Next 100’s interior is arranged like a lounge, complete with a silk-wrapped sofa. The panoramic roof opens upwards and the door opens rearwards allowing a truly grand entry and exit. Rolls Royce also emphasized how they see themselves getting their customers more involved in the development process so that luxury cars as unique as their users can be built. The car maker also highlighted how the scope for customization will increase in the future, which in turn will lead to the creation of more bespoke cars.