The race is on with car manufactures edging their way forward with battery operated car technology. BMW, a brand close to my heart, has released a glimpse at their next electric car with its Vision iNext concept car. The distinctive new crossover is set to become the third BMW i model when it goes on sale in 2021, following on from the petrol-electric i8 and the battery-powered i3, both introduced in 2013, in a role BMW says will position it as a “new technology flagship” for the German brand.
Boasting the size and proportions of a modern BMW SAV, the BMW Vision iNEXT cuts an authoritative figure. The vehicle instantly conveys its trailblazing character through clearly sculpted forms and surfaces. Striking paintwork and sophisticated details strengthen this impression further. The Liquid Greyrose Copper exterior gradually changes in shade from warm copper to dark rose and injects the vehicle with dynamic flair even when stationary.
The large, interlinked double-kidney grille, the iconic side window graphic, and the blue accent surfaces at the front, sides, and rear have clearly adopted the BMW i styling.
In the center of the front end stands a large, upright kidney grille. As with all electrically powered vehicles, the grille is blanked off. With no combustion engine to require cooling, the kidney element now serves as an “intelligence panel” housing various sensors. A 3D-printed pattern points to the technology below the surface. Super-slim headlights are part of a modern interpretation of BMW’s signature four-eyed front end. The windscreen extends smoothly into a large panoramic roof.
Cameras assume the job of the exterior mirrors, while touch-sensitive illuminated graphics take the place of conventional door openers, underlining the modern, enclosed appearance. There are two large opposing doors with no B-pillar separating them. When opened, they provide an unobstructed view of the spacious interior.
The rear compartment is dominated by cloth upholstery with its intricate Jacquard weave, which runs asymmetrically across the seat area and extends into the side panelling and parcel shelf. The result is a visual separation between the cockpit and the rear that produces the effect of different furnishings in an apartment.
Apart from the steering wheel and displays in the driver’s area, there are no other screens or controls to be seen in the BMW Vision iNEXT. In order to preserve the homely character of the rear compartment, and therefore keep the people on board at centre stage, the intelligent technology is integrated out of sight. Only when it is required by the driver or passengers does the technology becomes visible and operable. For example, in future it may be possible to operate various functions via surfaces made out of wood or cloth. Displays would no longer be essential, as intelligent projection could turn any surface into an interactive display.
A car based on the Vision iNext should arrive in 2021, after the battery-electric Mini in 2019 and the BMW iX3 crossover in 2020. scroll down to watch the video.