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BMW concept looks ahead 100 years. Image by BMW.

BMW concept looks ahead 100 years
Celebrating its centenary, BMW reveals the first of four new 'Vision Vehicles'.
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Wow, is that a new BMW i model?

No, I'm afraid not. It's the BMW Vision Next 100 concept car, unveiled today at an extravagant show in Munich to celebrate BMW's 100 years in business.

Ah, so it's pure fantasy?

Pretty much, yes, though it does reveal BMW's thinking about the future, especially with regards to autonomous driving and integrating with other road users.

How so?

Well, in Ease mode, the Vision Next 100 is completely autonomous, so much so that it folds the steering wheel and centre console out of the way and combines the four seats with the side panels to create a sort of lounge atmosphere. Then it offers information on the surroundings to the passengers while they catch up on their email and Facebook. In town, it shows the world it's running autonomously by changing the colour of the (oddly upright) kidney grilles and interacts with pedestrians to let them know it's safe to cross.

Ok, but we've seen most of that before, right? What's new?

Encouragingly, BMW reckons its buyers will still want to do some driving in the future, so the Vision features a Boost mode, which focuses solely on the driver. All information is kept to a minimum (and it's all displayed on the windscreen rather than use any traditional screens), but the experience can be enhanced by giving the driver the ideal driving line and speed through each and every corner. The car can even warn the driver when something is coming the other way so they can stick to their own side of the road when necessary.

Sounds very Gran Turismo...

Agreed, it does, so we have to hope BMW retains some sort of feedback through the chassis, though it hasn't even confirmed what powers the Vision concept, other than saying "it has zero emissions and is highly dynamic."

What's going on with the wheels?

This is probably the most intriguing part of the concept. There's a (completely fictional) material covering the wheels called Alive Geometry, made up of loads of small individual triangles that can move and adapt the overall bodywork shape. Hence, when the front wheels swivel, the bodywork shifts with them, continuing to cover the wheels in the name of low drag. BMW reckons this vehicle has a coefficient of drag of just 0.18, which is astounding.

But again, complete fantasy?

Yes. More fantasy concepts will be rolled out later this year for the MINI, Rolls-Royce and Motorrad brands to show where BMW sees itself going over the next 100 years.

Shane O' Donoghue - 7 Mar 2016

2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.

2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.2016 BMW Vision Next 100. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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