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THE NEXT 100

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How the BMW Group envisions the next 100 years
By Casey Williams
 
As the BMW Group celebrates its centenary, the company has released a vision of the future for each of its brands. It’s clear each will remain true to the company’s heritage, but there’s a fabulous future of autonomous driving, electric powertrains, and connectivity.
 
BMW Vision Next 100
It’s a given that the coming age will allow for autonomous driving—where the car takes over all driving duties—whenever the driver desires. Hidden beneath the recognizable silhouette of a BMW sedan with quad headlamps, twin-kidney grille, i8-derived wing doors and flexible skin wheel covers is an electric car with two driving modes. In “Boost” mode, the driver takes control as the seat and steering wheel move towards him or her. Gesture controls accompany a full-windscreen head-up display that highlights an ideal driving line or upcoming turn. “Ease” mode is fully autonomous so the steering wheel retracts, the centre console moves away and the head-up display provides infotainment.
 
Mini Vision Next 100
Imagine an electric Mini that’s fun to drive, but focuses on the needs of urban drivers while anticipating the continued rise of point-to-point ride sharing. Mini envisions a car that’s connected digitally and able to pick up drivers wherever they are. How to personalize shared rides? Drivers can customize the interior lighting, roof colour and dash graphics/content. Hard-wearing interior materials include brass, basalt and cellulose. Mini’s trademark centre-mounted circular instrument helps adjust entertainment, communications and autonomous driving mode. The go-cart feel is enhanced with a glass front to give a better view of the road.
 
Rolls-Royce 103EX
What is the future of luxury? Rolls-Royce envisions a “grand sanctuary” with mixed wool and silk fibre upholstery, Macassar veneers and wool carpeting. Autonomous and electrically driven, there’s no need for a front seat or steering wheel. Instead, there’s an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen to house a personal assistant named “Eleanor” that honours Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament model Eleanor Thornton. With an electric powertrain, a long hood isn’t necessary, but it commands presence and contains space for luggage aft of the front wheels. A lighted glass hood ornament, chrome Parthenon grille, fastback roofline and partly shrouded chrome wheels define Rolls-Royce’s future.
 
“If, as a designer, you are able to imagine something, there’s a good chance it could one day become reality.” –Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design
 
CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for Gaywheels.com. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes videos and reviews to wfyi.org, the area’s PBS/NPR station.

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