German automobile major BMW unveiled its transparent concept car ‘Mini Vision Next 100’ in London on Thursday. The car’s most notable feature is the option of changing the exterior colour or pattern anytime as per a user’s desire. The electric car also features a steering wheel which can slide across between passengers.
Today the company’s world tour arrived in London, and brought with it the debut of two intensely futuristic cars from a pair of famed British brands: the Rolls-Royce and Mini Vision Next 100 concepts.
The outside of the car is wrapped in a silver material that acts as a blank canvas that can display any color or pattern. Light colors inside the car can also change. You can select personalized entertainment and autonomous driving settings. The car’s computerized persona can even suggest destinations and events nearby.
These are all, of course, theoretical capabilities. The car can’t actually do any of this.
A much larger circular arrangement is positioned where the engine would usually be — this is an all-electric vehicle, because BMW firmly believes that electric cars are the future of mobility — serving to provide information. The user interface of this car is completed with projections directly on the road in front of you. It’s got a playful, almost juvenile presentation with all the flashing lights and bright and happy colors, obviously targeting a younger audience.
Although it represents what a Mini could be one day, the Mini concept brings back some automotive features from the past. For one, it has a bench seat, something that went out of fashion decades ago. It has the benefit of allowing both front seat occupants to enter and exit the car from either side by sliding across the seat.
The tagline for this concept is “Every Mini is my Mini,” and when you dig into the details of the car, you see why: it’s entirely about car-sharing. The idea is that the Mini Vision Next 100 could be called to your location with an app, arriving autonomously, ready for your use — no need to own one. Thus, says the car’s designer Anders Warming, the Mini that you take to the airport in London is the same Mini that you’ll take from the airport in New York.
The AI assistant that was called “the Companion” in the BMW Vision Next 100 concept is known as “the Cooperizer” here, a play on the Mini Cooper name. “On the move, the driver can influence the Cooperizer’s decision-making, as the rotary controls allow adjustments to the interior ambience and driving mode,” BMW says. A button on the Cooperizer labeled “Inspire Me” automatically configures the car to provide the driver with “potential sources of inspiration.”
It’s all a little far-out, but then again, it kind of isn’t: BMW (and the auto industry at large) have started taking car sharing very, very seriously. The company recently launched its ReachNow service in Seattle, with plans to expand rapidly to additional markets. It’s probably no surprise that ReachNow’s inventory includes Mini Coopers.
The Mini Vision Next 100, along with its Rolls-Royce counterpart, will be on display at the Roundhouse in London through June 26th.