Another 100 years of motoring - a MINI marathon of ideas and design
Published 22/06/2016 | 02:30
The question of what our cars of the future will be like is one exercising BMW in their 100th year.
We've already seen the BMW Vision Next 100, but where better to launch the equivalent MINI and Rolls Royce concept cars than London?
Tomorrow's MINI will centre on permanent connectivity while retaining its distinctive 'fun to drive' character.
Although the car will be capable of driving itself, most owners will take on the duties. There's even a Cooperizer, designed to adjust characteristics of the car to make it more fun.
Owners might be the wrong word, as some will choose to have access to shared Minis. When you need a car, you call one up and it drives itself to pick you up. When you're finished, you leave it for another user.
The MINI is capable of personalising itself to your preferences so it doesn't seem like the shared car that it is.
The interior is a more radical, simpler affair than before with no dashboard to speak of. Instead, all the information you need is projected onto the windscreen.
The cabin itself is bright and airy, thanks to the entire front being made of a transparent material allowing panoramic visibility in and out. Rolls Royce customers obviously have different priorities. They can probably be summed up in three ideas: Grand Sanctuary, Effortless Journey and Grand Arrival.
What strikes first is the sheer length of the Rolls Royce. At almost 6m, it dwarfs any other saloon on the road yet in this configuration, it seats just two in supreme comfort.
The interior has luxurious carpeting and rich silk upholstery and because it is designed to be driven autonomously, there's no front seat.
The only seat in the car is a luxurious couch and there's a panoramic view out the front, with a transparent OLED screen running the width of car.
The effortless journey is directed by Eleanor, the car's concierge. Named for Eleanor Thornton, the model for the Spirit of Ecstasy, this artificial intelligence will strive to know everything about you and your preferences.
At journey's end, you will want to make a grand arrival and the car itself makes such a statement that it would be impossible to arrive anywhere discreetly.
The large door opens from the rear while the roof opens simultaneously like a chocolate box to allow the occupants to emerge without even having to crouch.
If it's raining, twin umbrellas hide in the door while the luggage compartment in the front wing slides open, ready for your bespoke cases to be taken by the porter, because Rolls Royce owners never expect to touch their own luggage.
Rolls Royce expect that they will custom build each car to their customer's requirements.
Each example will be based on a lightweight, zero emission platform but bodywork, interior and even length and width will be chosen by the customer.
Whether or not we ever see these cars in reality, they form a fascinating insight into BMW's thoughts about their next 100 years.