BMW MINI Concept Focuses On Car Sharing

BMW is working overtime to imagine what cars of the future will be like. Some of their ideas are just silly, such as the ridiculous Rolls Royce Vision 100 concept unleashed on an unsuspecting world in London this week. At the same time, BMW is offering up somewhat more practical ideas about how its MINI division will fit into the future of mobility.

BMW MINI Vision 100 concept

For people of ordinary means, the company thinks car sharing will be the norm. But how to make a car feel “personal” to multiple users? Holger Hampf, Head of User Experience, BMW Group, says the chief design challenge of a car sharing world is producing a car that means different things to different borrowers.

According to Peter Schwarzenbauer, a member of the BMW board of directors, that means carmakers have to relearn how to brand for a world where ownership is devalued but customization is key.

Part of that is allowing the car to be “reskinned” to suit the tastes of each individual driver. Driver A may prefer a stately gray exterior while Driver B is really into hot pink these days. An autonomous MINI could change its hue as it drives from one transportation assignment to the next.

The car would also learn the preferences of each individual driver. It could adjust the suspension firmness or remember which radio stations each users likes best. It could also adjust how responsive the car is to driver inputs and what level of performance — from mild to wild — is desired.  “We could easily turn it into a John Cooper Works if that’s what you prefer,” says Hampf.

When the Telsa Model 3 was revealed, it showed no instrumentation at all. It only has a central touchscreen mounted horizontally in the middle of the car. BMW imagines something similar with its futuristic MINI. The entire windshield would be a heads up display activated by voice and gesture controls.

Of course, the future MINI would be electric. But will BMW be able to preserve the essential character that defines the MINI experience? That will be the hardest part of all.

Source: Autoblog  Photo credit: BMW

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.