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BMW, MINI & Rolls-Royce: Cars of the Future

Celebrating its centenary in 2016, the BMW Group turns its attention to the next 100 years, unveiling two, jaw-dropping concept cars from MINI and Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce

BMW-owned car maker Rolls-Royce has revealed what its ultra-luxury cars might look like a century from now. The stunning concept, named the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100, spearheads a total of four ‘vision vehicles’ planned by the BMW Group in its centenary year. Revealed to the public at London’s Roundhouse Theatre, the car is almost six metres in length – roughly the same as the brand’s current Phantom flagship.

Featuring swooping bodywork that almost fully encases its enormous 28-inch wheels, the design takes clear inspiration from both the Art Deco and post-war eras, albeit with a very modern twist. With its long bonnet mostly hollow to provide luggage space, power comes from two 250kw electric motors, located above each axle.

Despite the lack of traditional V12 combustion engine, the Vision Next 100 is said to offer high performance along with zero emissions. Designed to operate fully autonomously, the cockpit lacks both a driver’s seat and a steering wheel.

Speaking at the event, director of design Giles Taylor said: “The Rolls-Royce patron will continue to be a famous figure in the future. I envision that the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 will play a key role in these people’s lives, guiding and conveying them effortlessly through their life’s journey in an exquisite sanctuary where they can reflect in peace ahead of arriving in the grandest style.”

“The Rolls-Royce patron will continue to be a famous figure in the future."

Rolls-Royce also suggests that the future of luxury mobility will see a return to coachbuilt production methods, where advanced manufacturing technologies will enable customers to become even more involved in the design of the shape and size of future models. Taking personalisation to new, unprecedented levels will ensure every single car is completely bespoke. Owners will benefit from a highly intelligent virtual assistant, represented by a digital Spirit of Ecstacy known as Eleanor, which appears on a full-width transparent OLED display.

The assistant learns the preferences of the owner and in turn advises on routes and points of interest. The car’s defining party piece however is saved for the destination. The entire roof of the car hinges upwards when the rear-hinged coach door is opened, allowing enough room for passengers to stand in the car without ducking. Then, a step emerges from the running board and a red light is projected on the ground – to simulate red carpet. 

MINI

At the other end of the BMW Group spectrum, MINI has revealed a centenary concept for the future. The MINI Vision Next 100 follows a philosophy of thoughtful use of the planet’s resources, while highlighting car sharing as a viable solution to personal urban mobility.

In the future, fans of the brand will be able to call on a MINI tailored to their personal requirements, wherever they are. Available anytime of the day or night, it will even pick up its driver in a fully automated way.

Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of BMW Group Design, described MINI’s vision for the future: “MINI looks to offer smart and bespoke mobility in cities that engages all the senses. And in the future, you might not actually have to own a vehicle to enjoy the benefits.”

“MINI looks to offer smart and bespoke mobility in cities that engages all the senses."

The concept features some intriguing solutions to future mobility, such as the Cooperizer – a link between the driver and a form of digital intelligence. The device takes the form of the large circular dial that has become such a signature feature of MINI cockpits.

Many existing MINI fans will also be pleased to learn that the driver remains the emotional centrepiece of future models – evidence that in a future seemingly obsessed with autonomy, this iconic, urban go-kart may evolve to become even more enjoyable to drive.