BMW Vision iNext Concept is an Electric, Autonomous Look to the Future

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【Summary】BMW is looking to test the waters with the ambitious and futuristic Vision iNext Concept that encompasses all of the automaker’s latest accomplishments in the autonomous and electric segment.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Oct 29, 2018 2:30 PM PT
BMW Vision iNext Concept is an Electric, Autonomous Look to the Future

Modern concepts are some of the most radical ones designers have ever penned. While some, like Volvo, have taken the introduction of self-driving technology as an invitation to create cube-like vehicles that share very little with cars on the road today, others, like BMW have taken a more realistic approach to what the future may look like. 

Realistic, though, is relative, as the German automaker's latest concept, which is called the Vision iNext, still features a unique design. The vehicle, as with other concepts, is being used to showcase everything that BMW has learned so far, and all of the strides its made when it comes to what modern consumers want. 

BMW Vision iNext 2.jpg

Vision iNext Is Being Used To Test Public Interest

Just like nearly every other automaker, BMW is moving away from gasoline- and diesel-powered cars, to electric cars. At the same time, the automaker is testing autonomous vehicles, both in China and in Germany. While the automaker is looking to combine these things into a vehicle that it will sell to consumers in the near future, the brand is using the Vision iNext concept as a way to test public interest. 

The new Vision iNext fits nicely into BMW's i sub-brand, which it introduced back in 2011. The sub-brand was BMW's way of putting all of its fuel-efficient and eco-friendly cars into one group. Currently, the i sub-brand is home to the automaker's electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, which is something BMW is looking to expand. 

"Ultimately, the BMW Vision iNext will add a new dimension to ‘sheer driving pleasure,' because of course, driver orientation and driving still remains a part of our DNA," Klaus Frohlich, BMW AG's head of development, told outlets, including Digital Trends, at the vehicle's debut. 

Frohlich went on to give a broad overview of what the Vision iNext is for the brand. "Just to summarize, equipped with autonomous driving technology, next-level connectivity features, and an interior of the future, and of course, fully electric, the BMW Vision iNext will serve as an incubator," he said. "It's a bold statement to demonstrate our company's strengths in innovation. It will ensure BMW Group has everything in place to be successful in the market when competing with both old, and new players in the near- and far future." 

Autonomous, Electric, Futuristic - The Vision iNext Looks Ahead

Yup, as Frohlich pointed out, the Vision iNext concept is fully electric and autonomous, as those are two of the major themes in the auto industry. Beyond that, though, the SUV also has a unique design that could pave the way forward for BMW's other electric cars. 

The overall shape and silhouette of the concept matches the X5, but that's the only thing that doesn't look like it's out of a sci-fi movie. The slim headlights, H-shaped grille, massive panoramic roof, razor-sharp taillights, and bespoke wheels all look futuristic. In addition to the unique design, the concept ditches traditional exterior mirrors for cameras, which is becoming the norm for concepts. 

The interior is just as interesting, as opening the SUV's suicide doors reveals microsuede front seats, two massive screens on the dashboard, and a ceiling-mounted Intelligent Beam projector. So far, it doesn't sound that high tech, but the back is where things really get futuristic. Instead of traditional seats, the SUV has one large bench seat that's wrapped in cloth. Instead of confining you to traditional seats, the idea with the bench-styled seat is that you'll be more comfortable when the car's driving. The cabin also has optic fibers and LEDs that are integrated directly into the center console and backseat that gives passengers the power to pinch to adjust the volume, swipe to change the song, and more. As Wired claims, BMW refers to this as "shy tech." 

BMW Vision iNext 3.jpg

Get Ready For Production In 2021

Continuing with the tech theme, the Vision iNext concept is also has the automaker's latest personal assistant, which is meant to rival Mercedes-Benz's most recent MBUX system. Just like Mercedes' system, BMW's intelligent personal assistant allows owners to use voice commands by stating, "hey BMW." After using that phrase, users can ask the vehicle to do all sorts of things, like change the radio station and turn up the A/C. 

While radically different from what BMW offers at the moment, Frohlich believes the production version of the SUV will look awfully similar to the concept. "This is not just a show car," Frohlich told Wired. "It's a promise. In 2021, you will get it." 

BMW's dead serious about bringing something like the Vision iNext concept to the market, as Digital Trends claims the German automaker has plans to come out with roughly 100 prototypes of the SUV. The machines will be used to help BMW test and develop its technology over the next few years. 

While the technology is impressive, BMW didn't outline the range for the electric vehicle, coyly stating that the fifth-generation electric-vehicle powertrain allows the SUV to be able to have a range of 373 miles. Zero to 60 mph, reportedly, is taken care of in roughly four seconds. 

If you're not willing to wait until 2021 for the Vision iNext Concept to come out, BMW will start to introduce some of the technology found on the SUV in the next-gen 7-Series. 

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