By on March 8, 2016

BMW Vision Next 100 concept (Image: BMW Group)

It’s BMW Group’s centenary — and except for some problematic stuff in the late 1930s and early ’40s, it’s been a great 100 years.

Rather than gaze wistfully at the past, BMW is spending its birthday looking into the future and imagining what marvelous things might lie ahead. Naturally, one of those things will be a BMW, and, lo and behold, here’s a futuristic concept!

The BMW Vision Next 100 concept was unveiled in Munich on March 7 and was designed with an autonomous future in mind, one where individuality remains a selling point with buyers.

Adorned with the brand’s signature double kidney grille, the Vision Next 100 uses the vaguely Tron-like term “Alive Geometry” for its vehicle-driver interface, with two driving modes — “Boost” and “Ease” — to allow for fully autonomous driving or (gasp!) human control.

Ease mode sees the interior of the scissor-door vehicle reconfigure to make maximum comfort and room for the non-needed driver and their occupants. The steering wheel and console retract and the seats turn inward to face each other.

Couples going through rough times would be wise to keep their future BMW in Boost mode.

BMW board chair Harald Krüger said that in the near future the automaker would like to tailor every aspect of the driving experience to the individual tastes of the driver (or chauffeured occupant, if you will). What the company calls “premium mobility” would include advanced digital connectivity, something BMW plans to make a key part of its focus.

BMW Vision Next 100 concept side

BMW will be taking its Vision Next 100 on a birthday bash world tour named Iconic Impulses, stopping in China, the UK and U.S.

A permanent exhibition, creatively named “Future Exhibition” will remain in Munich, with a further exhibition scheduled at the BMW museum.

Not wanting to be left out of the centenary fun, German rival Mercedes-Benz offered a passive-aggressive present to BMW employees that contained plenty of thinly-veiled taunts.

In a press release, the Daimler offered BMW employees free admission to the Mercedes-Benz Museum, where they could learn “the complete history of the automobile,” as well as enjoy great parking spots.

As a special gesture, all those guests from the BMW workforce who turn up in a vehicle produced by the Munich-based company will be allowed to park on the hill directly in front of the museum in the scheduled week. This will not be such a rare spectacle, as numerous classic BMW vehicles also visit the Mercedes-Benz Museum at the popular “Cars & Coffee” classic car meetings which are open to all brands.

Still, if any BMW employees can swallow their pride, more perks await:

Finally, on the culinary front the Stuttgart museum is rounding off its birthday greetings with a special invitation to the first 50 BMW employees: following their tour of the exhibition, they are cordially invited to partake of a Swabian speciality citing the double kidney shape of the signature BMW radiator grille.

When you built the first car — literally, the very first gas-powered car — it’s probably really hard to hold it all back.

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16 Comments on “BMW Looks to Future, Hopes Predictions Don’t Instantly Become Dated...”

  • avatar

    “When you built the first car — literally, the very first gas-powered car”

    Which had its 130-year anniversary recently, on January 29.

    The Motorwagen was patented on January 29, 1886 as DRP-37435: “automobile fueled by gas.” The 1885 version was difficult to control, leading to a collision with a wall during a public demonstration. The first successful tests on public roads were carried out in the early summer of 1886. The next year Benz created the Motorwagen Model 2, which had several modifications, and in 1887 the definitive Model 3 with wooden wheels was introduced, showing at the Paris Expo the same year.

  • avatar

    “When you built the first car — literally, the very first gas-powered car — it’s probably really hard to hold it all back.”

    Before the Nazis had history rewritten, Siegfried Marcus of Vienna, who put a gasoline fueled engine on a four wheeled cart no later than 1870, was widely considered to be the inventor of the gasoline powered automobile. Benz made the first practical automobile.

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s what automotive history books from before WWII said about who invented the automobile:

    • 0 avatar

      From my reading – wasn’t Benz the first person to come up with a vehicle intended for a gasoline powered engine from the get-go? It was not, as others had created, a “horseless carriage.”

  • avatar

    To celebrate its centennial, John Bentley Engineering in the UK made a series of very accurate replicas of the Benz Patent Motorwagen. If you’re in Los Angeles, there’s one at the Petersen museum and if you’re in Detroit, there’s one at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, next to the Henry Ford Museum. The Ford museum of course, has Henry Ford’s original 1896 Quadricycle in their Driving America exhibit and an accurate replica of Ford’s first car in the recreation of his Bagley Ave. workshop in Greenfield Village.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That concept car looks nothing like a 2116 BMW.

  • avatar

    Ugly. No thank you

  • avatar

    Yikes, look at that lizard skin!

  • avatar

    The ’50s weren’t so great for BMW either. But for the intervention of one Mr. Quandt they would’ve been bought up by Daimler, of Mercedes-Benz fame.

  • avatar

    “… except for some problematic stuff in the late 1930s and early ’40s, it’s been a great 100 years.”

    Name the problematic stuff.

    BMW R75 motorcycle? Good.
    BMW 801 aircraft engine? Good.
    BMW 003 jet engine? Good.

    They produced very good stuff during WWII, much to the consternation of the allies. They were just on the losing side and used the wrong kind of labor to produce them – not that they had much of an option.

    • 0 avatar

      The idea that German companies had no choice but to use forced labor, particularly in the case of BMW and the Quandt family stretches credulity and minimizes the family’s involvement with the Reich. The Quandts were Nazis, plain and simple.

      From our former editor, Bertel Schmidt:

      “The Quandt family, major shareholder of BMW, and one of the richest in Germany, is finally and belatedly confessing to its Nazi-past. Patriarch Günther Quandt was an early member of the Nazi party, he joined 1933, after Hitler’s election. During the Third Reich, Quandt company empire was kept running by more than 50,000 slave laborers. Many businesses that were taken away from Jewish owners ended up in the hands of Quandt. He even had odd family ties with the Nazi elite. His second wife Magda, which he had married when she was half his age, divorced him eight years later, only to marry propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, with Adolf Hitler as a witness. While other German carmakers, first and foremost Volkswagen, came to terms with their past, the owners of BMW denied it until recently. When the German Forced Labor Compensation Program was established, the family declined to make a contribution, claiming they had no reason to do so.

      In 2007, a documentary aired on German TV and linked the family to the Nazis. The film revealed not only the slave laborers, but also that Günther Quandt had convinced Nazi contacts to send a Belgian competitor to a concentration camp after he refused to sell his company to Quandt. The documentary created only a minor scandal in Germany, because Quandt’s Nazi past had been known. A family spokesman said the allegations were “not incisively new.” However, the Quandts had up to then steadfastly denied all allegations.

      The documentary prompted the Quandt family to do what other German companies had done many decades ago: Employ a historian to examine the family’s history during the Third Reich.

      A Bonn historian received access to the family archives and concluded in his 1,200 page report that “the Quandts were linked inseparably with the crimes of the Nazis. The family patriarch was part of the regime.”

      Hundreds of slave laborers died or were executed. At the end of the war, Günther Quandt’s former wife Magda killed her six children in the Führerbunker, then committed suicide with her husband Goebbels.”

      • 0 avatar

        Ronnie, I’m not sure how much “wiggle room” German companies had when having to use slave labor producing war materiel for the reich, if that were even an option. Especially those companies making high-tech products adapted for the war effort.

        Of course I was being somewhat simplistic in my comment, not having time to adequately research the subject, but felt I was basically accurate.

  • avatar

    I cannot get past the kidneys in the front view of that car looking like Mater’s huge buck teeth.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Hmmm… Nothing futuristic about that. I think if imagination has free reign, it would be a more simplistic human oriented conveyance, like a soap bubble (with kidney grille of course). Not wheels and hood and radiator. Not a rock crushing roller skate with minimal human accommodation. Already got the M6, how are you going to get better than that? The real future a 100 years from now will be more 13th Century ox-cart in reality. That image is like the jokey 50’s view of the future. Buck Rogers’ rocket fins and all.

  • avatar

    Congratulations to BMW on its centennial! It’s a huge milestone for any brand, much less a pioneer in the industry such as themselves. I’ve even seen Audi and Mercedes take their hats off to BMW on national newspaper to wish them happy birthday too no less and if that’s not a mark of respect for a highly regarded company then I don’t know what is!

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