100 BMW REVOL
When you have a lot of big ideas about emerging technology and the future of mobility to show off to the world, you need a big platform for showcasing them.
A 100th birthday seems like the best possible reason. BMW Group has rolled out a series of highly futuristic concepts over the past few months: one for BMW at their kick-off celebration in early May, and two more for Mini and Rolls-royce in the summer. BMW Group has one further concept to unveil as its year of centenary celebrations continues. The Motorrad Vision Next 100, the company's look forward into the future of motorcycling, will be shown in Los Angeles in September.
But on four wheels, here's a closer look at what each of the concepts brings to the table for its respective brand.
The first concept car unveiled, the BMW Vision Next 100, is a study in how autonomous cars will impact not only on luxury brands as a whole but also in preserving a passion for driving in an age when driving itself is no longer necessary.
The concept shows a car with two distinct drive modes. In active mode, a minimalistic steering wheel emerges from the dashboard and the entire windscreen turns into a head-up display. The driver is shown detail about the road ahead with detail such as obstacles that are not yet in view identified via GPS data, the optimal lines through curves, and performance statistics.
Once autonomous mode is selected, the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard, the seating position is relaxed, and a device called the Companion takes over. Via a centralized light, the car communicates not only with its occupants but also with those outside such as pedestrians to let observers know that its systems are in control. In this mode, the head-up display's colours cool into more relaxing tones, and the Companion can notify the driver of attractions along the route like wineries or museums that it knows from past experience might be of interest to the driver.
All of this is packaged with a zeroemissions powertrain, though whether that means electric, fuel cell, or some other technology, BMW representatives declined specifics. Its highly futuristic-looking styling showcases reticulating wheel covers – though northern climates and their salt-crusted slush likely haven't been factored into that decision – and interior materials that are 100% vegan and recyclable as a nod to the quest for sustainability.
BMW Group has been pulling out all the stops on celebrating its 100th anniversary. It all started in Germany back in March, where the company kicked off its centenary year by hosting a gala presentation in Munich for 2,000 guests from around the world.
Choreographed to precision and smattered with shades of Cirque du Soleil, the performance used music, dance, and special effects to capture the character of each of the company’s brands -- the heart-pumping thrills of Motorrad, the 1960s-a-go-go of Mini, the stiff upper lip opulence of Rolls-royce – and ended with a grand introduction for its BMW Vision Next 100 concept.
The concept car was later met with similar fanfare at an event in Beijing in May, which was followed up by the debuts of the Mini and Rolls-royce Vision Next 100 concepts at a press event in London in June.
Further celebrations are ongoing. On top of the many events being held by BMW enthusiast clubs around the world, the company’s global home base of Munich is playing host to several more over the coming months.
Those most ardent enthusiasts who are able to time their travel will want to consider going to the BMW Festival this fall.
On September 9 to 11, Munich’s Olympic Park will play host to a variety of interactive displays, drive experiences, a corral with over 1,000 cars from BMW Group’s past 100 years, evening concerts, and much more. Details can be found at bmw-festival.de/en.
If you’re unable to be there on those exact days but would still enjoy a reason to travel to Munich, the BMW Museum’s 100 Years, 100 Masterpieces exhibit is still on display for a few more months. It includes not only a delightful cross-section of historic vehicles – everything from the legendary M1 to the 1500 sedan that kept the company in business – but also an array of photos and information telling BMW Groups stories from angles such as its innovations in workflow efficiency and the people who made it all happen.
Situated at the base of the Four-cylinder Building that acts as BMW Group Global Headquarters in Munich, the exhibit is scheduled to be on display until next summer. While the themes of sustainability and driving enjoyment continue into the Mini centenary concept, the prevailing theme of the Mini Vision Next 100 is coping with increasing urbanization. Can a driver who doesn't own a car of his or her own still feel a sense of personalization in a vehicle?
In this concept, the idea is presented that perhaps a car-sharing culture can still offer that individuality. The styling is presented in a silver skin that the designers refer to as a blank canvas, allowing drivers to get into any Mini and vary it based on a user profile that can also be tweaked to reflect mood or situations in the moment. Everything from the roof to the interior lighting is designed to respond with graphic projections to deliver a personalized experience.
The control module, dubbed the Cooperizer, symbolizes the artificial intelligence that responds to the driver's personalized settings, which also encompass entertainment, communications, and autonomous driving preferences. An Inspire Me button can cause the Mini to change the design to reflect what it knows to be the driver's interests based on, for example, a recently visited art exhibit, or it could modify a programmed route to take more dynamic roads and switch into John Cooper Works performance road.
This year, BMW Group Canada is also celebrating a milestone: 2016 marks its 30th anniversary of operation in our home and native land.
While BMWS had been sold by importers prior to then for years, it was in 1986 that BMW Group Canada was assembled as a wholly-owned subsidiary of BMW AG.
At the time, 40 associates worked to sell 4,600 vehicles in the first year working under then-president Hans Blesse -- an especially interesting point given that Blesse, after going on to fill numerous roles within the company worldwide, is back in his home country of Canada today playing the same role he did 30 years ago. A handful of those associates who worked under Blesse during his first stint are still with the company today.
“After many years working for BMW Group around the world, being back home in Canada and celebrating our 30th anniversary as a formal subsidiary is especially rewarding,” Blesse said. “In our 30-year history, the last 25 have been consecutive years of sales growth.
“I’m particularly proud of the almost 4,000 associates we employ through our world class retail network. Together, we have the joy of delivering the ultimate driving experience to Canadian customers from coast to coast.”
More than 42,000 vehicles were sold by BMW Group Canada in 2015 at the 97 dealerships across the country: 47 in total for BMW, 30 for Mini, and 20 for Motorrad. (Rolls-royce operations in Canada are managed by its subsidiary in the United States.)
Within that time, the company has grown large enough that it built two regional offices, one in Montreal and the other in Vancouver, and subdivided itself into three regions: western, central, and eastern. In 2010, its headquarters were moved from Whitby to a larger facility in Richmond Hill, Ontario, where its operations remain today.