Hands off for BMW drivers
German focus is now on making more electric vehicles and automated driving systems
THE steady queue of drivers who pay drifting specialists good money to show them how to hold a car in a slide will be horrified to hear BWM plans to take the steering wheel out of their hands.
BMW group last week announced it will sell seven electric or hybrid cars by the end of the year, and its focus is now on making more electric vehicles and automated driving systems.
Its all part of its growth strategy for the next 100 years, which futurologists predict will see less drivers and more drivens.
BMW said in a statement the group aims to deliver solutions for the latter group that are both ground- breaking and responsible. “Throughout its 100- year history, the BMW Group has always reinvented itself. As a pioneer of new technologies, the company has shaped change, within both the industry and the world of mobility,” said Harald Krüger, chairperson of the board of management of BMW AG, at the Annual Accounts Press Conference in Munich on Wednesday.
“We are setting the standard with our Strategy ‘ Number ONE> Next’, both now and in the future.
“We will lead the BMW Group into a new era, one in which we will transform and shape both individual mobility and the entire sector in a permanent way.”
He said in the medium term, the technological focus will be on achieving further advances in the fields of electric mobility and automated driving to broaden the scope of digital connectivity between people, vehicles and services and actively strengthening sustainable mobility.
The group has already sold over 50 000 units of the iBrand and the latest version of BMW 7 Series. By 2026 the group plans to have a BMW i model on roads that will stay true to the propeller brand’s premium status in providing individual mobility, even if the car ends up silently whisking itself from place to place with only voice inputs as to the destination by the driver.
Hedging all its bets, the BMW Group also continues to develop hydrogen fuel- cell technology. The company said it believes that a variety of drivetrain systems will exist alongside each other in the future.
The water- oozing car will provide the same fully networked driving experience as the zeroemission vehicles.
By bundling the potential opportunities offered by digitalisation, the BMW Group will cement its position as technological leader in this field, too. Inside a self- driving Beemer, the “driver” will have access to high definition digital maps, sensor technology, cloud technology and artificial intelligence.
And the self- driving will not be limited to automatic parking or slow lanes either. The BMW 7 Series uses a stereo camera and five radar sensors, to maintain a safe distance to the vehicle ahead, even when driving up to 210 km/ h on motorways. And of course it can park itself at the push of the remote control parking button.
Apart from the services it is developing in its own right, the BMW Group is also investing in a number of promising start- ups and service providers via BMW i Ventures. • See page 6 for the next systems to have cars brake themselves.
Left: In the not to distant future BMW models will have fold- away ‘ steering wheels’ that will only emerge on demand ( top), when a driver demands to steer a different path to what the computer deems safe.