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Mini previews future 'Vision'

Autonomous car-sharing, digital tech for future Minis but 'go-kart feel' to remain


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17 Jun 2016

FUTURE Mini models will be digitally personalised to adapt to the driver and will be part of large-scale car-sharing operations, as previewed by the Mini Vision Next 100 concept that was revealed in Germany overnight.

The BMW Group-owned brand has used the motto, 'every Mini is my Mini' for the latest interpretation of future urban mobility that showcases a “particular take” on autonomous car-sharing.

When the self-driving Mini arrives to pick up its occupant, it identifies the person and adapts immediately to the driver's preference and tastes through “fully connected digital intelligence” and can be called on any time of the day or night.

The company says that in the future people may be attracted to the Mini brand but may not have the need to own a car, hence the design team's focus on car-sharing and a concept that was “instantly adaptable” and available whenever and wherever they need it.

The concept has a silver skin the company refers to as a blank canvas that is utilised differently depending on the user. Elements including the colour of the roof and the lighting in the cabin respond differently to each individual user.

It uses “projections adapted to the driver in terms of colour, graphics and content to createa personalised experience and customised package of on-board information”, according to Mini.

Mini is calling the circular centre instrument cluster familiar to Mini owners the Cooperizer, which is illuminated and personalised for driver's tastes relating to communications, entertainment and autonomous driving.

An 'Inspire Me' button uses downloaded user data to provide information or inspiration that may be of interest to the driver, such as the work of an artist they admire or to recommend a more challenging driving route and switching to John Cooper Works performance mode.

The car-maker says that in the future, “driving in a Mini must still be fun to the extent that drivers will prefer to drive themselves – as often as possible”.

Future Minis will retain their go-kart feeling and even take it to a new level, the company says, and a clear glass front end of the concept gives a dynamic view of the road and augmented reality displays show a route or driving line.

No information was provided on the powertrain aside from the fact that it produces zero emissions.

Mini says the concept has a smaller footprint that is closely aligned to the first Mini from 1959 thanks to a “reduced need for crash zones in the future”, presumably due to mostly autonomous driving.

There is a full-width bench seat up front, and the steering wheel and pedals slide to adjust their position depending on whether it will be driven autonomously or by a person. If the Mini is parked in a tight space, the doors will automatically open as wide as they are able to within the restricted confines, a feature that is similar to the falcon-wing doors from the Tesla Model X.

Mini believes that with the more widespread use of a shared car networks, interiors will need to far more hard-wearing.

The concept uses recycled aluminium and plastic in the floor area, roof lining and side panel trim, as well as far less common materials such as brass, basalt and cellulose rather than traditional and less sustainable interior materials including wood and leather. Seats are covered in “robust” knitted Alcantara.

Mini says it has used elements of “analogue design” in the wheels, the outer surface of which does not move with only a disc behind it turning with the tyre, giving the effect of a piece of “mechanical jewellery”.

The car-maker talks of a future where the driver, or user, becomes part of the “Mini community” and it has a vision of what it describes as “experience sharing”.

“For example, if a Mini user in the future is interested in a certain type of art and a friend gets hold of some last-minute tickets to a preview for an exhibition they might like. The Vision Vehicle identifies what’s involved, and coordinates and organises the whole excursion. The drive itself becomes part of a perfectly arranged service.”

Head of Mini Design Anders Warming said the concept takes the brand well into the future while retaining its core values.

“The Mini Vision Next 100 shows how Mini’s unique take on the world could look in the future. The driving experience remains the emotional centrepiece, with effortless and seamless services grouped around it.”

The concept was revealed at the same time as BMW Group sister brand Rolls-Royce's vision of the future and follows the BMW Vision Next 100 coupe from March this year. A Motorrad motorcycle concept of a similar theme is set to appear in Los Angeles later this year.

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