Virtually every single automotive company realizes that the industry is changing these days. While design and technology continue to advance, this is just the start. Several key advancements promise to almost completely change everything we know and understand about driving in the future. The problem is no one knows exactly what these changes are going to look like.
In recent years, each company has tried to describe what this future is going to look like. In some ways, this is no different than a car company showing off its latest concept vehicle to show off some of the things it has been working on. In other ways, however, this is a matter of survival. While a concept car reveal is a good way to generate some press, laying out a roadmap for the next 10, 20, or 100 years shows the public that company is taking action to adapt to the future change.
BMW, for example, recently announced their vision for the next century of automotive design. This announcement was a mixture of high concept design and practical steps the company plans to take in the immediate future. So what does the next round of BMWs for sale look like in the future?
They look like a mix of old and new with the focus on automation.
Moving Towards an All Electric Future
It should come as no surprise that one of the most significant trends BMW predicts for the future is all-electric vehicles. This is one area of technological development that has seen the most improvement and change over the past few years. Five years ago, the only major players in the electric game were Tesla and a few earnest attempts by companies like Nissan and Chevy. Now, however, the major manufacturers have realized the true potential of the electric vehicle industry. It has even reached the point where these manufacturers have to plan on making some drastic changes if they want to remain competitive.
BMW is no stranger to the electric vehicle game. With the introduction of their BMW i3, for example, they revealed their game plan to dominate this growing market space. For this company, the greater goal of the electric design is sustainability. From the cars themselves to the way they are manufactured, BMW plans on revolutionizing their automotive design and construction process, so it is more sustainable regarding materials and techniques.
The company also set aside some concrete goals to achieve this vision. Within the next five years, BMW hopes to increase their all-electric vehicle production to over 500,000 cars. They have also revealed a couple new car and SUV models that promise to extend the all-electric range to around 450 miles on a single charge. For comparison sake, a typical Tesla can only do about 300-350 miles per charge.
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
If there is one universal trend in the automotive industry today, it is automation. Self-driving, autonomously aware vehicles are something that has long been promised to the general public but has only recently started to come to fruition. Most of the major automotive manufacturers, along with technology companies like Google, have been testing out different platforms for intelligent vehicles.
BMW revealed several concept cars that were designed with the primary focus of automation. In other words, these are some of the first concept designs that show what a car looks like without the intention of a human driving it. Without the necessity of something as simple as the steering wheel, for example, it opens up new possibilities in interior design that promise to make the driving experience more comfortable and productive.
Self-driving vehicles are one area with a lot of promise and risk at the same time. In some ways, it is a technology where companies need to be pushing the boundaries to survive in the future. Should the trend become mainstream, any company left behind will quickly struggle to make ends meet on a yearly basis.
Unfortunately, it’s too soon to say how popular self-driving technology will become. If the technology can reach the point of safety and reliability that is required, it may become the better alternative to human error and driving complications such as traffic jams. Therefore, companies like BMW are going to have to get the technology to a consistent point before their visionary concept designs come to fruition.
The Future of Ridesharing
Perhaps one oddity in BMW’s vision for the future is the notion of ridesharing. This idea bucks the trend of individual vehicle ownership. Whereas it is common today to own one or two cars, the company envisions a future where automation and artificial intelligence allows the average person to get away with a self-driving ride instead of needing their vehicle.
Imagine being able to order a single ride to get to work on a typical daily commute. This means you won’t have to buy your car, pay monthly bills, or even hassle with something like parking. Instead, you will simply order the ride from your app, wait for it to arrive, and then go about your business.
Several of the concept vehicles BMW has revealed have highlighted this possible future trend. With upgraded interior displays and expansive seating setups, the insides of these vehicles seem more like a small, mobile living room than your average car interior. If the technology works out, you could realistically get more work done or relax more during your daily commute than you can in a car today.
Making the Future a Reality
Visions of the future always have to be taken with a grain of salt. It is a common tactic for automotive brands to tout the unique things they will bring into the future automotive world without ever delivering on their promises. If BMW is going to make their vision into reality, they will have to stick with the immediate future milestones they are planning for.
Whether we will see self-driving cars with better artificial intelligence remains to be seen. There’s no doubt that companies like BMW will continue to research and develop this area as well. The thing that truly remains up in the air is whether the demand from the automotive industry will be there when the technology is ready.
Get ready for more electric vehicles in the BMW lineup. Electric BMW cars have the promise for longer range, better performance, and a smaller environmental impact if the company can develop the right technology such as better batteries and motors.
In a few short years, you might just find yourself driving a silent BMW car.