The four-seater is fully electrically powered and is one of five different concept vehicles with which the BMW Group is presenting how it envisages individual urban mobility.
BMW has explained that under a single umbrella spanning electric mobility, digitalisation, and sustainability, the five pioneering concepts create a versatile mobility mix on two and four wheels fuelled by sustainable thinking, which comprehensively addresses an extremely wide range of mobility needs in the face of fast-changing requirements and growing challenges.
Besides electrifying the product portfolio and switching to renewable energy for manufacturing, the company is focusing particularly on circular economy principles and the use of secondary materials. These materials, such as secondary aluminium and secondary steel, can be obtained by recycling waste material and then reused.
At present, vehicles from the BMW Group are manufactured using nearly 30 percent recycled and reused material on average. The ‘secondary first’ approach is intended to gradually increase this figure to 50 per cent, according to Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.
“The BMW i Vision Circular illustrates our all-encompassing, meticulous way of thinking when it comes to sustainable mobility. It symbolises our ambition to be a pioneering force in the development of a circular economy,” he said. “We lead the way for resource efficiency in production and we are seeking to extend this status to all stages of the vehicle life cycle.”
The goal for the BMW i Vision Circular was to create a vehicle that is optimised for closed materials cycles and achieves 100% use of recycled materials / 100% recyclability. The same applies to the energy storage device: the all-solid-state battery in the BMW i Vision Circular is 100 percent recyclable and manufactured almost entirely using materials sourced from the recycling loop. It will achieve much higher energy density with significantly reduced use of the most valuable resources.
The i Vision Circular concept has a rather unique look as instead of having a chrome surround with bars, the kidney grille has been newly interpreted as a digital surface. The kidney surfaces extend across the entire width of the front end, merging the headlights and grille into an unmistakable “double-icon” that will continue to be a clear BMW identifier.
The proportions, meanwhile, take the company in a new direction. The vehicle extends in an unbroken volume from the front to rear axle, offering a generous breadth of interior usability within a small footprint. Even at a standstill, the rising roofline and a cowl panel pushed well forward give the compact silhouette the appearance of surging dynamically down the road.
The wheels form almost the outer limits of the vehicle, combining with the prominently flared wheel arches to produce a hunkered-down, sporty stance. Together with its electrified architecture, the Vision Vehicle offers a luxury-class interior on a small car footprint.
The rear end also has a unique and clear appearance. All the display surfaces and light functions are integrated invisibly into the dark glass tailgate, replicating the approach taken at the front end. When the car is switched off, only the two-dimensional BMW logo in the dark glass surface is visible. Switching the car on activates both the functional light elements and the line graphic at the front end.
BMW also experimented with the interiors as the glass roof with pronounced rearward placement of the windscreen header gives those in the front the impression they are sitting in the open air while also maximising the feeling of spaciousness experienced within a small footprint. Also, the four seats have been intentionally designed to look more look like pieces of furniture. In the front, two separate lounge seats with integral head rests create an exclusive ambience. Together with the accompanying omission of a centre console, this design has the effect of creating vast amounts of legroom for passengers in the second row.
The classical instrument panel is turned into a next-generation user interface. Here, it takes the form of a hovering, V-shaped sculpture that projects out into the cabin. At its heart is a 3D-printed, crystal body with nerve-like structures running through it, great visual depth, and an enthralling lighting effect. This is where the vehicle’s “thinking” is visualised, allowing the user to see its intelligence at work. The instrument panel also serves as an area for interaction though, giving form to the fundamental idea of creating experiences that extend far beyond displays and buttons.
The information area you would normally expect to find in a central information display is located above the instrument panel at the bottom of the windscreen. This display area takes the Head-Up Display as first brought out by BMW to a whole new level. All relevant information is projected onto the bottom area of the windscreen across its entire width. Driving displays for the driver can be found here together with communications functions and entertainment features for the passengers. Information can be moved directly into the user’s field of vision or hidden, as desired.
The steering wheel forms a link between past and future at the same time as reducing the quantity of material and components. The rim has been 3D-printed from bio-based material, with the wood powder variant shown in images giving the steering wheel a natural and warm feel.
Meanwhile, the composer Hans Zimmer and Renzo Vitale, Creative Director Sound BMW Group, came up with an exclusive sound design for the BMW i Vision Circular that makes its circularity audible. “The idea was to combine different samples to keep injecting new life into the sounds inside the vehicle, in the same way its materials get a new lease of life,” explains Hans Zimmer.
Alongside all its material and design innovations, the BMW i Vision Circular also offers the possibility of usage in a bidirectional charging scenario. Here, the vehicle would act as a mobile energy storage device and feed power to its surroundings. It can even be fed back into the power grid to help absorb peaks in demand.