What started out as a joke has turned into reality. (Possibly) inspired by the memes online, BMW has turned the joke back on us starting with the new BMW i Vision Circular concept; a car envisioned for the year 2040.
For starters, the i Vision Circular revolves around four main principles – Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It showcases BMW’s approach to car manufacturing in the future. It’s all about using less and recycling as much as possible.
With the i Vision Circular, BMW wants to show its focus on circular economy principle and the use of secondary materials such as recycled aluminium and steel. It’s far less harmful to recycle and reuse them than to extract the raw materials to manufacture primary materials.
Currently, BMW vehicles are manufactured using nearly 30% recycled and reused material on average, and will gradually increase to 50%. Even the batteries are made of recycled material.
For example, the kidney grille is not a chrome piece attached to the body. Instead, it’s projected via a digital surface. The BMW badge in the front is engraved while the vehicle badge is laser-etched to avoid using extra add-on parts.
Even the body is not painted; it’s made from secondary aluminium with a light-gold anodised finish and that’s it.
The ‘striped panel’ by the side windows isn’t just a design element but is functional. In fact, it even isn’t a trim but also a digital surface much like the front grille. It can project vehicle status but more importantly, guide users to the door opening using light, as the door opens in opposite direction.
The BMW i Vision Circular does not have bonded connections with zero use of glue. It uses intelligent types of connection, such as cords, press studs and quick-release fasteners, instead.
BMW also developed new joining techniques for components to avoid using glue. This allows the components to be dismantled and easily later on. All components and materials are manufactured to fit exactly using 3D printing.
Take the fasteners for the wheels, seats and instrument panel for example, they can be removed using a special wrench with a single rotation.
Inside, most of the interior bits including the steering wheel were made via 3D printing using bio-based material. The steering is then finished with wood powder for a more natural feel.
The audio speakers are located beneath the headrests and allow for each seat to have its own dedicated sound zone. With that, individual audio content can be enjoyed anywhere in the vehicle without acoustic interference.
On the C-pillar, a glass iDrive Controller from a BMW iX enjoys a second life with a new function as a lamp.
Besides offering mobility solutions, the i Vision Circular can also double up as a mobile energy storage device and feed power to its surroundings, like a house for example.