With i Vision Circular BMW Group looks to a compact vehicle of the year 2040, strongly oriented towards sustainable development and luxury. The four-seater concept is fully powered and offers a generous level of interior space in the context of a small footprint, with a length of about four meters. More importantly, it has been designed in accordance with the principles of the circular economy and therefore symbolizes the BMW Group’s ambitious plan to become the world’s most sustainable manufacturer in the premium individual mobility space.
This “vision vehicle” is one of five different concepts with which the BMW Group presents how it sees individual urban mobility at the IAA Mobility 2021 event – Under a single umbrella covering electric mobility, digitalisation and sustainable development, the five pioneering concepts create a versatile mobility mix on two and four wheels, fueled by sustainable thinking that addresses a wide range of mobility needs amid rapidly changing requirements and more and more new challenges.
In addition to electrifying the product portfolio and switching to renewable energy for production, the company focuses mainly on the principles of the circular economy and the use of secondary materials. These materials, such as secondary aluminum and secondary steel, can be obtained by recycling the waste and then reusing it. The process of supplying secondary materials is much less harmful to the environment and with low carbon dioxide emissions compared to the extraction and manufacture of the primary material. This can lead to a major improvement in a car’s carbon dioxide footprint, especially in the supply chain. According to the company, BMW Group cars are currently manufactured using, on average, 30% recycled and reused materials. The “Secondary first” approach is meant to gradually increase this value to 50%.
BMW i Vision Circular – a direction of development, not a future vehicle
The purist front clearly conveys the aesthetic power of the circular design. In accordance with the “RE: THINK” and “RE: USE” principles, the number of parts here has been reduced to the maximum. Instead of having a chrome bar design, the front grille was interpreted as a digital surface. The “grille” surfaces extend across the entire width of the front, combining the headlights and grille into an unmistakable “double symbol” that will continue to be a clear BMW identifier. At the same time, the grid surfaces are transformed into a graphical interface. The brand logo on the front is engraved and the car emblem is laser engraved to avoid the use of additional parts.
The circular design approach exudes a purist clarity even when the car is viewed from a profile. The BMW i Vision Circular has a clear minivan design, consisting of only a small number of parts, and the range of different materials used is kept to a minimum.
The back also has a plain look. All display surfaces and light functions are invisibly integrated into the dark glass tailgate, replicating the front approach.
At BMW i Vision Circular, the use of exterior paint was deliberately avoided, using a secondary aluminum body with a light gold anodised finish. This shows how it will be possible to refine surfaces using innovative processes in the future, without the need for paint finishes.
The interior with a large glass surface gives the sides modernity and brightness. Instead of using a chrome decorative strip as a contour for the graphics of the windows, a thin digital surface was used that extends like a ribbon around the passengers. This is not only a stylistic element, but also a display and control / operation surface. It can be used to display car status information and to guide users to the door handle using the light as they approach the car.
BMW i Vision Circular seeks to create a luxurious ambience in the interior using materials and production processes that indicate a responsible approach to the environment and its resources. Thus, the interior of the BMW i Vision Circular highlights what will be possible in the future when it comes to circularity and the deliberate selection of materials – and the kind of fascinating aesthetics that could result. This involves the use not only of suitable base materials in the form of monomaterials, but also of new intelligent joining techniques for them, which avoid the use of gluing techniques to ensure optimal solutions for disassembly and sorting at a later stage. To minimize the amount of waste and debris, all components and materials will be manufactured to fit exactly by using processes such as 3D printing. Any excess material will be systematically fed back into the material cycle.
The information area that drivers normally expect to find in a central information display is located above the instrument panel at the base of the windscreen. This display area takes the Head-Up Display, as originally brought by BMW, to a whole new level. All relevant information is projected on the lower part of the windscreen, along its entire width. Driver display displays can be found here, along with passenger communication and entertainment features. The information can be moved directly to the user’s field of vision or hidden according to preferences.
In addition to all its design and material innovations, the BMW i Vision Circular also offers the possibility of use in a two-way loading scenario. Here, the car would act as a mobile energy storage device and provide energy to its surroundings – for example, buildings and infrastructure. It can also supply to the mains to help absorb peak demand.