Electromobility, emission-free cars and autonomous driving. The mobility of the future is certainly taking off – quite literally, in fact, at the BMW Group. The BMW Vision iNEXT was not only designed for the future, but also presented to the public in a cargo plane during its “World Flight”. Klaus Fröhlich, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Development, explains why this provided the perfect setting and talks about the visions the BMW Vision iNEXT aims to realise.
Mr Fröhlich, we are on board the most advanced, most efficient freight plane in its class, the Boeing 777F. Seems like an unusual place for an interview …
Klaus Fröhlich: Exactly! An unconventional location for a ground-breaking Vision Vehicle like the BMW Vision iNEXT – seems perfect to me. The iNEXT represents the future technologies gearing up our company and our brands. And the BMW Vision iNEXT provides a first glimpse of this future. I don’t see why the presentation shouldn’t be a little bit special.
What do the Boeing 777F and the BMW Vision iNEXT have in common?
The Boeing 777F is the most efficient and environmentally-friendly cargo plane in its class right now – and, for performance and reliability, it’s in a league of its own. These attributes are very important to us at the BMW Group. This will be especially true in the BMW iNEXT in 2021.
Why are you sending the BMW Vision iNEXT around the world this way? Can you really justify something like that these days, from a financial and sustainability perspective?
For a start: The entire World Flight is carbon-neutral. We have the certificates to prove it. The World Flight enables us to present our Vision Vehicle in key regions and markets. We are bringing the car to journalists and multipliers who would otherwise have to travel themselves from some place in the world. We will also be using the presentation concept on multiple occasions – including the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, where the vehicle will have its world premiere before the general public.
How would you describe the BMW Vision iNEXT in just a couple of sentences?
You’ve never seen anything like the BMW Vision iNEXT from the BMW Group before. It shows how we can realise ground-breaking design with autonomous driving, connectivity, electromobility and services in one vehicle. Technical innovations and futuristic exterior and interior design all come together in the BMW Vision iNEXT.
Which technologies would that be exactly?
Like I said, safe autonomous and partially-autonomous driving with zero emissions. A fully electric drive train with high performance and range are a must for the 2021 model. The interior will also be completely reconfigured for a high level of ergonomic comfort and connectivity.
So, it’s not just about emission-free mobility. You are also focusing on a trendsetting interior that will surprise and delight customers?
In 2008, electromobility was a new challenge, but, by 2021, it will already be normality for us – alongside cars with combustion engines and plug-in hybrids – and part of all our architectures and modules. But digitalisation and autonomous driving are opening up totally new possibilities: How can I best use my drivetime? How should the user interface be set up? This pushes customer expectations for the interior and user experience even higher. The BMW iNEXT and this Vision Vehicle take these requirements fully into account.
How should we picture this?
We designed the BMW Vision iNEXT to be an environment that enhances quality of life – a kind of “favourite space”. We wanted to completely redefine the interior experience, and, at the same time, make it intuitive, intelligent and convenient to operate. The “favourite space” can be personalised, knows the user’s preferences and creates real added value for customers. Just think about what you will be able to do once you can be driven autonomously. The BMW iNEXT will bring a whole new dimension to “Sheer driving pleasure”: the possibility of using time in the car in a meaningful and relaxed way for oneself or enjoying it with others.
Still sounds a long way off to me...
We announced the BMW iNEXT for 2021 in 2016 – and, as you know, we always keep our promises.
The BMW Group is a pioneer in e-mobility. Why do we have to be at the forefront of other technologies as well?
Customers have high expectations for the car of the future. I see that as a challenge, but also a huge opportunity for us. Customers will expect many of the functions they rely on their smartphone for today to be available in their car – seamlessly and effortlessly. I also believe that regulators in different regions of the world will be calling for and promoting autonomous vehicles to reduce the number of road accidents significantly within a few years. So, you see: customers want it, regulators want it. That is why we are taking the opportunity today to shape mobility so that our BMW brand values are built into future products.
Last question: Can you tell us whether you’ll be sticking with the name BMW iNEXT?
Sorry, you’ll have to wait and see. Everything in good time.
Four destinations, three continents, five days and two strong partners – those are the facts behind the BMW Vision iNEXT World Flight. In collaboration with Lufthansa Cargo, the BMW Group presented its latest Vision Vehicle, the BMW Vision iNEXT, in Munich, New York, San Francisco and Beijing.