Electric supercars and Minis: the future of mobility with BMW

At #NEXTGen 2020 the German automotive giant offered the UAE its own look at what cars and bikes could be just around the corner via a digital launch in Dubai

In a world that is changing more rapidly than ever, all businesses face challenges in the months and years ahead. The motoring industry in particular will have to become more innovative than ever before to remain relevant in a world where many believe accepted modes of practice need to change.

That’s why BMW Group launched the #NEXTGen initiative. Started in 2019, it is an attempt to reveal the company’s intentions to spearhead technological development, set trends and be a force in the future of mobility.

The group is keen to emphasise its intention to not just be ready for what lies ahead, but to play an active role in helping shape it.

The 2020 #NEXTGen events have just taken place, with the UAE getting its own look at what could be just around the corner via a digital launch in Dubai.

Hosted by Dr Hamid Haqparwar, Managing Director of BMW Group Middle East, talks and film footage at the online gathering in the Emirates detailed the development of the company’s new flagship model, the BMW iX.

The Motorrad Definition CE 04 scooter was also shown in its newest guise, and the latest news and images of the highly anticipated Mini Vision Urbanaut were also revealed.

A key element to #NEXTGen is what BMW call Chasing iNEXT, which this year comprised a series of insights into the research and development work carried out by the group. Sessions at the Dubai event were projected onto an LED screen, where clips were shown around the themes of design, international partnerships, connectivity, electric drive systems, and artificial intelligence.

Virtual gaming was a particular highlight, as the BMW brand’s expansion and involvement in the world of eSports led to attendees taking part in RaceRoom gaming sessions. This wasn’t just about play though – the manufacturer sees the concept of gaming technology being crucial in the areas of vehicle development, design, production, and even sales.

Dr Haqparwar said it was “incredible” to bring the digital launch of #NEXTGen 2020 directly to Dubai. “We are delighted to have presented an innovative event that truly reflects the BMW Group’s outstanding drive developments and showcases that we are future-proof in all aspects,” he added.

Concept vehicle ‘fast becoming a reality’

The BMW iX, previously referred to as the Vision iNext, is a visionary, electric supercar. The German manufacturer says it is a concept vehicle that is fast becoming a reality. It reveals a “fresh interpretation of design, sustainability, driving pleasure, versatility and luxury”. The car, sleek and minimalistic yet still clearly of the BMW stable, has been developed from scratch.

The company has packed the latest innovations in the fields of electrification, automated driving and connectivity into the iX’s suitably glamorous chassis. For driver and passengers alike, the car has been designed to ensure maximum comfort and security, with a complete reimagining of the inner and outer proportions of a vehicle of this type.

The iX will go into production at the company’s Dingolfing plant later in 2021, and the company is clear that is will be a statement vehicle that will reflect more than just a fresh motoring experience.

“The BMW Group is constantly striving to re-invent itself,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW. “That is a central element of our corporate strategy. The BMW iX expresses this approach in an extremely concentrated form.”

Scooter concept set for life in the real world

Like the iX, BMW Group’s Motorrad CE 04 scooter concept is not a far-off pipe dream. First unveiled in 2017, the company says the new vehicle is approaching production readiness.

The Motorrad is a two-wheel electric vehicle designed to make movement around metropolitan areas as convenient, practical, and stress-free as possible.

Looks-wise, it’s remarkably similar to the prototype, but a quick glance will show it is a clear departure from standard scooter or, indeed, motorbike styling. Notable elements include an elongated, low body, a diagonally rising front end, and a full complement of sharply defined edges from nose to tail. The rider is in an upright position, which ensures keeping a close eye on what is happening on busy roads is kept as straightforward as possible.

Tech-wise, the Motorrad allows users to connect to a 10.25-inch display, similar to what cars have been using for some years now.

This isn’t the absolute final product that will go into production, but BMW assures us it is a “concrete preview” of what will be taking on city roads in the near future.

Small is beautiful — believe it

Back when they were first developed, Minis followed the example of Doctor Who’s Tardis by seeming to get more room inside the car than it would appear from the outside. Now comes the latest concept version, the Vision Urbanaut, and, with a name like that, it’s a fair bet it’ll be packed with the same kind of tech planned for the iX.

It is certainly a departure from the earlier versions, but it retains signature elements such as the headlights and radiator grille, but adds a number of firsts, including illuminated wheels. More like a van than anything in the brand’s history, BMW says it is a vehicle that “makes the most of a small footprint”.

Inside, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a snug living room. The layout is interchangeable, allowing for a variety of different seating arrangements.

Like the iX and the Motorrad, the Urbanaut is, of course, electric, and BMW has designed it with the possibility of employing automated driving.

“The Mini brand has always stood for 'Clever Use of Space',” Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design, said. “In the Mini Vision Urbanaut, we extend private space far into the public realm, creating completely new and enriching experiences.”