BMW Vision Future Luxury Concept: 2014 Beijing Auto Show

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BMW’s new concept for the 2014 Beijing Auto Show isn’t the 7-Series-aping mega sedan that we were expecting, but it does pack enough technologies, premium materials and innovations to be worthy of a new BMW flagship. The concept is the BMW Vision Future Luxury, and as its name suggests it hints at what’s to come from the German automaker. For fans of Cliffs Notes, what’s to come is efficient design, lightweight construction, vehicle electrification, and an advanced interface.

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Efficient Design
The design of the Vision Future Luxury is an evolution of the look we first saw on last year’s Gran Lusso Coupe, which BMW built to mark the start of a partnership with Italian design house Pininfarina. The front is dominated by the car’s grille, which looks to be bigger than any previous BMW grille we’ve seen. We can also see slit-like laser headlights, below which sit a pair of air curtains.

Moving rearward, a coupe-like profile and sloping trunk lid significantly reduce drag and work in conjunction with tautly sculpted exterior surfaces that help channel air. Other elements include an air breather system at the rear of the front wheel arches, a C-pillar with internal air channeling, and openings in the rear apron which vent air from the rear wheel arches. The final touch is organic LED (OLED) elements for the tail-lights that pave the way for a completely new treatment of the typical BMW L-shaped lights.

OLEDs consist of wafer-thin organic semiconductor layers positioned between two electrodes. The light-emitting polymer layer is roughly 400 times thinner than a human hair and does not require reflectors in order to produce the desired broad light dispersion, thus they can open up completely new ways of using light in and around the vehicle.

Lightweight Construction
BMW says the Vision Future Luxury has been developed using lightweight principles originally developed for its eco-friendly i range of vehicles, although the automaker doesn’t go into great detail yet. We do know that carbon fiber is a key material in the construction of the concept. The lightweight stuff is visible in the doors, under the seats and with the shortened B-pillar. A full B-pillar as used in the past is dispensed with, as the carbon construction allows the seat frames to be integrated into the load-bearing structure. Combined with suicide-style rear doors, the lack of a full B-pillar allows for a wide opening for passengers getting into the rear of the car.

There are further expressions of innovative design, though. For example, the specific geometry and functions of an individual component are created from one and the same layered composite structure, comprising many different levels and materials. In the cabin, for example, an initial base layer of fine carbon fabric is followed by a functional level featuring user interface components, control and display interfaces and lighting functions, which in turn is followed by a further structural, load-bearing layer of aluminum for additional strength. Finally, the top layers comprise the premium materials one expects in a luxury car such as wood and leather. Specific materials found in the Vision Future Luxury concept include aniline leather, lime wood and silk carpet.

This principle is expected to feature in a new modular platform BMW is developing for its future models, sized from the 3-Series up. The first recipient of the new platform is expected to be the next-generation 7-Series, due in time for the 2016 model year.

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