2018 BMW Vision iNext concept.
2018 BMW Vision iNext concept.

Chill out with BMW’s awesome living room on wheels

BMW expects you to lounge around while on the move in the future.

Its new Vision iNext concept, which is slated to enter production in 2021, examines how cars will change once they become electrified and driverless.

The iNext concept is based on the current X5 large SUV and showcases an interior unlike anything before.

In the back there is a large wraparound couch-style seat replacing the cramped three-person pew on modern day vehicles. Extensive use of wood and cloth and a large panoramic glass roof and large windows give the cabin a home-style ambience. The wooden centre console also resembles a coffee table for back seat passengers.

2018 BMW Vision iNext concept has a wraparound couch-style rear seat.
2018 BMW Vision iNext concept has a wraparound couch-style rear seat.

The interior makes the most of the extra space created by having smaller engines located on each axle and batteries stored in the floor, rather than a bulky internal combustion technology with its fuel tank and exhaust systems.

This increase in space allows for the design of a more comfortable "living" environment according to BMW.

The maker has designed the iNext with a steering wheel despite describing the concept as fully-autonomous. The concept has two driving modes: Boost and Ease. In Boost the car is driven manually and in Ease the car drives itself.

Minimalist: The concept is focused more towards the passengers than the driver.
Minimalist: The concept is focused more towards the passengers than the driver.

BMW executives have previously voiced their scepticism regarding driverless cars.

Ian Robertson, a member for BMW's board, told UK publication AutoCar fully autonomous cars should never be allowed to roam the streets without human supervision because they should not have the ability to choose between life and death.

"Imagine a scenario where the car has to decide between hitting one person or the other - to choose whether to cause this death or that death," says Robertson.

"What's it going to do? Access the diary of one and ascertain they are terminally ill and so should be hit? I don't think that situation will ever be allowed."

2018 BMW Vision iNext concept is the same size as the current X5.
2018 BMW Vision iNext concept is the same size as the current X5.

This ethical dilemma could arise in a countless number of situations - whether a car should plunge off a ravine or swerve into a group of pedestrians, for example.

Robertson says driverless cars could be allowed in certain environments such as motorways where the traffic is more controlled. But he baulked at the idea of a free-for-all on busy urban streets.

These sentiments were followed up recently by BMW development boss Klaus Frohlich who told the same publication that its cars will always have steering wheels.

"We are not a robotics or technology company; we are a car company." says Frohlich.

"But there are some situations - for example, in traffic - where sheer driving pleasure is not possible, even in a BMW. Sometimes you can enhance driving pleasure by not driving.

"BMW cars will always have a steering wheel," he says.

BMW confirmed that it will begin production of the electric Mini Cooper in 2019 and the electric iX3 compact SUV in 2020.


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