Back in March, BMW unveiled the Vision Next 100 concept to celebrate its 100th birthday, and announced that the futuristic vehicle would be just the first in a series of four concepts. Now, BMW possession is getting its own Vision Next 100 concept, and it looks like something from the world of Minority Report.
Also called the 103EX in keeping with Rolls’ naming scheme for prototypes, the Vision Next 100 is the automaker’s first concept car that doesn’t directly foreshadow a new production model. It’s a futuristic flight of fancy from one of the industry’s most traditional marques.
The Vision Next 100 is about the same size as today’s Phantom Extended Wheelbase, but it looks completely different. Bucking decades of car-design precedent, the wheels are separated from the body, and encased in aerodynamic cowlings. The body itself is shaped like a boat’s hull, and features a much sleeker roofline than anything you’ll see on a production Rolls. While it looks futuristic, the styling also recalls prewar car designs, where fenders and headlights were also distinct from the body.
Rolls looked even further back in time for the Vision Next 100’s party piece. Feeling that having to stoop even slightly is an indignity customers shouldn’t have to endure, designers tried to recreate the egress experience of a high-roofed horse-drawn carriage. The roof is hinged on the passenger’s side to create a canopy, which opens in concert with the single rear-hinged “coach” door and a step housed in the side sill to create a wider aperture. The car even projects a red light, creating a virtual red carpet.
Clearly, the Vision Next 100 is peerless when it comes to helping its passengers show off, but how it actually gets them from place to place is another matter. Rolls was short on specifications, only saying that the Vision Next 100 has a zero-emission powertrain, and that it is fully autonomous.
Instead of a human chauffeur, passengers interact with “Eleanor,” a virtual assistant that uses artificial intelligence to do things like check schedules, plan routes, and actually drive the car. The interior features the same high-quality materials as current Rolls-Royces, including Macassar wood paneling and a silk-upholstered bench seat, but with a minimalist design. The one bench seat faces a massive OLED screen that handles infotainment functions. Is that what wealthy consumers of the future will want? Or will the future be somewhat different from Rolls’ vision? Only time will tell.