Concept cars are often a way for automakers to present upcoming production vehicles, but at the IAA Mobility 2021 conference, BMW is taking a more eccentric path. The automaker's i Vision Circular EV hatch is a highly futuristic vehicle both inside and out, and a preview of BMW's dream of sustainable vehicles way ahead in the year 2040.
The i Vision Circular is relatively small on the outside at 157 inches (smaller than a 2-series), but spacious inside thanks to the EV platform and a smaller and lighter solid state battery. The body looks relatively aerodynamic but has a blunt grill along with geometric edges and embedded shapes rather than rounded contours. The concept comes with a light gold anodized finish that shifts to a heat-treated blue toward the back.
More important is how it's built. BMW avoided using composite materials and bonded connections to make the EV easier to break down at the end of its life. Rather, it's built mostly with recycled aluminum and uses quick-release fasteners, press studs and cords so recyclers will be able to take it apart easily. As a result, the i Vision Circular is 100 percent recyclable, according to BMW.
If you think the outside is far-fetched, wait until you get a load of the interior. The seats use a recycled, crushed-velvet like material with a pink-violet color and light mint green for the door panels and dash. Apart from the rear quarter panels, the cabin is nearly all glass including the highly sloped windshield and roof.
That brings us to the V-shaped dashboard, which looks like someone splashed blue liquid metal onto it. In fact, it's a 3D-printed crystal sculpture that uses lighting to simulate the vehicle "thinking," according to BMW. Meanwhile, driver information appears on a heads-up display along the entire width of the windshield, while control comes via a pair of steering-wheel mounted touchpads with the same crystal appearance. Each seat has its own "dedicated sound zone" that allows passengers to listen to their own music — a techie, but rather antisocial touch.
While the design is fairly bonkers, the i Vision Circular concept does offer some practical ideas. BMW aims to show how it can boost the amount of recycled materials in cars from 30 percent today to 50 percent and higher down the road. That's an application that might appear in the nearer future, even if the crystal interior is still a long way off.