When BMW relaunched MINI back in 2001, the modernized wee car was lauded for recapturing all the best parts of the delightful puckish attitude and styling cues that made the 1959 original an icon. Today the BMW Group is hoping to establish a new expression of the MINI brand, one that takes that minimal footprint, stretching it in every direction into a spacious concept, taking advantage of the space-saving benefits of an all-electric platform.
The experience proposed by the MINI Vision Urbanaut is made possible by the migration toward the skateboard-like platform of an electric drive system; without all previously required trappings of a gas fuel engine, the MINI Design team was able to create an interior experience more like a living room than a car cabin. In fact, the team of designers began plans for the MINI Vision Urbanaut’s interior before any exterior detailing was developed, using floor plans, pieces of furniture plus wooden scale models to provide an indication of size, with augmented reality employed to create a digital model across the vehicle’s 4.46 m in length.
Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design describes the MINI Vision Urbanaut as an “[extension] of the user’s private space into the public sphere”, a near-future vehicle with a form that is only “mini” in the moniker. Alongside all the expected cutting-edge features one might expect from a future-gazing concept – minimalist and screen and haptic touch-laden interface sans any buttons or switches, recycled material is woven textile upholstery, an array of LEDs to change the exterior appearance/colors of the vehicle – MINI Design proposes a novel digital-analog interface to activate personalized “moments”.