Cars

Check Out the High Tech Future of BMW Luxury

BMW just rolled out the Vision Future Luxury. It's just a concept, but it's essentially the blueprint for the ways in which BMW will be incorporating tech and engineering advancements into their next-gen lineup. It's not any one thing that makes this concept the most awesome concept yet in 2014; it's the cumulative effect of dozens of really cool features.

BMW's design folks use terms like "subtractive modeling" that make the car seem like a derivative of subatomic theories, and in a sense, it sort of is. The core of the car is layers of carbon fiber, used for its combination of super lightness and super strength. They then add a layer of "user interface components," i.e. your gauges, lights, and control panels. Only after all that's settled do they add in structurally-sound aluminum structures to ensure it's actually safe.

At that point, they add in a bunch of hand-trimmed wood and leather. The designers' goal was to minimize the total material used, so anything that's not essential to the mission of luxury was cut out, or "subtracted." Get it?

They've left the carbon fiber visible in key areas where it does the most good, so you can see it when you open the door, under and behind the seats, and along the center console. The extensive use of carbon enables things like the doors opening from opposite ends of the car. Whenever serious engineering advancements result in beautiful, visible changes, everybody wins.

The instrument panels are all 3D, to add visual depth and make everything feel bigger, but the real show stopper is the heads up display. It doesn't just give you your speed or tell you what the speed limit is. It tells you if there's a person or a stray dog lurking in the shadows that could jump out at any minute. It highlights road signs so you don't miss anything. It's even got a separate HUD unit for your passenger, so they can essentially use it as a tablet, to order take out or get last-second tickets to a game.

So they don't feel left out, the rear passengers get their own tablet, that in addition to streaming video shows average speed and your GPS location. The tray fully retracts, so the passengers can spread out, and take in all the leather, wood, and silk carpeting that BMW has thrown in.

The fronts of BMWs are sometimes jokingly referred to as shark-nosed, so it's really fitting that BMW put frickin' laserbeams on this one. Really. Laser headlights are the future, because they're ten times as intense as an LED headlight, and because the beam is so precise, they don't blind oncoming traffic.

They're using organic LEDs in back, which means they can play around with the shape of the taillights more. BMW isn't saying how many lights they're using in each tail light, but since each OLED is 1/400th the thickness of a human hair, a general estimate is a lot.

Up front, they've employed almost every trick in the book to move air around, increasing efficiency. It creates "air curtains" around the front wheels, and even channels air through the frame to the back of the car, which is amazing.

Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor. He can't wait until all of this tech arrives on real cars.