Mini revealed an autonomous electric car in London yesterday shaped by a forecast that traditional car ownership will become optional.
The Mini Vision Next 100 electric concept car is able to pick up passengers autonomously. Users of the car can change its color to fit their preferences. It parks and recharges without human intervention, the automaker said during its presentation in London.
“It opens up millions of new customers who would really like to have a premium car but maybe can’t afford one or live in a city where they can’t park one,” said Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales. “If you can reach new customers, then the scope and the scale of what we are in business with today takes a massive, massive reach forward.”
Robertson also said that the wider ground-transport market including buses, taxis, and rail is valued at about $10 trillion. Mini and parent company BMW AG are investing more into the urban mobility market expected to grow through the coming decades.
BMW is expecting to see a marketplace where car drivers won’t be necessary, and all vehicles will need built-in adaptability for shared ownership. The shared-ownership model could extend to vehicles from the main BMW brand, said Peter Schwarzenbauer, the group executive who oversees Mini, at a separate briefing.
BMW presented the Mini alongside a self-chauffeured coupe-style Rolls-Royce concept car. The nearly 20-foot-long Rolls-Royce includes an intelligent electronic assistant named Eleanor, which is similar to Apple Inc.’s Siri. A roof that opens along with the rear door allows passengers to stand and exit the vehicle.
The automaker held a similar media event in March for the BMW nameplate. Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger said last month the company will introduce its first electric flagship car with autonomous features in 2021.
Technology is opening up “fantastic new possibilities,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s head of design, in a company press release describing a future in which “interactions between human, machine and surroundings become seamless.”