BMW’S CIRCULAR CAR IS COMPLETELY CIRCULAR.
In more ways than one, the BMW I vision circular demonstrates a reduced footprint. Every aspect of the EV is governed by the objective to reduce CO2 emissions and the concept of circularity: design, materials, manufacturing methods, and powertrain. The four-meter-long four-seater car, conceived for the year 2040, represents the future of mobility, demonstrating that sustainability does not imply sacrificing luxury.
The color and trim team and I incorporate materials that aim to reduce CO2 emissions in BMW vehicles.’ Even more lavish is the I vision circular. In an exclusive interview with design boom, Claudia Geidobler, head of BMW I color and trim design, says, “It reflects the future for BMW, our goal, and how it will better society.”
‘As a designer, the concept of circularity was a thrilling challenge because it allowed us to push the envelope in terms of aesthetic, material, and style.’ ‘It was critical to make this car circular, not merely sustainable,’ Claudia explains.
This meant that every part of building a car, from the design process through production, was inspected. The BMW I vision circular was conceptualized on four pillars of the circular economy: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, AND RE: THINK are all words that come to mind when we think of reducing, reusing, recycling, and rethinking. This charged BMW – designers, engineers, and suppliers – with doing more with less, extending component longevity, enabling material decomposition, and provoking future alternatives. As a result, we have a vision automobile that is absolutely unique.
CO2 FOOTPRINT IS FOLLOWED BY ORM.
While some argue that form should follow function, BMW’s latest concept car stated that form should follow footprint. The circularity notion provided a natural direction for the brand’s designers, and any feature that hampered sustainability was rethought. This meant that throughout the design process, materials, color, and trim gained precedence.
‘The exterior and interior designers were given instructions to create the ideal canvas for my team to work with in terms of color and trim.’ The design had to be as real as feasible in order for us to consider it for series manufacturing in the future. ‘The concept car was essentially a material-driven design,’ explains BMW I color and trim design’s chief.
‘As a designer, it was refreshing to reduce,’ Claudia says. ‘We didn’t need to utilize a material if there was no décor aspect.’ The chosen materials were also able to stand out and shine in a distinctive way thanks to the clean design philosophy. For example, the architecture and structure of the car are on display.’
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The car’s exterior is defined by a clean mono-volume created from secondary aluminum and steel, which, when recycled and reused, is significantly less environmentally destructive than the parent material’s extraction and fabrication. The aluminum is left unpainted, revealing an anodized light-gold color that contrasts with a rich bluish-purple color formed by heat-treated steel towards the vehicle’s rear. Classic features such as the kidney grille and headlights are reinvented as digital surfaces, and the black bumper incorporates recycled polymers to create a smart marble visual.
Natural rubber tires that are slightly transparent are created from certified, responsibly cultivated natural rubber. Colored recycled rubber granules have been incorporated to reinforce the component and give a terrazzo look – Claudia’s favorite feature of the design.
‘The materials are all recyclable – plastic, rubber, and metal – but they have a recognizable tactility and appearance, so customers don’t feel lost or disconnected from the design.’ BMW needed to establish a balance between traditional and innovative; we couldn’t force people’s perceptions of circularity if we couldn’t reach them without going too far,’ Claudia says.
Passengers are greeted by a light, airy cabin that seems elegant and welcoming when the doors are opened. At first sight, the style appears familiar, but the taupe color scheme with grey accents and light mint green hint at the deeper progressive grandeur. The furniture looks high-end and likes it belongs in your living area. Two distinct lounge seats at the front pair its violet, velvet-like fabric, produced from recycled plastic, with a light golden metal frame and a terrazzo pattern of reclaimed polymer on the back shell. The large backbench is covered in an intricate jacquard weave made entirely of recycled materials.
Users will notice clever joining techniques that are free of bonded connections and composite materials when they look closer. These are BMW’s ‘joyful fusions,’ which include a laser-etched pattern that includes all of the letters in the word ‘circular.’ The processes allow the recycled mono-materials in the interior to be readily disassembled and recycled at the end of their life cycle. Each element can be readily disconnected with the push of a button, the draw of a rope, or the rotation of a quick-release fastening.
In the manufacturing cycle, ‘circularity’ evaluates how each part of the car may be removed, replaced, and reused. We designed a logo that incorporates all of the letters in the word circular. It functions as a key in the design to represent materials that can be assembled, detached, and returned to raw materials to be reused again,’ explains BMW I color and trim designer. ‘For example, one complete screw can dismantle a seat. It’s a happy mash-up that’s easily recognizable and adds to the cyclical plot. These items become a feature of the decor, as if they were jewelry, by utilizing a tempering color.’
A PERSPECTIVE OF THE FUTURE IN A CIRCULAR FORMAT
‘At BMW, we strive to bring fresh concepts to fruition on a regular basis.’ Because it examines so many diverse ways, including design, production, and user behavior, this vision automobile is the most difficult to realize. In an exclusive interview with designboom, Claudia Geidobler, head of BMW I color and trim design, concludes, “But we need to continue to develop these solutions so it becomes a reality.”
Thanks to the I vision circular, the ideas of circularity are already impacting BMW design. Recycling materials is used in more than only the external and interior design. The electric vehicle improves an all-solid-state battery that is 100 percent recyclable and made almost entirely of recycled materials. The car exemplifies how BMW can be both environmentally friendly and elegant in the future; one does not have to sacrifice the other.
The BMW I vision circular demonstrates a reduced footprint in all aspects of design, manufacturing, and more, with the goal of reducing CO2 emissions.
At first look, the interior design appears familiar, but the taupe color scheme with grey accents and light mint green hint at the deeper modern grandeur.
‘Joyful fusions’ processes, indicated by a laser-etched design, allow recycled mono-materials to be deconstructed swiftly and recycled at the end of their life cycle.