It is still early in the morning when the first internal tour of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse is conducted at the BMW Group Research and Innovation Centre in Munich. The vision vehicle that the designers and engineers created is the calibration standard for future automobiles at BMW.
Visitors are led through the company corridors, past offices and check-in scanners to small elevator that takes them to a presentation room on the third floor. Their names are checked against a list of pre-authorized guests and ticked off; personal mobile phones are deposited in a locked cupboard before a team of designers, engineers and managers greet the guests.
Something feels different on this spring morning. The sun sends warm rays through the large windowpanes and the mood among the visitors is unmistakably exuberant, characterized by an almost childlike excitement. They quickly realize that this is no ordinary working day.
At first glance, the clear character of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse that stands out. As the emblem of the Neue Klasse, it precisely embodies the vision that articulates this leap into the next chapters of BMW history: a friendly, calm presence with clean lines and a reduced interior design, warm and homely yet at the same time distinctly modern. Everything about it, from the materials chosen (➜ Read also: Material magic) to the impressive technical innovations to its shape, makes the vehicle look familiar, even though it is new in every respect.
FUTURE IS BRIGHT
One detail perhaps best sums up this feeling. The side skirt made of recycled plastic is discreetly embossed with the words “Future is bright.”
This statement, barely visible to the naked eye, especially if you don’t know exactly where to look, is known as an “Easter egg.” If the sunlight doesn’t fall on the dark plastic at the right angle, you’ll miss it. The design team reveals that they originally added it on a whim and without official approval. No one noticed.
The symbolism of a detail that may seem insignificant at first glance is powerful. The design team has succeeded, seemingly by accident, in getting to the heart of the vision behind the Neue Klasse for BMW Group with such a tiny addition. More than a show car, more than a new design language (➜ Read also: The design DNA of BMW), a new technology, a platform or a purely strategic concept – the Neue Klasse is a big idea. It is the clear belief that there is another route, that innovation, when properly thought through, will pave the way to a better kind of sustainable, individual mobility, and that this has the potential to transform the relationship between us and our cars forever. The Neue Klasse will mark a significant change for the BMW Group. The ideas and conviction with which all the staff involved present their vision to us on this sunny spring morning in Munich are a promise that the future will be bright.
Authors: Tassilo Hager, Michael Seitz; Art: Lucas Lemuth, Joao Telmo Parreira; Photos: BMW; Collages: Christiana Couceiro