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BMW i Vision Circular Concept blends sustainability with luxury

IAA Mobility 2021

Sustainability is the key theme that BMW is showcasing at the 2021 Munich auto show. The brand’s i Vision Circular Concept is constructed with reusable or renewable materials. The BMW i Vision Circular Concept aims to prove that it is possible to make a vehicle that’s 100 percent recyclable. Besides using fully electric powertrains, BMW is using secondary metals that came from recycling waste, which produces less carbon dioxide. BMW Group vehicles currently use 30 percent secondary materials and are expected to gradually increase to 50 percent.

The all-electric BMW i Vision Circular Concept uses a solid-state battery that’s fully recyclable. It’s also built specifically with materials sourced from the recycling loop, enabling it to have higher power and energy density while reducing the number of primary resources used. “We gave thorough consideration to circularity from the outset during the design process for the BMW i Vision Circular,” explained Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of Design at BMW Group. “As a result, this Vision Vehicle is packed with innovative ideas for combining sustainability with a new, inspirational aesthetic — we call this approach ‘circular design.”

Re: Think, Re: Duce, Re: Use, and Re: Cycle are the four key pillars in creating the i Vision Circular Concept. This means changing the way vehicles are designed to enable them to use more secondary materials. Its interior, on the other hand, uses more plant-based raw components to minimize its carbon footprint. Reusability is also key to the car because its parts are intended to be reused again at the end of its life cycle. There are no bonded connections or composite bits in favor of cords, quick-release fasteners, and press studs. “BMW has always known how to resolve apparent contradictions in its products,” notes Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design. “With the BMW i Vision Circular, we have set ourselves the challenge of designing a 100% circular vehicle, while at the same time meeting — and in some respects exceeding — our customers’ self-evident expectations when it comes to lifestyle and luxury.”

At roughly 157.4 inches long, the i Vision Circular Concept has a tidy exterior footprint. You’ll notice the new take on BMW’s twin-kidney grille, which has been enclosed and spans the whole front fascia, merging together with the car’s headlights. Since it’s enclosed, it has a cool pattern embedded in it. The BMW logo has been enclosed to avoid adding additional parts.

From the side, the i Vision Circular Concept looks like a tall, unconventional wedge. It looks like a single-box design with lots of glass area. The pattern found on the grille is mirrored around the window surrounds and the wheels. A BMW logo is also embedded on the C-pillar. Since the car has suicide doors, it lacks a B-pillar. Moving on to the rear, you’ll find that the taillights are integrated just below the glass area and have the same pattern as the headlights.

The four-seat interior features a combination of gray and mint green upholstery and gold-bronze trim. A massive glass roof with an electronic dimming function adds a sense of airiness while the seats are finished in violet to contrast with the rest of the cabin. The V-shaped instrument panel has a floating design and a crystal centerpiece flanked by natural wood. Instead of a traditional screen, the infotainment system is projected at the bottom of the windshield and can be operated whether you’re inside or outside of the vehicle. A 3D-printed steering wheel composed of bio-based material features the same crystal controls on the dash and a pair of touchpads.

BMW raised the rear seats slightly and can be easily dismantled for recycling. The fabric upholstery is made of 100 percent recycled materials while the frame is joined with the rest of the seat with a cord. Certain components like the interior light domes are repurposed and recycled glass controllers from the BMW iX crossover. The sound the car makes is inspired by the recyclability of its components.

Like many new battery-electric vehicles, the i Vision Circular has bi-directional charging capability. That allows it to be used as a power source and give power back to the grid. It can also communicate with other vehicles to get real-time and long-term traffic data to determine traffic light phases and flow of traffic. An app will also be available to showcase how the i Vision Circular was made.

The BMW Group will feature a Re: BMW Circular Lab at the 2021 Munich auto show for those interested in learning more about the circular economy. With the BMW i Vision Circular Concept, the company aims to re-imagine the idea of luxury and personal mobility by seamlessly integrating sustainability as part of its approach to building cars.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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