Munich: With the presentation of the MINI Vision Urbanaut virtual vision vehicle late last year, the MINI brand revealed an all-new interpretation of mobility through an innovative vision of space.
And now the BMW Group is set to unveil a physical model of the vehicle which will allow audiences to engage more extensively with the spatial concept and sustainable materials at work.
The model was given its world premiere on 1 July 2021 at the DLD Summer conference in Munich.
“At MINI we see it as our responsibility to preserve and develop the unique characteristics of our brand over the upcoming years and those further ahead,” explains Bernd Körber, Head of MINI.
“With our eyes fixed on the future, we have developed an idea, with the MINI Vision Urbanaut, of how we can take the MINI attributes – as here, with the focus on the ‘Clever Use of Space’ – into the future of mobility and interpret them in a typically MINI way. It brings the user’s personal space into the car and opens up various possibilities for them, from creating an urban oasis to experiencing freedom in the ‘Wanderlust’ moment. The MINI Vision Urbanaut represents our image of how MINI’s ‘Clever Use of Space’ could provide an answer to the needs of future cities and lifestyles.”
Beyond Driving MINI sees its future self primarily as an enabler of and companion for unforgettable times, what we’re calling “MINI moments”. Inspired by the question “What kind of experiences do I want to have with my vehicle?”, they provide the conceptual platform for the MINI Vision Urbanaut – for times when you’re travelling and others when you’re not. What this means more specifically is encapsulated up by the MINI moments “Chill”, “Wanderlust” and “Vibe”.
The exterior and interior of the vehicle change to reflect the MINI moment at hand and so give the on-board experience the best possible stage and spatial environment. Fragrance, sound and ambient lighting continue to enrich the baseline mood initiated by the chosen MINI moment. The Chill moment invites you to catch a breath and pause in the here and now.
The car becomes a kind of retreat, a haven where you can relax or work with full concentration. While the rear seat bench (Cosy Corner) invites various seating and lying positions, the backlit Loop above it takes on an appearance inspired by a green forest canopy and can also be dimmed.
In the central area, the circular instrument folds down to become a table lamp. Wanderlust is the only MINI moment where the MINI Vision Urbanaut is being driven or driving with automated driving functions. In this moment, the interior becomes the ideal place for driving the car, or being driven by it, and enables those on board to rediscover the romance of travel.
When the customer wants to drive themselves, a tap of a finger on the MINI logo brings out the steering wheel and pedals. And the user interface on the central circular instrument also adapts its visuals; alongside an animation of the route, additional journey information – such as visitor attractions and arrival time – is displayed here for those on board.
The Vibe moment puts time with other people at centre stage – in every way. Opening the side door and folding up the windscreen creates a welcoming scene that blurs the boundaries between the outside and inside. An animation of graphic equalizers moving with the music is projected onto surfaces of the front, rear, wheels and Loop above the rear seat bench, creating a club atmosphere. The car could even begin to resemble a boombox.
Sustainability As well as its wide range of uses, the MINI Vision Urbanaut also focuses on sustainability – and this can be seen and experienced directly in various aspects of the vehicle. The starting point for the concept was the “Clever Use of Space” for which MINI is renowned; i.e. it offers maximum space on the smallest possible footprint.
Although the MINI Vision Urbanaut is only 4.46 m in length, its height allows it to provide an interior space that can be used in many different ways and offers a whole new ease of movement inside the car. The electric drive system ensures locally emission-free mobility.
There is clever dual-functionality for the dashboard (it can turn into a daybed) and the debut appearance of a circular OLED centre display – which recasts itself as a stylish lamp in the Chill moment – above the table. In addition, the interior has been created without the use of chrome or leather, an approach that will also be rolled out in the next MINI model generation.
The dominant material in the interior are textiles made from recycled materials (including wool, polyester and Tencel) which blend cosiness and quality with softness and comfort. The designers also paid extra attention to solutions composed of a single type of material – what are known as “mono-materials”.
These are easy to recycle further down the line and can be turned into new products. The use of renewable and recyclable cork on the steering wheel and sections of the floor adds a special touch thanks to its natural feel, and ensures an authentically pleasant interior climate. All in all, the materials concept for the MINI Vision Urbanaut highlights the extremely high levels of visual and haptic quality that a sustainably designed interior can offer.
For all the senses. The MINI Vision Urbanaut covers all sensory angles in creating the perfect on-board experience. A key element of the interior design is therefore a carefully honed approach to fragrance and sound. Annabell Coffinet, Fragrance Designer at the BMW Group explains:
“A distinctive fragrance signature sticks in the mind and can remind you of a positive atmosphere and overall experience. In this way, we are creating another, very personal connection with particularly memorable times.”
Bringing balance to the sensory experience, Renzo Vitale, Creative Director Sound, gives the various textures of the welcome scenario fragrance an audible form. As well as the welcome sound, he also composed the music for the Chill, Vibe and Wanderlust moments.
In the Chill moment, the vehicle wraps the user in the subtle soundscapes of a forest, with rustling leaves and flowing water filling the interior – a fitting complement to the dimmable forest canopy effect. Acoustic sounds set the seal on the relaxation-rich experience. The Wanderlust and Vibe moments are accompanied by a soundtrack of specially composed music which can be played both inside and outside the vehicle.
The “analogue love, digital connection” approach runs throughout the vehicle. Indeed, an additional digital level has been integrated below several of the analogue surfaces. Examples here include the table inside the vehicle (which initiates the MINI moments when the MINI Token is placed in one of the slots), the lamp with OLED display and the LED matrixes in the interior under a layer of textile or in the front and rear ends of the car.