Munich - BMW’s new iNext concept not only shows where BMW is going in terms of styling and technology, it’s also set to become a reality in its own right.

Described as “highly automated, fully connected and emission-free”, the electric SAV concept is set to spawn a production model in 2021, which will take centre stage as BMW’s technological flagship.

“The iNext project will provide our building blocks for the future, from which the entire company and all of its brands are set to benefit,” said BMW board chairman Harald Krüger.

The showroom car will no doubt be toned down to some degree and it remains to be seen just what level of autonomy it will offer - notwithstanding the legislative hurdles that will still be in place in many countries.

Nonetheless the iNext concept imagines a future in which motorists can choose to drive themselves (Boost mode) or be driven (Ease model). In the latter case the steering wheel retracts and the display panels switch from driving-related content to “Exploration Mode.”

As with many of these autonomous concept cars, the cabin was designed to be a lounge-like place of relaxation and interaction, with interior elements inspired by contemporary furniture and a large panoramic roof flooding the cabin with light. A cushy, handwoven ‘Enlighted Cloudburst’ Jacquard cloth surface covers the rear seat bench, also extending into the side panels.

In keeping with the homely vibe that BMW is trying to create, much of the intelligent technology is hidden from view, only becoming visible when needed. Occupants can interact with intelligent projections on the car’s wooden surfaces and lighting accents beneath the cloth. The vehicle also has an ‘Intelligent Personal Assistant’ that activates when occupants say “hey BMW”.

BMW refers to these on-demand applications as “Shy Tech”.

It remains to be seen how futuristic the production model will be, but if current ‘i’ models are anything to go by then the radical exterior styling could actually make it through largely unscathed.

The concept has some cool features like paint that changes colour in the shade, blue lighting accents that light up upon unlocking and large opposing doors with no B-pillar separating them.

Although the iNext will certainly be battery powered, BMW hasn’t released any specific drivetrain information as yet. It will, however, be one of 12 fully-electric vehicles that BMW plans to launch by 2025.

IOL Motoring