Already in November 2020, the MINI brand introduced a completely new form of mobility in the form of innovative spatial vision with the virtual car "MINI Vision Urbanaut". Now the BMW Group has made both the spatial concept and the use of environmentally friendly materials a reality in the form of a physical model of the car. The car premiered on July 1, 2021 at the DLD Summer conference in Munich.
MINI Vision Urbanaut
“At MINI, we see it as our duty to maintain and develop the unique features of our brand both in the near and far future. Looking to the future, we have developed the MINI Vision Urbanaut, the concept of taking MINI characteristics - in this case the focus on the intelligent use of space - into the future of mobility and interpreting them in typical MINI style. The new vision brings personal space to the car and offers the user a variety of options, from an urban oasis to a sense of freedom in Wanderlust mode. MINI Vision Urbanaut is our visualization of how smart use of space in MINI can be the answer to the needs of future cities and lifestyles,” says Bernd Körber, Head of the MINI Brand.
Oliver Heilmer adds: “We at MINI Design believe that the MINI Vision Urbanaut concept is best understood by experiencing it for yourself. The impression of space and innovative materials begs to be open. Therefore, it was very important for us to develop the MINI Vision Urbanaut as a physical model from the very beginning. And we just did it now. The model that brings all the features of the MINI Vision Urbanaut to life was completely planned and built in our MINI design studio in Munich.
The idea of mobility beyond driving - MINI Moments
In the future, MINI sees itself primarily as the initiator and companion of unforgettable experiences - the so-called MINI Moments. Inspired by the question “What do I expect from my car?”, they provide a conceptual platform for the MINI Vision Urbanaut and even go beyond the traffic situation. A more precise meaning of this is determined by the three modes of MINI Moments - "Cold", "Wanderlust" and "Vibration". Depending on the pipe chosen, the exterior and interior of the car change to always provide the best decoration and pleasant environment. In addition, smell, sound and ambient lighting enhance every mood of the MINI Moment.
The transformation of the car in the individual MINI Moments modes can now be fully experienced with the physical MINI Vision Urbanaut. The “Cold” moment allows you to take a breath and be “here and now”. The car becomes a place of escape, it is used for recreation as well as for work with full concentration. While the rear seat (Cozy Corner) allows you to take a seated and reclining position, a backlit loop above it creates a tinted green screen that resembles a canopy. In the center section, the round instrument folds into a table lamp so there is no more display or switch to remind you of your car.
Wanderlust is the only MINI Moment mode in which the MINI Vision Urbanaut can be steered or driven automatically. The interior is a great place to drive or transport, and also allows passengers to rediscover the romance of travel. If the driver wants to drive independently, touching the MINI logo lengthens the steering wheel and pedals. The user interface on the central instrument cluster changes its appearance and, in addition to route animation, displays additional travel information such as tourist attractions or arrival times that are visible to all travelers.
Moment Vibe focuses on spending time with other people in all its aspects. The open side door and raised windshield are an eye-catching gesture that blurs the lines between inside and outside. The central instrument cluster becomes the center of media service, and the equalizer animation of the music played on the front and rear surfaces, rims and hinges creates a pleasant club atmosphere. If desired, the car can even become a "boombox". In addition, thanks to the fourth freely configurable "My Moment" mode, the car offers great possibilities for adapting to your own wishes and needs.
Sustainability in many dimensions
In addition to its universal use, the MINI Vision Urbanaut also pays special attention to environmental friendliness. The car makes it real and tangible in many ways. The starting point of the concept is the "intelligent use of space" approach typical of MINI, i.e. the maximum use of the smallest possible vehicle and road space. Thanks to its height, the MINI Vision Urbanaut offers a spacious interior with a completely new freedom of movement, with an overall length of only 4.46 m. The electric drive ensures mobility without local emissions.
In addition, MINI Vision Urbanaut is committed to the responsible use of natural resources. Therefore, from the very beginning of the concept phase, the focus was on the consistent reduction of components and the avoidance of unnecessary waste of materials. This was achieved, in part, thanks to the smart double function of the instrument panel that turns into a day bench, and thanks to the first round central OLED display above the table, which turns into a stylish lamp in the "Cool" mode. In the same way, thanks to the possibility of changing the upholstery, for example, the longest possible use of the car comes to the fore. The interior is also free from chrome and leather elements, as is the case with the new generations of MINI.
Innovative materials of high quality and sustainability
The interior of the MINI Vision Urbanaut is mainly made from recycled materials and almost exclusively from renewable and recyclable materials. The interior is dominated by fabrics made from recycled materials such as wool, polyester and tencel. They combine cozy character and high quality with softness and comfort. Designers have also paid more attention to solutions that use only one material - the so-called monomaterials. They can then be easily recycled and turned into new products. Cork, a renewable and recyclable material on the steering wheel and part of the floor, thanks to its natural character, gives a special touch and creates a pleasant interior climate in a natural way. The material concept in the MINI Vision Urbanaut demonstrates the extremely high level of visual and tactile quality provided by the environmentally friendly interior.
It is an experience for all the senses.
For the perfect experience, MINI Vision Urbanaut takes into account all the senses. An important element of interior design is also the thoughtful arrangement of aromas and sounds. Annabelle Coffinet, creator of the BMW Group fragrances, explains: “A holistic approach to appeal to all the senses creates a truly unique and unforgettable experience. An individual fragrance note is accurately remembered in the brain and can then evoke a positive atmosphere and experience, thereby creating another, very personal connection to particularly memorable moments. At the same time, we wanted to connect the MINI brand identity with the fragrance signature for the first time. Like a gust of wind, subtle, refreshing and unexpected, the brand's message is emotionally and universally presented throughout the world. This will be inconspicuous and can be seen as a welcome scenario. To enhance the sensory experience harmoniously, Renzo Vitale, Creative Director of Sound, translated various aromatic textures into sounds in the welcome script. In addition to the welcome sound, he also composed the music for the "Chill", "Vibe" and "Wanderlust" modes. In Cool mode, the vehicle surrounds the user with the subtle sounds of the forest, with the rustling of leaves and murmuring water, which fill the interior in harmony with subdued lighting. Sounds complete the relaxation process. Wanderlust and Vibration modes are accompanied by sounds with individually composed music that can be played both inside and outside the vehicle.
Analog love, digital connection
Another aspect of MINI Moments was to enhance or enrich the analog experience through digital integration. The "Analogue love, digital connection" approach is evident throughout the car. For example, an additional digital layer is built in under some analog surfaces. Whether it's a table in the cabin that triggers MINI Moments modes by inserting a MINI badge, a lamp with an OLED display or LED matrices in the cabin under textiles or front and rear of the car, the analog and digital worlds come together to create an immersive new experience. All this can now be experienced on a real car, which is the achievement of the BMW Group in the field of model building.
Concentrated experience of the BMW Group in the field of model production
The innovative space concept of the MINI Vision Urbanaut has been developed entirely from within. Even before designing the exterior, the designers created the concept of a spacious interior, based on the layout, furniture and wooden frame model. During the design process, a digital model was created using augmented reality, which was systematically optimized. The physical MINI Vision Urbanaut has been completely developed in the MINI design studio in Munich. This is where the BMW Group brings all its knowledge together to make virtual visions a reality. Upholsterers, modelers, mechatronics, programmers and painters work together with designers, so that the vision takes on a tangible form, almost like a prototype. MINI Vision Urbanaut is not a stationary model - it can be controlled. Each element is specially designed, precision-crafted using state-of-the-art tools and assembled by hand. The high level of artistry of the MINI Vision Urbanaut is also reflected in the fact that the interior design is reminiscent of a modern living space, and the design of the model includes classic car construction, furniture design, programming and intelligent integration of modern technologies. .