Mini reveals the intention behind its Vision Urbanaut concept.
Originally presented in virtual form as a series of digital images last November, the practical multi-seat concept is now set to premiere as a physical model at this week’s DLD (Digital Life Design) conference in Munich, Germany.
While production is yet to be confirmed, Mini has previously suggested to WardsAuto that the Vision Urbanaut is seen as both a 5-seater passenger car and a utility vehicle – the latter as a competitor to upcoming electric vans that will be. sold by rivals Mercedes. -Benz and Volkswagen.
The new Mini concept was designed to explore ideas based on the company’s slogan “Intelligent Use of Space”, taking the form of a large, versatile vehicle whose overall function is similar to all-in-one offerings. popular in many Asian markets.
The Vision Urbanaut is seen as a possible extension of the Mini range, which is expected to expand by the middle of the decade to include both a conventional combustion engine CUV placed above the existing Countryman and a new CUV. electric propulsion which will be produced in partnership with Great Wall Motor in China.
“We developed an idea with Vision Urbanaut on how we can evolve the Mini attributes in the future. It brings the user’s personal space in the car and opens up various possibilities ”, explains Bernd Körber, Managing Director of Mini.
BMW ownership Mark is considering potential electric models to expand its lineup in the future, which could include the Urbanaut. The spacious MPV is seen as a potentially important factor in increasing Mini sales in China.
The Vision Urbanaut heralds a new take on the traditional Mini grille, octagonal rather than hexagonal, while the round headlights rest behind a milled aluminum cover.
The concept’s vertical sides have a largely unadorned appearance with a smooth surface devoid of major feature lines.
At the rear, the glass is reminiscent of the shape of the grille, while the wheels take inspiration from those available for skateboards, lighting up in one of three Mini mood themes – Chill, Wanderlust or Vibe – when ‘they turn. The tires feature a Union Jack-like tread pattern on the English flag.
Mini withholds more details, saying only that the Vision Urbanaut extends to 175.7 inches. (4,463 mm), making it 10.3 ins. (262 mm) longer than the existing second generation Countryman.
In addition to showcasing Mini’s vision for future urban mobility, the new concept also aims to create what it describes as a ‘modern living space’.
Access to the cab is through a single large sliding side door designed to be opened in tight parking spaces.
In a design touch reminiscent of the Isetta bubble car produced by BMW between 1955 and 1962, the large windshield of the Vision Urbanaut is also designed to open when the car is stationary.
The tall greenhouse and the glass roof aim to flood the interior with natural light. The lounge atmosphere is made possible by a steering wheel that stows away when not in use and front seats that swivel to face the rear.
The rear seats fold down to form a sofa, while a large digital panel is integrated into the interior trim and roof.
Commenting on Mini’s decision to build a model of Vision Urbanaut, Oliver Heilmer, head of the company’s design operations, said: “The best way to understand the concept behind Vision Urbanaut is to experience it. That is why it was important for us to also make a physical model.
Mini did not disclose the platform the new minivan is offered to sit on. However, suggestions are that it could be paired with the next electrically powered CUV to be produced in a joint venture between BMW and Great Wall Motor in China.
Operated as Spotlight Automotive, the joint venture is based in the Chinese city of Zhangjiagang, where BMW and Great Wall Motor are building a new factory and adjacent industrial park at a cost of $ 780 million with a plan to produce up to 160,000 cars per year in 2023 under the Mini and Great Wall Motor brands.