BMW's centenary and the Vision Next 100: a live blog from Munich's 100th birthday party

Published: 07 March 2016

► BMW's centenary event on 7 March
► Vision Next 100 concept car unveiled
► Live news, photos and commentary

BMW is celebrating its centenary today at a special event in Munich. The company is proud of its first 100 years, but is keen to throw the focus on to the next 100.

Which is where the new BMW Vision Next 100 comes in. It's a classic landmark concept car, with proper 'out-there' show car styling exploring future trends and technologies.

Follow all the action as it unfolds in our live blog. Latest updates added at the top. Enjoy!

BMW Vision Next 100 concept car: the details

How does a company that claims to make the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ adapt to a future of autonomous cars?

BMW reckons the Vision Next 100 concept goes some way to answering that question. It offers two driving modes: ‘Boost’ and ‘Ease’. In Boost mode, the driver is in control, and in Ease mode the car takes over. The interior alters according to the mode – in Boost, graphics displayed on the windscreen indicate the ideal driving line and speed, and in Ease the steering wheel and centre console retract and the seats swivel so that driver and front passenger can turn towards each other.

Ultimate driving machine? It's the future BMW driving, right there

‘In recent months and years, the greatest current trend in the automotive industry has become so widespread that it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ for autonomous driving,’ says BMW. ‘BMW drivers will be able to let their cars do the work – but only when the driver wants.’

Part supercar, part saloon car in form, its four-door body is equivalent in size to a current 5-series, yet BMW claims 7-series interior space. The familiar BMW kidney grille design remains (in fact, it’s so prominent you can hardly miss it) but no longer cools radiators, instead housing a collection of sensors. BMW won’t reveal a potential powertrain for the Vision concept, stating only that it is a zero-emissions vehicle.

‘If, as a designer, you are able to imagine something, there’s a good chance it could one day become reality,’ says BMW’s head of design Adrian van Hooydonk. ‘So our objective with the BMW Vision Next 100 was to develop a future scenario that people would engage with.’

BMW centenary: live updates

A proper look at the BMW Vision Next 100

The BMW Vision Next 100 concept car has been unveiled. We'll be compiling a full report in due course, but key news is:

  • A concept car for the future
  • Built for an autonomous age
  • Two modes: 'Ease' where the car drives you, and 'Boost' where you drive it yourself
  • Four-door monospace design
  • 5-series sized, 7-series space
  • 0.18Cd drag coefficient
  • Carbonfibre and composite construction throughout
  • No powertrain confirmed yet - BMW's 'future-gazers' won't predict propulsion means
  • Large kidney grille remains, but for sensors not cooling
  • Augmented reality screen shows ideal driving line and upcoming hazards

Inside the cabin of the BMW Vision Next 100

The big guns are rolled out for the #BMW100 centenary

German chancellor Angela Merkel is here

And now we're heading over to the former Olympic Park in Munich.

Live from the BMW centenary

BMW CEO Harald Krueger on his vision for BMW mobility in future

'In our centenary year, we are deliberately looking not just back but first and foremost ahead – to the future: the next 100 years. Nobody knows what the next 100 years will bring. But there is one thing we can be sure of: Future mobility will connect every area of people’s lives. And that’s where we see new opportunities for premium mobility. To develop customised solutions, we need to see mobility within the broader context of the individuals’ lives.

'That’s why the BMW Group has developed a clear vision of the future. I’d like to share a few aspects of that with you right now. As we can see: mobility is going to diversify. In the future, people will want access to the right mobility solution for their needs in any given situation. As a vehicle producer, we need to develop a fuller understanding of mobility in all its facets and address the new points we discover.

'Connectivity is becoming increasingly mainstream. Our technologies will learn to learn from people. For a better quality of life, the BMW Group is going to turn data into intelligence. Soon, our cars will be digital chauffeurs and personal companions. They will anticipate what we want to do and make our lives easier for us. Transportation will become a personal experience that people will love because it’s precisely the way we want it to be. All of this forms part of our holistic vision of future mobility in 2030 and beyond. As always, the customer and their personal experience will remain the focus of what we do.'

Top brass at BMW settle down for the press conference

And so the press conference gets under way. The management of BMW prepare to spell out their vision for the next 100 years of BMW cars. The countdown is now on for the world debut of the BMW concept: we hear it'll be a future-facing concept, with the next generation of HMI controls. Active aero will be a dead cert. We're thinking it'll be very like the Project Gina test car from 2008. Not a small glimpse into tomorrow. More like a big leap into the future. Consider our appetites whetted...

Aero engine or car motor?

The BMW archives throw up some poignant reminders of the company's roots. BMW remains one of the manufacturers as well known for its two-wheeled products as those on four. Here's a heritage shot showing the BMW R 32 motorbike in construction back in 1923.

Production build motorbikes before cars: BMW R 32 from 1923

A decade of badges

BMW started out making aero engines, of course. Motorcycles followed - and it wasn't until 1928 that the first cars followed. Some of the car engines on show today in Munich look like they could power aeroplanes - check out the racing-spec M1 engine in our tweet above. It sounds loud even when switched off!

The original BMW badge from 1917

The original BMW badge from 1917. It's extraordinary how little this has changed over the years - most car makers' logos have evolved considerably over the decades since launch, but the Bayerische Motoren Werke badge has remained consistent through the years.

A roster of amazing BMWs from the archives is on show today

An embarrassment of landmark BMWs is being rolled out for guests at the BMW Group Classic archives in Munich. Wherever you look, there are important Beemers, from CSLs to 507s, M1s to M3s. You can understand why they're focusing on the future of the company today, but they're making sure we know where they've come from too.

Phil McNamara at the BMW centenary

The editor of CAR magazine, Phil McNamara, is at the BMW birthday party in Munich. We'll be reposting his best tweets - and you can follow him direct on Twitter here.

The invitation: come and blow out 100 candles with BMW

The invitation for BMW's centenary event

The invitation for today's event showcases the new logo for BMW's event. Like the branding for the Olympics or other major events, BMW has spent a lot of time (and money, doubtless) on getting a crisp, modern design - made up of four simple triangles, in the shape of a fast-forward arrow. Geddit?

The timetable

11.30am Press conference at BMW Group Classic
2.00pm Doors open for the Centenary Event in the Munich Olympic Hall
3.00pm Centenary Event commences
4.30pm Get-together and closing reception 

What to expect at BMW's centenary

Over to the official invitation sent out to the world's media:

'On 7 March 2016, the BMW Group will celebrate its 100th anniversary. This is an historic milestone when we will loook back with pride on a century of automotive history, innovation and significant corporate decisions.

'However as ours is a company dedicated to progress, our centenary is, above all else, an occasion for us to look to the future. The future of mobility is full of challenges - and tremendous opportunities for those who seize them. 

'To remember the past and explore the future, we would be delighted if you could join us for our major celebration event on 7 March 2016 in Munich.'

Click here to read our BMW reviews.

The new BMW centenary logo is made up of four simple triangles

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds