Thinking, caring, driving: 5 ways your 2020 car will help

Published: 12 August 2016

► Sifting through the outlandish upcoming tech
► What you can expect on your car in 2020
► Quick charging, eyes everywhere... and Twitter? 

1) Tomorrow’s cars drive for you

The BMW i Future Vision concept explores what it might mean to balance future automotive tech against the primary directive of driving machine, showing off a high-res head-up display and a minimalist interior that changes depending on the driving mode. We aren’t talking Eco and Sport here – rather the difference between the driver being in control and fully autonomous motoring.

In the latter, the steering wheel shrinks away to give occupants more space and the seats change profile to make viewing the 21in panoramic display screen more comfortable; in the former what’s shown on that screen is reduced to the essentials for getting your back-road groove on. Meanwhile the head-up display is so comprehensive it’s approaching true augmented reality. Not only will it highlight your route on the road surface ahead it will give you optimum speed values for every curve, warn you of upcoming hazards such as rockfalls and even hidden vehicles up ahead – meaning you can apex that blind bend confident there’s nothing coming...

Rock fall ahead. BMW's i Future Vision concept will drive for you

2) It gets what you mean

BMW and VW both demonstrated next-gen gesture control at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. ‘AirTouch’ in the i Future Vision even has depth perception so you can use it like a virtual switch. Still want to feel something? Try the touch-sensitive surfaces on the steering wheel and hidden beneath the leather on the centre console.

E-mirrors to replace regular mirrors. Low-drag cameras project what's behind you

3) It looks behind for you

Long the wet dream of many a car designer, cameras and screens now seem certain to replace conventional mirrors as soon as regulations allow. These ‘e-mirrors’ take the form of low-drag pods on the outside, while interior rear-view screens create multi-camera composite images to eliminate blindspots behind you. Plus they look cool. 

80% charge in 15mins means VW reckons BUDD-e concept is as usable as a regular car. Sorry, van...

4) It charges quickly

VW’s been repeatedly wheeling out its BUDD-e minivan concept, which previews the firm’s new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform. Standard bespoke EV platform stuff – except for the anticipated improvement in battery tech that sees VW claim a 332-mile range and 80% charge in just 15 minutes. 

BMW's Mobility Mirror concept will display everything you need to know about your vehicle

5) It’s got your back 

Theory goes that even your toaster will have access to the internet soon, as will your car. This is less on-board cat videos and more smart home functionality, using iDrive apps or BMW’s ‘Mobility Mirror’ concept, which activates your car the moment you pick up the key, and relays your daily calendar and traffic info to make you leave home in good time.

Further integration opportunities include remote access to the car’s cameras, and vice versa, allowing you to see who’s ringing the doorbell while you’re out and get an alert (along with video evidence) if someone bumps your wheels in the car park. We draw the line at VW’s suggestion the car could have its own Twitter account.

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By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count