This is what BMW thinks cars will look 100 years from now in 2116, an autonomous sports saloon with shape-changing bodywork and a full-windscreen head-up display.

The BMW Vision 100, to use its full name, has been unveiled to mark 100 years of the Bavarian Motorwerks. Where most concepts are stylistic/technological showcases of what’s coming up no more than a decade down the line, this is more of a manifesto for the far future. Like most manifestos, whether or not any of it will happen is open to debate and that’s largely the point, we think. It’s a jumping off point for a discussion about what cars could and should become in the next century.

In format, it’s refreshingly 21st Century, a coupe-ish four-door saloon about the same size as the current 5-Series with classical design cues like the ‘kidney grille’ at the front and ‘Hoffmeister kink’ at the C-pillar. But it does have wild wing-hinged doors and that shape-shifting body.

BMW calls it ‘alive geometry’. The area around the flush-fitting wheels is made up of hundreds of triangles that ‘stretch’ when the wheels turn, maintaining the ultra-efficient aero. At high speeds, the same system extends the rear bodywork, further improving the car’s slipperiness.

Alive geometry is also used inside, there to draw the driver’s attention to impending disasters with its red edges. Driving in autonomous ‘Ease’ mode, the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard and the seats move into a more relaxed position. If the driver takes over in ‘Boost’ mode, the windscreen becomes a giant head-up display, showing all the usual navigation, communications and vehicle systems info, and the optimal line around corners. Even in 100 years, BMWs will still let the driver have fun in the twisty stuff. If, indeed, there’s any twisty stuff left.

BMW has also thought about what materials 22nd Century cars will be made from, feeling the industry will shift away from huge and expensive steel presses. The Vision 100 is formed from carbonfibre and plastic, materials that are greener than steel and carry less gigantic set-up costs. Certain elements of the body are made from the leftovers of manufacturing larger carbon pieces.

Though it may look like science fiction, much of the technology used on the Vision 100 appears to be rooted in the present day. We can’t really know what the next 100 years holds for the car industry, partly because so much depends on outside influences. But one thing is for sure: it’s going to be very interesting.

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By Only Motors