All Eyes On Bavaria As BMW Promises iNext Autonomous Vehicle By 2021
Full electric lineup to happen a year earlierby Kirby, on
The auto industry is just like any major business segment in that it’s made up of “followers” and “movers and shakers.” Followers are those who prefer that the industry chart a definitive course before getting on board with whatever new evolution arrives. By contrast, movers are shakers are those who define the industry moving forward. They are those who plot the course of business and are usually ahead of everybody else. BMW qualifies in the “movers and shakers” category, in large part because it has never been afraid to stake its name in the pursuit of development.
The German automaker is doing it again with the announcement that it’s iNext autonomous vehicle has been scheduled for a release in 2021. As many of you know, BMW’s iNext project has been talked about in the past, often in vague terms. Not much is known about the car at this point other than it’s going to be autonomous and that it’s going to be the first of a wave of autonomous vehicles that BMW plans to build in the future. The latest development here is the timetable, something that Bimmer has been coy about. But now it’s official out; the iNext is now scheduled for release in 2021, or one year after BMW goes full-on electric with its core lineup.
With the long-term goal now established, getting there now becomes the tricky part. BMW says that it’s well equipped to hit its target, thanks in large part to its new research and development campus in Munich that will serve as ground zero for its electric, connectivity, and autonomous projects. Once the campus is running on full volume, it will employ more than 2,000 people, a large swath of whom will join the 600 employees that BMW already has in its ranks, most of whom are already working on the company’s automated driving software.
Not much is known about the iNext project, but it has been reported that a lot of BMW’s future technologies could be used by the car, including the HoloActive Touch system that the German automaker is introducing at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. Cross your fingers then that the technology’s debut goes on as planned.
In the meantime, we can at least expect BMW to create a new work structure among its employees with the goal of combining specific expertise in certain areas of development, which in turn could create a more efficient response and collaboration among these teams.
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Time to see if the timetable for iNext autonomous vehicle can be maintained
It only makes sense for a company as established as BMW to have a plan in place on how it wants to proceed with the development of its electric lineup and the iNext autonomous vehicle. If anything, seeing the automaker lay down the foundation of its plans is a positive sign that of movement within the company, especially when you consider similar movements that are already happening throughout the industry.
The truth of the matter is that the development of autonomous technology is a race in the purest sense of the word. No one’s going to admit it because they’re more likely to say that they’re not inclined to be first for as long as they’ll be the best. That’s one way of thinking about it; but it’s also not the only way to think about the race towards autonomous driving technology.
BMW is playing it smart by starting early enough and putting in the pieces in place to time the development of the project without having to rush into it in the end. The opening of that research and development facility in Munich is a big building block to have too since it’s going to serve as the main facility where all of these developments will take place.
Klaus Fröhlich, a member of BMW’s Board of Management who is also responsible for Development at the BMW Group, said it best when he commented on the Munich facility as an important aspect of the automaker’s pursuit to develop the technologies it needs to have with the iNext. ”The decision to develop and road-test these vehicles in the Munich area illustrates how the BMW Group and the whole region can benefit from this shift in the automotive industry,” Fröhlich added, emphasizing the fact that the facility serve multiple purposes.
The goal is clear now, or at least that’s what BMW wants to let us know. The pieces are in place and more will come in the coming years as BMW gears up for its first foray into autonomous driving technology. Here’s to hoping then that the company’s timetable sticks to its initial schedule.