• Here’s MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here

  • Here is what British brand imagines what getting around in the future will be like
  • It will most likely be less of a vehicle as we know it today and more of a pod that gets you to places autonomously
  • And that more certainly could be the case with driverless aides and driverless technology advancing at a rapid pace
  • And what Mini ended up with is a pure electric minivan. It is nothing but lounge on wheels
  • What we saw in November last year was just a mockup on a computer, however, MINI has now put together a working prototype
  • And what a prototype it is. The lounge like atmosphere will feature something called MOMENTS
  • These MOMENTS change and adapt depending on which one you choose
  • There are three MOMENTS to choose from. Chill, Wanderlust & Vibe
  • Chill mode essentially lets you relax and unwind. Cosy Corner allows for a variety of seating and lying positions, the lighted Loop above it has the illusion of a green forest canopy
  • Wanderlust is the only MOMENT in which the vehicle is performing its function for mobility
  • The Vibe moment prioritizes socializing. Opening the side door and folding up the windscreen creates an inviting environment that blurs the lines between the outdoors and indoors
  • Other highlights include that retractable steering wheel that goes into the dash
  • The entire dash can be lowered to make room for more seating
  • These MOMENTS also help the vehicle alter the mood with several lighting signatures and fragrances. MINI really wants to play with all your senses
  • A great degree of importance was given to the use of sustainable and recycled materials
  • MINI meticulously put this prototype at the Design Studio in Munich
  • MINI will showcase this working prototype of the Urbanaut on July 1st in Munich where people will get a chance to interact with the vehicle

Mini made of physical model of its Stunning Urbanaut Minivan concept from November last year

““The”” Mini Vision Urbanaut is not really a new concept as the design of the vehicle was first showcased back in November last year. The Vision Urbanaut concept has now been ultimately realized from those 3D mockups and can be experienced at BMWs Design studio in Munich, come July the 1st.

The Mini Brand Reimagined - with the Urbanaut

Here's MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here Exterior
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The British Manufacturer appears keen to keep pushing this Mini-van concept ahead. The brand’s ultimate goal is to anticipate the elements and future stylistic features of upcoming Minis with the British brand set to go electric by 2030.

With the notion of self-driving and shared vehicles expanding, the future of vehicle design will be focused more on the use of space within the vehicle rather than the exterior, which will eventually shift towards some kind of low-profile aesthetic. The Vision Urbanaut is a very smart example of this concept and Mini essentially wants you to forget the Urbanaut as being a vehicle.

Clever use of space

Here's MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here Interior
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Oliver Heilmer, the head of Design at MINI has really adopted a fairly tricky method to minimize the presence of the automobile when it is not in use. The entire vehicle is designed to resemble a modest yet functional living space.

This vehicle develops an idea of how the automaker can bring typical Mini attributes, such as the intelligent use of space into the future of mobility, and interpret them in a way that is consistent with Mini’s identity. The Mini Vision Urbanaut represents the brand’s idea of how Mini could provide an answer to the needs of future cities and lifestyles. 

Here's MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here Interior
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While the original virtual mock-up from last year was generated using just augmented reality technologies, the treatment of spaces has tangibly changed in the physical model.

As a result, it is a Mini, unlike anything we’ve seen before, more resembling a future minivan than the famed English city car created from Alec Issigonis’ pencil in 1959. But the design ethos of that original car is intact, in that it maximizes the use of space within the smallest footprint possible.

“At MINI Design we believe that the best way to understand the overall concept behind the MINI Vision Urbanaut is to experience it. The feeling of space and the innovative materials are just asking to be explored. That is why it was very important for us from the outset to also make a physical model of the MINI Vision Urbanaut.” - Oliver Heilmer, Head of Design

Three "moments" change the vehicle.

Here's MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here Exterior
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The design emphasizes smart use of cabin space, with front swiveling seats, a retractable steering wheel, a lowered sofa center console, a window-like opening front glass, and a rearward-facing camera. We haven’t seen an open frontal glass design in over half a century.

The interior arrangement of the Vision Urbanaut alters depending on what is being touted as MINI Moments. Essentially, they are like modes, where the vehicle and space adapt depending on the MOMENT you choose. There are three Moments to choose from Chill,Wanderlust and Vibe.

Let’s dwell a little deeper into each one of them, shall we?

Chill Moment

Here's MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here Exterior
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The Chill moment urges you to take a deep breath and take a break. The car becomes a kind of hideaway, a safe haven where you may rest. While the back seat bench - Cosy Corner allows for a variety of seating and lying positions, the lighted Loop above it has the illusion of a green forest canopy. The round instrument in the center folds down to form a table lamp, removing any displays or switches that would remind the customer of them being inside an automobile.

Wanderlust Moment

Here's MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here Exterior
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Wanderlust is the only MINI moment in which the vehicle is performing its function for mobility. At this point, the inside becomes the ideal location for driving or being driven by the car. If you wish to take control of driving the vehicle yourself, can do so by tapping the MINI emblem which brings out the steering wheel and pedals. Furthermore, the user interface on the center circular instrument modifies its aesthetics; in addition to an animation of the route, additional journey information – such as visitor attractions and arrival time – are shown here for passengers on board.

Vibe Moment

Here's MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here Exterior
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The Vibe moment prioritizes time spent with other people in every way. Opening the side door and folding up the windscreen creates an inviting environment that blurs the lines between the outdoors and indoors. The central circular instrument is transformed into a media control center. To create a pleasant club ambiance, an animation of graphic equalizers moving with the music is projected onto the surfaces of the front, rear, wheels, and Loop over the rear seat bench.

Finally, there’s a fourth option, the configurable "my moment," which gives customers even more leeway in tweaking the vehicle’s design to their specific wants and wishes.

Final Thoughts

Here's MINIs take on the Future of Mobility: The Mini Urbanaut is Here Exterior
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A great degree of thought has also been put into the use of sustainable and recycled materials in the cabin. For example, instead of standard leather and chrome parts, the interior is made from soft recycled wool, polyester, cork, and fabrics making the automobile feel more like a small living room, with driving elements like the steering and control pedals.

The Vision Urbanaut, is a zero-emissions vehicle and it’s not just a clay model, but an actual prototype that has a drivetrain. It joins the likes of the Volkswagens ID Buzz and the Mercedes Benz EQT in a new segment that’s heating up, the EV Minivan Class.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Vision Urbanaut will make its debut at the DLD in Munich in just a few days on July 1st. The vehicle might also potentially be displayed at the IAA show in September.

Khris Bharath
Khris Bharath
Khris is a classic car aficionado and adores his Jags and Alfas, although he keeps tabs on everything from super exotics like an old EB 110 to the latest from Lucid. Formula One is very close to his heart, and he diligently makes time to tune in for the Grand Prix on Sundays. Khris also loves his road trips and he prefers stick shift over an Auto any day.  Read full bio
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