The Future’s So Bright, We’re Gonna Ride Chaise

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BMW_M3

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After years of driver aide-nannies and “everybody’s a winner” wimps, we now have confirmed our worst nightmares: The future of BMW.

Peter DeLorenzo rants it the long way.

After being relatively optimistic about BMW’s next 100 years in last week’s column, I now have to take at least 50 percent of that optimism back. Make that 90 percent. Because when you really delve into the future-think that BMW’s throwing around, it should make every Bimmer enthusiast’s blood run cold. And everyone else’s for that matter.   

BMW CEO Harald Krueger actually said the following last week: “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.”

Oh, really? This corporate gobbledygook emanated – I hate to have to say this – from the BMW Design staff. Normally, designers stay away from this kind of unmitigated bullshit, but Karim Habib, head of design for the BMW brand, described BMW’s semi-autonomous mode as “The Companion.” “It is the analogy of the co-pilot who is there to help you be a better driver,” Habib said.

“You have someone next to you who will metaphorically help you take a curve better and enjoy driving to the maximum.” Sure. Memo to enthusiasts everywhere: Run for your lives, because this whole “autonomous” driving thing has now officially transitioned to the Dark Side.

Habib reports to Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president for BMW Group Design, who also endorsed this line of bullshit. But Habib wasn’t through, oh no, because he also said this: “We believe the brand is at the cusp of many new opportunities with new technologies for the brand to go from the Ultimate Driving Machine, to the Ultimate Driver.”

No, Karim, you and your fellow card-carrying wankers at BMW have just signed the death knell for the brand. BMW grew to become one of the leading enthusiast cars in its first century for a reason (several actually), but we are now faced with the prospect of the brand abandoning those reasons to become just another entry in the robo-car sweepstakes.

Our “personal companion”? I’m sorry, but what touchy-feely, jasmine-infused wellness hose are these guys drinking from? None of what they’re talking about has anything to do with the act of driving, instead it has everything to do with the act of acquiescing, as in, sit back and don’t worry, because your driving days are over, pal. From this point on, you’re going to be leaving the “driving” to us.

Well, “Leave the Driving to Us” worked just fine as an ad slogan for Greyhound, where it belongs, but it has nothing to do with BMW. Or at least the BMW that used to be, apparently.

Oh well. We all saw this day coming, but I think most of us were pretending it would just go away, or it would arrive in some benign fashion that wouldn’t be too hard to swallow.

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2 Responses to “The Future’s So Bright, We’re Gonna Ride Chaise”

  1. John Shank Says:

    Unfortunately, everyone is jumping on the “driverless car” bandwagon. efficiency and safety, and in the words of that crazy guy Gorman Lennox, “why drive Bobby, when you can be driven?” But, at the risk of being the messenger that is not likely to be well received, that is not the greatest challenge facing the auto industry, as cars can always be made to be driven, even as an option.

    No, I think the greatest challenge is climate change and the petrol engine. Younger generations seem to be less interested in automobiles, and they seem to be much more concerned about the environment. If all of the current rather negative climate change continues, the entire social focus on petrol driven engines and their negative impact on the environment will make it more difficult to use them as time goes on. And increasingly, as time goes on, those that are considered the social dinosaurs, who continue to enjoy their cars with petrol engines will be treated in a possibly increasingly hostile manner by more and more people as socially irresponsible and as “environmental terrorists”

    While it is my most sincere desire these things do not happen, I suspect in the next twenty years, these things are likely to come to pass, but the auto industry as whole will become just a very few producers all turning out their versions of an electric car. There will be no more petrol engines, they will ultimately be banned, and everyone will be in some sort of electric car. Not the end of the world, unless the electric car is no more than just another taxi you step into and are just its passenger. What a boring world we are moving toward. And if our grand classics are banned because of their environmentally unfriendliness, and we offered only cars that treat us as mindless cargo, then it is time to take up wingsuit jumping.

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