Six reasons why your motoring future doesn’t suck

Don’t listen to the gloomsters that tell you that cars of the future will be white goods. Richard Webb reckons we have reasons to be cheerful... 

I’ve just returned from a big knees-up at Villa d’ Este, north of Milan, where old money puts up with the nouveau riche in the same awkward way that Champagne cocks a snoop at Prossecco. They both get you to where you want to go, but with different snob values along the way. It’s here on the banks of the super-wealthy Lake Como where the world’s most jaw- droppingly beautiful, silly-money collector’s cars are shown at the annual Concorso d’Eleganza. 

It was a chance to mingle with automotive historians and futurologists who, between them, confirm some very big trends, like driverless cars. I spoke to Adrian van Hooydonk - Senior Vice President BMW Group Design - about automotive trends. First, I needed to get something off my chest about all this talk of driverless cars. We all know BMW’s are aspirational motor cars meant to be driven like your hair’s on fire - so what’s the point of handing the fun over to a computer? Emboldened by a few glasses of Madame Pommery’s finest, I put it to him that self-drive cars were inherently boring. 

“Not at all”, he says. “It is both exciting and challenging to imagine how we will live and move around in the future. How will we - society, the economy, living conditions and therefore mobility - change? What possibilities will new technologies open up? How will digitalisation and connectivity affect our automotive needs?”, he asks, as he sets out his stall for the future vision of the car. 

BMW Group is celebrating its centenary this year and has turned their attention to the next 100 years with customary gusto. “Technologies are getting smarter. Innovations are only beneficial to humans if they are simple and user-friendly. Technologies must be able to learn from and adapt to people, so that it seems less technical and more human and familiar”, he says reassuringly. 

Along with the BMW Vision Next 100, here’s five more concept highlights from the Concorso d’Eleganza. 

MINI took the best of Uber and Airbnb with this MINI Vision Next 100 concept. Call on this MINI 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it autonomously arrives at your location. Then drive it yourself or put it in self-driving mode. A mama mia of an Italian roadster is the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Spyder. It’s a concept from the talented design firm Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, and seven will be built. 

Rolls-Royce’s Vision Next 100 concept is perfect for unruffled oligarchs in the future, and Aston Martin will build 99 Vanquish Zagato coupés, whilst the BMW Hommage 2002 is based on a production M2. 

How about a track-only hydrogen powered super-car? Pininfarina's H2 Speed Concept is a one-off, and is the fastest zero-emission sports car available anywhere. 0-100km/h is 3.4 guilt-free seconds? Yes please. 

Article - Richard Webb,