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2021 IAA: BMW i Vision Circular is a Fully Recyclable Concept Car for the Future

The all-new BMW i Vision Circular is a fully-recyclable concept car for 2040 with a focus on how to reuse materials to create a product with as little carbon footprint as possible. Some enthusiasts might be hoping to see more high-performance vehicles at the 2021 IAA, the i Vision Circular is a interesting not because it’s fast or exciting but because of its clever use of recycled materials.

At its core, the BMW i Vision Circular is a four-meter long, four-seat electric vehicle with a small visual footprint but a capacious interior. However, it’s far cleverer than that. Every single material used on the i Vision Circular is either a secondary material — a material that’s already been used in another product’s life cycle — or one that’s sustainably sourced and recyclable. BMW didn’t just throw some recycled fabrics on the seats and call it a day, though. BMW took every single part and reimagined how it could be made and used.

 

There’s no bonding or composite materials used in the construction of the i Vision Circular. Instead, clever fasteners such as cords, press-studs, and quick release fasters are used. Even the wheels get center lock fasteners, with a specialized socket wrench remove them, thus reducing the amount of materials needed to secure the wheels to the hubs. More than that, the same socket wrench can be used to remove several other components of the vehicle, again reducing the materials needed.

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To save even more material, the BMW i Vision Circular isn’t even painted. Instead, the body panels are finished in anodized light gold, which BMW calls Anodized Mystic Bronze. At the rear end of the car, the rear panels and tailgate are made from heat-treated steel, giving the body a contrasting look BMW calls “Tempered Blue Steel”. Even the tires are made from certified, sustainably-sourced rubber, which BMW calls a “Vivid Blue Rubber”. Recycled rubber is added to the tire compound, giving it a “terrazzo” look.

Inside, very thick, plush looking seats are upholstered in a recycled fabric and get pillowy headrests. The high-pile carpet is also made from recycled plastics, keeping the interior as recycled as possible.

However, what dominates the cabin is the dashboard, which features a massive crystal-like structure that features glowing nerve-like lights throughout that give the impression the car is thinking. It’s very odd and unique. That same material is used  throughout the cabin, as it sweeps along the tops of the door panels and up to the C-pillar, accentuating BMW’s signature Hofmeister Kink from the inside.

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One really cool feature is the steering wheel, which is 3D printed and can be made with wood powder, giving it a lovely wood-grain look. However, the steering wheel itself is very odd looking, with an unusual four-spoke design that features a vertical spoke at the top of the wheel. We’ve never seen that before and don’t really love how it looks but it’s certainly unique. Additionally, the two side spokes are sort of floating, which is interesting.

As you drive the BMW i Vision Circular, you’ll be greeted by some interesting noises as well. To make the interior feel more alive, Hans Zimmer was hired to assist Renzo Vitale, Creative Director of Sound for BMW, in creating a sound profile that accentuates the circularity of the concept car.

BMW claims the i Vision Circular gets a solid-state battery pack, which would be an industry first. Though, it is just a concept car, so BMW isn’t actually going to sell an EV with a solid-state battery anytime soon.

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It’s a very funky looking car, the BMW i Vision Circular. Its kidney grilles and headlights are integrated into one digital unit, the wheels are aerodynamic, and the rear lights are built into a single glass panel. The most interesting aspect of it, though, is its circular recyclability, hence the name. While BMW likely won’t sell this exact car, it does give the brand ideas of how to create more sustainable vehicles moving forward.