BMW has revealed its radical, fabric-skinned concept car called the GINA Light Visionary Model
10 June 2008

BMW has finally revealed the radical concept car which has already influenced all of its current production cars and will continue to shape future models such as the soon-to-be-launched X1 mini-SUV.

The car, called the GINA Light Visionary Model, is a revolutionary fabric-skinned sports car concept —which can change its shape radically and quickly, according to desires or to conditions and speeds.

Amazingly the concept dates from as early as 2001 but BMW’s design chief Chris Bangle claims that it was the first fruit of years of work by BMW Design teams to cater for what they see as buyer demands in 10 years’ time.

The concept, though built on the now defunct Z8 roadster, was conceived to show that it may be possible one day for owners to be able to choose from a variety of outer shapes and functions offered around one broad mechanical envelope.

The GINA roadster designers also believe the car’s enhanced adaptability to a driver’s needs increase the emotional connection between driver and car. It could also, he believes, be a way of enticing more young people to car buying – a sector of the market that is increasingly choosing not to run a car.

The GINA roadster’s flexible, stretchable fabric skin is a man-made product that resists water, high or low temperatures and doesn’t swell or shrink. The essential shapes are formed beneath the skin by a metal wire structure, though at points where movement is needed (ducts, door openings, spoiler) flexible carbon struts are used.

Though the GINA’s skin appears seamless, it can, for instance, “grow” a higher rear spoiler for stability at high speed. The doors are each covered by a fabric piece reaching all the way from the nose of the car to their trailing edge. When closed, they leave a perfectly smooth stretched surface. When the car is parked, the car’s steering wheel and array of round instruments sit in an ‘idle’ position on the centre console to allow the driver easy entry. The steering wheel and instruments assume their correct positions when the driver presses a simple start button.

Bangle and his designers are not claiming their fabric bodied roadster will lead directly or even indirectly to production. But the design boss has admitted that it has already influenced the current generation of BMWs. His experiences of using cloth, he claims, have led to him and his team experimented heavily with the extending the boundaries of what shapes steel can be pressed into: hence the extravagent forms boasted by some of the current line-up.


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Bangle also believes that the GINA car contains the seeds an elegant solution to future demands for affordable premium vehicles that have a high bespoke content, and whose manufacturing process is considerably greener than today’s.

Steve Cropley

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10 June 2008

The world says "White" and Chris Bangle says "Black".

How many more BMWs could they sell if this man wasn't guiding things? My budget runs to something 1, 3, or 5 series sized. The 1 is ugly, the 3 is bland and badly surfaced on the rear three quarters, the 5 is dated badly and needs large ride crippling wheels. The Z4 is ugly in my eyes, but some do love it I suppose. I like the 3 series coupe, but a premium for two less doors sticks in the throat a bit.

This new car is monstorous. OK so it's a study to show shape shifting, which is certainly interesting, but those surfaces, oh dear.... It seems we'll have to wait a long time for elegance from BMW (a good opportunity for Jaguar as Audi is losing it's way too?). Maybe you'll be able to modify the panels yourself, or perhaps have a small child do it, as it couldn't be much worse.

PS - just seen the BMW M1 Hommage in another magazine. It's like a 70s throwback with bad surfacing.

10 June 2008

Some obscure guy by the name of Henry Ford out of Michigan did this 'bout eighty years ago. Look up Henry and hemp.

Bangle strikes again. Ugly cars, uglier plagiarism.

10 June 2008

These disparaging remarks are anything but wide of the marque. In defence of Chris Bangle, BMW would argue that its sales have increased year-on-year ever since he took over design leadership. What this doesn't tell you is that, while BMW's sales figures are increasing, the rate of increase is substantially lower than that of the other German brands: Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen. In other words, BMW is losing market share relative to its peer group. Analysis of sales in both the USA and Europe over the last 5 years bears this out. BMW still makes great cars with superb engines. But somehow, they are no longer as desirable as they used to be. They have lost that edge. They polarise opinion. Look at Mercedes-Benz's new C-Class or Audi's new A4, both move the game on quite a bit beyond their predecessors. If you want a lesson in elegant styling in this segment, look no further than the Lexus IS. (Just a shame that the rest of the car fails to live up to its exterior quality.) Moreover, while Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen have all been introducing new model variants, the best BMW has been able to do is the X6. Another car that polarises opinion. And it is hardly what you'd call mainstream. So I worry for BMW. I think it has lost its way. If it is still an independent brand in 20 years time, I shall be surprised. In fact, the only thing that keeps the Group performance from looking decidedly lacklustre is Mini. Fortunately, Chris Bangle hasn't been allowed to mangle its elegant and classic proportions.

10 June 2008

Got to hand it to Chris Bangle (Dave Stewart, Eurythmics), he has come up with some weird looking stuff over the years and yet people still buy it. It's obvious that most are trying to buy into the whole BMW experience. But most of the people I know who have BMW's are not the type to notice the difference in a cars handling characteristics, the whole ownership thing can't be the best otherwise they would top JD power and other surveys.

Take one of my colleagues at work, her husband has a 53 plate 320 d, his boss has told him to look around to get a new car. He wants the Lexus IS fully loaded, I then said to her the Toyota's are good cars these days!!! all of a sudden she hates the Lexus and is forcing him to consider another 3 Series, adding that she just likes the way they drive. Total Bolloxs. He is sick of the hard ride and the fact it is damaging his back, yet will now go out and get the latest 320dse with Msport suspension and run flat tyres!!!!

All because the lady loves the badge, she never drives the bloody thing.

Back to the topic though, I would love to see how a car that changed it's shape would pass the crash tests!!

10 June 2008

[quote brakedust]These disparaging remarks are anything but wide of the marque. [/quote]

Just a tip mate: your phraseology is too convoluted. 'Disparaging' usually denotes a negative view but the latter part of your sentence suggests agreement!?! And it's mark not 'marque'.

Don't agree with you about a faltering BMW AG. They still have excellence in engines as their core. The 1 series is selling almost as much as the 3 series, in Germany at least. Mercedes are having to struggle to respond with new A/B class editions. BMW's problem, if you can call €3+bn euro profit last year a problem, is low profit margin. The Board wants to double it from about 3-4% currently to 6-8% within three years or so. They have made many redundancies in Germany already this year. Audi, of the prestige German triumvirate, is pushing hardest to double its sales by 2015. It is better placed than BMW in China for instance.

10 June 2008

[quote Jon Hardcastle]all of a sudden she hates the Lexus and is forcing him to consider another 3 Series[/quote]

Not that it's germane to the thread topic but tell the guy to grow a pair - talk about by the balls!

10 June 2008

It's an interesting idea - but imagine the damage that a drunken hoodie with a Stanley knife could inflict. And where would you go to get the damage fixed? A bodyshop or a tailor?

10 June 2008

Really surprised about the negativity around this concept. I am anything but a fan of Chris Bangle, but can only admire this brilliant piece of fresh thinking.

10 June 2008

Chris Bangle is commonly regarded as an aesthetic imbecile. We got a chance to see the man and his design ideas at a trade seminar last year and he left many of the assembled delegates amazed by the lack of any worthwhile content in his thought processes and his apparent self regard. His impact on IBM, whose sales have grown by less than BMWs rivals in the booming Premium sector, despite good engines and chassis ( run flat tyres excepted) is depressing.

Little of Bangles features are original, the banana sideskirt featured in the ugly renault 14 which failed against the peugeot 205, the concave sides saw brief light in the austin montego, the high rump has denied drivers a view of the road on a Mann styled austin princess and the high sides little glass featured on an untypically ugly alfa Z coupe of the eighties.

To be fair there is some small originality. I can't think off-hand of anyone else who used drooping outer edges to the headlights as on the One series, which together with the quickly abandoned downturned 'mouth' in the front valence made the front of that car look like Munch's depressive cancavss 'The Scream'. Nor of anyone who has adorned the flanks of his designs with quite so many flacid curved lines starting from nowhere in particular and petering out aimlessly, an ilustration of more-is-less.

Ultimately however, we should not however blame him for limitations of which he will never be aware, the blame must lie with the Directors who hired him in the first place, and have since failed to admit their error and fire him.

I hope to buy another BMW, but it doesn't look as though it will be anytime soon.

10 June 2008

I must be the only person who thinks it's quite cool.

Imagine having no more carpark dings and dents in your doors from people less thoughtful than yourself. Less stone chips perhaps too?

Those front lights are brilliant.

Although I would be worried about people being jealous and giving it a once over with a stanley knife.

Also, how do I wax my fabric car?


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