GINA Challenges Design Establishment

BMW Ag Shows it Can Take Automotive design outside the box and into the next time zone with the unveiling of its GINA Light Visionary Model. Conceived several years ago by BMW Group Design under the guidance of chief designer Chris Bangle, the concept roadster takes a bold leap toward what cars of the future could be like if creative freedom was given the highest priority. GINA stands for Geometry

Mike Sutton

August 1, 2008

3 Min Read
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BMW Ag Shows it Can Take Automotive design outside the box and into the next time zone with the unveiling of its GINA Light Visionary Model.

Conceived several years ago by BMW Group Design under the guidance of chief designer Chris Bangle, the concept roadster takes a bold leap toward what cars of the future could be like if creative freedom was given the highest priority.

GINA stands for Geometry and Functions In “N” Adaptations, BMW says, and aims to provide new ideas for design and how it can influence vehicle construction.

“The key to affecting the development of tomorrow's mobility lies in our readiness to challenge what is established and in the ability to present new options,” the auto maker says in a statement.

While the GINA vehicle is based on the aluminum spaceframe of the now-defunct Z8 roadster, and its swooping lines, which at the time of conception, served as a template for BMW's “flame surfacing” design that has pervaded its current lineup, it's the construction of the body that breaks with convention.

Supported by an articulating substructure of steel and carbon fiber, the skin of the GINA concept is made of a durable, flexible fabric, that allows design elements to change shape depending on vehicle requirements and driver preference.

Four large elements of material cover the front, sides and rear of the car, resulting in a seamless appearance accented by the natural curves of the design.

However, the movable supports underneath can be activated by electronic or electro-hydraulic means to change the dynamics of the vehicle, reveal features and accommodate the driver.

The BMW twin-kidney grille, for instance, can be enlarged for better cooling, while a motorized process that resembles the opening of a human eyelid reveals the concealed headlights.

The skin covering the hood also can be “unzipped” and spread apart for access to the V-8 engine, with the rocker panels and trunk/spoiler able to accentuate their curves for improved aerodynamic performance and greater downforce.

LEDs make up the rear taillight and turn signals yet only are visible when activated, as the translucent fabric is permeable but not transparent.

Entry to the cockpit is via wing-like doors that swing out and up. The elastic material creases and wrinkles as the supports articulate, then contracts to its original, seamless form when the door closes.

The interior, framed by a retro, twin-panel windshield, also benefits from the shape-shifting ability, in that controls and seating can adjust for optimal ingress/egress, as well as dynamic comfort.

The retracted instrument panel and steering wheel, for example, extends to an optimal position when the driver is present, as do the headrests, which are otherwise stowed flush with the seatbacks.

A “waterfall” of material runs from the rear deck into the interior, with the fabric stretching across both seats, as well as the door panels and armrests.

The shifter protrudes from a taut bellows positioned below the center-mounted gauges. BMW says the enhanced functionality of the GINA roadster, which will have a home at the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany, is meant to strengthen the emotional bond between car and driver.

However, another purpose for the exercise is to demonstrate new production methodologies for future vehicles.

With the internal structure including hardware mounting points and crash structures, the GINA's external skin can be “applied” in about two hours, the auto maker says, and involves far less, but more-skilled, effort than traditional manufacturing processes.

Such a configuration would require less tooling, stampings and raw materials to produce, and would be better suited for more rapid and dramatic updates throughout its lifecycle.

In addition, the aluminum frame combined with the lightweight body translates into huge weight savings, along with significant improvements in vehicle performance and efficiency.

The GINA Light Visionary Model is not aimed at production and does not preview any new model in the near future, the auto maker says.

But its styling cues may influence the brand's aesthetic direction going forward.

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