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TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: BMW’s Lightweight Cloth Car
Early last week, German giants BMW unveiled the GINA Light Visionary Model, a highly anticipated concept set to transform the boundaries of traditional car design. ‘GINA’, an acronym for “Geometry and Functions In ‘N’ Adaptations”, has a seamless outer skin made entirely from a textile fabric (polyurethane-coated Lycra) pulled taut around a moveable frame of metal and carbon fiber wires. This lightweight design requires far less energy to produce than traditional BMW models and the overall car weight is significantly reduced, making it far more fuel-efficient.
Although GINA does drive it remains, for now, a concept and as Chuck Squatriglia explains has “headed straight for the BMW Museum in Munich.” Chris Bangle, BMW Director of Design justifies the motivations for designing GINA were simply “to challenge existing principles and conventional processes” of car design, and in BMW’s promotional video further discusses the ideas behind this futuristic concept.
With a “quest for sustainability on different levels” (BMW Group, 2008) during the experiment, BMW sought to uncover alternative materials and production methods that favor working with less raw materials and energy, and in last weeks press release explained:
“A minimalist approach to the use of components and production stages yields ecological and economic benefits. As part of our endeavor to create social sustainability, we are looking for production methods that rely on the expertise of highly qualified specialists instead of expensive manufacturing tools. […] With its sensible and careful use of resources for products and their development, the GINA principle contributes to the sustainability of future car generations. After all, the social significance of the GINA philosophy is a product of its heightened application of social aspects both to the development processes and to the conscious reflection of customer requirements.”
What a fantastic example of futuristic design thinking, challenging a new generation of less gas and energy-guzzling automobiles.
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