LONDON -- Mini is planning for a future when traditional vehicle ownership will be optional and its model line will consist of free-floating robo-cars.
The Mini Vision Next 100 electric concept car picks up passengers autonomously, changes color to fit each new driver's preferences and parks and recharges without human intervention, the automaker said in a presentation Thursday in London.
It was a window into parent BMW's soul-searching over the urban car market of the coming decades, showing the company believes drivers won't be necessary and all vehicles will need built-in adaptability for shared ownership.
"In the not-too-distant future, most vehicles will probably be completely self-driving -- people will get around in robots on wheels," BMW said in a statement. "How will we justify the existence of vehicles by BMW, a brand for whom the individual and sheer driving pleasure are the focus of everything?"
BMW is facing both current and future challenges. This year, the namesake marque will probably lose its sales leadership in luxury cars to Mercedes-Benz for the first time since 2005. And after basing its identity on luxurious Autobahn-speed exhilaration, BMW may face more difficulty than rivals in keeping its brand desirable as cars automate and consumer attitudes about owning a vehicle change.