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BMW shape the fabric of future car design

The BMW GINA Light Visionary Model is a concept car with a difference; instead of a skin of steel, it’s covered in a sheath of cloth. And if my thinking is right, I may have fabricated an idea that could help their car go the distance…

The BMW GINA Light Visionary Model is a concept car with a difference; instead of a skin of steel, it’s covered in a sheath of cloth. And if my thinking is right, I may have fabricated an idea that could help their car go the distance…

BMW GINA Light Visionary Model

As it stands, any car covered in cloth is unlikely to be given the green light by any road agency in either Europe or the US. So for now, the BMW GINA is purely conceptual. But what if there was a way to keep the cloth?

What do you get when you cross a BMW GINA Light Visionary Model concept car with a bullet-proof vest?

Seriously, this is no joke. DSM is a Netherlands-based materials’ specialist, who — among other things — has developed a material they call Dyneema SB61, which is a material that boasts some remarkable properties:

“Weight for weight, it is 15 times stronger than steel and 40 per cent stronger than that other staple of the bulletproof vest, Kevlar. American Body Armor of Los Angeles is using the new fibre to make flexible, concealable vests just 5 millimetres thick for US police forces.”

Now, what if BMW were to skin their GINA Light Visionary Model concept car in Dyneema SB61 bullet-proof fabric? The possibilities would truly amazing.

Arguably the greatest benefit would be the huge reduction in weight, which would have an enormous impact on fuel economy. And as related environmental benefit, I’m guessing it’s far less resource intensive to mass produce a polythene fabric than pressed steel panels.

Maybe the clever people at DSM could figure out a way to make the fabric recyclable? Assuming it isn’t already.

By using the Dyneema SB61 material, there’s a good chance of few compromises in driver safety — collisions would possibly be as safe as their steel-clad counterparts. With the peripheral advantage being that replacement material may well be much cheeper than steel panels.

Gives a whole new meaning to soft-top car, eh?

Another possibility would be the ability to change shape depending on speed, assuming the material is suitable for high-speed usage. So as the car accelerates, its profile becomes more aerodynamic.

Anyway, since this is my idea, I’ll let the engineers figure out how they’d make that work. Like my college tutor used to tell me, I’m only a designer…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

3 replies on “BMW shape the fabric of future car design”

I remember seeing this mentioned on Top Gear, I’m really not sure about this, I personally don’t like the look of it at this initial stage, even though the material sounds interesting.

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