At the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, autonomy and electrification were the highlights of the show. I’m not sure there’s been a proper auto show that pushed both topics more than this year’s Frankfurt show in the history of the automobile. Electric cars were no surprise, though, we’ve seen countless EV concepts over the years. It was the fully-autonomous cars that stood out most. Not just their presence, though, but their implementation. In Frankfurt, several car companies debuted autonomous concepts completely devoid of traditional interaction devices. That means no pedals and no steering wheel.
The Audi Aicon was one of the more surprising cars to debut without any means of actually controlling the car. Audi is a brand with historic motorsport pedigree, so the fact that it would create a car without any means of driver control is surprising. One brand that won’t go down that road is BMW.
According to the Bavarians, there will never be a BMW sold in the foreseeable future that lacks the ability for a driver to actually drive. Jalopnik recently spoke with BMW i brand Robert Irlinger in Frankfurt about this very subject. According to Irlinger, BMW does not “have any plans of removing steering wheels or pedals from the cars at this time.”
While it’s impossible to say such a thing will never happen, as we just cannot predict the future automotive landscape, there is no plan to do so any time soon. Which is good because I think I can speak for a lot of people, both car enthusiasts and non enthusiasts, when I say I never want to be in a vehicle that doesn’t at least offer a human the ability to take over. BMW wants to create autonomous capabilities and have cars that can completely drive themselves. But where the driver can take over if they want to.
Plus, BMWs are meant to be driven. They’re meant to be driven hard. And the idea of a BMW that’s basically a robo-taxi is one that actually hurts. So good on you, BMW.