With all the recent talk about autonomous driving being just around the corner, it’s only natural that some of us are growing impatient and worried about what that will imply regarding the steering wheel. Will we even have a steering wheel anymore when Level 5 autonomous tech becomes the norm? Some manufacturers are already working on cars that have completely new interiors which simply don’t include a wheel anymore while other brands, like BMW, are moving in a different direction.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen showed a concept that, simply put, made it obvious that they have no intention of keeping you in control while seated inside. Porsche, a part of the VAG group, moved in a different direction, officials saying time after time that the steering wheel will remain an important part of the cars they make for as long as possible. It looks like BMW wants to do the same, as a new interview points out.
Speaking to Autocar, Robert Irlinger, the head of BMW i said a couple of interesting things about the BMW brand and its future, clinging to the emotional appeal the blue and white roundel has. “We are an emotional brand, so it is important to us still to give the owner the opportunity to drive their car,” said Irlinger. “By giving the driver the choice, then they can have the best of both worlds – the convenience of autonomy when they want it or the opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of driving when it suits them.”
“This is not a decision that has to impact on the comfort of the cabin or detract in any way from either side of the equation; we can have driver controls that are there when you want them and which can retract when they are not required. As a company, we are about personal mobility, not selling robotized taxis. Maybe there will be specific circumstances where that might change, but I cannot imagine them today,” Irlinger added, prompting us to interpret his statements as good news, at least for now.