The Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 Is a Beautiful Cartoon of a Concept Car
According to Rolls, the future will be large, electric, and entirely autonomous.
As part of the BMW Group's centenary celebrations, Rolls-Royce has debuted the Vision Next 100 concept car, an ultra-opulent, visually-striking look at what the company believes driving—er, motoring—might look like in the decades to come.
The moment it rolled onto a London stage earlier today, the Vision 100 joined the ranks of an elite crew of Art Deco cartoons. Think Jessica Rabbit, vintage Campari posters, the Chrysler Building. All enormous, voluptuous and shiny, at once futuristic and antique. What would the reanimated, stocking-clad corpse of Coco Chanel drive? Probably this swoopy beast, with its swept tail, fully-skirted chrome wheels and single, clamshell-style door.
Rolls leans on that very fashion icon to add a little grace to the almost 20-foot long, wildly-fendered bespoke coach; specifically, her phrase, “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” With those words ringing in their ears, Rolls-Royce designers created a cabin devoid of...almost everything. There’s no instrument panel, glove compartment, steering wheel, pedals, mirrors, or rear seats—all deemed “superfluous” by Rolls-Royce. Instead, all that furnishes the cavernous cabin is a leather-wrapped loveseat and a full-width OLED screen—a plasma TV to the Tesla Model S’s relative iPad mini. The trim is Macassar wood and “hand-twisted” silk. The vibe? Powder Room of the Next Millennium.
Beyond that overwhelming screen, the Rolls-Royce drivers of 2116 will communicate with their car through something with which they’re likely very familiar: a concierge. Specifically, Eleanor, an A.I. embodiment of the Spirit of Ecstasy that adorns the radiator shield—in this case, in crystal. Eleanor will learn a driver’s tastes in routes, speeds, restaurants, and venues, and pilot the autonomous, electric Vision 100 in accordance. Having arrived at the 11 Madison Park of the future, the Vision 100 will even park itself, keeping valets far from its lustrous gray paint.
Still, for all its beauty and presence, the Vision 100 illustrates a chilly kind of future. Will the turn of the next century be ruled by the lonely and wealthy who, having jettisoned chauffeurs, travel silently in land yachts between private buildings, exclusive restaurants and glittering galas, mumbling whims to Eleanor? Will the next hundred years be marked by as much wealth disparity as our current era? If so, we hope the roads remain at ground level, so that all outside of the age’s Rolls-Royces will at least be able to catch a glimpse of the cars’ chromed prows.