DesignworksUSA, BMW’s in-house design subsidiary, has been chosen to dream up the next batch of train cars for the San Francisco Bay Area’s BART, the fifth largest light-rail train system in the U.S. These new train cars, called “The Fleet of the Future,” will replace the existing cars in service since BART’s inception in 1972. DesignworksUSA believes that its experience in the transportation field will help it bring a premium ridership experience to BART when the trains go online in 2017.
“We are passionate about creating innovative solutions for mobility in increasingly dense urban centers such as the Bay Area, and we are excited as our collaborative partnership with BART gets underway,” says Laurenz Schaffer, president of BMW Group DesignworksUSA
DesignworksUSA will be in charge of styling the interior and exterior of the train cars, which it says will incorporate a unique style and shape. The firm will also be charged with designing the operator’s cab, a task that requires a balance of styling and ergonomics when considering the placement of the train’s controls. Since BART’s mission is to provide a practical alternative to driving – an alternative that’s currently utilized by 350,000 people a day – DesignworksUSA believes it can help attract new riders with its expertise in designing in the train, aviation, and automotive categories.
As BART currently operates the oldest fleet of trains in the U.S., the cars could definitely use an update. Given DesignworksUSA’s extensive transportation portfolio, designing BART’s “Fleet of the Future” should be a walk in the park for the nearly-40-year-old firm. No word yet on what company is actually building the rolling stock, but seeing as Siemens and DesignworksUSA have previously partnered on another subway/ light rail vehicle project, we wouldn't be shocked if the two firms are pairing for this project.
While it seems weird to consider we may soon be riding on "BMW-designed subways" in the future, the assignment is nothing that unusual for BMW's design wing. DesignworksUSA has also lent its unique styling touch to many other things over the years, both within and outside the transportation field. Here are five of our favorites from the famed design company.
AVX400 Wind Turbine – Contracted by AeroVironment, a developer of green energy solutions, DesignworksUSA was tasked with drafting an aesthetically pleasing wind turbine with a design that would allow it to be placed atop a building without it looking too out of place. The result is the sleek, clean energy-generating windmills you see here. With plenty of curves, the firm says its design is meant to be seen, but still effortlessly blends into whatever building it’s placed on.
BMW-Sauber F1 Hospitality Suite – Before pulling out of Formula 1 competition in 2009, BMW asked its design wing to create a new brand identity for its F1 team, formerly BMW-Sauber F1, while also maintaining the glamorous image the top-tier motorsport series is famous for. Open to VIPs and F1 officials, this mobile hospitality suite traveled with the team to race venues around the world, wowing all who stepped inside with its vast open spaces and elegantly arranged rooms.
BMW G 650 Xcountry – Few two-wheeled vehicles can keep our attention like BMW’s extreme dual-sport, the G 650 Xcountry. DesignworksUSA took the concept of the scrambler, a trend popular in the ‘50s and ‘60s that essentially took a street bike and converted it for off-road use, and brought it into the modern age while also simplifying it down to its most basic elements. The look is classic and sporty, while still giving the impression of off-road capability, which is an area where the Xcountry is also more than competent.
Intermarine 55 Yacht – Having styled land-going yachts like the BMW 7 Series, DesignworksUSA took to the waves with its talents and conceived the Intermarine 55. With a streamlined, bullet-like hull design, this yacht certainly looked the part of a multi-million-dollar designer boat. Inside, the large, rectangular windows make the already cavernous interior feel even more spacious. The cabin’s master bedroom is also suitably large for a floating palace, and comes complete with a king-size bed.
Sirena Espresso Machine – Partnering with Starbucks Coffee, BMW’s design wing took on the challenge of bringing the coffee house experience to a home appliance. Drawing inspiration from art deco styling and also incorporating elements of early espresso machines, DesignworksUSA produced a coffee maker few would have a problem displaying on their countertops. While most coffee connoisseurs might not care how good the appliance that brews their favorite blend looks, it’s an added bonus to be able to say your espresso machine was penned by the same hands that designed the BMW Z4.