GINA is over 10 years old!

People always ask us about the latest news, what our sources say and what will come to fruition. Even with the greatest sources and information some things that are in design never make it to production or even designs are so secretive only a few people know about them.

The GINA concept is the latter. No one has ever indicated its existence. The funny thing is it has shaped much of the current model design of BMW and has been around for a long time. It will be at the BMW museum not as a new concept but as part of the history of the brand.

That period of design is history so BMW has decided to “declassify ” it to the rest of us.

Read on for more of the history

Here the background on the GINA concept from Carmagazine

By Nargess Shahmanesh-Banks

Who’d have guessed that BMW’s latest concept car would be made of cloth? The GINA Light Visionary Model – unveiled today – is a far-flung research concept from Munich that has shaped the latest generation of BMWs. This car can change shape and surface at the flick of a switch, and the ‘GINA ‘ principles it espouses have been used to craft today ‘s BMW design language.

Fancy flame surfacing today? No worries – tap a switch and your bodywork goes all taut-edged and angry. Prefer to go more classical and clean-edged? Not a problem. GINA does it all.

BMW GINA: what it all means

BMW design has been known to ruffle a few conservative feathers in the past, and today ‘s disclosure of its GINA process is bound to raise eyebrows. Standing on its 20-inch alloys, the Light Vision Model concept looks like a modern-day BMW sports car, displaying taut sculpted muscles and the brand’s unmistakable signature form language of flame surfacing.

Yet the Light Visionary Model is not made of metal but of cloth. The virtually seamless stretch fabric is secured on a meshwork of metal wires that shields the movable substructure beneath.

Made of cloth?! Has Chris Bangle finally lost the plot?

Bear with us here. The BMW group design director explained at length to CAR the method in his madness at a private viewing ahead of the official media launch in the newly renovated BMW museum in Munich.

The Light Vision Model is part of a project that has shaped BMW design for a decade and led to ground-breaking developments such as iDrive and flame surfacing. It ‘s the ultimate expression of the company ‘s GINA design mantra. ‘The cloth can change your mind about what a car can be,’ he says mysteriously. Click ‘Next’ below to read more of Bangle’s explanation…

So how much can the BMW Light Vision Model change shape? Are we talking Transformers here?

There’s more to GINA than its fabric skin – this car allows for extreme degrees of personalisation, as individual elements of the substructure are movable too. Electro-hydraulically controlled, they change their position to help the flexible fabric skin move to take on entirely new shapes.

For instance, as soon as the driver flicks on the lights, the closed fabric covering over the Light Vision Model ‘s headlights gradually unpeels, making the car seem almost alive.

Another sensor slowly opens the door, triggering shark-like creases across the profile. Another lifts the beltline slightly, forming a more aggressive stance.

And inside BMW ‘s GINA concept?

Prepare to step into the concept ‘s stark cloth cabin, and the car awakens; the centre console and instrument panel swivel to almost cocoon the driver and previously invisible headrests delicately rise from the minimalist seats.

It’s an eerily weird experience – this car lays bare the thinking that has been shaping future BMWs for the most part of this decade. Only now that Bangle ‘s revolution is over have the top brass in Munich allowed this internal concept car to be revealed.

‘We are going to have to find new ways to adapt to how the world sees cars, what they want from them and over what lifespan,’ explains Bangle. ‘In this context, we have to offer a product that is more about lifestyle and personalisation statements.’

BMW Light Vision Model: based on a Z8

The two-seater roadster you see here is based on a Z8 chassis, as BMW’s Californian think-tank Designworks was working on the spaceframe car around the same time it started the GINA project. The concept was then shipped over to Munich where head of exterior design, Anders Warming, evolved it into a full-life sculpture.

So just how much should we read into this latest, old-but-new and very definitely zany BMW concept car? The Munich company – like others – is always probing future techs and sometimes works at a very advanced level of crystal-ball gazing.

BMW’s designers argue that it’s only through such experimentation that we’ve ended up with today’s iDrive multi-controller (although some would debate whether that’s a good thing…).

For all its sins, iDrive is one example of personalisation – by giving customers the choice of which functions to display on the menu screen.

Enough claptrap! Will BMW ever build cloth cars?

Get real. Of course BMW is not seriously planning to build cars made from cotton or nylon. The GINA programme is all about ideas – this is a concept car in the classic, exploratory sense of the phrase.

‘It was like a lightning rod triggering discussions on where this could lead in terms of production and manufacturing,’ Bangle claims. BMW regularly challenges current manufacturing methods and is working on rapid systems that allow a way of digitally creating car parts for a fraction of the cost; this was actually used to craft the Z4 M’s bonnet, apparently.

BMW ‘s GINA thinking: a long-range forecast

‘It would be wrong to say BMW’s future is cloth cars,’ says Bangle. ‘But it does make you think about cars differently – that’s the whole idea behind it.’

So Gina is a future vision of the automobile, and an object of research.

‘The M1 Hommage and CS concepts are where we are at aesthetically,’ says Bangle. ‘This car is about far in the future.’

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  • Barry

    Too bad it wasnt made by VW/AUDI. (VAG) haha…I had to. Sorry fellas. 🙂

  • Barry, If it was made by VAG there would be nothing inside of what you see… you know like sound deadening materials… or even quality fasteners or even ducts to the brakes… 🙂 With VAG it is all about what you can see… BMW is more the other way around, I rather have the latter! I can bash Audi all I want… I have had a few of them and still (unfortunately) have one in the garage that will likely be out of commission for a while at 23K miles it has a severe oil leak.

  • Barry

    I think you missed what I was saying Michael. If you combine VAG with the name of the concept, you get something totally different…lol


  • I get it now… I thought you were saying that if VAG had created it there would never had been the Bangalized flame surfacing 🙂

  • Barry

    Haha..good! VAG’s quality still scares me. I had a 2002 VW and the days the CEL light didnt come on was a blessing! AUDI does have the nicest interiors though. If Audi’s drove like BMW, BMW would cease to exist. If BMW’s had Audi’s interior, Audi would cease to exist. My .02

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  • marc


    28-02-2009 11:52

    “The ‘Gina’ concept car covering was patent protected ” Rome, 28 Feb. (Apcom) – The ‘Gina’ BMW is a prize-winning concept car, but the idea of using a fabric covering for the bodywork is now said to have been copied from an Italian. This is the subject of the lawsuit initiated by fashion designer Giuseppe Bianco, owner of a number of young fashion labels, and filed with the Rome Public Prosecutor a few days ago. Public Prosecutor Marcello Monteleone is believed to be assessing the case presented by lawyer Carlo Cirillo, which contains allegations of counterfeiting under articles 473 and 474 of the penal code and under the provisions of the so-called ‘industrial property code’, as defined in the law of 10 February 2005, number 30, article 127. Specifically, according to the lawsuit, Bianco designed an exclusive procedure in 2005 by which any covering material, from leather to fabric to more technical materials, could be applied to the external body of cars and other motor vehicles, “making the covering impermeable and resistant to atmospheric agents”. After registration of the patent, exhibition at the 2006 Bologna Motor show, and coverage on the Tg5 Italian TV channel, Bianco was confident, happy in the knowledge that he had invented something innovative. Then, in the middle of 2008 he discovered that BMW had presented a concept car with a fabric body: the Gina, acronym for ‘Geometry and functions in ‘n’ adaptions’. So Bianco felt that there was nothing for it but to assert his rights. The battle between this small inventor from Italy and the German colossus began last August, when lawyer Carlo Cirillo informed the legal offices of BMW that his client was the “owner of the rights following the filing of a formal application to register the patent for a fabric covering for motor vehicles” and warning the German company to “cease any activity in conflict with this”. After further contacts between lawyer Carlo Cirillo and the legal consultants from BMW’s patents office, and despite all the documentation presented in support of Bianco’s case, the Gina was exhibited at the museum in Munich and from 11 to 15 February of last year at the Salon Concept Car Hotel National des Invalides Plauce Vebaun, in Paris. As reported in the newspapers, at that event in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, the Gina won the award of ‘Grand prix du plus beau concept car de l’annèe 2008’. But Bianco was not willing to let matters lie. He made a video with his accusations and posted it on Youtube. The process involved in this work on the car and the application of the materials, as shown on the carbodydesign website, source BMW press office, is exactly the same as the one he designed. In his lawsuit, the designer also refers to a visit by a BMW manager to his stand at the Motorshow. Lawyers Carlo Cirillo and Pamela Baglivo, who presented his case with the collaboration of lawyer Micol Cupo Pagano, explain: “Our client hopes that this will throw light on the matter.” Lawyer Carlo Cirillo adds: “It is clear that if the judicial authorities recognize this as a violation of Mr. Bianco’s patent rights, we are looking at damage on a huge scale, taking into consideration the enormous publicity potential of the internet coverage used in handling this issue. So I hope that this will bring protection to the offended party, the small businessman, against a multinational company with great economic resources.”

  • marc

    Designer in battle against BMW for “Gina”


    Source: Corriere della Sera 01/03/2009 – Michele Manno

    Rome It is certainly a strange case that has ended up on the desk of the Public Prosecutor in Rome. You could almost say that the two contestants are the present situation and the future. The present situation is represented by designer Giuseppe Bianco; the future by the well-known BMW car manufacturers. Why future? Because BMW recently won an award in Paris for the most beautiful “Concept Car of 2008”. The car has an unusual name: ”Gina”. And we know for a fact that, like Gina Lollobrigida and all other women, Gina loves elegant clothes. So much so that she has been called the “Light visionary model”. She is a car that we will never actually see on the road, like all “concept cars” which, by definition, propose new ideas destined to take shape on the roads of everyday life some time in the near future. The idea is in the composition of the car body, consisting principally of an elasticized fabric stretched over the frame which can be modified at the touch of a button, depending on the driver’s tastes. So it is a fabric to suit all occasions, from a simple meal in a pizzeria to a Gala evening in Monte Carlo. It is a kind of travelling haute couture wardrobe. But this is where the present, with its laws and regulations, impacts on “Gina’s” destiny. Fashion designer Giuseppe Bianco has initiated a case against BMW, alleging counterfeit and the violation of the industrial property law, claiming that it was he who, in 2005, invented the exclusive procedure by which it is possible to apply any type of covering (leather, fabric and technical materials) to the body of a car or motorbike, thus making “the coverings themselves impermeable and resistant to atmospheric agents”. Before turning to the justice system, in this case public prosecutor Marcello Monteleone, Giuseppe Bianco’s lawyers warned BMW not to continue any activities connected with the use of this process. But the car was still presented. Whatever the truth of the matter – and legal battles over patents are usually complex – perhaps one day we will hear the verdict. It is up to the judiciary to decide who is right and who is wrong: but for once the case does not concern murder, disputes or violence, but the future of a car; and the prosecution and defence have to make a decision about “Gina”.