The North Face and the BMW Collaboration That Almost Changed Lives Off the Grid

Back in 2019, the CES trade show showed off what looked like a buggy like few before it. The Futurelight wagon has been called up, and after the CES show, nothing else seems to have been heard about it.

The brains behind the future lite buggy? Nothing but BMW and The North Face, yes, the ones that make clothes and apparel for inclement weather. So how did these two teams work together?

Well, in 2008 BMW unveiled its “dream car” known as GINA, a project that aims to challenge traditional design and manufacturing methods in the automotive world. But what seemed to distinguish the GINA was the leather exterior stretched over the car’s skeleton. What is more evident is that this textile skin was intended to change its shape in relation to certain needs.

This machine eventually inspired BMW and The North Face to attempt to offer similar technology and fabric application beyond classic use. In particular, The North Face wished to express that its fabrics could go beyond typical apparel and other outdoor gear.

Now, you keep hearing me mention “Futurelight,” so what is it? Futurelight is just the name The North Face uses for a specific type of material they developed. And while the fabrics aren’t new to The North Face, this material is water-resistant but breathable. Just to give you an idea of ​​how much these things cost, you can find one of the lowest priced jackets for $700 USD.

As for the wagon itself, there isn’t much mentioned in the BMW or The North Face sites; Most attention is paid to the fabric. However, this does not prevent anyone from taking a closer look at this concept.

First, it shows that both teams tried to design something different from what was found on the market at the time, and still is, if you ask me. It’s not every day that you see a geodesic dome as an off-grid living habitat. Given the space created by this kind of shape, the two teams put some thought into this project.

The dome structure is where the Futurelight fabric comes in. The frame used to create the dome is created by a few struts that form the base to which the materials are attached via hooks, much like your classic tent.

Unlike the classic tent, the interior of this motorhome appears to be marketed as suitable for freezing weather and snow-capped mountains. At least that’s what the shows reveal. Inside, I can only understand that there might be room for two, maybe three. Nothing about the kitchen or bathroom.

The last feature I want to draw your attention to is the chassis. We can clearly see that keeping the wagon light was the crux of the project, as there is a hollow structure in the first place, very similar to the type of construction found in aircraft wings.

While the front of the wagon features a fixed stem, the rear has two wheels that express the airless design, which means there is no tire and will never flatten, like the Michelin UPTIS. Drive over anything without problems.

Anything beyond that, you’ll have to call BMW to try and extract some information from it. I’m not sure there’s anything to get out of them, though. At the moment, this project is nothing more than a concept. But on its basis some skillful reader can build his own village in a cozy warm garage.

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