Inspired by the stars: BMW unleashes special M850i Night Sky edition
For over 25 years now, the BMW Individual Manufaktur customisation facility in Garching near Munich has been producing exceptionally high-quality equipment features, extraordinary special-edition models and spectacular one-offs.
And the bespoke styling specialists have now opened up a new dimension in exclusivity by looking beyond our planet and bringing the night sky into the car. In the BMW Individual M850i Night Sky, applications made from meteoritic material grace selected controls.
A shooting star
Human fascination with the infinite vastness of the universe is also mirrored in the illuminated constellations of stars on the centre console and in the surface design of the luxury sports car’s trim finishers, seat backrests, brake discs and exterior add-on parts, which draws inspiration from celestial bodies.
The BMW Individual M850i Night Sky will be presented in the run-up to an exceptionally intense meteor shower expected to take place overnight from 3 - 4 January 2019.
The show of shooting stars will begin when the Earth briefly passes through the orbit of the asteroid 2003 EH, during which time fragments from the asteroid will enter our planet’s atmosphere and burn up.
On rare occasions, smaller rocks in space penetrate our planet’s protective shield and fall to Earth as meteorites. Some of these extra-terrestrial fragments have now been incorporated into the cabin of the M850i.
Image: BMW Group
By employing materials that are literally out of this world, BMW Individual Manufaktur has succeeded in giving the car unique and highly original aesthetic appeal and, in the process, pushed back the boundaries once again of what can be achieved when designing a car interior.
The meteoritic rock adorns the whole of the centre console’s trim plate, the start/stop button for the V8 engine, the selector lever for the eight-speed Steptronic transmission and the Touch Controller for the iDrive system, creating a visual and tactile effect unparalleled in the automotive sector.
Inlays made from meteorite material have also been incorporated into the door sill finishers, together with an illuminated model badge. All of which ensures the car embodies luxury and exclusivity at an unprecedented level.
Image: BMW Group
The BMW Individual Manufaktur customisation facility has always specialised in the production of one-off creations that lend expression to BMW drivers’ personal sense of style.
The specialists from BMW Individual work together with the customer to produce bespoke solutions that range from extraordinary exterior paint finishes to exotic materials for the interior, special equipment features, accessories, stitching patterns, engravings and inlays.
During the design and manufacturing process, creativity, attention to detail, craftsmanship, an uncompromising commitment to quality and a flair for the exceptional merge together to create truly unique cars.
Image: BMW Group
In its quest for new creative possibilities, new combinations of materials and new processing techniques, BMW Individual frequently collaborates with big design names and famous luxury firms from other sectors.
Input from artists and scientists helps to build the know-how needed to develop new products and exclusive one-offs. In designing the Night Sky, BMW Individual called on the expertise of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, which is also located in Garching.
One of a kind
Expanding on the use of meteoritic material for the controls inside the sports car, the design of many other interior and exterior elements takes its cues from a structure that only occurs in natural form on extra-terrestrial objects: the distinctive Widmanstätten surface pattern of meteorites.
The strictly geometric structure, with its straight lines, has the appearance of ice crystals and becomes visible when certain types of iron meteorite are polished or brought into contact with acidic compounds.
Image: BMW Group
The structure is the result of the metal alloy cooling down in an extremely slow process that cannot be reproduced on Earth, making it an unmistakable signature of extra-terrestrial material.
The unique pattern was first observed back in the early 19th century by a number of people, including the Austrian scientist Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten, after whom it is named.
The singularity of the Widmanstätten structure is symbolic of BMW Individual’s ongoing pursuit of innovative design solutions never seen before. Visible in the hand-stitched headliner and on the centre console’s trim finishers, it has also been milled into the brake discs of the car.
This distinctive meteorite pattern can also be found on the exterior mirror caps, the front splitters for the side air intakes at the front of the car, the centre mesh plate and the surrounds for the Air Breathers on the front side panels.
These exterior components were all specially developed for the car and individually manufactured using a 3D printing process. The result of motorsport and manufacturing know-how: innovative, ultralight brake callipers with bionic design, made using 3D printing methods.
The same innovative additive manufacturing process is employed for making the brake callipers. Here, 3D printing techniques take the intelligent lightweight design to a new level.
The aluminium brake callipers with bionic design fitted on the Night Sky were developed by BMW Motorsport and are up to 30% lighter than components produced using conventional methods. The substantial reduction in unsprung mass produces a noticeable improvement in driving dynamics and ride comfort.
The BMW Group harnessed both its motorsport know-how and its expertise in the application of 3D printing for aluminium components to help it develop and manufacture the pioneering, bionic-design brakes.
When creating the brake callipers, it was possible to reduce their mass to the minimum required to meet technical requirements, meaning that only the material needed for the brakes to work is used.
The resulting form, whose construction mimics that of bones – with an optimum balance between component rigidity and weight – can only be produced using an additive manufacturing method and not with conventional casting techniques.
What is more, it was possible to incorporate the brake fluid channels into the structure of the brake callipers. Additive manufacturing was again the key to producing this integral design, which has additional benefits for the installation and rigidity of the lightweight braking system.
Innovations for individuality
It sports leather trim in tri-colour design and LED-illuminated star constellations on the centre console.
BMW Individual fine-grain Merino leather trim in tri-colour design and the Opal White/Midnight Blue/Silver colour scheme constitute another first for interior styling.
The Widmanstätten structure – a defining feature of the M850i's interior – is repeated in the stitching pattern for the seat centre sections.
The centre console armrests add another touch of brilliance, their special design inspired by the glittering heavens at night. LED units are used to illuminate their surfaces, producing the effect of a star-studded sky and giving the luxury sports car’s cabin a richly atmospheric feel. Deep-pile carpeting in Midnight Blue puts the finishing touches to the interior.
The special paint finish deftly combines two colour tones to achieve a high-impact effect.
Black non-metallic was used as the base colour for the body. A second coat in San Marino Blue metallic was then painted over it in a graduated effect from the bottom edge of the body up to the top of the wheel arches.
Finally, three layers of clear coat with varying pigment particle sizes were applied to give the paint finish a sense of depth.
With its 390 V8 engine, track-tuned chassis technology and BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, the four-seater brings a new brand of sporting flair, emotional appeal and hallmark BMW driving pleasure to the luxury segment.
Image: BMW Group
Developed alongside both the M8 and the M8 GTE endurance racing car, the Coupe is built around a flawlessly honed overall concept that translates into captivating performance on the road.
Sophisticated chassis systems enable the coupe to cover an exceptionally broad spectrum between sportiness and comfort, complementing the car’s dynamic prowess with outstanding everyday usability and long-distance capability.
The Coupe’s emotionally engaging body design is a product of the brand’s new design language, which conveys sporting appeal, sensual allure and exclusiveness through a core focus on precision and clarity.
Like the optional carbon-fibre roof, a selection of special details elsewhere on the car serve to optimise its aerodynamic properties and lower its weight.
Together with its low centre of gravity, long wheelbase and wide tracks, this helps the car to blend sports performance and luxurious ride comfort more cohesively than any other car in its segment.