BMW GINA Light Visionary Model unveiled

As promised, BMW today revealed photos and more information on its GINA Light Visionary Model sports car concept that features fabric body panels. Various motors and rib-like structures sit underneath the stretch-resistant synthetic fabric and change the shape and function of various aspects of the car based on conditions or driver wishes.

Built on the discontinued BMW Z8 platform -- complete with its 5.0-liter V8 -- the GINA Light Visionary shares design cues from BMW's current production models and appears to be a preview of the next-generation Z4. BMW's design chief, Chris Bangle, hopes the car is a showcase of what could be possible in 10 years' time, when drivers could choose a shape for their vehicle at the touch of a button.

The GINA's innovative body is underpinned by wires or flexible carbon struts where movement is needed, such as in ducts, doors and rear spoiler. There are no gaps between body and door, for example, as the flexible fabric acts like a hinge itself. When not needed, the headlights are covered by the fabric skin, and turn signals are likewise invisible until they are switched on, revealing only their light source through the translucent skin.

At higher speed, the rear trunk lid spoiler grows for additional stability. The size of the intake can also be adjusted, providing more cooling or induction air for the engine, as needed. Doing so means the material needs to go somewhere, and extra character lines, as BMW puts it -- we say folds -- give the car a slightly different look. The movements extend into the interior as well, with the steering wheel and instruments sitting idle until settling into position around the driver, after a button is pressed.

While a production car with such stretchable body panels is not likely to make it into production any time soon, Bangle says the experience helped BMW's stylists push the envelope with steel forming in its products.

GINA loosely stands for Geometry and Functions in "N" Adaptations.