Everyone always has something to say about BMW.
The Bavarian automaker has always been talented at setting standards with cars like the 3 Series and X5, but as cars change over time, even discerning BMW fans don’t hold their tongues.
“The old cars were better. “
“This new grille is just too much.”
“I will never pay for auto subscription features.”
Now, at CES 2023, BMW’s new concept asks: What if the car also had something to say? And if a car could talk, how would it interact with its user?
This is the BMW i Vision Dee, which stands for Digital Emotional Experience. It’s one of the most extreme – and yet in some ways reasonable – BMWs in years. It’s a simple electric performance sedan that leans heavily on digital features like augmented reality and voice-activated virtual assistants. Think metaverse or Amazon Alexa, but in sports sedan form. The concept also offers the ability to create an avatar profile for the driver, which can even be displayed on the side window.
If a car could talk, how would it interact with its user?
What’s more, the i Vision Dee’s color-changing grille is like a “face” with its own expression on top of the default voice. This is a BMW that speaks for itself and probably has great merit on its own. “My dad had an E30,” is one of the things the car said to me at a recent tech show, and early social media promotions for the concept spawned the modern auto show in the 1980s. rider knight.
“The headlights and the closed BMW kidney grille also have something in common phygital (fusion of a physical and digital code) on a uniform surface, allowing the vehicle to produce different facial expressions,” the automaker said in a press release. “This means that the BMW i Vision Dee can talk to people and at the same time visually express moods such as joy, surprise or approval.”
Like the 2021 i Vision Dee, the i Vision Dee is just a concept car, intended as a preview of upcoming designs and technologies that may eventually make their way to dealerships. At the same time, the design itself looks like something that could preview a future electric 3 Series or i4 of some sort.
Visually, the i Vision Dee almost looks like a cross between a Tesla Model 3 and one of BMW’s classic sports sedans, such as the 2002 E30. The kidney grille runs across almost the entire front of the concept and the tail light bar does the same across the trunk. The almost featureless white bodywork contrasts with the tough designs of many current BMWs, while retaining distinctive features such as the “Hofmeister kink” for the rear windows.
While BMW wouldn’t directly confirm that this design is for production, it’s safe to assume that it will influence future cars. BMW concepts come to life – see the i8 supercar and i3 city car from the past decade. BMW even calls this “another milestone on the road” to Neue Klasse, BMW’s upcoming electric vehicle platform. This lineup is named after the “new class” sports sedans and coupes that defined BMW’s image in the 1960s and 1970s.
While current BMW vehicles tend to be designed to offer a mix of internal combustion, hybrid, or EV power—the electric i4 and electric 4 Series Gran Coupe, for example, are essentially the same car—the next round is models designed to be from the ground up Electricity for better range and better battery packaging.
BMW says the i Vision Dee also represents a significant development of its E Ink color-changing technology that debuted at CES last year, and as a result, it can transform its exterior into 32 different colors — not just one. BMW says the concept’s body is divided into 240 e-ink sections, each of which can be individually controlled. It’s the first time E Ink has been used on a car’s entire exterior, and BMW said the technology may be close to commercialization at the consumer level.
Refreshingly, the i Vision Dee is a three-box sedan, not another blob-like SUV concept. This in itself is a bold move by BMW and goes against current trends; Sedan sales have been declining for years as the global market shifted to crossovers and trucks.
For BMW, this is proof that the sports sedan is still important to the company’s image and bottom line, said BMW’s head of design, Domagoj Dukec, during a press preview in Germany last year.
“We want to show our customers, if the world changes, we will adapt, but we will always be familiar,” Duquec said. “Everyone who works within my team, from different cultures and generations, loves the brand and knows their history. They don’t want it to go away.”
Duquec added, “It’s also a BMW. If you’re talking about the core product…it’s the third and fifth series.”
i Vision Dee has good news for drivers who hate the recent explosion of touchscreens in the car: There are no screens here.
The concept’s drab gray interior is less designer than the exterior, with a downsized steering wheel and seats, and what BMW calls a “mixed reality slider”: a touch panel that controls how much information the driver sees on the latest Heads-Up Display .
The i Vision Dee almost looks like a cross between a Tesla Model 3 and one of BMW’s classic sports sedans
There’s also bad news for screen-shy drivers: The entire windshield is now a heads-up display that combines dashboard and infotainment functions and adds augmented reality features.
The use of front windows to present displays is nothing new; Many modern cars display vehicle speed, navigation and other data there (and they’ve had variations since the 1980s). But this concept takes that idea to a whole new level.
Images displayed on the screen include social media posts and augmented reality displays as well as vehicle diagnostics. Other windows are also dimmable if drivers and passengers want to go into full VR mode. Will it create a giant distraction? Maybe, but BMW says it’s safer than taking your eyes off the road completely to look at a dashboard display.
“The display across the entire width of the windshield allows information to be displayed on the largest possible surface – which can only be recognized as a head-up display once activated,” BMW said in a statement. “[The car] Imagine how an advanced head-up display can also be used in the future for display and playback concept. “
A version of this system, presumably abbreviated, will debut on Neue Klasse cars from 2025.
Smart Companion is not just a car
But while many of the features previewed on the i Vision Dee certainly won’t be ready for prime time in 2023, it feels like a credible approximation of where the increasingly digitally-focused automotive industry is headed.
The entire windshield is now a head-up display
“With the BMW i Vision Dee we show what is possible when hardware and software are combined. In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitization to transform the car into an intelligent companion,” BMW Chairman Oliver Zipsey said in a statement.
This is cold comfort to the runners who want BMW to go back to the way things were – but have chosen to realize it. Nor will it favor critics of the technologies found in the i Vision Dee. After all, Amazon Alexa has done little more than set billions of dollars on fire in 2022, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to morph into the metaverse has been met with outright disdain. The question remains whether drivers will even want some of the features in the i Vision Dee, particularly head-up displays or a talking virtual assistant.
Even if it struggles with things like getting drivers to accept car subscription features, BMW says yes. The future won’t be high-revving inline-six engines and manual transmissions, so BMW must find a way to convince staunch believers that “performance” can be determined by things like software speed, charging time and electric range. The cars it produces in the next few years probably won’t be quite as ambitious as the i Vision Dee, but it does show that BMW is already thinking in this direction.