BMW i Vision Dee concept was revealed at CES in Las Vegas
New-look EV saloon concept showcases design and tech features of BMW’s Neue Klasse EVs due from 2025
A radical new tech-focused future beckons for the BMW 3 Series, as previewed by the new i Vision Dee electric concept car, described by the German marque as the “next level of human-machine interaction”.
Planned to reach production in 2025 as a successor to the recently introduced Chinese-market BMW i3 electric saloon, the UK-bound four-door saloon concept is based on BMW’s Neue Klasse platform – an all-new structure set to underpin a wide range of future internal-combustion-engined, plug-in hybrid and electric-powered BMW models. The bold new concept made its debut at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The i Vision Dee’s key features include a range of new digital functions, such as a head-up display unit capable of projecting information across the full width of the windscreen – something the firm has already confirmed for Neue Klasse-platform-based models due out around the middle of the decade. BMW says the move is aimed at taking the bond between the driver and the car beyond voice control and driver assistance systems and further into the digital and virtual world.
The concept – whose name is an acronym for the words ‘digital emotional experience’ – also previews a new monolithic exterior styling lineage that the German firm intends to introduce on upcoming production models.
“With the i Vision Dee, we are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge. In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalisation to transform the car into an intelligent companion,” said BMW CEO Oliver Zipse. “That is the future for automotive manufacturers – and also for BMW: the fusion of the virtual experience and genuine driving.”
The exterior styling, similar to that seen on BMW’s Circular concept car unveiled at the 2021 Munich motor show, previews a new-look enclosed front, with the traditional kidney grille replaced by two separate digital panels, each incorporating LED headlights as ‘phygital’ (physical-digital) icons.
The headlights alter in shape and size depending on the function they are asked to perform and also provide visual welcome and departure greetings. This gives the new concept, BMW claims, its own facial expressions. Further back, the bonnet of the i Vision Dee receives a deep central scallop, while the flanks feature taut surfacing devoid of any feature lines or adornment.
The side window line of the new BMW concept is set lower than on any of its existing production models. The glass is designed to display personalised welcome messages, digital icons and an avatar of the driver in full colour.
It also includes an ‘e-ink’ treatment that allows different patterns and phygital icons to be integrated into certain sections of the exterior, including the C-pillar, which provides a digital reimagining of BMW’s classic Hofmeister kink design element. This functionality was first showcased with a colour-changing iX concept at last year’s CES show.
The design theme established at the front is mirrored at the rear of the i Vision Dee, with two new-look light panels separated in the middle and incorporated into a high-set bootlid.
As well as hinting at the appearance of future BMW models, the i Vision Dee’s relatively short bonnet, long wheelbase and absence of overhangs also point to subtly altered three-box proportions for upcoming BMW saloons. No official dimensions have been announced, although estimates put the length at around 4500mm – a touch shorter than today’s 3 Series.
Inside, the i Vision Dee showcases a newly developed operating system that BMW is planning to roll out in its next generation of models. Incorporated into a simplified interior, the new head-up display has allowed BMW to do away with the traditional central infotainment display – a feature of its cars since the introduction of its iDrive infotainment platform in the fourth-generation BMW 7 Series in 2001.
BMW says the system it is working on for its future models will allow the driver to manage the amount of digital content they are confronted with over any given journey. The aim is to make the driving experience more intuitive and immersive.
To this end, its latest concept car also includes what BMW calls a ‘Mixed Reality Slider’. Using touch sensors incorporated into a fabric-covered dashboard, it allows the driver to determine the amount of digital content shown within the head-up display.
BMW design boss Adrian van Hooydonk said: “With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showing how the car can be seamlessly integrated into your daily digital life. It becomes your portal to the digital world – with the driver always in control. Implemented in the right way, technology will create worthwhile experiences, make you a better driver and simply bring humans and machines closer together.”
The i Vision Dee is the second of three different concept cars intended to showcase BMW’s Neue Klasse-platform-based models. The first, the i Vision Circular, was centred around construction using recycled materials. A third concept car, said to concentrate on battery and drivetrain technology, is expected to be revealed later this year.
No drivetrain details of the Dee have been given, but BMW has already confirmed it is working on advanced new cylindrical battery technology that will dramatically improve the driving range of its Neue Klasse EVs as well as charging speeds.
Meanwhile, a new sixth-generation EV powertrain, being developed in-house, will improve both efficiency and performance – attributes likely to be showcased by the third i Vision concept.