According to BMW, the upcoming NEUE KLASSE electric sedan will be as important in the brand’s second 100 years as the 1600 and 2002 models were in the first. And the BMWi Vision Dee is our first look at the ideas that will shape it. And some of these ideas are a welcome return to the brand’s roots in sedans and function-oriented design.
When Adrian Van Hooydonk told us last year to expect a change in design philosophy, we were intrigued. The MINI Aceman gives us a glimpse of what that meant for MINI. Today, the BMWi Vision Dee gives us the same insight into the future of BMW.
The industry is going through changes and most are not going away. For us as designers, this is an opportunity. As technology changes, designers can make bigger, bolder changes in design, and we’re in the process of doing this across all of our brands. It also has a strong connection to the original 1959 Mini in philosophy. In the coming months you will see such big leaps across all of our brands.
Adrian Van Hooydonk – Head of BMW Group Design
In our short time with the Vision Dee, a few things have become clear. Flame surfaces, this design concept that has been part of BMW since the 7 Series of 2001, is dead. In its place are minimal and almost gentle shapes and creases that feel directly connected to the E21 generation 3 Series.
The other is a return to the wheels and corner proportions. This critical design ethos, which has served BMW for decades, was driven by performance. However, pedestrian safety standards (among other things) seemed to take that away from BMW as a brand ethos. Without a massive chunk of metal up front, those standards don’t have to be met with two feet of plastic and rubber in front of the front wheels. This will apparently allow BMW to return to that classic ratio we’ve known for decades and is the hallmark of cars like the E21 and E30.
Screens are gone and everywhere
Yes, BMW will be talking about the personal avatar and AI-driven digital assistance, but the really interesting technological advancement here is something called Shytech and a full-width heads-up display. Shytech is a concept developed by OEM supplier Continental that embeds screens behind materials such as fabric, plastic or even wood. The concept is simple – the interior does not appear to have any digital interfaces. Until you need them. Once turned on, they become fully functional and can be nested in a much more organic way than a solid rectangle in the center console.
Then there’s the full-width HUD, which acts as the main area for infotainment and vehicle information. It’s a simple but unavoidable conclusion for automotive infotainment. It’s both where your eyes should be and, of course, the widest possible screen placement. BMW says we’ll see a production version by 2025. We’d bet it’ll be in the NEW CLASS sedan and small crossover before it spreads to the rest of the range.
How close is his Vision Dee to the NEW CLASS?
We expect the overall shape and proportions to be very similar. There will be fairing elements and probably a more robust front and rear structure for crash standard purposes. But we expect that kind of minimal design language will be the focus of this car when it comes out in 2025.
Official Release: Ultimate companion – through real and virtual worlds: BMW presents BMW i Vision Dee in Las Vegas.
Munich/ Las Vegas. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 in Las Vegas, the BMW Group is sharing its vision of the digital experience of the future inside and outside the vehicle. BMW i Vision Dee is the futuristic mid-size sedan with a new, reduced design language. The name “dee” stands for Digital Emotional Experience – and that is exactly the goal: to tie people even more closely to their cars in the future. Future digital functions will go far beyond the level of voice control and driver assistance systems known today. The BMW Head-Up Display stretches across the entire width of the windscreen and provides a glimpse of the next generation of vehicles. This innovation will be available in the NEW CLASS models from 2025. The BMW Group has also further developed the use of color change technology. After introducing the BMW iX Flow with E-Ink and the ability to switch from black to white, BMW i Vision Dee can now curate its exterior in up to 32 colors at the last CES.
“With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showing what is possible when hardware and software merge. In this way, we can exploit the full potential of digitization to turn the car into an intelligent companion. This is the future for automobile manufacturers – and also for BMW: the merging of the virtual experience with real driving pleasure,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “At the same time, the BMW i Vision Dee is another step on the way to the NEW CLASS. With this vision, we look far into the future and underline the enormous importance of digitization for our coming product generations.”
With its intelligent, almost human capabilities, BMW i Vision Dee not only accompanies the driver through real situations on the road, but also in their digital environment.
“A BMW lives from its incomparable digital performance. BMW i Vision Dee is about the perfect integration of virtual and physical experiences,” said Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG and responsible for development. “Anyone who manages to integrate the customers’ everyday digital worlds into the vehicle at all levels will successfully master the future of automotive engineering.”
BMW Mixed Reality Slider: Five steps into the virtual world
In combination with the advanced head-up display, the BMW Mixed Reality Slider is the digital highlight and central control element of BMW i Vision Dee. Using Shy-Tech sensors on the instrument panel, the driver can choose how much digital content to view on the advanced head-up display. The five-stage selection ranges from analog to driving-relevant information, content of the communication system, augmented reality projection and access to virtual worlds. At the same time, dimmable windows can also be used to gradually hide reality. Mixed reality can be experienced in an immersive way in the BMW i Vision Dee, appeals to different senses without additional aids and creates a new dimension of driving pleasure for the user.
Advanced BMW Head-Up Display: in NEW CLASS from 2025
The BMW Group is known in the automotive industry as a pioneer for the head-up display and has consistently further developed this technology over the past two decades. With the BMW i Vision Dee, projection across the entire width of the windscreen enables information to be displayed over the largest possible area – which only becomes visible as a display when it is activated. The BMW Group is thus demonstrating the enormous potential of the projection technology and BMW i Vision Dee visualizes how an advanced head-up display could also be used for the display and operating concept in the future. From 2025, the BMW head-up display, which extends across the entire width of the windscreen, will be used as standard in the models of the NEW CLASS.
Welcome scenario with language and phygital symbols
The digital experience begins outside the vehicle with a personalized welcome scenario that combines graphic elements, light and sound effects. Natural language serves as the simplest and most intuitive form of interaction and enables perfect understanding between human and vehicle. The headlights and the closed BMW kidney grille also form a common phygital (fusion of physical and digital) icon on a uniform surface, which allows the vehicle to have different facial expressions. In this way, BMW i Vision Dee can speak to people and at the same time visually express moods such as joy, amazement or approval. BMW i Vision Dee can also project an image of the driver avatar onto the side window to further personalize the welcome scenario.
World premiere for full color E Ink technology
Following the spectacular debut of the BMW iX Flow with E-Ink at CES 2022, the BMW Group is now introducing a full-color version of E-Ink technology in the BMW i Vision Dee, which will be used as the vehicle’s outer skin for the first time worldwide.
The BMW i Vision Dee no longer presents itself between black and white, but with a multicolored, fully variable and individually configurable exterior. For this magical play of colors, an ePaper film from the BMW Group’s cooperation partner, E Ink, is applied to the body. Up to 32 colors can be displayed.
The body surface of the BMW i Vision Dee is divided into 240 e-ink segments that are individually controlled. An almost infinite variety of patterns can be created and varied within seconds. The laser cutting process used to cut the foils and the design of the electronic controls were developed in collaboration with E Ink. The adaptation of this technology for curved surfaces and the programming of the animations were developed by the engineers of the BMW Group themselves – a form that enables a form of customization that is unique in the automotive industry worldwide.
Reductive design – inside and out
The design of the BMW i Vision Dee is deliberately reduced to draw attention to the digital experience and the DNA of the BMW brand. The exterior is characterized by the classic three-box sedan design that forms the core of the BMW brand. Traditional design elements such as the BMW kidney grille, the double round headlights and the Hofmeister kink are reinterpreted, with phygital symbols replacing analogous elements. This gives the BMW i Vision Dee its own digital but human character.
In the interior, digitization goes hand in hand with a reduced use of materials, controls and displays so that nothing distracts from the digital experience and the new feeling of increased driving pleasure. The unconventional design of the steering wheel, with its central vertical spoke, creates touchpoints that come to life when approached or touched and can be operated with a thumb movement. These phygital touchpoints control the selection of the content projected onto the windshield and, together with the head-up display, support the principle of “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road”.
“With BMW i Vision Dee, we are showing how the car can be seamlessly integrated into your digital life and become a loyal companion. The vehicle itself becomes your portal to the digital world – the driver is always in control,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design. “When used properly, technology creates rewarding experiences, makes you a better driver and simply brings people and machines closer together.”
Another milestone on the way to the NEW CLASS
The future of the BMW Group is electric, circular and digital. BMW i Vision Dee represents the digital side of this trio and will be another milestone on the way to the next vehicle generation, the NEW CLASS. The BMW Group will provide further insights into and views of the revolutionary vehicle concept of the NEW CLASS in the course of 2023.