The BMW i Vision Dee is a future EV sports sedan that can talk to you

Everyone always has something to say about BMW.

The Bavarian automaker has long had a knack for setting the standard with cars like the 3 Series and X5, but when cars change over time, BMW superfans don’t hold their tongues.

“Old cars were better”

“This new grille is too much.”

“I will never pay for subscription features in a car.”

Now, at CES 2023, a new BMW concept asks: what if the car had something to say, too? 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 BMW’s most radical yet somehow convincing concept cars in recent years. It’s a minimalist electric performance sedan that leans heavily toward digital features like augmented reality and voice-controlled virtual assistants. Think Metaverse or Amazon Alexa, but in sports sedan form. The concept also offers the ability to create an avatar profile of the driver, which can even be projected onto the side window.

If a car could talk, how would it communicate with its user?

In addition, i Vision Dee’s color-changing grille is like a “face” with its own expressions on top of the virtual sound. This is a BMW that talks back and even has its own desires. At a recent tech show, one of the things the car said to me was “My dad was an E30,” and early social media promotions for the concept evoked ’80s talking car action. Knight Rider.

“Headlights and a closed BMW kidney grille are also common figital The icon on a single surface (a combination of physical and digital) allows the car to create 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 Circular, the i Vision Dee is just a concept car and is meant to potentially preview upcoming designs and technologies that could eventually hit dealer lots. At the same time, the design itself feels like something that could look at a future electric 3 Series or some kind of i4.

Visually, the i Vision Dee almost looks like a cross between a Tesla Model 3 and one of BMW’s classic sports sedans like the 2002 or E30. A kidney grille sweeps almost the entire front of the concept, and a taillight bar does the same in the trunk. The white, almost featureless body is a stark contrast to the fussy designs of many modern BMWs, while retaining signature features such as the ‘Hofmeister bend’ of the rear windows.

While BMW hasn’t directly confirmed that this design is destined for production, it’s pretty safe to assume it will influence future cars. BMW’s concepts have a way of becoming reality – just look at the i8 supercar and the i3 city car from the last decade. BMW even calls it “another milestone on the road” for the Neue Klasse, BMW’s future EV-specific vehicle platform. The unit is named after the “New Class” of sports sedans and coupes that defined BMW’s image in the 1960s and 70s.

While current BMWs are built to offer a mix of internal combustion, hybrid or EV power—the electric i4 and ICE-powered 4 Series Gran Coupe are the same car, for example—the next round of models is made up of the following. could be electric for better range and better battery pack.

BMW says the i Vision Dee also represents a significant evolution of the E Ink color-changing technology that debuted at last year’s CES, resulting in the ability to change its exterior to not just one color, but 32 different colors. BMW says the concept’s body is divided into 240 E Ink segments, each individually controllable. It’s the first time E Ink has been used on the entire exterior of a car, and BMW says it could be close to commercializing the technology at the consumer level.

Refreshingly, the i Vision Dee is a three-box sedan, not just another blob crossover SUV concept. This in itself is a bold move from BMW and goes against current trends; Sedan sales have been declining for years as the global market shifts toward crossovers and trucks.

For BMW, it’s proof that the sports sedan is still important to the company’s image and bottom line, BMW design chief Domagoj Dukec said at a press preview in Germany last year.

“We want to show our customers that if the world is changing, we will adapt, but of course we will always be familiar,” Dukec said. “Everyone who works on my team, from different cultures and generations, loves the brand and knows its history. They don’t want it to go away.”

Dukec added: “It’s also a BMW. Speaking of the core product… it’s the 3 and 5 series.”

The i Vision Dee brings good news for drivers who hate the recent explosion of in-car touchscreens: there’s no screen here.

The concept’s stark gray interior is more minimal in design than the exterior, with a lowered steering wheel, seats and what BMW calls a “Mixed Reality Slider”: a touchpad that controls how much information the driver sees. in the advanced 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 drivers who hate screens: the entire windshield is now essentially a screen, mixing dashboard functions with infotainment and adding augmented reality features.

Using a windshield to carry screens is nothing new; many modern cars project vehicle speed, navigation and other information there (and it has been available in various forms since the 1980s). But this concept takes that idea to a whole new level.

Images projected onto the screen include vehicle diagnostics as well as social media posts and AR displays. Other windows can also be dimmed if drivers and passengers want to go full VR. Could this create a giant distraction? Maybe, but BMW says it’s safer than taking your eyes completely off the road to look at the dashboard-mounted display.

“The projection across the entire width of the windshield allows information to be displayed on the largest possible surface – known only as a display after launch,” BMW said in a statement. “[The car] Visualizes how the Advanced Head-Up-Display can be used for future display and operation concept.

A possibly downgraded version of this system will debut in Neue Klasse vehicles starting in 2025.

“Smart companion” is not only a car

But while many of the features previewed in the i Vision Dee won’t be ready for prime time in 2023, they feel like a compelling approach to where the increasingly digitally-focused automotive industry is headed.

The entire windshield is now actually a screen

“With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are demonstrating what is possible when hardware and software come together. In this way, we can use the full potential of digitalization to transform the car into a smart travel companion,” said BMW CEO Oliver Zipse.

That’s cold comfort to die-hards who want BMW to go back to the way it was – but they choose to accept it. It won’t do for critics of the technologies found in the i Vision Dee, either. After all, Amazon Alexa has done little more than burn billions of dollars in 2022, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to move into the metaverse has been openly criticized. The question remains, do drivers even want some of the features on the i Vision Dee, particularly windshield wiper displays or a talking virtual assistant?

While it struggles with things like getting drivers to accept subscription features in cars, BMW says yes. The future won’t be high-revving inline-six engines and manual transmissions, so BMW must find a way to convince the faithful that “performance” can be defined by factors such as program speed, charging time and electric range. . The cars it will produce over the next few years probably won’t be as wildly ambitious as the i Vision Dee, but it shows that BMW is already thinking in that direction.

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