The BMW i Vision D Is A Future EV Sport Sedan That Can Talk To You

Everyone always has something to say about BMW.

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

“The older cars were better.”

“That new grille is too much.”

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

Now, at CES 2023, a new BMW concept asks: What if the car also had a say? And if a car could talk, how would it interact with its user?

It’s the BMW i Vision D, which stands for “Digital Emotional Experience”. It is one of BMW’s most radical – yet, in some ways, praiseworthy – concept cars. It is a minimalist electric performance sedan that works hard in digital features like augmented reality and voice-activated virtual assistants. Think Metaverse or Amazon Alexa but in sport sedan form. The concept also offers the ability to create a driver avatar profile, which can also be projected onto the side windows.

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

More than that, the Eye Vision D’s color-shifting grille is like a “face,” with its own expressions on top of the virtual voice. This is a BMW that talks back and can even have hot takes of its own. “My dad had an E30,” is one thing the car told me at a recent tech demo, and early social media promos of the concept evoke an ’80s talking car action show Knight Rider,

“Headlights and closed BMW kidney grille is also a common phygital (Fusion of physical and digital) icons on a uniform surface, allowing the vehicle to generate different facial expressions,” the automaker said in a news release. “This means that the BMW Eye Vision D can talk to people and, at the same time, visually express moods such as happiness, amazement or acceptance.”

Like the i Vision Circularis from 2021, the i Vision D is just a concept car, meant to preview possible upcoming designs and technologies that could eventually make their way onto dealer lots. At the same time, the design itself feels like something that could preview a future electric 3 Series or i4 of some sort.

Visually, the i Vision D looks almost like a cross between a Tesla Model 3 and one of BMW’s classic sport sedans, like a 2002 or E30. A kidney grille sweeps across almost the entire front of the concept and a rear light bar does the same across the trunk. The white, almost featureless body contrasted with the fussy designs of many current BMWs, while still having distinctive features such as the “Hofmeister kink” of the rear windows.

While BMW won’t directly confirm that this design is headed for production, it’s pretty safe to assume that it will influence future cars. BMW has a way of turning concepts into reality—just look at the i8 supercar and i3 city car from the last decade. BMW also calls it “another milestone on the road” to BMW’s upcoming EV-specific car platform, the Neue Klasse. That setup is named for the “New Class” of sport 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 the ICE-powered 4 Series Gran Coupe are essentially the same vehicle, for example—the next round of models Designed to be electric for better range and better battery packaging.

BMW says the Eye Vision d’E Ink also represents a significant evolution of the color-shifting technology it debuted at last year’s CES and, as a result, can change its exterior to 32 different colors – And not just one color. BMW says that the concept’s body is divided into 240 e inc segments, each of which can be controlled separately. This is the first time E Ink has been used on the entire exterior of a car, and BMW has said the technology may be getting closer to commercialization at the consumer level.

Refreshingly, the i Vision D is a three-box sedan and not another blob-like crossover SUV concept. That in itself is a bold move by BMW and one that is in sync with the current trends; Sedan sales have been declining for years as the global market shifted toward crossovers and trucks.

For BMW, it’s proof that the sport sedan is still important to the company’s image and bottom line, said BMW design boss Domagoj Duček 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 remain familiar,” Dukek said. “Everyone who is working within my team, from different cultures and different generations, they love the brand and they know its history. They don’t want it to go away.

Dukek said, “It’s also BMW. When you talk about the core product…it’s the 3 and 5 Series.”

Who needs a screen when you have a windshield?

The Eye Vision D brings good news for drivers who hate the recent explosion of in-car touchscreens: no screens here.

The concept’s bare-bones stark gray interior is even more subdued in design than the outside, with a pared-down steering wheel, reclining seats, and what BMW calls a “Mixed Reality Slider”: a touch panel that controls how the driver How much information does he see? On the advanced head-up display.

The i Vision D almost looks like a cross between a Tesla Model 3 and BMW’s classic sport sedan

There’s also bad news for screen-hating drivers: The entire windshield is now essentially a display, combining the functions of a dashboard with an infotainment system and adding augmented reality features.

Using the windshield to host a display is nothing new; Many modern cars project vehicle speed, navigation, and other data (and have in various forms since the 1980s). But this concept takes that idea to a whole new level.

Images projected on the screen include social media posts and AR displays, in addition to vehicle diagnostics. If the driver and passenger want to go into full VR mode, the other windows can dim as well. Will it create a huge distraction? Maybe, but BMW says it’s safer than taking your eyes completely off the road to look at the dashboard-mounted screen.

“The projection across the full width of the windscreen allows information to be displayed on the largest possible surface – which only becomes recognizable as a display once activated,” BMW said in a statement. ,[The car] Visualizes how an advanced heads-up-display could be used for future displays and operating concepts.

A version of this system, possibly a minimal version, will make its debut on the new Klasse cars in 2025.

“A Wise Companion,” Not Just a Car

But while many of the features previewed on the Eye Vision D certainly won’t be ready for primetime in 2023, they feel like a credible approach to where the increasingly digitally focused automotive industry is going.

The entire windshield is now essentially a display

“With the BMW i Vision D, we are demonstrating 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,” Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of BMW, said in a statement.

It’s cold comfort to diehards who wish BMW could go back to the way things used to be – however they choose to feel it. It also won’t work for critics of the technologies found in the Eye Vision D. After all, Amazon Alexa will set billions of dollars on fire in 2022, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to pivot to the metaverse was met with outright disdain. The question remains whether drivers will want some of the features on the Eye Vision D, specifically the wider display on the windshield or the talking virtual assistant.

Even though it struggles with things like getting drivers to accept subscription features in cars, BMW says yes. The future isn’t going to be high-revving inline-six engines and manual transmissions, so BMW will have to find a way to convince staunch believers that “performance” can be defined by things like software speed, charging times and electric range . , The cars it produces over the next few years probably won’t be as wildly ambitious as the i Vision D, but it shows that BMW is already thinking in that direction.

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