BMW unveils its i Vision Dee concept car at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, describing the 4-door as the “next level of human-machine interaction.”
Based on the German automaker’s Neue Klasse platform – an all-new structure set to underpin a wide range of future internal-combustion-engine, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric BMW models – the compact sedan is claimed to point to the future of the 3-Series and, more specifically, is a planned successor to the recently introduced Chinese-market i3 sedan set to launch in the U.S. in 2025.
Key to the i Vision Dee’s design identity is a new monolithic exterior styling language that BMW intends to introduce on upcoming production models.
It also introduces a range of new digital functions, including a head-up display unit capable of projecting information across the full width of the windshield in a move BMW says is aimed at taking the bond between driver and car beyond voice-control and driver-assistance systems and further into the digital and virtual world.
More than just a concept-car frill, the new HUD is confirmed for Neue Klasse platform-based models due out around the middle of the decade.
The name Dee is an acronym for the words “digital emotional experience.”
“With the i Vision Dee, we are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge,” says BMW CEO Oliver Zipse. “In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalization to transform the car into an intelligent companion. 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 auto show, previews a new-look enclosed front end expected to feature on the upcoming second-generation i3 sedan.
BMW’s traditional kidney grille, which has grown larger on recently launched BMW models, is replaced by two separate digital panels, each incorporating LED headlamps. They vary in shape and size depending on the function they perform and also provide visual welcome and departure greetings giving the concept what BMW describes as its own “facial expressions. “
The hood of the i Vision Dee receives a deep central scallop, while the flanks feature taut surfacing devoid of any feature lines or adornment. Large wheelhouses accommodate wheels up to 20 ins. in diameter.
The side window line of the concept car is set lower than on any of BMW’s existing production models. The glass is designed to display personalized welcome messages, digital icons and an avatar of the driver in full color. It also includes an e-ink treatment that allows different patterns and physically and digitally blended icons to be integrated into certain sections of the exterior, including the C-pillar which provides a digital reimagining of BMW’s classic Hofmeister kick design element.
The design theme established at the front is mirrored at the rear of the i Vision Dee (pictured, below), with two taillamp panels separated in the middle incorporated into a high-set trunklid.
No official dimensions have been announced, though estimates put the length at about 177 ins. (4,496 mm).
Inside, the i Vision Dee showcases a newly developed operating control system that BMW’s design boss, Adrian von Hooydonk, says allows it to be seamlessly integrated into 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,” he says.
The HUD unit capable of projecting information across the full width of the windshield allows BMW to do away with the traditional central infotainment display – a feature of its cars since the introduction of the fourth-generation 7-Series in 2001.
BMW says the operating control system it is working on for its future models will allow drivers to manage the amount of digital content confronting them over any given journey. The aim is to make the driving experience more intuitive and immersive.
To this end, the concept car also includes what BMW calls a Mixed Reality Slider. Using touch sensors incorporated into a fabric-covered dashboard (pictured, above), it allows the driver to determine the amount of digital content shown within the HUD within four different levels – from driving-related information, to contents of the communication system, to augmented-reality projection and evolving through a fully virtual setting that also sees the side windows become opaque.
The i Vision Dee is the second of three different concept cars planned by BMW to showcase its Neue Klasse platform-based models. The first, the i Vision Circular, was centered around construction processes using recycled materials. A third concept car, said to concentrate on battery and drivetrain technology, is expected to be revealed later this year.