Remember Dee, the fun-loving social-media-hacking BMW prototype that debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year? After a series of playful and staged hacks of BMW’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, Dee, which is short for Digital Emotional Experience, finally unveiled itself to the world, showcasing a futuristic design with throwbacks to both classic BMW design elements and the previous i Vision Circular concept of 2021.
After Dee’s surprise introduction, BMW stated in a May 1st press release, “The future of the BMW Group is electric, circular, and digital. The BMW i Vision Dee is dedicated to the ‘digital’ aspect of this trio and shows the digital future of the BMW Group.” The past i Vision Circular concept had focused on strides in reducing consumption of raw material and CO2 emissions through a circular economy. With those building blocks in place, BMW unveiled the BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept today, giving us an even better picture of what 2025 and beyond holds for our favorite marque.
As we can see from the BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept, the exterior shares many elements with Dee. BMW says the bodywork has been “pared down to the essentials” with “expansive surfaces” and only a few “distinctive lines”, which “accentuates signature features like the BMW kidney grille and the Hofmeister kink of the side window graphic.” The forward-slanting “shark nose” throws back to BMWs of the first Neue Klasse era, with hints of E12, 2002, and E21, E24, E28, and other classic models with meaty wheel arches and a large open greenhouse.
In addition to refining the forthcoming Neue Klasse’s exterior design language with this latest concept, BMW has previewed a new iDrive system. BMW states, “With the new iDrive, BMW is bringing a display and operating concept to the next vehicle generation which enables a completely new intuitive interaction paradigm between the driver and vehicle. The future generation of BMW iDrive will transform the vehicle into a digital experience space.”
This interior transformation is accomplished via four elements: BMW Panoramic Vision, a new multifunction steering wheel, a new central display, and a new BMW 3D head-up display. BMW Panoramic Vision uses head-up display technology to project information at a level suited to the driver that spans the entire width of the windscreen. A bit different than the two-inch square that you get in today’s vehicles, right?
The new 3D—or is that 3 Dee?—head-up display can be used for active driving situations, assisted driving, or traffic guidance. The multifunction steering wheel can control elements of the 3D head-up display, while allowing the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The centerpiece of the system is the touch-controlled high-resolution center display, which according to BMW “leverages matrix backlight technology for vibrant colors and strong contrast, regardless of the specific light conditions.”
Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, says, “The BMW Vision Neue Klasse combines our ability to innovate in the core areas of electrification, digitalization, and circularity.” BMW has stated their goals of “30% more range, 30% faster charging, 25% more efficiency” throughout Neue Klasse development. Frank Weber, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Development, adds, “With the Neue Klasse, we have embarked on the biggest investment in the company’s history. We are not just writing the next chapter of BMW; we’re writing a whole new book.”
So far, this new book has been a real page turner. Given BMW’s melding of classic and futuristic design decisions, let’s hope this story ends happily ever after. —Mike Bevels
[Photos courtesy of BMW.]