Recently, BMWBLOG had the pleasure of learning more about the future of BMW design and where the company might be heading with the upcoming Neue Klasse and other vehicles. It focused primarily on one man and one car. That man is someone you may already be aware of: Domagoj Dukec, Head of Design for BMW and unapologetic creative responsible for changing the face of BMW as we know it. See: the BMW XM and G80 M3. On the other hand, the car is something altogether new: the BMW i Vision Dee.
An abbreviation for “Digital Emotional Experience,” the i Vision Dee debuts at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Fortunately, BMWBLOG got a bit of a behind-the-scenes look where Domagoj Dukec gave us some significant insight into what the vehicle sets out to accomplish. Primarily, a focus on digitalization and design on the outside, with augmented reality and an immersive heads-up experience on the inside.
Exterior Design: Grilles, Kinks, and the i Vision Dee
Answering questions that vintage BMW enthusiasts have been asking for a while – most of them derivative of “what in the world is going on over there?” – Domagoj Dukec has given us clear insight into the brand’s direction. He wants to make future generations switch sentiment from “needing a car” to “wanting a car” and believes he can do this by ditching “unnecessary elements on a car, like a chrome strip. There’s no interaction with it.” He continues, “Just chrome…you don’t need that. You have…technology, which can interact, give you more information.” He references an example – a Hofmeister kink that could display charge level.
While the i Vision Dee doesn’t ultimately tell what the soon-to-come Neue Klasse will look like, it gives us some clues. Dukec claims the i Vision Dee adapts a more classic three-box sedan shape rather than something more alien to pay homage to classic BMW design. Regarding the grilles, Dukec admits they’re an iconic staple of BMW design but downplays the importance of their size. “Everybody has a different perception, but it doesn’t matter. It’s always two identical openings…you can make them very tiny, you can make them big, and you will see this in the future…it’s not about the size; it’s just this strong aesthetic element which is completely separating from all other brands.”
The i Vision Dee is the result of Dukec’s focus on digitalization – also an essential tie-in to BMW’s history, he says. How? BMW succeeds by giving the best possible answer to new challenges – he cites vehicles like the i3 and the debut of the scroll wheel on early iDrive vehicles. For this generation, the best innovation is digitalization – and the i Vision Dee is clearly a part of that.
The interior of the i Vision Dee is dominated by, well, nothing. It’s a deliberately reductive design that BMW says has many benefits. Among them include a less distracting driving experience, a more easily-recycled car, and other cool tech tricks. One of the most unique? Dimmable windows allow drivers to “fade out reality” until it transitions to a fully virtual experience.
The head-up display on the i Vision Dee is also remarkable. It takes up nearly half of the windshield and is customizable in just five steps. Drivers can configure what and how much information they want to see and where by using touch-sensitive buttons on the instrument panel. BMW says the standard-production version of this innovative heads-up display will debut in 2025 on Neue Klasse models.
While some of this may seem overkill, Stephan Durach has some comforting words. He is the Senior VP of Connected Company Development. When BMWBLOG met with him, he was clear that there was no interest in turning the i Vision Dee – or any other BMW – into a social media machine or a “Metaverse on wheels.” He also emphasizes the importance of realizing that not everything we see on the i Vision Dee will be coming to market unless there’s a way it will add value.
Finally, BMW wants the i Vision Dee to be your personal assistant. Not a shopper app or Instagram browser, but something that can genuinely help you and be a companion on the road. The i Vision Dee focuses on improving voice commands even further. “You don’t want to have some annoying companion always proposing things,” he says. “It can get pretty awkward if you have a companion prompting obvious wrong things.” That’s a lot of foresight and paints rosy pictures of the future of voice commands – and digital companionship – in new BMWs.
Highlights: What the i Vision Dee Means For the Neue Klasse
- A heads-up display running the entire length of the windshield will debut in some form on the 2025 Neue Klasse.
- BMW will be focusing on digitalization and blending the physical with the digital.
- While old design cues like the Hofmeister kink and dual circular headlights won’t disappear, they will be brought forward into a new generation and look quite different in some instances.
- Buttons aren’t coming back – but voice commands will get much better, and displays will likely become more and more configurable.
- BMW will continue to focus on making “emotional products” that engage all five senses and combine digital and analog.