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Back to basics for future electric cars?

BMW is developing a new line of electric vehicles called “Neue Klasse”, which means “New Class” in German, and offers a glimpse into the design direction of those vehicles with the BMW i Vision concept. Dee.

Unveiled at CES in Las Vegas, the i Vision Dee is a compact sedan with what BMW calls a “minimalist design” that to us seems to be the return of the E30 3-Series. Like that classic, the concept features a traditional three-box configuration with a long hood, upright cabin and separate trunk lid.

While the design can be simplified—to the extent that all dashes can be eliminated—some technologies don’t sound like that. The Dee in the concept’s name stands for “Digital Emotional Experience”, highlighting many of the digital features that BMW feels will be an important part of future cars.

Concept BMW i Vision Dee

Concept BMW i Vision Dee

BMW says the i Vision Dee can have quasi-human qualities, including expressing “moods such as joy, surprise or approval” using the headlights and lighting elements in the grille. heat to simulate facial expressions, according to the press release. The vehicle can also display a personalized welcome message when the driver approaches.

The interior is mostly empty except for basic controls and a windshield display that spans the width of the dashboard. Using the slide controls, drivers can choose from five levels of information, from basic driving-related information to a full augmented reality display with virtual elements.

The Neue Klasse vehicles are scheduled to begin production in 2025, marking a major shift for BMW in many ways. They will open Cylindrical cells to encapsulate technology as a replacement for the prismatic cells used in the current BMW EV, with faster-than-expected charging and improved range.

Concept BMW i Vision Dee

Concept BMW i Vision Dee

The Neue Klasse models are also based on an EV-specific platform, separate from the internal combustion models. Current BMW EVs like the i4 and i7 share the same platform as internal combustion vehicles.

BMW has suggested that the Neue Klasse platform could accommodate hydrogen fuel cell powertrain also. CEO Oliver Zipse has also previously stated that electric vehicles based on specialized platforms tend to look similar and that BMW will try to avoid this design rut. Judging by this concept, it seems to have ticked that box.

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