Styling of BMW electric cars will be toned down as tech matures


BMW iX3 Concept front 3/4

BMW iX3 Concept front 3/4

Future BMW electric cars won't exactly follow in the footsteps of the wildly futuristic i8 or bionic egg-shaped i3. Instead, the brand plans to tone things down as battery technology becomes more commonplace.

BMW chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk told Autocar in report published last Tuesday that the i3 and i8 were penned a certain way at a specific point in time. Both cars arrived on the scene when electrification wasn't the latest buzzword in the auto industry, and the cars needed to stand out from traditional cars. Now, nearly every automaker has plans to introduce purely electric cars.

As this happens at BMW, the cars won't need design to separate them from the pack.

2019 BMW i8

2019 BMW i8

"The fact is that BMW customers want a dynamic car, whether it is a battery-electric vehicle or not, and so there’s is increasingly less reason to make these kinds of cars look different," van Hooydonk said.

Eventually, he added, buying a plug-in hybrid or battery-electric powertrain will require the buyer to simply check an option box. But, he said the less dramatic designs for electric cars won't spell the end of inspirational and innovative designs for BMW i vehicles.

BMW i Vision Dynamics concept, 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show

BMW i Vision Dynamics concept, 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show

Designers will still "be able to search for different things" in future BMW electric cars, according to van Hooydonk. That likely means designers will be able to find inspiration for their designs from other avenues and look at aspects of nature or elements of style they might not consider for vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.

The more normalized design ethos has already started to show. BMW's upcoming iX3 electric SUV looks quite similar to the traditional X3, and the upcoming i4 electric sedan will likely share a platform with the next 4-Series. The i Vision Dynamics concept previewed the i4, and it wore different design cues than most BMWs, but the look was nowhere near as radical as the BMW i8's.

BMW's electrification plans will reach a milestone when the production version of the iNext concept launches in 2021. The electric SUV should also boast Level 3 self-driving capability, which will allow drivers to give up control of the vehicle and even look away for extended periods of time.

 
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