Throughout the course of CES 2023 (Consumer Electronics Show), BMW reveals what the “Dee” campaign has led up to and makes some statements on their and the automotive industry’s future. Like their recent activities, it’s got the internet’s attention, for all the reasons.
i Vision Dee Concept
Back in December, BMW’s official Instagram appeared to be hacked by “DEE,” who poked fun at the “unsuspecting BMW social media admin.” This wasn’t BMW’s first rodeo, as the page had been taken over by a legitimate hacker at one point. Overtime, it would unravel to be yet another one of their social media campaigns. As it turns out, DEE is short for Digital Emotional Experience, which ties in with the concept car recently unveiled in Las Vegas, in CES 2023.
The appetizer to BMW’s minimalistic EV design language due in 2025, it’s also our first peek at the “Neue Klasse” platform, which will mark a new era for the marque in two years. The exterior almost looks like a slightly redefined low-LOD model with almost no clear way of telling which manufacturer made it. The badges are barely visible, and if we were to blur those out, I’d have assumed it was a Peugeot from its back end, but the French don’t usually do simplistic designs; as they have proven with their own concept which debuted in the same event.
If you’re about to doubt the functionality and effectiveness of those two strips as headlights, then the back wouldn’t really convince you it was built with others on the road in mind. Then again, this is a concept, so caution and other factors one would consider in a production vehicle can be thrown to the wind.
It’s also a color changer, thanks to BMW’s E Ink. You might recall that a color-changing iX also debuted in CES 2022, being able to go black or white. The Dee has stepped up to that and now has 32 colors to choose from, thanks to the new ePaper film applied all over it. Additionally, each body panel can be configured to be in a different color. We’re getting there, slow and steady.
Back to the Dee, BMW seems to put a focus on giving the car lifelike features, with its front end being able to alter its appearance courtesy of the E Ink, and its ability to have facial expressions. The driver’s avatar can also greet them through the side windows. It sounds like something the Japanese would make, but you’re hearing this from the Germans.
The interior is what the manufacturer calls a “phygital” environment, with no sight of any traditional controls. In its place is the Mixed Reality Slider, making use of touch-sensitive sensors mounted on the instrument panel. Looks like they’ve missed out the news with Volkswagen. The steering wheel is.. Relatively normal, aside from the spoke on the center.
Reception for the concept has predictably not been that great. The comments section of an Instagram post on the avatar feature instead has what you would expect from a consumer base of traditional tastes. We’re with the comments on this one. And no, you’re not the only one to have thought of Deez Nuts.
No More Big Screens – Just Larger Ones!
BMW CEO Oliver Zipse believes that big screens on the dash aren’t here to stay and will dissipate in approximately 10 years. His reasoning was that they are massive distractions to the drivers and the regulations will eventually force them out of interiors; and if it ended there, it’s a positive thought, but wait, there’s more!
Included in the i Vision Dee is their idea of a replacement: a head-up display that’s as wide as the windshield, with five modes to choose how much clutter you want in said screen. Controlled by the previously mentioned touch-sensitive sensors. The Dee can also dim the windows to make for a more immersive experience and “gradually fade out reality.” That doesn’t sound depressing at all..
There’s irony in calling big screens on a dash distracting, but their idea of a safer infotainment system is making use of AR to create an even bigger screen and dimmable windows to really create that feel of immersiveness. I’m no supporter of big screens, and anyone can tell that their solution relies on the perfection of autonomous driving should it be usable on the go, and that’s a flaw. The screen is presumably translucent/almost transparent, but at least dash-mounted infotainment systems won’t distract you as much as a windshield-wide interface. So much for driver awareness.
Everlasting Designs, From Modern BMW?
Sourced from The Drive’s Aaron Cole’s interview with BMW’s head of design, Domagoj Dukec, the latter is adamant on going away from the traditional sedan shape. In his words, “But the sedan shape is not linked to a combustion engine. It’s just because it’s the most efficient shape around passengers. We link the past, BMW has always done a three-box sedan. We want to show our customers if the world is changing, we’ll adapt. But certain things will always stay familiar. We [don’t] have to do it, but we love it.”
Instead, Dukec aims for quality and “a pure machine you don’t wish to change every three years.” The head of design is also disapproving of the idea of a facelift, regarding it as superficial. Performance variants, though, are here to stay, so the M won’t be ushered away with the past. “BMW without performance doesn’t exist. We are not here to be second,” he commented. “The performance will always be there,” but the fans? Only time can tell.
This does go in line with what head of sustainability Monika Dernai stated in her speech regarding the “refreshing” of older cars to an extent, but the main issue here is BMW’s design. We can’t deny that, with every new model, the internet’s uproar and debates give them the attention they wanted, but there isn’t a single new car from them that gets people wanting them. They did say on the i7 that those who complain about its large grilles and questionable design aren’t their target market, but attention from the press and people don’t make designs favorable.
BMW assumes that people will appreciate their current designs in a Bangle-era fashion, and we suppose the only way to get their fans to do so is to create more controversial(ly uglier) designs. Though Chris Bangle’s BMWs were largely controversial in their debuts, a lot of folks have changed their stances or even held them in high regard. Whether or not this will be applicable to the likes of the XM and Mega Bloks bumper M2 is yet to be seen. One thing is for sure though, BMW is uncertain of its future reception.
(Images sourced from BMW)