The production version of the BMW Vision iNext will feature the bold grille of the concept when it goes on sale in 2021 – with its designer saying it’s key to helping maintain the firm’s brand identity during the shift to electric cars.
The Vision iNext previews a heavily autonomous electric SUV that will serve as a brand leader alongside the developing i range of electric cars. With the grille not needed for engine cooling in an EV, it takes the form of a translucent ‘intelligent panel’, used to house many of the car’s sensors.
Domagoj Dukec, who heads design for BMW i, told Autocar that the look was designed to stand apart from both the ‘regular’ i range and other electric car firms.
“We wanted something bigger and bolder,” he said. “On a combustion-engined car, the grille had the function to cool the engine, so we wanted to make it functional by using it to house sensors and systems.
“The kidney is a big tradition we have, and customers expect BMW cars to be bold and have status. With an electric, autonomous car, we’ve changed so much that it was important to keep the kidney front end.”
The i3 and i8 have thin, wide interpretations of BMW’s traditional kidney grille. Asked why the Vision iNext’s design was such a departure from those, Dukec said it was to ensure the iNext stood out from the current i range.
He added: “We had to change the kidney. You can’t stay the same, and the kidney design has changed a lot through the years. We looked into history, and BMW used to have much bigger kidneys than recent models, so we brought that back.”