Bob tries to take a considered approach to BMW’s i Vision Dee concept
A couple of months back, I had a keyboard full of vitriol, and I was getting ready to unleash it towards the BMW i Vision Dee concept that was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Something held me back, though, and after a couple of months of reflection, I feel able to give a slightly more considered verdict on this latest concept car.
Initially, I was struggling to see past the crappy name – Dee standing for ‘Digital Emotional Experience’. Quite why everything to do with new cars has to be couched in terms that make it sound like some poor marketing spiel for a new form of social media rather than a method of getting from A to B is beyond me, but look past the name, and there are plenty of elements to appreciate. Personally, I’m a big fan of the car’s styling – it looks really clean and free of the huge grilles and fussy detailing that characterises so many of the latest generation of models. It’s a classic three-box design with decent proportions, with the wheels pushed out to the corners, blistered wheel arches and minimal overhangs. I guess you could say it’s a little bit slab-sided, but that’s something we’ll have to get used to as the battery packs tend to be mounted in the chassis, which leads to cars with taller bodies. If this is how the new generation of Neue Klasse models – due to start arriving in 2025 – is going to look, then I’d be more than happy.
I’m less sold on the colour-changing aspect of the concept, though. Yes, it looks very clever on a concept car, but does BMW really expect to put this into production? I think not. Can you imagine the production costs? And quite how a body shop would be expected to fix the paint after an accident is beyond me. If it’s obviously not destined for production, why would you spend so much time and money developing something that looks like a slightly more sophisticated version of the VW Polo Harlequin?
The other aspect of the ‘Dee’ that I’m keen on is its new head-up display (HUD). I’m a huge fan of HUDs, and, having driven a car with one fitted for the past five or so years, I can say that I’d really struggle to drive a modern car without this feature. Starting with the Neue Klasse models, BMW has announced that its new HUD will stretch the full width of the screen, which should be pretty neat… but it had to go and spoil this announcement by hooking the HUD up to what it calls the ‘BMW Mixed Reality Slider’.
According to the press release, this comprises a ‘five-step selection’, which ‘ranges from analogue to drivingrelated information, to the contents of the communications system, to augmented-reality projection, right up to entry into virtual worlds.’ Entry into virtual worlds? Seriously? Is BMW expecting us to drive around with scenes of Toon Town from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? being beamed onto the windscreen? If that’s the future of motoring, you can count me out.
So, there are elements to admire and those to deride, but perhaps the worst aspect of the BMW i Vision Dee is the horrendously cheesy short film the BMW marketing department came up with. Nigh on seven minutes of Arnold Schwarzenegger talking to the car with a guest appearance from David Hasselhoff and KITT from Knight Rider. It’s utterly cringeworthy, and I’m utterly baffled by whom BMW thought it would appeal to. I hated it, my kids hated it, and it would seem from responses on BMW’s social media channels that everyone else hated it too. BMW is great at making cars, but my advice would be to stick with what it’s good at.