The BMW i de­sign DNA was born elec­tric

The Washington Times Daily - - Auto -

BMW i spells vi­sion­ary ve­hi­cles and a new take on pre­mium mo­bil­ity that has sus­tain­abil­ity very much at heart. Piv­otal to the new BMW sub- brand are al­ter­na­tive drive sys­tems that are specif­i­cally con­ceived for use in the city and dic­tate the de­sign process from start to fin­ish. BMW i sets out to re­think mo­bil­ity and come up with pi­o­neer­ing so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges posed by cars of the fu­ture. These are the driv­ing forces be­hind the ground­break­ing Lifedrive con­cept — a unique, pur­pose-built ve­hi­cle ar­chi­tec­ture geared to elec­tric mo­bil­ity and boast­ing highly in­no­va­tive use of ma­te­ri­als.

The BMW i de­sign­ers have suc­ceeded in de­vel­op­ing a unique de­sign lan­guage which also dis­plays strong links with par­ent brand BMW. In­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies are given a con­tem­po­rary, au­then­tic vis­ual style, and the ini­tial con­cept cars — the BMW i3 Con­cept and BMW i8 Con­cept — open up val­ues such as light­ness and ef­fi­ciency to the naked eye. These cars her­ald the dawn of the new sub-brand and in­stantly high­light the po­ten­tial of BMW i.

BMW i ref­er­ences its par­ent brand BMW clearly through the use of de­sign themes such as ab­so­lute pre­ci­sion, light­ness and clean moder­nity. Pick­ing up on hall­mark BMW de­sign fea­tures al­lows BMW i de­sign to main­tain a clear con­nec­tion to its par­ent brand. How­ever, BMW i also takes a whole new look at var­i­ous stylis­tic el­e­ments, giv­ing the sub-brand’s ve­hi­cles a dis­tinc­tive iden­tity. To this end, a three-di­men­sional blue ring has been added to the out­side of the BMW badge for the BMW i logo. A fresh in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the clas­sic BMW kid­ney grille re­flects the in­spi­ra­tion pro­vided by its par­ent brand for the BMW i face. With their hor­i­zon­tally sec­tioned head­lights, the BMW i cars share the in­tent look fa­mil­iar from BMW mod­els but add a flavour all of their own.

“Clean”, “clever” and “pre­mium” are three key words in BMW i de­sign. BMW i cars take the idea of pre­mium to the next level to meet the de­mands of the fu­ture: “next pre­mium” de­fines

com­fort, func­tion­al­ity and aes­thet­ics be­yond the usual per­cep­tions of higher stan­dards. Never be­fore have sus­tain­abil­ity and pre­mium been com­bined in this depth. Pre­serv­ing re­sources was a key con­sid­er­a­tion in the de­vel­op­ment of ma­te­ri­als, for ex­am­ple. The de­sign of the in­te­rior puts re­new­able and nat­u­rally treated raw ma­te­ri­als on open dis­play for the first time. The new Lifedrive ar­chi­tec­ture gave the de­sign­ers the free­dom to in­tro­duce a clean-sheet de­sign for the in­te­rior. Only gen­uinely pre­mium, clean and clever fea­tures were in­cluded. The re­sult is a con­tem­po­rary, pared-down aes­thetic which re­duces weight with­out the need to com­pro­mise on func­tion­al­ity. The de­sign of the ex­te­rior uses a stim­u­lat­ing de­sign lan­guage to com­mu­ni­cate this new ap­proach. Trans­parency and the use of con­trast­ing colours bring the cars’ light­weight de­sign to the at­ten­tion of the ob­server. The ex­tremely clean, min­i­mal­ist sur­faces have been con­ceived to lend vis­ual im­pact to the sub-brand’s all-em­brac­ing sus­tain­abil­ity con­cept.

Typ­i­cally BMW i: mod­el­spe­cific de­sign fea­tures. Lifedrive ar­chi­tec­ture

The pur­pose-built ba­sic con­struc­tion of the BMW i mod­els — the Lifedrive ar­chi­tec­ture — rep­re­sents their sin­gle most defin­ing fea­ture. Within this con­cept, the car­bon fi­bre-re­in­forced plas­tic (CFRP) Life mod­ule houses the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment, while the Drive mod­ule brings to­gether all the op­er­a­tional driv­ing func­tions.

This dis­tinc­tive two-way split is also re­flected in the de­sign of the cars. The mod­ules are partly cov­ered by plas­tic side pan­els, but re­main clearly dis­tin­guish­able. Ex­pres­sive sur­faces and pre­cise lines form a har­mo­nious tran­si­tion be­tween the two. This over­lap and in­ter­lock­ing of sur­faces and lines — “lay­er­ing” in BMW i speak — marks out the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior de­sign of the ve­hi­cles. This strik­ing in­ter­play high­lights the link­ing to­gether of the in­di­vid­ual struc­tures and their ar­range­ment within the frame­work of the Lifedrive ar­chi­tec­ture. Aero­dy­nam­ics

The aero­dy­nam­i­cally op­ti­mised “stream flow” rep­re­sents one of the most strik­ing de­sign themes of BMW i. Two hor­i­zon­tal lines con­verge from above and be­low — like streaks of air in the wind tun­nel — into a dy­namic C- pil­lar sweep. These lines are expressed in dif­fer­ent ways de­pend­ing on the model. Among the other aero­dy­nam­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant fea­tures which dou­ble up as hall­mark el­e­ments of BMW i de­sign are large and rel­a­tively nar­row wheels, as well as aero­dy­namic el­e­ments such as AirCur­tains (which chan­nel the air flow around the wheel arches) and the aeroflaps be­hind the front wheels. Light­weight de­sign and ef­fi­ciency

BMW i de­sign uses light­ness and ef­fi­ciency to give the sub-brand’s in­no­va­tive drive tech­nol­ogy a fit­ting show­case. These cen­tral val­ues are expressed in the de­sign of the ve­hi­cles through large trans­par­ent sur­faces and a light-bathed in­te­rior, a pow­er­ful stance and aero­dy­namic ad­di­tions such as con­tact sur­faces, spoiler lips and el­e­ments al­low­ing air through-flow. This high de­gree of trans­parency im­bues the cars with an airy feel, while the gen­er­ously-sized glass sur­faces give an op­ti­mum view out­side.

The im­pres­sive swathes of ex­posed CFRP re­flect the light­ness and ef­fi­ciency of both ve­hi­cles. As a cen­tral el­e­ment of ef­fi­cient mo­bil­ity, aero­dy­nam­ics play a key role in re­duc­ing fuel con­sump­tion. The de­sign of the BMW i ve­hi­cles uses nu­mer­ous aero­dy­namic mea­sures to re­duce the cars’ drag sub­stan­tially, in­creas­ing their ef­fi­ciency — and there­fore their range when run­ning on elec­tric power alone. Rear lights

BMW i in­tro­duces a fresh in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the fa­mil­iar BMW rear light de­sign. The in­tri­cately-worked U-shaped rear lights use state-of-the-art LED tech­nol­ogy and are de­signed for max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency, in terms of both their space re­quire­ment and en­ergy us­age. Their dis­tinc­tive looks also en­sure the BMW i ve­hi­cles are clearly iden­ti­fi­able dur­ing the hours of dark­ness. Black band

An­other dis­tinc­tive de­sign fea­ture is best viewed from above; a black band rises out of the bon­net just be­hind the kid­ney grille and con­tin­ues over the roof to the rear, cre­at­ing a vis­ual link be­tween the dif­fer­ent sec­tions of the car.

“We take our re­spon­si­bil­ity very se­ri­ously when it comes to the mo­bil­ity of the fu­ture and the fu­ture of our so­ci­ety,” says Benoit Ja­cob, Head of BMW i De­sign, with ref­er­ence to the BMW i sub-brand. “We are in no doubt of the need to take a fresh view of things go­ing for­ward. That’s why, at BMW i, we’ve been ask­ing our­selves a host of ques­tions which chal­lenge many of the things we cur­rently take for granted. Ev­ery de­sign el­e­ment in the creative process was sub­jected to three fun­da­men­tal ques­tions: Does it meet our def­i­ni­tion of pre­mium? How clean is it? How clever is it? And those ques­tions pro­voked some rev­o­lu­tion­ary re­sponses. Suf­fice to say, rarely has the fu­ture promised so much.”

BMW i sets out to re­think mo­bil­ity and come up with pi­o­neer­ing so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges posed by cars of the fu­ture.

The aero­dy­nam­i­cally op­ti­mised “stream flow” rep­re­sents one of the most strik­ing de­sign themes of BMW i.

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