Five years ago, BMW stole the headlines with the introduction of two outlandishly styled electric vehicles – the chic, futuristic i3 and the swooping, scissor-doored i8. Both were meant to signify Munich’s foray into electrification, and they still look like nothing else on the road, even today.
However, BMW is putting those days behind it, as EVs become less of a novelty and more of a staple of everyday life. Autocar reports that the styling of future electric models will be gradually toned down as the technology becomes more mainstream, according to the company’s design director Adrian van Hooydonk.
“Electric mobility will spread through our entire vehicle range in quite a short space of time – to the point that electric or plug-in hybrid is just another option box you tick as you order the car,” he said. “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.”
But van Hooydonk insisted that the future-forward BMW i models will still be at the forefront of design. “The i brand stands for inspiration and innovation, and electrification is not the only area of our industry that marks a significant change,” he added. “It’s pretty clear that there will still be i cars, and that the designers will be able to search for different things.”
While BMW is transitioning towards producing electric versions of its standard models, this new design direction can already be clearly seen. The iX3, shown as a concept at Auto China in Beijing earlier this year ahead of a 2019 debut, is still recognisably an X3, albeit with a few BMW i-specific cues such as the new, conjoined version of the trademark double kidney grille.
The standalone BMW i models, meanwhile, will feature more distinctive styling, if the BMW i Vision Dynamics and Vision iNEXT, which preview an i4 four-door “coupé” and an SUV respectively, are any indication – but without the dramatic sweeping curves and layered surfaces of the i3 and i8.
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