The futuristic design of BMW i embodies the creation of visionary vehicles and a new understanding of premium mobility underpinned by sustainability. The aim was to create an authentic visual representation of innovative technology and to translate values such as lightness, safety and efficiency into the models. These basic values are expressed in the design of the vehicles through features including 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. The concepts also blend in their own interpretation of familiar BMW design features, cementing a clear link to the BMW parent brand.
The most defining element of the BMW i concepts is their purpose-built basic construction, the LifeDrive architecture. Within this concept, the 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 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 marks out the exterior and interior design of both vehicles.
The colours and materials concept creates an effective link between the vehicles – and between their exteriors and interiors. The dominant colours of the exterior are the Silver Flow shade of light silver and High-gloss Black. The slightly blue-tinged, bright silver colour tone shows off the vehicles’ technical, modern exterior design extremely effectively and presents a clear contrast against the black-painted surfaces. Contrasting touches in bright, forceful Stream Blue bring the efficiency of the vehicles (inside and out) stylistically to life. Externally this colour can also be found in the logo, the kidney grille, door sills and rear apron. Applied more discreetly in the interior, Stream Blue glows subtly from the logo in the steering wheel, the seat stitching, and between the leather surfaces and structural layers of the steering wheel, as well as from the indicators and displays. The colours of the interior paint a far warmer picture and therefore create a pleasant contrast to the technical cool of the exterior. The shell layer structures in Porcelain White and the warm dark brown leather colour tone Mocha Brown conjure up a modern yet cosy ambience.
A stand-out feature of both interiors is the visible use of renewable and naturally treated raw materials. The BMW i3 Concept sets new benchmarks in the use of sustainable materials. In addition to the extensive use of natural fibres and naturally tanned leather, 25 per cent of the weight of the interior plastic is accounted for by recycled or renewable raw materials.
The version of the LifeDrive architecture that underlies the BMW i3 Concept opens up totally new avenues in interior design. There is no centre tunnel bisecting the cabin and the interior thus creates a very free, open and airy impression. The passengers sit in a raised “semi-command” position which provides a good view over the hustle and bustle of city traffic and, at the same time, eases access to the seats. The full-width seat benches in the front and rear create a new and connecting feeling of space for the passengers in the light interior. This layout also allows them to swap from one side of the car to the other and, if necessary, to all exit the car comfortably on the same side. This represents a major boost to comfort in tight parking spaces and when access to one side of the parked car is impeded.
The transparent surfaces in the doors and roof give the exterior and interior design of the BMW i8 Concept the appearance of merging into one another. The colour concept and underlying structure of the BMW i8 Concept interior closely mimic those of the BMW i3 Concept. Here again, the Porcelain White support structure, black technical level and comfort section with Mocha Brown leather are split into three different layers. The arrangement of the air vents, control panels and displays also betrays the car’s family ties to its BMW i3 Concept sibling. Overall, however, these features have a more sporting character and are geared much more clearly towards the driver.