BMW AG reveals a prototype of a car that can talk and also change colors depending on the driver’s mood. There are no screens on its dashboard. It is BMW i Vision Dee, revealed at a splashy kickup on Wednesday evening or the CES conference in Las Vegas. According to the chief executive Oliver Zipse, the car will be put into production in 2025.
BMW plans to launch a new lineup of electric vehicles, which it is calling the Neue Klasse, or new class. The BMW concept was very much a show car, with elements that could be challenging to put into mass production at competitive prices. But Zipse told a packed theater at the Palms Casino that BMW “will bring this technology into our Neue Klasse … in serious production.” One of the most striking features of the concept was a dashboard that had no screens. Instead, the dashboard has one digital slider that controls images projected on the car’s windshield. At the highest level, the windshield could show a digital, virtual world instead of the reality of city streets.
“Digital leadership is not about who has the biggest screen,” Zipse said. That point of view is at odds with most of BMW’s luxury segment competitors, starting with electric vehicle pace-setter Tesla, which has made a large, high-definition screen the central feature of its vehicles’ dashboards.
During a presentation highlighted by an appearance from actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, BMW also gave a central role to “Dee,” a digital assistant that conversed with Zipse and others in a female voice. Playing on its long-time slogan “the ultimate driving machine,” BMW said the “Dee” technology could make future cars the “ultimate companion.” For a final flourish, BMW showed off the latest application of the E Ink technology. The i Vision Dee car has 240 separate color cells that can change individually. In one moment, the prototype was a light green shade, then dark purple, then red with white racing stripes.
“The headlights and the closed BMW kidney grille also form a common phygital (fusion of physical and digital) icon on a uniform surface, allowing the vehicle to produce different facial expressions,” BMW said in a news release, per The Verge. “This means the BMW i Vision Dee can talk to people and, at the same time, express moods such as joy, astonishment, or approval visually.” The car’s voice assistant syncs up with the head-up display featuring four levels of interaction that take up the whole windshield for a completely virtual experience. The digital display also integrates augmented reality and is controlled by what BMW calls its “mixed reality slider.”