2020 Geneva Motor Show: BMW’s New Electric Car Concept I4
Forbes.com – Nargess Banks
“This is the Concept i4, a sleek four-door all-electric coupé and the latest product to join the sustainable BMW i family. Revealed virtually as part of the 2020 Geneva Motor Show (cancelled in its physical format due to the coronavirus) the concept car previews the i4 which is expected to enter production next year as the marque’s first all-electric model in the premium midsize class. What’s more, the Concept i4 comes replete with its own electric engine soundtrack – composed by the celebrated musician Hans Zimmer to express the possibilities of finding a unique electric drive note that speaks of the progressive age of clean transport.
The Concept i4 will offer a 373-mile electric battery range, provide an output of up to 530-horsepower, accelerate to 62 mph in around 4 seconds and perform to a top speed in excess of 124 mph. While, the virtually silent delivery of power, BMW promises, will create an entirely new driving sensation for this coupé.Today In: Lifestyle
This latest show car is an evolution of the 2017 i Vision Dynamics design study. The sleek proportions are classic coupé – a longer wheelbase, fastback roofline and short overhangs. And much like the i Vision, here the exterior design has been kept simple with its smooth lines and clear surfaces – “as a deliberate counterpoint to the dynamic flair of the driving experience” says BMW.
Aerodynamic measures help maximize the car’s electric range including the covered kidney grille and clear aero lips that help the smooth flow of air. Another distinctive feature are the wheel rims, designed exclusively for the Concept i4 to combine aerodynamic and lightweight design. The face offers a subtle new electric look too with its covered kidney grille which, in the absence of a combustion engine and required cooling, now serves primarily as an “intelligence panel” housing the various sensors.
Elsewhere, the headlights maintain the marque’s classical four-eyed design, but with a more contemporary interpretation featuring a couple of freestanding LED elements on either side to integrate the essential light functions. Clean surfaces with only a few crisp lines around the grille help inform the contemporary front-end graphic. Referencing the design of the i Vision, where exhaust tailpipes would once have been found, diffuser elements in BMW i Blue represent the electric drive system. Finally, the Concept i4 previews a new two-dimensional and transparent logo for the marque.
Inside, the Concept i4 cabin maintains BMW’s usual driver-focused environment but through a new curved display design whereby the surfaces of the information and control displays merge into a single unit and are inclined towards the driver. The idea is for the screen grouping to optimize presentation of information and makes the display’s touch operation more intuitive. Head of design Domagoj Dukec says, “with the curved display, we have redefined our signature driver focus in an extremely elegant way. At the same time, the Concept i4 transports a feeling of sustainable driving pleasure.”
BMW i was formed almost a decade ago as a sustainable sub-brand dedicated to finding a distinct product portfolio and a design language for the marque in the age of electrification. I drove the very first i3 in and around London in 2013; then the dramatic i8 the year after in the more dramatic Scottish Highlands setting. They both delivered what they promised in equal measures. The i3 is an incredibly gifted urban runaround, while the i8 offers pure open road driving pleasure. These two very distinct electric cars certainly don’t diminish the convenience or the fun of driving – instead they introduce an extra dose of excitement to personal transport. The i cars are intelligently designed and engineered products. They are fresh and exciting and point the way to a progressive future.
Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of BMW Group design, says the Concept i4 car brings electrification to the core of his brand. “The design is dynamic, clean and elegant. In short: a perfect BMW that happens to be zero emission,” he says.
“BMW is rooted in performance and it is about the thrill and the emotion of driving” van Hooydonk told me a few months ago. “On the one hand, it is about speed, yet the thrill is also about the vehicle’s direct response to your input. Then there is the technology that works well and the design which speaks on an emotional level. So, BMW is a combination of something that is highly emotional but delivers on a rational level. This can be motorized in any possible way.””