Electric drive moves to the core of the BMW brand with the unveiling of the BMW Concept i4, a pure-electric Gran Coupe. The car also represents a look ahead to the BMW i4 – slated to enter production in 2021 – and includes several exterior and interior design elements which will make an appearance in both the BMW i4 and other electrically-powered production vehicles to come in the near future.
The car’s standout numbers include a range of up to 600 km (WLTP), output of up to 530 hp, 0 to 100 kmph acceleration of approximately 4.0 seconds and a top speed in excess of 200 kmph. Beyond the numbers, we are told, the virtually silent delivery of power creates an entirely new sensation of dynamism.
“The design of the BMW Concept i4 shows fantastic proportions, a powerfully expressive character and, of course, a lot of attention to detail,” says Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design. “With the BMW Curved Display, we have redefined BMW’s signature driver focus in an extremely elegant way. At the same time, the BMW Concept i4 transports a feeling of sustainable driving pleasure.”
“The BMW Concept i4 brings electrification to the core of the BMW brand. The design is dynamic, clean and elegant. In short: a perfect BMW that happens to be zero-emission.” – Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President, BMW Group Design
The long wheelbase, fastback roofline and short overhangs form the basis of the car’s exterior profile. Crisp, smooth lines and taut volumes merge into a rich, smoothly contoured sculpture. Blue elements in the front end, flanks and rear reminisce the car’s BMW i origins. In the front, clean surfaces and a small number of crisp lines around the grille create a contemporary front-end graphic. The prominent, closed-off kidney grille now serves primarily as an intelligence panel housing various sensors. Two intricate, freestanding LED elements on either side integrate all of the requisite light functions.
The rear sits low over the road and cuts a broad, horizontally emphasised figure. On either end are the long, slim L-shaped rear lights. Vertical air outlets emphasise the car’s sporting stance, and instead of exhaust tailpipes, there are diffuser elements that reference the design of the BMW i Vision Dynamics. The wheel rims have been designed exclusively for the car and blend aerodynamic efficiency, high-strength and lightweight construction.
The BMW Concept i4 has a structured, bright and airy cabin which, in true BMW fashion, focuses on the driver. The new Curved Display, inclined towards the driver, encompasses the section in front of the driver and above the centre stack. It comprises a screen grouping that integrates almost all operating functions through intuitive touch operation. The display is part of an overall approach centred on reducing the number of haptic controls to the minimum. Non-reflective glass also removes the need for a shroud to shade the displays and therefore contributes to an uncluttered and airy cockpit. This approach offers a look ahead to the display in the production versions of the BMW iNEXT and BMW i4.
Other elements, such as air outlets, are integrated almost invisibly into the overall presentation featuring strong patterns created through the understated use of different luxurious materials. There is an accent strip in warm Gold Bronze blend to chrome. The central control panel replaces a traditional gear lever with a toggle-type shifter. Elements such as the iDrive Controller and seat memory buttons in the doors are finished in a classy crystal glass. The cloth and leather combination for the seats are composed of microfibre with line graphics and natural leather tanned using olive leaves. The cut-out in the head restraints is a classy detail that references sporty BMW models from the current line-up. The rear passengers’ compartment offers generous levels of headroom and legroom.
The Concept i4 debuts the synthesised sound developed as a collaboration between multi award-winning composer Hans Zimmer and BMW’s Sound Designer Renzo Vitale. Their brief was to emotionalise BMW’s electric vehicles and make them audible relative to the three “Experience Modes” – Core, Sport and Efficient. The three are selected using the Curved Display with each selection determining everything from how the user experiences the display and graphics to how the interior is presented, including the ambient lighting.
The Concept i4 also debut’s BMW’s fifth generation eDrive technology which is a defining feature of BMW’s future electric mobility – starting with the iX3, due to go into production in 2020, and followed by the iNEXT and the i4. The 5G eDrive’s electric motor, power electronics, charging unit and high-voltage battery are all-new developments. The electric motor developed for the BMW i4 generates maximum output of up to 390 kW or 530 hp, which ranks it alongside a current BMW V8 combustion engine. The newly designed high-voltage battery has an extremely slim construction, weighs roughly 550 kilograms, and has an energy content of around 80 kWh. As a cohesive unit, the eDrice technology sets new standards in terms of power density, efficiency and range.