Candy-coloured BMW i Vision Dee is a compact concept swathed in an E Ink skin

BMW i goes full colour with its bold new concept car, combining E Ink exterior paint with minimal trim and a direct connection to the digital world

BMW i Vision Dee Concept in multicoloured E Ink panels
(Image credit: BMW)

There’s an awful lot to unpack from the expansive information released by BMW to accompany its latest concept, the BMW i Vision Dee. Unveiled at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, further cementing the show’s importance in the tech mobility world, the awkwardly named i Vision Dee was released alongside a panoply of tech advances, including an emphasis on the ongoing blending of real and virtual worlds.

BMW i Vision Dee Concept from rear, with E Ink exterior on pink background

(Image credit: BMW)

BMW i Vision Dee concept with E Ink

The concept’s most striking party trick comes courtesy of E Ink embedded body panels, divided into 240 segments. Last year’s BMW iX Flow concept debuted this tech in black and white; the BMW i Vision Dee has the chameleon-like ability to change its exterior using up to 32 colours. 

Beyond futuristic peacocking, there are a few potential practical applications for such a showstopping trick – making your car’s colour flash in a busy parking lot, perhaps, or signalling intentions to other drivers. Even the large wheels are segmented into E Ink ‘spokes’, allowing for striking colour combinations.

BMW i Vision Dee Concept in pink on yellow background

(Image credit: BMW)

The form of the panels themselves marks another departure for the Bavarian brand. In recent years, the company’s signature double-kidney grille has expanded into a vast chromed maw, much to the detriment of the once-refined BMW corporate face. This new concept comes full circle, expanding the grille forms into the entire front end of the car, stripping them of decoration and incorporating lights and sensors to make for a simple, elegant ‘face’.

BMW i Vision Dee Concept: close-up of logo on white bodywork

(Image credit: BMW)

The minimalist theme continues throughout the exterior, which eschews the somewhat gawky proportions of recent mainstream BMW models in favour of a simple, purist line. If anything, it evokes the meticulous balance of ‘three box’ BMWs from the 1970s and 1980s; a bonnet, body and boot. In this respect, BMW is following companies like Hyundai, showcasing electrification through a retro-futuristic, synthwave-drenched visionary approach.

BMW i Vision Dee Concept with yellow contrast wheel hub

(Image credit: BMW)

The other key tech is ‘digital performance’. ‘Dee’ stands for Digital Emotional Experience, and the concept blends its bank of screens with what BMW calls a ‘Mixed Reality Slider’. The stripped-back interior has a five-step selector that allows customers to ramp up their information levels from a basic ‘analogue’ set-up all the way to full ‘phygital’ immersion, with dimmable windows that can ‘gradually fade out reality’. On the exterior, the E Ink panels and grille can be used to change the ‘emotional’ appearance of the car. 

BMW i Vision Dee Concept car interior with steering wheel and driver seat

(Image credit: BMW)

Will this ever reach production? In terms of silhouette, the BMW i Vision Dee offers a template for the next generation of 3-Series, one of the mainstays of the BMW range. The company’s concepts flip between lightly disguised versions of production-ready cars and far-future speculations. There’s nothing about this new vision that is particularly far-fetched – although the E Ink paintwork probably isn’t ready for the real world just yet.

BMW i Vision Dee Concept car interior

(Image credit: BMW)

BMW has dubbed its projected design direction the Neue Klasse, marking a post-combustion pivot point for the company. With design stripped back to a minimum, information and entertainment are set to become more and more important, not just to customers but to the company’s bottom line. 

BMW i Vision Dee Concept, grid of four cars side-on with different colours showing on E Ink panels

(Image credit: BMW)

BMW is controversially pressing ahead with plans to bundle many common optional extras, like the Parking Assistant Professional system, into a series of monthly subscription models. Self-expression, seamless communication, and all-round digital immersion might well be the future of mobility, but it looks like it’ll come at a price.

BMW i Vision Dee Concept with yellow roof and purple sides, thanks to E Ink panels

(Image credit: BMW)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.