BMW has decided that despite all the new engineering under the skin of the new 3 Series, the styling of the all-important sedan would only be very mildly updated. At the Paris Motor Show, the Bavarians also displayed a concept of their next i car, the electric iX3 SUV shown above. As far as its exterior goes, the i division's next move feels like a 180 degree turn from the futuristic i3 city car and i8 plug-in hybrid.
Indeed, it seems that BMW will dedicate its time to making sure its kidney grilles can keep growing. Indefinitely.
Now, BMW Design Director Adrian van Hooydonk says that's all on purpose. Talking to , van Hooydonk said that as electrified models get more and more popular, there will be no reason to make i BMWs look unique:
Electric mobility will spread through our entire vehicle range in quite a short space of time—to the point that electric or plug-in hybrid is just another option box you tick as you order the car. The fact is that BMW customers want a dynamic car, whether it is a battery-electric vehicle or not, and so there’s is increasingly less reason to make these kinds of cars look different.
This means BMW will go down a similar route as Audi with its e-tron or Mercedes-Benz with the EQ C—advanced electric vehicles with styling that's almost exactly the same as their conventional cars. It's a big shift from BMW's previous strategy of making its electric cars look decidedly futuristic, and wholly distinct from its other offerings. Notably, Jaguar is committed to making its electric vehicles stand out—look at the I-Pace crossover, with its radical proportions making the most of Jag's new electric car skateboard platform.
BMW lost its head of exterior design, Karim Habib, to Infiniti in 2017. Since then, Jozef Kabaň has been responsible for BMW's core line, while Domagoj Dukec is in charge of the i and M models. Their boss, Adrian van Hooydonk, joined BMW in 1992, becoming head of Designworks USA in 2001, and replacing Chris Bangle as Director of BMW Group Design in 2009. See you at his anniversary party in 2022.