While BMW's electric models are currently styled to stand out very clearly as being EVs, the automaker's design chief says that as the electric cars become more mainstream, so will the designs.
It's not hard to tell that BMW electric vehicles like the i3, i8, and iX3 are, well, electric. That's because the company needs to bring attention to their electric powertrains. Buyers of EVs typically want cars that look like EVs, and that's what the company delivers. BMW design director Adrian van Hooydonk told Autocar that the company is not planning on keeping electrics looking electric forever.
"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 increasingly less reason to make these kinds of cars look different," said van Hooydonk.
As electric cars become more mainstream, the design of the cars will start to become more mainstream as well. Don't expect an electric 3 series to look as space-age as the i3.
While the main line electric cars will be conventionally styled, BMW's i cars will continue to have innovative designs. "The i brand stands for inspiration and innovation, and electrification is not the only area of our industry that marks a significant change," van Hooydonk said. "It’s pretty clear that there will still be i cars, and that the designers will be able to search for different things."
You can already start to see the change in BMW's design plans. The iX3 concept is closer to a conventional X3 than the i3 or i8 to any other on-sale BMW. But dramatic styling can be found on cars like the Vision iNext SUV that boasted a new and massive kidney grille design and other bold styling cues.