You may think BMW‘s double kidney grille can’t get much bigger, yet the company could soon make one so large it even incorporates the headlights.

    BMW has filed a patent with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) as first reported by CarBuzz, which illustrates technology that allows the double kidney grille to switch from opaque to transparent.

    According to the patent imagery this theoretically means when the headlights are off the grille is a seamless panel, and when the headlights are on the grille can become transparent to let the light shine through.

    Another possible use for this technology would be with different daytime running light configurations.

    It’s unclear if this patented technology is for an actual grille to be used in an internal-combustion car, or if it’s just a grille-like panel for an electric vehicle (EV). The latter doesn’t require a conventional grille for cooling.

    Similar technology was recently shown on BMW’s i Vision Dee concept with had a”phygital” – a portmanteau of physical and digital – double kidney grille.

    This closed-off double kidney grille and headlight assembly could produce different ‘facial’ expressions such as joy, astonishment and approval.

    At this stage it’s unclear if BMW will actually produce a car that has a grille that can change from opaque to transparent, and include the headlights.

    The company may instead just be patenting the technology so no other carmaker can steal the idea.

    BMW has a storied history with controversial grilles, including the illuminated double kidney grille on the X6 and X7 large SUVs, and the self-healing closed-off grille on the iX electric SUV.

    One of the most notable is the chipmunk-esque double kidney grille on the 4 Series range that was then covered over for the i4 electric four-door coupe.

    Let us know your thought on this patented grille and lighting technology in the comments below.

    MORE: New BMW 3 Series? i Vision Dee EV concept revealed at CES
    MORE: How the BMW grille has evolved

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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