The proliferation of minimalist car interiors with key functions buried in touchscreen menus has long been a bit of a bugbear of ours at CarExpert.

    It appears the boss of BMW, Oliver Zipse, agrees.

    “Driver distraction is the main source of accidents, not fast driving,” Mr Zipse was reported as saying at a media briefing during CES 2023. “… If you have to look down to operate your car, we think it’s a big mistake.”

    The German luxury brand’s chief said he was “absolutely convinced” that such distracting interfaces in cars will not be an enduring technology.

    “In 10 years, that is gone. Probably the regulator will not allow it,” Mr Zipse contended – interestingly it must be said, considering the ongoing rollout of advanced self-driving functions.

    Naturally, Mr Zipse’s comments were supported by a new concept vehicle offering an alternative to big centre screens – and one that isn’t a simple return to the iDrive transmission tunnel dial as a predominant means of interfacing.

    The BMW i Vision Dee concept, revealed last week was made to preview designs and technologies destined for the carmaker’s upcoming range of EVs based on its new Neue Klasse platform.

    The concept’s interior uses a reductive design language and a vast head-up display that spans the width of the windscreen, replacing a traditional touchscreen system.

    The HUD concept is controlled by the steering wheel touchpads and the so-called BMW Mixed Reality Slider, which allows drivers to decide how much digital content they want to see.

    “Inside, digitalisation goes hand in hand with reductive use of materials, operating controls and displays to ensure nothing distracts from the digital experience and the new feeling of enhanced driving pleasure,” said a BMW spiel.

    “The unconventional design of the steering wheel, with its central vertical spoke, creates touchpoints that come to life when approached or touched and can be operated by moving the thumb.

    “These phygital [a portmanteau of physical and digital] touchpoints control selection of the content projected onto the windscreen and, together with the Head-Up Display, thus support the principle of ‘hands on the wheel, eyes on the road’.”

    The Neue Klasse platform is set to debut in 2025 on a 3 Series-sized vehicle, which will be pitted against the Tesla Model 3. An X3-sized electric SUV is understood to be the second vehicle.

    “It is more than a vision. We bring this innovation into the Neue Klasse as early as 2025… our customers will be able to experience this completely new technology in their vehicles,” said Mr Zipse.

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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