BMW's head of design thinks people "will get used" to the company's controversial new design direction.
We all gasped when BMW lifted the wraps off the Concept 4 at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show last year. From some angles, the Concept 4 looked stunning, but its massive kidney grille was divisive, to say the least. BMW started this design trend with the 7 Series facelift and the X7. More recently, the BMW Concept i4 also debuted with a massive grille, suggesting this design direction will also be applied to the automaker's future EVs.
While many modern electric cars don't have traditional grilles since there's no combustion engine under the hood to cool down, BMW's new EVs won't ditch the manufacturer's iconic kidney grille design. Speaking with Autoblog, BMW's head of design, Domagoj Dukec, asserted that a BMW loses its identity without a distinctive twin-kidney grille.
"If you go really back in time to when the kidney started, there was a big difference between it and the classic grilles of other manufacturers. Look at the grille of a Rolls-Royce, for example. It was always the same shape as the radiator behind it, Dukec explained. "For BMW, however, it was always the face of the car, and it wasn't shaped like the radiator. The 328 had vertical openings. Splitting the grille in the middle was not the most efficient way to do it, but it was an aesthetic solution".
In the next few years, BMW's electric range will rapidly expand with new models such as the i4, iX3, and the production version of the iNext SUV. Not every new BMW will have a large grille, however. Instead, designers will tweak the kidney grille on each model to suit its character. BMW is split into three model lines: the core brand, M performance models, and i electric cars. Rather than differentiating them with distinct designs, BMW wants each model line to have a consistent identity.
"We no longer see i on one side, positioned as the angel on the left shoulder, and M on the right shoulder as BMW's devil. This doesn't work anymore," he said. "We don't want to make three parallel universes where we have three brands with different characters. We want to strengthen BMW as a brand with the help of two sub-brands which have two different roles. M4, i4, and 4 customers have one thing in common: They love BMW."
While many enthusiasts weren't impressed with BMW's bold new design direction previewed by the Concept 4, Dukec believes BMW fans will "get used to it."
"In the past, some people were actually complaining that we weren't as self-confident as other brands, and no one complains about them when they have a grille that stretches [all the way] from left to right. Everybody who loves BMW will get used to it. People who are complaining are often not customers."