It's quite a process.
Wattens is a small community in Austrian Tyrol. In it live around 8,000 people. But it's better known for the company it houses: the world-famous Swarovski. The brand is known for producing some of the finest crystal jewelry on the planet. But it also dabbles in auto parts manufacturing, which is why we're here.
The BMW i7 has headlights that aren't just your typical glass and plastic projectors. Instead, they use Swarovski crystal for the projector. The Bavarian brand calls them "BMW Iconic Glow headlights," which are a first on any BMW model. Where these crystals start their lives isn't wholly dissimilar to where the rest of the i7 starts its life. In a very hot room.
The process starts with smelting, like so many of the i7's other bits and pieces. From there crystals are moved to a factory where they can be cut and coated. That process uses machines rather than human hands, presumably to meet the necessary specs for the lights. A slight deviation in the crystal means that the light won't go to the right place. After that, a technician thoroughly inspects each crystal before sending it off to its fate.
BMW wanted the crystals to look unlike anything Swarovski had made before. It says the crystals had to look grown, and not like jewelry. We're betting this is a nice way of saying "those very expensive crystals had better look super rad." In all honesty, they definitely do. Once in place, the crystals run the length of the i7's upper headlight housing, which makes up the daytime running light and turn signal.
We've seen the i7 in person, and we can confirm that the crystals catch a good bit of light even when not backlit by the car's LEDs. It creates a very unique effect that BMW is sure to capitalize on when you walk up to the car. Given the i7's starting price of $119,300, we'd expect nothing less.
The first electric 7 Series produces around 536 hp and 549 lb-ft of torque and should be good for 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds. In other words, those very expensive-looking crystals will be in for a hell of a ride. Speaking of pricing, we're uncertain how much these will cost to replace should they be damaged. Given the effort that goes into making them, we're sure it won't be cheap. Maybe you can make a chandelier with what's left.
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