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BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021

BMW debuts the first-ever electric vehicle designed, developed and manufactured on the circular economy at IAA 2021


the car will always have a future as it embodies individual mobility, but we all know it needs to become completely sustainable,’ states domagoj dukec, head of BMW design, exclusively to designboom ahead of the world premier of the BMW i vision circular at IAA 2021. ‘our focus on sustainability shows the topic is vital to our industry; sustainability is not an option. the vision car creates a highly emotional, aesthetic concept of how a luxury product can credibly be 100% sustainable.


imagined for the year 2040, the BMW i vision circular is a compact, all-electric vehicle that fuses sustainability and luxury. the principles of circular economy guides the design, made using 100% recycled materials and being powered by an equally as recyclable electric battery. this circularity even extends from the design of the four meter-long, four seater car to its development and manufacturing process.


BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021
the BMW i vision circular’s clean mono-volume introduces new, more organic proportions

all images courtesy of the BMW Group

BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021
the unpainted body’s light-gold anodized aluminum turns a bluish purple color at the rear through heat-treated steel



domagoj dukec, head of BMW design, exclusively speaks with designboom


the three principles of the circular economy – RE:DUCE, RE:USE and RE:CYCLE – have made everyone at BMW RE:THINK. this is because a sustainable car cannot just be to reduce, reuse and recycle materials. it also needs to rethink construction, manufacturing processes and look at our suppliers as well as customers’ desires,’ clarifies domagoj dukec, head of BMW design, to designboom.


these pillars of a sustainable philosophy – RE:DUCE, RE:USE, RE:CYCLE and RE:THINK – introduce a totally new, engaging aesthetic for the BMW i vision circular. RE:DUCE does more with less, RE:USE extends longevity, RE:CYCLE aids disassembly of materials, and RE:THINK provokes alternatives, scrutinizing processes and manufacturing technologies. the car shows how high levels of sustainability pushes luxury to new levels.


BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021
the graphic artwork of the ‘double icon’ kidney grille and headlights influence the wheel and window designs



introducing new proportions for the automotive brand, the vision car defines a clean mono-volume that is unbroken from front to rear. its rising roofline and forward-inclined cowel panel adds dynamism to the silhouette. below the tailgate at the rear, a sculpted surface furthers this impressions with a striking horizontal movement. the body is left without a paint finish, made from light-gold anodized secondary aluminum instead. this calmer appearance interplays with the more animated, rich bluish purple color at the rear, realized from heat-treated steel.


BMW must be iconic, cool and alive. this is the way to extend a car’s life cycle. the exterior aims to be timeless so that it can be considered fresh for over a decade. to do this, we needed to balance minimalism with expressiveness. this is all about organic, round proportions without styling lines that can go out of fashion relatively quickly,’ adds the designer.


BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021
display surfaces and light functions are also invisibly integrated into the dark glass tailgate



to start, the front reimagines a timeless feature of BMW – the kidney grille. it does more with less. LED technology enables the headlamps to be integrated into the digitalized grille. this reduces materials whilst increasing functionality as its digital animation can create nice welcome scenarios for users too. the chrome frame, physical bars and any other bling has been removed, saving material and manufacturing. the same philosophy is apparent all around the design of the car,’ continues domagoj.


extending across the entire width of the car, the digital design of the reinterpreted ‘double icon’ kidney grille and headlights offers geometric variation. this new, artistic twist of graphics recurs with the hofmeister kink around the rear windows that are framed by a slim digital display/control surface, and both display surfaces and light functions are invisibly integrated into the dark glass tailgate. RE:DUCE, RE:USE and RE:CYCLE are further apparent across the exterior: the aerodynamically optimized black bumper is manufactured from recycled plastic with a sophisticated marble appearance; and the slightly transparent tires are made from certified, sustainably cultivated natural rubber. colored recycled rubber particles are added to the tyre compound for strengthening, but also create a pleasing terrazzo effect.


the BMW i vision circular is a compact, all-electric vehicle imagined for the year 2040



the interior proves BMW can achieve its famed luxury whilst delivering sustainability,’ remarks the head of BMW design. ‘customers have a certain aesthetic and tactile expectation that we achieve in the vision car with unexpected materials. these are still high quality thanks to our craft.


open the two outer-hinged portal doors and a light and airy interior is revealed. the pronounced rearward placement of the glass roof and the windscreen header gives the impression that the driver and front passengers are sitting in open air. as if pieces of high-end furniture, two separate lounge seats with integral head restraints supports them. a velvet-like upholstery, made from recycled plastic, is paired with a light-golden aluminum frame and rear shell with a terrazzo finish, again from reclaimed plastics. the large, slightly raised rear bench offers comfort for two passengers with softly padded side bolsters and cushion-like head restraints. an elaborate jacquad design, woven from 100% recycled materials, completes the luxurious, homely ambience.


BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021
raised seats heights and glass positioning expand the airy, openness of the cabin

BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021
the interior space proves luxury and sustainability can be achieved hand-in-hand



from the velvet-like upholstery to the recycled plastic terrazzo chair shell, the interior’s mono-materials are suitable for dismantling thanks to clever new joining techniques. this ‘joyful fusion’ enables the recycled materials to be dissembled quickly and recycled easily at the end of its life cycle. there are releasable cords, press studs and even quick-release fasteners laser-etched with a graphic made up of the letters of the word ‘circular’.


BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021
from the carpet to the seat upholstery, joyful fusions enable materials to be dissembled for reuse and recycling



in the BMW i vision circular, the classical instrument panel has been turned into a next-gen user interface. at first glance, this looks like a piece of jewellery. a 3D-printed, nerve-like structured crystal body hovers as a V-shaped sculpture from the naturally treated wooden dashboard. this is mirrored on either side of the warm, wooden steering wheel. the interfaces react to hand movements with an enthralling lighting effect. it controls the key information projected at the bottom of the windscreen. this not only removes physical displays but also ensures the driver needs not to look anywhere bar the road in-front. this ‘phygital’ experience exemplifies how technology can be integrated virtually invisibly yet deliver greater in-car intelligence.


the interior is left minimal; there are no unnecessary pieces. crystals appear as if jewellery or art but function as controls and lighting. they are made from 3D-printed recyclable plastic and then injected with a low-tech light source. we call this ‘phygital’ – an extension of shy-tech – as it is clever design. it adds richness to the space whilst also layering more functions and reducing materials,’ concludes domagoj dukec, head of BMW design, for the world premier at IAA 2021. here, the BMW i vision circular proves less is more and sets a clean sight for the future.


opening the two outer-hinged portal doors, a homely cabin is revealed with pieces like high-end furniture and jewellery designs


BMW i vision circular debuts as 100% recyclable electric car at IAA 2021
3D-printed crystals act as interfaces on the dashboard and steering wheel, reacting to interactions with lighting


the ‘phygital’ experience uses shy-tech to layer new functions whilst reducing the materials used



project info:


brand: BMW

vision: i vision circular

debut: IAA 2021

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