If you’re at all familiar with the history of BMW, you likely know the story behind its blue, white and black circular logo. The triangular blue panels are intended to evoke the spinning propeller of an aircraft, symbolizing the aero engines that BMW’s predecessor, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG of Munich, assembled for German aviators including the storied Manfred von Richthofen, who scored a lot of his World War I victories behind a BMW IIIa straight-six. BMW’s technological heritage is about to go in an entirely different direction, as evidenced by its new Concept i4, an all-electric sport sedan slotted size-wise between the current 3 Series and the 5 Series, which is slated to see volume production beginning next year.
There’s a lot of industry buzzspeak in the media materials that announced the Concept i4’s unveiling. Suffice to say that it’s the first entry in what BMW says will be a long-term corporate rebranding to underscore its embrace of premium electric vehicles. We riffed through the usual ladling of hyperbole to arrive at this nugget: When it reaches production, the Concept i4 is going to feature a series of audio files, we guess, that will be marketed under the brand name of BMW IconicSounds Electric. BMW has actually contracted German composer Hans Zimmer to work alongside a corporate officer named Renzo Vitale, who holds the title of BMW Sound Designer. The result of this will be the creation of audio files that will “personalize” individual sounds including a door opening and an engine start that will be played within the car’s passenger cabin according to which driver-selected operating mode is being used. So onboard infotainment, which has become an important selling point for premium cars, now will include the piped-in sounds of driving. Will one of the files copy the snarl of a racing 3.0 CSL “Batmobile” or an M1? As the saying goes, we think not. You could do something similar by downloading a file of your favorite racing engine at full song, then burn it on a CD and stick in the player of your Kia Sportage or whatever. Good entertainment is where you find it, or program it into your vehicle’s digital DNA, we’d imagine.