The BMW i3 Urban Suite Wants To Size Down Luxury Chauffeur Travel

Image: BMW

Grilles at BMW might be getting larger by the day, but the automaker doesn’t seem to think bigger is always better. For the Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas, the company will bring with it the BMW i3 Urban Suite—its new vision to downsize luxury travel.

BMW calls it an “innovative and sustainable mobility concept,” a phrase that, in a few years of automakers exhausting it, now has less meaning than “lol.”

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A design sketch for the concept.
Image: BMW

BMW announced the i3 Urban Suite on Thursday, saying it’ll demonstrate to people at the show that “luxury travel in the future will have nothing to do with vehicle size.” That is, of course, unless you want to luxuriously travel with other people—in which case, you probably do need a vehicle of a larger size.

But for anyone who feels like downsizing, BMW said the all-electric i3 models used for this idea “underwent a complete transformation” in order to turn into single-rider suites with “the relaxed feel of a boutique hotel.”

It looks a little cramped for that, but, you know, sure. From the announcement:

This has been achieved by including, among other things, a large, comfortable seat with footrest, a screen that flips down from the headliner and a personal Sound Zone.

The BMW i3 Urban Suite also represents a logical step forward in the BMW Group’s commitment to sustainable mobility. The vehicle is underpinned by a holistic approach to making responsible use of resources, encompassing the powertrain with zero local emissions, the careful selection of materials and the production processes involved. Fabrics containing recycled materials therefore come together with certified wood and olive-tanned leather, while the floor mats are made from recyclable materials that can be fed back into the materials cycle, as per circular economy principles.

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BMW said the aim with the i3 suite was to make a space where the rider could enjoy in-car entertainment or work in “a laid-back setting,” with a focus on the relaxation factor. BMW did not, however, mention that it might be a little weird for the driver to constantly have someone’s feet right next to them.

All other details about the car and different elements of it, BMW said, will come out when the show opens on Jan. 7. Perhaps then we’ll get an answer to the feet question.

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Image: BMW

In terms of practical use, BMW said that a group of standard i3 models were converted into this setup in Germany, then brought to Las Vegas and deployed for public use through “a special app” leading up to CES. The announcement didn’t say how many are on the streets or how widely BMW plans to spread the i3 idea, but it may just depend on how things go in Vegas.

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After all, downsizing luxury isn’t easy—just look at how hard BMW is trying to convince us that its gargantuan grilles are a good thing. Plus, the people who can pay for their precious space may not want to give it up, even if just for a short car ride.

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