Skip to main content

At CES 2020, BMW will make sleeping in a city car sound attractive

There are far better places to sleep in than a city car; they’re cramped, poorly isolated, and not nearly as comfortable as a mattress. And yet, at CES 2020, BMW will showcase a concept named i3 Urban Suite that will make you wish for the opportunity to spend a night on the streets of New York City. It’s half electric car, half boutique hotel.

The Urban Suite started life as a regular i3, a funky electric car that still looks like it comes from the future in spite of its age. Viewed from the outside, it looks like a regular production model with the exception of a concept-specific wrap. The story is different inside, where BMW kept only the dashboard and the driver’s seat, and sent the rest of the interior back to the parts bin. An individual, sofa-like rear seat and wooden table replace the rear bench, while a footrest fills the space normally occupied by the front passenger seat. The company explained it wanted to create a cozy, feel-good atmosphere.

Recycled materials reign supreme in the Urban Suite. Take the floor mats, for example. They’re designed to be fed back into the materials cycle, so in 20 years they might reincarnate into fishing nets, playground equipment for kids, or something else entirely. Olive-tanned leather also plays a starring role inside the concept, and the miniature desk next to the rear seat is made from sustainably sourced wood. It almost sounds old-school, but there’s plenty of tech including a screen that folds into the headliner when it’s not needed, and what the company calls a personal sound zone.

It doesn’t sound like BMW made modifications to the i3’s powertrain. Built around a futuristic carbon fiber shell, the model is powered by a 42-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that channels electricity to a 170-horsepower electric motor mounted over the rear axle. It’s reasonably quick off the line, and it can travel for about 150 miles on a single charge.

BMW will deploy a fleet of i3 Urban Suites on the streets of Las Vegas during CES 2020. Visitors wishing to experience the car in person will be able to hail one using a special app developed specifically for the occasion. There’s no word yet on whether the company will charge for a ride; we’ve asked, and we’ll update this story if we learn more.

The i3 Urban Suite will be one of the stars of BMW’s display at CES 2020, but there’s little indication it will reach mass production. On a more realistic note, the company will show how it’s integrating wireless Android Auto — a software it spent years resisting — into its infotainment system, its digital instrument cluster, and its head-up display.

Editors' Recommendations

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
The pros and cons of electric vehicles
electric vehicles pros and cons car plugin getty feat

Largely fueled by government regulations, the electric vehicle (EV) segment is growing on a regular basis in many markets around the world. Most carmakers are developing at least a couple of battery-powered models, and many already have at least one in their portfolio. If you've never driven an electric car, let alone owned one, there are a few things to keep in mind before giving up gasoline for good. Here are the pros and cons of living with an EV.
Pro: They're cheaper to maintain
Electric cars are considerably more expensive than comparable gas-powered models, but you'll spend less money to keep one on the road. They're built with fewer moving parts, which reduces the likelihood of something breaking. Plus, the regular maintenance your gasoline-powered car needs to run smoothly (oil changes, fluid flushes, and the like) is no longer necessary. The biggest expense with EVs is the eventual need for a battery replacement, which will come with a four-digit price tag. Still, you should be able to get many miles out of your EV before that becomes an issue.

Oil changes, fluid flushes, and the like are no longer necessary.

Read more
BMW shows off the future of iDrive tech at CES 2021
bmw idrive next gen infotainment system ces 2021 screen

BMW iDrive was one of the first automotive infotainment systems, debuting in 2001 on the 7 Series luxury car. To celebrate iDrive's 20th anniversary, BMW previewed the next-generation system — set to debut in the iX electric car — at CES 2021.

While the automaker's presentation focused more on the past than the future, BMW did drop a few teasers and hints about the next-generation iDrive system. Teaser images show a massive screen stretching about halfway across a car's dashboard, indicating BMW doesn't plan to buck the big-screen trend in new cars. The new system also retains the rotary controller used on every iteration of iDrive, showing that BMW's introduction of gesture control and a voice assistant haven't killed off analog controls.

Read more
BMW’s technology flagship is an electric SUV with concept car-like styling
2022 BMW iX

Developed as an electric car from the ground up, the iX is unlike any SUV ever released by BMW. Its polarizing design hides a thoroughly modern powertrain and cutting-edge technology features that will permeate other members of the company's range during the 2020s. It's not a concept, either: It's headed to production in 2021.

The iX lives up to its positioning as BMW's tech flagship by offering 20 times the computing power of the company's current SUVs, and by inaugurating a built-in 5G connection made possible by a partnership with Samsung. 5G will transform the ultimate driving machine into the ultimate streaming machine. It notably makes zero-delay streaming possible, which opens the door to in-car gaming, virtual reality experiences, and movie streaming at resolutions up to 4K. On a secondary but equally important level, it will also let BMW integrate an array of semiautonomous driving functions that need low latency, guaranteed network coverage, and an allotted minimum data rate to function.

Read more