(Editor’s note: The original version of the story incorrectly identified the vehicle featuring the new BMW Home Theater. The story has been amended to accurately reflect the 7 Series is getting the option. We regret the error.)
BMW unveiled its new “BMW Theatre Screen” Wednesday at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with all the fanfare of a Hollywood premiere.
The new system will be found on the new BMW 7 Series, including the i7, and features a sizable, ceiling-mounted 31-inch panorama display with a 32:9 format, 5G connectivity, resolution of up to 8k and smart TV functionality.
It is integrated with a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System and will be available with Amazon’s Fire TV except in China, where BMW will offer a different streaming service. Two pads in the second row control the display, which also boasts touchscreen functionality.
The screen motors down when the “My Mode Theatre” software is turned on. It’s accompanied by a fanfare composed by Academy Award-winning composer, Hans Zimmer. While the screen is lowering, the sunshades on the side and rear windows are closed and the rear seat ambient lighting is dimmed.
Other automakers planning similar options
BMW is by no means the only manufacturer that sees a future based on ever larger screens and streaming services.
For example, on the same day, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares mentioned that, as part of its expanding tie up with Amazon, the company expects to generate about $4.5 billion in revenues by 2026 through software and subscription services, growing to €20 billion or about $22.5 billion by 2030 through Stellantis’ new digital cabin platform, STLA SmartCockpit, starting in 2024. That will cover a broad range, including all entertainment services.
Two of Stellantis’s newest models, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer, already feature Amazon Fire TV capability. Across the industry, there are more and more screens that are getting larger and larger with manufacturers expanding expectations to generate more revenues from them. Byton, which two years ago revealed its production-based M-Byte electric SUV at CES, said at the time that it expected the majority of its revenues to come from selling infotainment into the vehicle, rather than from selling the vehicle itself.
Then there’s the Sony Vision-S 02, revealed Tuesday night at CES. Its dashboard and rear seat screens are revenue-generating meccas thanks to Sony’s ownership of movies, music and video games, as well as the hardware it runs on. Other automakers are also adding Amazon Fire TV, which is now available on the 2022 Lincoln Navigator.
BMW’s other news
BMW also used Zimmer’s talents to create new aural effect for the BMW i4 and iX electric vehicles.
Dubbed “Iconic Sounds Electric,” the sound that the driveline makes will vary depending on whether the Personal, Sport and Efficient drive mode setting is selected. The sounds were created at Zimmer’s studios in Los Angeles and London.
“Sound is a fundamental part of the emotional driving experience in a BMW,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design. “We are creating a unique acoustic character to our electric vehicles.”
BMW also used CES for the world debut of the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink, a concept vehicle that wears a specially developed body wrap that changes color when activated by electricity.
E Ink can help increase the vehicle’s efficiency by changing to a lighter color in the heat or a darker color when it’s cool. The only time it uses electricity is when the skin changes color. The technology was developed by E Ink and can be used on the inside as well, although BMW has not stated whether they will offer the new technology.
“Digital experiences won’t just be limited to displays in the future,” said Frank Weber, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development. “There will be more and more melding of the real and virtual. With the BMW iX Flow, we are bringing the car body to life.”