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BMW grille to get even bigger, and include headlights

New front-end styling treatment could see grille house headlights and other tech, dominating the face of future BMWs

Just when you thought the grilles on BMW models couldn’t get any bigger, the German brand has filed a patent for a new one-piece front fascia that incorporates the headlights into a seamless panel that could replace the conventional grille as we know it, as previewed by our exclusive image.

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Documents filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation reveal that the new panel could integrate the vehicle’s headlights, as well as a possible interpretation of the brand’s kidney grille, plus the sensors needed for driver-assistance systems.

The documents point towards a material covering the panel that can switch from opaque to transparent depending on the setting. This means when the car’s headlights are off the panel could offer smooth, slick appearance; when lights are needed, certain areas of the ‘grille’ can turn transparent, allowing for light to pass through. There’s also potential for various daytime running light patterns to be presented.

It’s called ‘light conductive tech’, and will also allow for a depiction of BMW’s trademark kidney grille, as previewed by our image.

Similar to the brand’s E-Ink technology, recently seen on the i Vision Dee concept from CES 2023, this ‘grille’ could be a digital rendering of BMW’s dual inlets. The company’s future EVs will not need a conventional grille for cooling.

Simple patent drawings show the extent to which this panel could spread across the front of future cars, with multiple states of the system highlighted. These include ‘Off’, where the interactive panel shows no graphics or lighting.

According to the drawings, ‘On. 1’ shows a pair of slim DRL units at the extremes of the panel, while ‘On. 2’ gives us a glimpse as to how BMW thinks the system could work to show one of its trademark styling features.

The brand has received lots of attention in the past for its challenging styling surrounding grilles on its cars, including the illuminated kidney grille on the X6 coupe-SUV, and the large twin panel on the 4 Series coupe (smoothed over in the all-electric i4), so it seems like a logical next step for BMW.

However, many patent drawings are filed yet the tech never comes to fruition or becomes a production reality. It seems that BMW has thought ahead with its potential new design, though, as the filing also suggests that the new panel could be heated to avoid icing over of the display in colder conditions.

What do you think of BMW’s plans for a new grille set-up? Let us know in the comments section below...

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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