The history of BMW iDrive

A revolutionary evolution

Reinventing the wheel? That’s something only BMW could do. Find out how we changed automotive thinking. Then. Now. And in the future.

11 January 2021

CO2 emissions 0 g/km (combined)
Fuel consumption 0 l/100 km (combined)
Power consumption < 21 kWh/100 km (combined)

Reinterpreting a trailblazing invention

Revolutionary inventions have changed our lives for thousands of years. One of the greatest inventions along this way was the wheel. It helped people to move faster and carry their goods much easier. Mobility as we know it today was born. Isn’t it crazy that – in the face of such a pioneering invention – we still don’t know who exactly invented the wheel? Even when is not absolutely clear. We only know that it has to be somewhere between 4000 and 3000 BC.

Contrasting this uncertainty, we know at least how the story of the wheel unfolded. And how BMW revolutionized the wheel by reinterpreting its application beyond moving and steering with the BMW 7 series’s iDrive back in 2001. It was a revolution for the automotive industry – with the wheel being at the heart of it: the first infotainment system in a car that could be used in an easy and intuitive way. It has been an automotive benchmark for the past 20 years. 
Today, we witness a revolutionary evolution of it – with the future of BMW iDrive. It remains intuitive and easy to use but feels even more human, emotional, and personal. See for yourself – or should we say feel for yourself?

In conversation with Stephan Durach

Stephan Durach is senior vice president Connected Company Development at BMW. Together with him, we went back in history and talked about the development of iDrive and what it meant to the automotive industry. Adding a glimpse into the future of the next chapter of BMW iDrive.

The all-new BMW iDrive: A perfect symbiosis

We are absolutely convinced that the key to tomorrow’s driving experience is an intelligent use of sensor technologies – combined with personalization and a nearly human way of interaction – to achieve a seamless experience for drivers and passengers. That’s exactly what we did with BMW iDrive. By following this vision, we created an intuitive and natural interaction with the car. At the heart of it, you find a tangible user interface: human centric and immersive in a whole new dimension. Technically sophisticated, ergonomic, uniquely designed, and pixel perfect.

But the new BMW iDrive has more in store than just a great user interface, new software, or a virtual assistant; it does not only provide a functional and smart experience. First and foremost it smashes the old cliché of man–machine interaction and establishes a new paradigm: the emotional connection between cars and humans. One important ingredient of this connection is its driver orientation, providing a personalized interaction and an individual experience through curated driver setups and its design. It also does this by making the right information available at the right time and in the right place. Which takes us to its skills in terms of intelligence and automatization – empowering you to have a unique and convenient driving experience – by anticipating what will happen in a smart way, empowering our customers and helping them to go beyond. 

There’s more to discover

What makes the new BMW iDrive so unique? Among others, its new Intelligent Personal Assistant – Because it’s so clever that it could even do interviews. You don’t believe it? iJustine, SuperSaf, and Supercar Blondie didn’t either. Well, at least at first …