Electric Cars

BMW files patent for grilles that integrate headlights

BMW has filed a patent application for grilles that include headlights and other lighting elements, Auto Express reported on Monday, citing information found in patent documents.

Documents filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization show designs that could incorporate headlights, as well as sensors for driver-assist features, into BMW’s signature twin-kidney grille, the report said. Accompanying drawings from the patent application show the traditional headlight and grille shapes blended together into contiguous sections.

Patent image of a BMW grille incorporating headlights

Patent image of a BMW grille incorporating headlights

The documents also mention “light conductive tech,” a material covering the grille that can switch from opaque to transparent, giving the front fascia a smooth appearance when the headlights are off, the report said. Parts of the grille would then turn transparent when the headlights are needed, allowing light to shine through the material.

The drawings show a few possibilities about how the grille surface could be used for lighting. An “Off” setting shows no illumination; “On 1” shows slim daytime running light-like shapes in their traditional position at the corners of the front fascia; and “On 2” shows illuminated elements mimicking vertical grille slats.

Patent image of a BMW grille incorporating headlights

Patent image of a BMW grille incorporating headlights

Lighting elements could even be used to project a digital version of the BMW twin kidney grille on a grille-less front fascia, the report theorizes, noting that EVs don’t need large grille openings. BMW plans to launch a family of next-generation EVs dubbed Neue Klasse (German for “new class”) based on a dedicated platform beginning in 2025, although the automaker expects half of the vehicles it sells globally by 2030 to still have tailpipes.

Large grilles, like the ones on the XM SUV or the current-generation 4 Series, have become a feature of recent BMW styling. The automaker has also introduced illuminated grilles on some models. So while critics of the new styling direction might cringe, this does seem like the next logical step. Like all patents, though, there is no guarantee this design will reach production.

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