BMW has just launched the iX and i4 electric vehicles, as well as an electric version of the current 3-Series exclusively in China, but these will be superseded starting from 2025 by a new generation of BMW electrics based on a platform dubbed the Neue Klasse (German for “New Class”).
The Neue Klasse platform is being developed from the onset for electric powertrains, but an original plan to have it also support internal-combustion engines in various hybrid configurations has now been abandoned. The information was announced by BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse during an earnings call last week.
"When [the Neue Klasse platform] hits the market, it will be concentrated on the 3-Series segment and at that point in time the market will have developed into a size where it is reasonable to have only one drivetrain in that architecture," Zipse said.
BMW i4 production and technology
The first Neue Klasse-based vehicle will be built at a plant currently under construction in Debrecen, Hungary, Zipse also said in the call, according to Automotive News (subscription required).
Code-named the NK1, the vehicle is expected to be a member of the next-generation 3-Series family, possibly a successor to the aforementioned electric 3-Series being launched in China later this year as the i3 (the quirky i3 electric hatchback is dead). The next 3-Series, which is due around the middle of the decade, should also offer internal-combustion power, possibly using an updated version of the current generation's CLAR platform. BMW predicts that even by 2030, half its vehicles sold globally will still have an internal-combustion engine, though most of these are likely to be electrified in some form.
The Neue Klasse platform will allow engineers to vary the wheelbase length, and vehicles based on the platform will take on a more aerodynamic design to help maximize range. As a result proportions will differ from the past, not only for aerodynamics but also to boost interior space, according to BMW. The platform will also use sixth-generation electric motor and battery technology at BMW, which promises improved power and efficiency. To offset the weight of the batteries, BMW will increase the use of composite materials for both the internal structure and body panels, including the use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic in some models.