BMW Group's lineup of electric vehicles will grow to at least 13 members by the end of 2023, with the most recent addition being the 2023 BMW iX1 compact crossover. However, the automaker is already deep in preparation for a new generation of EVs based on a platform dubbed Neue Klasse (German for “New Class”), the first of which is due in 2025.
Production of the first Neue Klasse EV will be handled at a state-of-the-art plant under construction in Debrecen, Hungary. The foundation stone was laid on Wednesday.
BMW Group will invest more than 1 billion euros (approximately $1.07 billion) in the site to construct a full vehicle plant containing a press shop, body shop and paint shop, as well as assembly lines. The initial annual capacity will be 150,000 vehicles. And being a new site, it will take advantage of the latest production methods as well as digitalization and sustainability technologies.
Artist's impression of BMW Group plant under construction in Debrecen, Hungary
BMW Group said the plant will have carbon-free operation. Specific measures to achieve this goal will be the use of 100% renewable energy and the reuse of production materials and other resources wherever possible, such as metal offcuts and filings from milling, as well as waste heat from cooling systems.
The first Neue Klasse vehicle will be in the BMW 3-Series segment, BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse confirmed in May. Code-named the NK1, the vehicle is expected to be a member of the next-generation 3-Series family, possibly a successor to the electric 3-Series being launched in China later this year as the i3 (the quirky i3 electric hatchback is dead).
While the Neue Klasse platform will be a dedicated EV platform (a previous plan was to have it support hybrid powertrains, too), BMW will continue to offer vehicles with internal-combustion engines. 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.