BMWs are going to look very different in the years ahead.
The automaker known for its sport luxury sedans and SUVs on Saturday provided a first look at the Vision Neue Klasse, a concept that previews the design and technology planned for its next generation of electric vehicles arriving from 2025. The concept will be formally presented during next week’s 2023 Munich auto show.
BMW CEO Oliver Zipse last summer said the first Neue Klasse vehicle will be a sedan in the 3-Series segment, followed by a sporty SUV. And in an earnings call last month, he said the Munich concept is a close representation of a production Neue Klasse vehicle coming soon.
It’s possible the production Neue Klasse referred to be Zipse will be an electric version of the next 3-Series, perhaps labeled the i3. BMW already sells an electric version of the current 3-Series in China called the i3.
The Neue Klasse tag refers to BMW’s next-generation dedicated EV platform. It’s a highly flexible design that fits a variety of vehicle sizes and types, and integrates BMW’s sixth-generation electric motor and battery technology. The batteries feature a new cylindrical cell design (instead of the current prismatic cell design), and together with other improvements are promised to deliver a range improvement of 30% over BMW’s current batteries.
What immediately stands when viewing the Vision Neue Klasse concept is its blocky proportions, similar to what we saw on the earlier i Vision Circular and i Vision Dee concepts. BMW has said the proportions of Neue Klasse vehicles will differ from the past, not only for aerodynamics but also to boost interior space. However, signature BMW cues like the kidney grille and Hofmeister kink of the rear side window will remain, albeit with new forms. BMW has said new materials will also help improve the future recycling of vehicles.
Also previewed in the Vision Neue Klasse concept is a minimalist but high-tech interior, similar to what’s found in a Tesla. Building on the i Vision Dee concept’s cabin, the Vision Neue Klasse also showcases the next generation of BMW’s iDrive interface.
The aim was to reduce analog controls to a minimum, BMW said. There are still some controls on the steering wheel but most of the interaction is handled via a central infotainment screen, a voice assistant, gesture control, and a head-up display spanning the width of the windshield.
BMW calls the new head-up display Panoramic Vision and said it will be able to project information at the ideal height of the driver’s line of sight. A separate head-up display capable of projecting 3D graphics will replace the instrument cluster. BMW said it will display required information such as automated driver-assist alerts or navigation guidance as 3D animations in the driver’s line of sight.
The Panoramic Vision display will also work together with ambient lighting features to create a visual experience when the vehicle is in different driving modes. For example, when in Sport mode, the various displays of the concept are set against a yellow background to signify dynamic driving.
BMW plans to release more information on its upcoming Neue Klasse vehicles during the course of 2023. The automaker has already confirmed the first Neue Klasse vehicle will be built at a plant under construction in Debrecen, Hungary, starting in 2025. Neue Klasse vehicles will also be built at existing BMW plants in Munich, Germany, and Shenyang, China, starting in 2026, and in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, starting in 2027.
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