BMW has revealed its Vision Neue Klasse, a design concept that previews a new, more minimalist look for the brand and a new architecture.
The company is set to debut a new 3 Series-sized model on the dedicated electric Neue Klasse architecture in 2025, with an SUV also set to join it.
BMW hasn’t thrown out its signature design elements for this new-era electric vehicle (EV).
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There’s still a Hofmeister kink, which appears on most of its passenger cars, and the brand’s trademark double-kidney grille.
But BMW says it has accentuated these elements, while offering a look that is “clear, elegant and timeless”, with a forward-slanting “shark nose” and an “almost monolithic” body with strong indentations at the front and rear.
In a welcome reprieve from the ever-shrinking glasshouses of 21st century automotive design, BMW has also incorporated large window areas.
The concept is painted in “Joyous bright”, a subtle yellow hue. Black side skirts and bumpers provide contrast, while 21-inch wheels sit under pronounced wheel arches and 3D-printed light elements at the rear give a “unique impression of depth”.
There’s a prominent three-dimensional lighting animation upon approaching the vehicle, with E Ink elements in the lower portion of the side windows also activated. The doors also open automatically.
“The design of the Neue Klasse is typically BMW and so progressive it looks like we skipped a model generation,” said BMW Group design head Adrian van Hooydonk.
Inside, analogue controls have been reduced to a minimum.
BMW Panoramic Vision projects information across the entire width of the dashboard, slotting between the head-up display and the central touchscreen.
This new screen array can be controlled by both the driver and front passenger, and drivers can use a simple gesture to move content from the touchscreen to the Panoramic Vision display.
BMW also promises a “coordinated choreography” between the ambient lighting and graphic elements of the touchscreen and Panoramic Vision display, and a digital user experience from the next-gen iDrive system that “merges real and virtual words”.
Bright cord fabrics are used inside, finished in a similarly sunny yellow to the exterior. There is no chrome or leather anywhere in the cabin.
The minimalist centre console includes a smartphone charger and a glassy selector lever, while the steering wheel is squared off like an old Austin Allegro.
BMW says it has freed up additional legroom in the rear by mounting the front seats to the floor using a single bracket.
The company promises its sixth-generation eDrive technology will offer 30 per cent more range, 30 per cent faster charging and 25 per cent greater efficiency than its current electric tech.
Neue Klasse vehicles will be fitted with new cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells.
Compared to its current battery technology, this cylinder cell technology is claimed to improve energy density by more than 20 per cent, charging speed by up to 30 per cent, and range by 30 per cent.
The company is also developing solid-state batteries and aims to have high-voltage batteries of this type ready for series introduction by the end of the decade.
BMW has previously said it plans to reveal a vehicle fitted with this battery technology before 2025, however.
“With the Neue Klasse, we have embarked on the biggest investment in the company’s history. We are not just writing the next chapter of BMW; we’re writing a whole new book,” said Frank Weber, member of the board of management responsible for development.
“That’s why the Neue Klasse will certainly impact all model generations.”
BMW already previewed its future Neue Klasse models early in 2023 with the i Vision Dee sedan concept.
Neue Klasse vehicles will be produced at a new plant in Debrecen, Hungary from 2025, followed by production in Munich, Germany and Shenyang, China in 2026 and San Luis Potosí, Mexico in 2027.
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