BMW is working on an all-new generation of vehicles which will be fully electric and for this new series of models it is reviving an old moniker, Neue Klasse. It means ‘new class’ in German and it announces the transition to considerably different and more advanced vehicles, one of which will be a fully-electric 3 Series equivalent model expected to debut in 2025.
The Bavarians will still have an ICE 3 Series in their lineup in four years’ time, so the electric 3, internally dubbed NK1, will be sold alongside the regular model. It will the the first new Neue Klasse model and it will be more advanced than any BMW EV before it, benefitting from a new platform, the manufacturer’s sixth-gen electric powertrain, more range (reportedly up to 700 km/435 miles), quicker charging and more lightweight materials used in its construction.
And since the 3 Series equivalent EV and other vehicles built on the Neue Klasse platform will be all-electric, designers will make several important changes to the vehicle’s formula. Firstly, even more emphasis will be put on making the vehicle cut through the air as efficiently as possible, then the vehicle’s proportions will also be different to offer more interior space.
We’re already seeing this in Mercedes’ lineup of EQ sedans, the EQE and EQS. They have much more greenhouse for their wheelbase than a traditional sedan, so they look a bit strange from the outside, but this results in so much more interior space for occupants - BMW is sure to also apply this to a degree, although we’ll have to wait and see just how much of the traditional long hood it is willing to give up on.
If we look at the last time BMW launched a Neue Klasse, that also meant a fundamental rethink of the aesthetics of a BMW, and this may be the case this time too. The manufacturer will surely want to make its electric models look and feel different to its more traditional vehicles, and we know they do not shy away from putting bold and polarizing designs into production.
Before the NK1 debuts, though, the manufacturer will launch fully-electric versions of the 5 Series and 7 Series sedans, both of which will still be based around the CLAR architecture, just like today’s i4 model that’s basically an electric four-door 4 Series. But the platform first used in the NK1 will not be limited to sedans, and it will be suitable for higher-riding vehicles too, ones with front-, rear- or all-wheel drive.
The sustainability of all NK models will also be hugely important. As the manufacturer demonstrated with the i Vision Circular concept that we saw at IAA Mobility 2021, it wants to not only make its vehicles out of more sustainable, renewable or reusable materials, but they will also be designing future vehicles with recycling in mind, making all their individual components easier to disassemble and ultimately reuse or repurpose.
BMW wants its vehicles to become the greenest on the market, both in terms of their efficiency, the manufacturing and assembly process, as well as the ease with which they can be recycled at the end of their life. Before we get to see the production NK1, though, expect to see it previewed by some kind of concept within the next two years.