BMW recently unveiled the Vision Neue Klasse, a fully-electric concept car, bridging the gap between the real and virtual worlds with its advanced iDrive technology. This groundbreaking reveal took place at the IAA Mobility 2023 International Motor Show in Munich. Oliver Zipse, BMW AG’s Chairman of the Board of Management, stated, “The BMW’s Vision Neue Klasse combines our ability to innovate in the core areas of electrification, digitalization and circularity.” He further added, “In this way, we are always able to stay two steps ahead of the future: The Neue Klasse is already bringing the mobility of the next decade to the roads in 2025 – and leading BMW into a new era.”
The car’s exterior boasts expansive surfaces, distinctive lines, and signature design elements like the iconic BMW kidney grille and Hofmeister kink. A “Joyous bright” paintwork with a subtle yellow hue encapsulates a futuristic and friendly persona, as described by the automaker. A playful nod is etched into the car’s lower side fender, reading “future is bright.” Inside, the next-gen BMW iDrive promises a digital experience that merges the real and virtual worlds through cutting-edge entertainment and safety features. Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design, remarked, “The design of the Neue Klasse is so progressive it looks like we skipped a model generation.”
Noteworthy design features include powerful wheel arches, a forward-slanting “shark nose” front end, and 21-inch aerodynamic wheels inspired by motorsport designs. The car also incorporates innovative E Ink elements on its side windows and 3D-printed rear light elements spanning multiple levels. The BMW Panoramic Vision and Central Display redefine driver orientation, allowing interaction with panoramic information. This is a leap towards BMW’s vision of immersive driving. Technically, the sixth-gen eDrive technology enhances charging speed and extends vehicle range by up to 30%, marking an efficiency increase of up to 25% compared to its predecessor.
Pricing and launch details remain under wraps, but anticipation is building. The Vision Neue Klasse is a testament to BMW’s commitment to bold, progressive design. This concept car is a beacon for BMW’s next generation of “core brand” vehicles. Unique features like the barely visible monochrome BMW logo, the forward-slanted shark nose, and a lighting-only kidney grille make the Neue Klasse stand out. This modern Neue Klasse is a futuristic reimagining of the original mid-sized sedans from the 1960s that brought significant success to BMW. The design is described as “clear” and “almost monolithic,” with bold lines cutting into surfaces in unexpected ways.
Wide, imposing taillights enhanced with 3D-printed elements create an impression of depth. The Neue Klasse promises 30% more range, 30% faster charging, and 25% more efficiency, partly due to its design and partly because of BMW’s sixth-gen eDrive tech. Round battery cells in the Neue Klasse offer a 20% higher energy density than the prismatic cells used in earlier BMW electric cars. The interior showcases minimal buttons, a sprawling center display, and a panoramic vision display projected across the entire lower portion of the windshield. The steering wheel’s unique design appears rotated 90 degrees to the side, hinting at future design evolutions. The next generation of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system will introduce gesture commands for both driver and passenger.
The Neue Klasse isn’t just a distant concept; six models based on this design will roll out in the next two years. This includes a sedan and an SAV (BMW’s term for an SUV). BMW’s unveiling at the IAA Motor Show in Munich underscores its aggressive push into the electric vehicle domain. European carmakers like BMW and Mercedes are racing to establish themselves as major players in the electric era, competing with giants like Tesla and Chinese companies. Mercedes-Benz recently showcased its Concept CLA Class, boasting a range of 750 kilometers and rapid charging capabilities. Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius described it as a “revolutionary development” for the company.
BMW’s Vision Neue Klasse is set to enter production in 2025, marking the dawn of a new era of innovation. By the end of 2023, 15% of BMW’s global sales are projected to be battery EVs. Analysts believe that while Mercedes and BMW are making significant strides, they might still trail behind Tesla. Daniel Roeska, senior research analyst at Bernstein Research, mentioned, “These cars are likely still a year away, but their specifications show that European OEMs will be able to create compelling products.” The global EV market is heating up, with Tesla leading at 20% and BYD following at 15%. Tesla’s strategy of cutting prices in 2023 has intensified competition, especially in the premium segment.
As technology becomes paramount in the EV world, cars need to resemble smartphones more than traditional vehicles. Tesla’s vertically integrated platform sets the gold standard in EVs. At the IAA conference, BMW emphasized its tech prowess, with the Vision Neue Klasse featuring a heads-up display projecting information on the driver’s windscreen. Oliver Zipse highlighted that the Vision Neue Klasse represents the “largest investment” in a car on the “digital side,” including semiconductors.