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BMW’s first ‘Neue Klasse’ EVs will be an SUV and – praise be – a 3 Series-sized saloon

Plus: boss Oliver Zipse throws shade at one-hit wonder EV makers

Published: 08 May 2024

One of the first two models to emerge from BMW’s next-generation of electric cars – dubbed the ‘Neue Klasse’ after the cars that ignited the company’s growth in the Sixties – will be a ‘Sports Activity Vehicle’. This much we know.

Because we saw the concept that previewed the neue Neue Klasse SAV in the shape of the Vision X earlier this year. Today, BMW’s boss has also confirmed the second of at least six new Neue Klasse EVs will be… a saloon. Praise be.

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To be fair, we kinda knew that too, but it’s good to hear it being confirmed so concretely. Speaking on a conference call looking back on the first three months of 2024, Oliver Zipse noted the successes BMW had already achieved in the electric space (he said more than 80,000 BMW i4s were sold last year, for example).

“As the biggest single investment in the history of the company, the Neue Klasse shows how we are redefining the BMW brand for the future,” said Zipse. “The Neue Klasse will start out with a Sports Activity Vehicle, and a sedan in the current 3 Series segment.”

The next-gen e-saloon’s preview came in the original Vision Neue Klasse concept, and between this new three-box and the SAV, there’ll apparently be “plenty of room” for new models and “innovation”.

So what do we know about these new EVs? They’ll use the sixth generation of BMW’s eDrive technology, with three new batteries in 75kWh, 90kWh and 105kWh capacities, an 800-volt system that’ll boost charging speeds by up to 30 per cent, and 20 per cent greater energy density. Bottom line: there’s the potential to go up to one megawatt of power. That’s… 1,340bhp.

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They'll also look cleaner, too, referencing the company's long history and ticking off a few famous BMWs along the way. 

And what does BMW think about the world’s newer EV entrants? Outlining the three ‘distinct groups of commercial actors’, Zipse said of the ‘newcomers’: “The ones who generate a lot of hype with single products. They often have only individual technological highlights, such as maximum performance, the largest range or the largest screen.

“It remains to be seen whether the overall package will meet high customer expectations, especially in the premium segment, over the entire lifecycle. Additionally, they face the challenge of managing complexity as they scale up and expand. Market entry is also bought with aggressive price positioning.”

Ouch. The other two groups Zipse outlined were established manufacturers who chase these newcomers but “run the risk of losing their own identity”, and carmakers who are “struggling to keep pace with change”. Double ouch.

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