Everyone is talking about the Neue Klasse. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but whenever the future of BMW is discussed, the new platform is quickly mentioned. No wonder, because from 2025, pretty much all of the Munich-based manufacturer's models are to be gradually converted to this architecture.

We present what is known so far about the Neue Klasse and speculate a little where not much has yet been announced. The topics at a glance:

The two studies

"The first all-electric high derivative based on the new architecture will go into series production at the Debrecen plant (Hungary) in 2025," writes BMW. This probably refers to the announced mid-size SUV, which could be called the iX3 and was anticipated with the Vision Neue Klasse X study

The second model is a mid-size saloon, which may be called the i3; as a study, the car was named Vision Neue Klasse. The series version is to be produced from 2026.

BMW Vision New Class X (2024)

BMW Vision New Class X

BMW Vision New Class (2023)

BMW Vision New Class

Batteries and charging

BMW has already commented on the batteries in some detail. Instead of the prismatic cells used to date, cylindrical cells are to be used in future. The cells are to come from suppliers such as CATL, Eve and Envision AESC, but the exact chemistry used is not known. Compared to the previous Gen5 cells, more nickel and less cobalt is used at the cathode - this could indicate an NCM811 chemistry. The proportion of silicon at the anode is increased.

Two cell sizes are planned: 4695 for the saloon and 46120 for the SUV. Both have a diameter of 46 mm like Tesla's 4680, but are longer. The NCM811 cell from Tesla is said to store around 98 watt hours. The volume of the BMW cells is 19 and 50 per cent higher respectively, so the storage capacity could also be up to one and a half times as large as Tesla's:    

  Cell volume (rx Pi x h) Difference compared to 4680 Storage capacity
4680 (NMC, Tesla) 133 mm3   approx. 100 Wh
4695 (BMW) 158 mm3 +19% approx. 119 Wh
46120 (BMW) 199 mm3 +50% approx. 150 Wh

Compared to the 4695 cell, the 46120 has around 26 per cent more volume. If both cars have the same wheelbase, the SUV could therefore have around 26 per cent more battery capacity; however, as it is likely to be heavier, the range will probably not increase to the same extent. The fact that the 25 mm shorter cells are used in the saloon should enable a lower seating position.

BMW is pursuing the cell-to-pack and pack-to-open-body concept when installing the cells. This means that the cells are assembled directly (without the diversions via modules) into a battery pack and this is inserted into the open body from below:

BMW-Workshop: Cell-to-Pack und Pack to-open-body

The Neue Klasse has an 800-volt system. The nominal voltages are generally lower. If we hypothetically assume 650 volts, then around 180 cells connected in series would be required, as a lithium-ion cell has a voltage of around 3.6 volts.

Up to this point, the ratios are similar to the Audi Q6 e-tron and Porsche Macan. However, the cylindrical cells from BMW have significantly less storage capacity than the prismatic cells from Audi and Porsche: 180 cells of 150 Wh each provide only 27 kWh. To achieve a range of 373 miles, at least three times as many kWh would be required. The battery configuration would therefore be 180s3p (instead of 180s1p for Audi and Porsche). But admittedly: That brings us to guessing rather than speculating.  

As far as the range is concerned, it is said to be 30 per cent greater - presumably compared to today's BMWs in the same segment. The BMW i4 manages around 367 miles with its 81 kWh battery; 30 per cent more would be over 466 miles. The BMW iX3 has a 74 kWh battery for a range of around 292 miles; 30 per cent more would be around 379 miles. The top range of the mid-range vehicles is also likely to be somewhere between these values. BMW's luxury class does not offer much more range: the BMW iX has a range of up to 393 miles, the BMW i7 up to 625 km.

Thanks to the 800-volt system, charging should also be 30 per cent faster. In just ten minutes, you should be able to recharge for a further 186 miles. For comparison: Porsche promises up to 196 miles in 10 minutes for the new Taycan, while Tesla promises up to 175 miles in 15 minutes for the Model 3 (i.e. around 117 miles in 10 minutes). Bidirectional charging is also supported by the platform. 

Drives and model designations

The Neue Klasse features the sixth generation of the BMW eDrive. Like previous BMW electric cars, the drive is provided by current-excited synchronous motors, i.e. electric motors in which the magnetic field in the rotor is generated by electromagnets (instead of permanent magnets as in PSMs).

The system outputs of the Neue Klasse should range from 200 to 1,000 kW (272 to 621 PS). The lowest output is roughly in line with the current base models such as the i4 eDrive35 (286 PS). The highest output will probably be the sports model with four motors, which is being traded as the electric M3. The engines will be built at the BMW plant in Steyr, Austria.

As BMW wants to move away from the current model designations à la BMW i4 eDrive40, the new models could be given names such as i340 or i360 xDrive or iX340 or iX60 xDrive. The electric M3 could perhaps be called iM350 xDrive or something similar.

Cockpit and operating concept 

Today's electric BMWs such as the BMW i5 have two displays in landscape format next to each other, plus a head-up display. The mid-range cars in the Neue Klasse, on the other hand, will no longer have a classic instrument display. Instead, the driving speed will be projected onto the lower wheel of the windscreen, which BMW calls Panoramic Vision. There is also a head-up display and a strangely crooked touchscreen, which appears to be as thin as the "pizza display" in the new Minis: 

In the i5, for example, an augmented reality display only appears in the instrument display, where a camera image is supplemented by turn-by-turn directions. Whether there will also be an AR display in the new cars and whether it will be in the head-up display (as in VW, for example) or on the touchscreen remains to be seen. Physical buttons are being reduced to a minimum. They will actually only be on the steering wheel. As before, there will also be voice control.

The steering wheel is flattened at the top and bottom in both studies. In addition, there are light-coloured materials in the interior and a glass gear selector lever in the centre console similar to that in the i5. 

BMW Vision New Class X (2024)

Cockpit of the Vision New Class X: hardly any differences to the saloon

Market launch and production

After the two mid-size vehicles, four further models based on the Neue Klasse are to follow within two years. BMW CEO Oliver Zipse recently described the mid-size SUV and the mid-size saloon as "the bookends of the Neue Klasse. There is still plenty of room in between, which we are utilising. Within 24 months, at least six different models will come onto the market." 

According to Zipse, the number of plants in which the Neue Klasse can be produced will also increase rapidly: "Our new plant in Debrecen, Hungary, will start: The first X model will roll off the production line there from the end of 2025. This will be seamlessly followed in 2026 by our main plant in Munich and the Shenyang plant in China with the saloon. In 2027, the Neue Klasse will also be launched in San Luis Potosí, Mexico." There will be a BMW-owned battery assembly facility near each plant.

The bottom line

The Neue Klasse is aptly named as almost everything about it is new. The look is quite daring; with its "retro-futuristic" design, BMW is clearly breaking away from the current look. The brand is also bidding farewell to the thick chrome elements and black kidneys of the present and is following the motto: light is the new chrome.

The brand is also breaking new ground in the operating concept with Panoramic Vision, as well as with the batteries. The 800-volt architecture is of course a clear plus. Only the drive systems seem to be content with further development.  

Gallery: BMW Vision Neue Klasse X (2024)