At BMW’s annual conference this week, CEO Oliver Zipse announced that the company is developing a new electric vehicle architecture, and the name might be familiar to you. The new platform is referred to as Neue Klasse, a designation with great importance in BMW history. In the early 1960s, shortly after BMW found itself on the brink of financial ruin subsequent to years of producing high-end, low-volume cars like the 501, 503, and 507, the company launched the Neue Klasse, or New Class in English, and the models quickly earned the reputation of being practical performers.
Now, roughly 60 years later, BMW is resurrecting the Neue Klasse moniker as the brand seeks to reinvent itself once more. This time, instead of transitioning away from slow-selling luxury vehicles, BMW is placing its bets for the future on the Neue Klasse architecture in hopes that it will allow the brand to fully embrace the electric vehicle market.
According to Zipse, BMW approached the conception of the new Neue Klasse by asking three questions: What does a BMW need to be in 2030? What fits our customers? What does society need—and what does it demand?
These questions are largely answered in what the company sees the electric Neue Klasse as: An entirely new IT and software architecture, a newly-developed electric drivetrain and battery generation, and a new level of sustainability, geared towards a circular economy.
Zipse further describes Neue Klasse as BMW’s “global product offering for the markets of the future,” but what do the questions and statements above mean for what it will be like as a vehicle? As per BMW’s annual conference, the platform will prioritize a number of goals and concepts. The first is to be what’s called, “secondary first” meaning, wherever quality and supply allow, the use of recycled materials will be used in its construction. This includes heavy reliance on recycled steel, plastics, and aluminum alloys in the design of Neue Klasse, all of which will also be recyclable when the vehicle has reached the end of its lifespan.
Other priorities include Neue Klasse placing emphasis on on being “e-mobility first,” signifying that it will be an exclusively-electric platform, along with also being “digital first,” which means that technology will take center stage in the upcoming platform, which isn’t surprising considering BMW’s technological reputation.
That’s a lot of firsts, but this new Neue Klasse is actually BMW’s third recent foray into the world of EVs, with the i3 and i8 representing the first endeavor, and the iX and i4 representing the latest.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]