When BMW created the Neue Klasse (New Class) in the 1960s, it was a major development which was a game-changer for the company. With an entirely new line of cars, it surged forward and upwards to where it is today.
Now, the carmaker is using Neue Klasse again because it is at the dawn of another new era – the age of electrification. To showcase what its next generation of vehicles will look like is the Vision Neue Klasse design concept, presented at the IAA Mobility 2023 International Motor Show in Munich, Germany.
New BMW design language
The exterior showcases design elements that will define the different Neue Klasse models. “The design of the Neue Klasse is typically BMW and so progressive it looks like we skipped a model generation,” explained Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design.
The powerful wheelarches, retracted greenhouse and steeply forward-slanting ‘shark nose’ front-end are all characteristic BMW features. 21-inch aerodynamic wheels pay tribute to the classic cross-spoke design inspired by motorsports.
At the same time, the almost monolithic body – about the size of a current 3-Series – with strong indentations at the front and rear, as well as large window areas, create a new aesthetic. A fresh interpretation of the brand’s signature design elements, like the BMW kidney grille and double headlights, transform the front-end into a single interaction area.
Innovative technology defines the design of the rear lights, with 3D-printed light elements that extend over several levels and are controlled in a targeted manner to create a unique impression of depth.
The luminous exterior paintwork in ‘Joyous Bright’, with its subtle yellow hue, underscores the friendly, future-oriented personality of the Vision Neue Klasse. Contrast is provided by black side skirts and bumpers.
6th-generation BMW eDrive technology
High energy efficiency during the vehicle use phase will be ensured by optimising weight, air and rolling resistance, as well as through intelligent heat management, especially for the electric drive train, using 6th-generation BMW eDrive technology.
In addition to highly efficient electric motors, major advances in the new BMW eDrive technology include newly-developed round battery cells, with more than 20% higher energy density than that of the prismatic cells previously used.
The latest eDrive technology will improve the charging speed for Neue Klasse models by up to 30%, in addition to boosting range by up to 30%. As a result of all these measures, overall vehicle efficiency will increase by up to 25%, says BMW.
“30% more range, 30% faster charging, 25% more efficiency – the Neue Klasse represents a major technological leap that will take EfficientDynamics to new heights. The same applies to its design – which could not be any more futuristic,” said Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Development.
The production versions will also be manufactured at a new plant entirely without fossil fuels and with much wider use of raw and secondary materials produced with reduced CO2.
Next generation BMW iDrive
Analogue operating controls have been reduced to a minimum in the Vision Neue Klasse. Human-car interaction takes place through the BMW Panoramic Vision, the Central Display and multifunction buttons on the steering wheel.
The user experience is rounded out by the tried-and-tested voice control of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. In this way, the next generation of BMW iDrive offers a modern interpretation of the driver orientation typical of the brand.
As it did with the introduction of the BMW iDrive controller in the centre console and the BMW Head-Up Display, the brand is once again leading the world with BMW Panoramic Vision, which will be available for the first time in the Neue Klasse.
Information is projected at the ideal height into the driver’s line of sight and, for the first time, across the entire width of the windscreen. This innovation will complement the enhanced BMW Head-Up Display in the production models of the Neue Klasse.
In the next generation of BMW iDrive, both the driver and front passenger are able to interact with information displayed on the Panoramic Vision display, creating a shared user experience. Drivers can move content shown on the Central Display to the Panoramic Vision with a simple gesture.
A coordinated choreography between the ambient lighting and graphic elements of the Central Display and Panoramic Vision can also be customised. For example, in ‘Sport’, specific displays are set against a yellow background to support dynamic driving.
Bright cord fabrics create a comfortable atmosphere inside the Vision Neue Klasse. The light-coloured instrument panel supports the steering wheel, which is flattened at the top and bottom, as well as the Central Display with Matrix-Backlight in the outline of a parallelogram. A smartphone charging cradle and the glassy selector lever space on the centre console.
The front seats are attached to the floor by a single bracket, freeing up additional legroom in the rear compartment, where passengers can enjoy the spaciousness created by having two individual seats. The design of the interior, which is completely free of decorative chrome or leather, helps optimise the carbon footprint of the production process.
The Neue Klasse impact
“With the Neue Klasse, we have embarked on the biggest investment in the company’s history. We are not just writing the next chapter of BMW; we’re writing a whole new book. That’s why the Neue Klasse will certainly impact all model generations,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.
“The BMW Vision Neue Klasse combines our ability to innovate in the core areas of electrification, digitalisation and circularity. 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,” he said.