The BMW Neue Klasse architecture will debut in 2025 in a new electric-only vehicle around the size of the 3 Series, CEO Oliver Zipse confirmed overnight.
It’s unknown what this first Neue Klasse vehicle will be known as. It could wear the i3 badge, which is currently used by a 3 Series EV and previously employed by quirkily-styled hatch with EV and range-extended drivetrains.
The new 3 Series-sized EV will be built at a new factory being constructed in Debrecen, Hungary.
Also unclear is what will happen with the 3 Series itself. The current generation made its debut in 2018, so it would normally be up for replacement around 2025.
It’s possible the 3 Series could be renewed with internal combustion engines (ICE) for one more generation, or it could be heavily facelifted and updated to help stretch its life closer towards the decade mark.
When the company announced the Neue Klasse architecture in March 2021, it said it would be designed around the needs of electric vehicles but also support petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid drivetrains.
Overnight Zipse confirmed those plans have changed, and the Neue Klasse platform will be used exclusively for EVs.
“When it hits the market, it will be concentrated on the 3 Series segment and at that point in time the market will have developed into a size where it is reasonable to have only one drivetrain in that architecture,” Zipse told Automotive News and other outlets during an earnings call.
The CEO also went on to reveal the Neue Klasse will be “mainly focused on the middle car (midsize) segment”.
Apparently it will “not cover from the lower segments all the way to the luxury segments” to start with. A spokesperson later clarified the architecture will be expanded in time to cover everything from “the high-volume segment to exclusive high-performance models”.
The trade publication understands the early focus on developing dedicated EV models in the mid-size segment will allow the company to keep on selling large cars with both internal combustion engine and pure electric drivetrains for a longer period.
It’s likely the automaker still sees sufficient demand for larger ICE vehicles in markets such as the US and China.
The recently unveiled seventh-generation 7 Series is available with straight-six and V8 mild hybrid drivetrains, as well as a pure electric variant.
According to Zipse, Neue Klasse will feature a “quantum leap in technology” including next-generation electric drivetrains “with more output, new cell chemistry and new cell formats”.
Unlike some other automakers, BMW has yet to make any pronouncements about when it will end development and production of ICE vehicles.
The automaker’s latest plan calls for it produce a total of 2 million pure electric vehicles by 2025. By 2030 the company expects half of its annual global sales to be EVs.