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How BMW's Neue Klasse concepts will shape future design and powertrains across the company's range - but will the new electric cars be called BMW iX3 and i3?

The Vision Neue Klasse sedan and Neue Klasse X both preview a future electric model - but what will they be called?

BMW is in the midst of massive change. Like all so-called legacy carmakers, the Bavarian giant is hurtling towards an electric future, and everything from production processes to R&D and design must change.

A key element of this massive transformation is Neue Klasse. Less a model, more a philosophy, Neue Klasse translates in English to New Class, and it heralds a range of new models for BMW that will sit alongside existing - and some iconic - nameplates in the brand’s catalogue.

The first cab off the rank was the Vision Neue Klasse sedan concept from last year’s Munich motor show, and it was followed this month by the Vision Neue Klasse X concept that previews a new SUV model.

Neue Klasse architecture is all electric, connected and highly digital and these two Vision concepts preview production cars.

But will there be more Neue Klasse models and what does that mean for internal combustion engine BMW models?

CarsGuide joined Australian media to sit down with BMW ‘i’ Head of Design, Kai Langer, at the global premiere of the Vision Neue Klasse X in Portugal last month to find out.

The Bavarian giant is hurtling towards an electric future.

When asked if Neue Klasse could house ICE powertrains in the future, Langer said the new architecture was specifically designed for BEV.

“What you see here with Neue Klasse is the dedicated platform, or let's say, I wouldn't call platform - architecture modules. And because of the reason that if you have EV purpose technology, it allows you to really forward the benefits to the customer, such as footprint to interior size relation, so you have a significantly bigger interior size because you have the EV components differently arranged in the overall car package.

“And you could go and say like ‘okay, let's do a technology that allows both ICE and an EV’, but then you could give these EV advantages to the customer because you always stuck with the ICE package, right? So what you see is EV-dedicated purpose architecture, where we increased the benefit for the customer, and our future EVs.”

The new architecture was specifically designed for BEV.

The two Neue Klasse concepts usher in design elements that reference BMW’s past - specifically, the Neue Klasse sedan from the early 1960s - as well as taking BMW’s design into the future with a cleaner approach. But will the design elements found on the two striking concepts make their way to other BMW models in the future? Langer says that is the plan.

“If we would see it in ICE products - we would see it in products all over BMW. Because that's like a philosophy that brings us towards the future, in general. When it comes to specific design solutions that you could find in a new architecture, some of them are just possible with the new architecture because they allow us to do [things] like this right,” he said, pointing to the Neue Klasse sedan concept.

“But in general, it is also in our goal … to have a coherent design language all over our products.”

The Neue Klasse concepts usher in design elements that reference BMW’s past.

BMW has already confirmed that the sedan and X concepts preview future production cars. The X will be an electric X3-sized SUV that will go into production in Hungary in 2025.

One thing that remains unclear, however, is what these models will be called. There’s been speculation that the sedan would adopt the i3 moniker, while the SUV will become the next-generation iX3. Leaving the 3 Series and X3 names to continue on for ICE models.

Langer would not be drawn on this, saying: “I can't give you any information on that. Obviously I know what they're going to be but I can tell you that.”

The X will be an electric X3-sized SUV that will go into production in Hungary in 2025.

Before adding:

“We've decided on a nomenclature that includes all our products.

“I mean you have to integrate it somehow. Right?”

Quite what he means by ‘integrate’ is not yet clear, but it could mean an overhaul of all BMW model names, including EV and ICE.

Watch this space for more information as it is revealed.

Tim Nicholson
Managing Editor
Calling out the make and model of every single car he saw as a toddler might have challenged his parents’ patience, but it was clearly a starting point for Tim Nicholson’s journey into automotive journalism. Tim launched the program, Fender Bender, on community radio station JOY 94.9 during completion of his Master of Arts (Media and Communications). This led to an entry role at industry publication GoAuto, before eventually taking the role of Managing Editor. A stint as RACV’s Motoring Editor – including being an Australia’s Best Cars judge – provided a different perspective to automotive media, before leading him to CarsGuide where he started as a Contributing Journalist in September 2021, and transitioned to Senior Editor in April 2022, before becoming Managing Editor in December 2022.
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