BMW wasn’t always the mega-sized powerhouse that it is today. In the early ‘60s, the German automaker was struggling for sales. Facing hard times, BMW introduced the Neue Klasse or “new class” car. It paved the way forward for some of BMW’s greatest hits and to be the automaker we know today. Once again, BMW is going through a transformative period as it looks to electrified vehicles and has introduced a new Vision Neue Klasse concept that showcases BMW’s future.
The electric Vision Neue Klasse concept has the impossible task of paying homage to BMW’s past, while simultaneously looking forward. The concept does just that with a retro-modern look that bodes well for future EVs from the brand.
The fake grilles at the front feature an elongated version of BMW’s kidney grilles and feature unique lights that pulse. The wide taillights at the back have 3-D printed elements that are arranged in a way to create a cascading effect and span nearly the full width of the rear end.
While the Vision Neue Klasse concept looks like a compact car, narrow roof pillars, large windows, and an expansive windshield that flows nearly seamlessly into a transparent roof give the EV an impressive greenhouse that’s sure to make the cabin feel far roomier than its dimensions let on. Unlike modern BMWs that are incredibly angular and aggressive, the Vision Neue Klasse concept gets inspiration from the past with simpler lines. Another standout touch is a thin strip of e-Ink display across the bottom of the side windows that light up as drivers approach the vehicle. They also act as a touch-sensitive door handle.
In a more modern approach, the concept wears 21-inch wheels, while rear-facing cameras replace traditional exterior mirrors. Because of current laws in the U.S., we expect these cameras to be replaced with actual mirrors for a future vehicle.
There’s nothing old about the interior of the Vision Neue Klasse concept. The concept’s cabin takes a tech-forward approach with an enormous black panel that’s called Panoramic Vision. It spans the width of the dashboard and is positioned at the base of the windshield. The concept also has a trapezoidal center screen, as well as a head-up display. The Vision Neue Klasse concept features BMW’s latest iDrive infotainment system that the automaker claims “will transform the vehicle into a digital experience space.”
A mix of unique interior colors and materials, like yellow corduroy upholstery, brings some pop to the concept’s cabin. The sedan also features four old-school bucket seats, a squared-off steering wheel, and a floating center console design. The dashboard and center console are devoid of all physical controls, which means that drivers will have to rely on the multifunction steering wheel, central display, and advanced voice recognition to controls the EV’s displays.
Underneath the dramatic exterior design, the Vision Neue Klasse concept features BMW’s sixth-gen BMW eDrive technology. The automaker’s next-gen EV platform features an 800-volt system along with a new battery design that brings 20% higher energy density than the automaker’s current prismatic cells. The new platform, along with advancements BMW has made to the concept’s powertrain, results in a claimed increase of range by 30%, 30% faster charge times, and 25% more efficiency than current EVs from BMW.
BMW’s new EV powertrain will be manufactured at a new plant in Hungary, though the automaker is looking into ways to splitting production with a plant in the U.S. to meet requirements for the EV federal tax credit. When a production version of the Vision Neue Klasse goes into production, or a future EV, BMW will build the vehicle without the use of fossil fuels at its plant in Hungary and utilize more recycled materials.
It’s difficult to say how much of the Vision Neue Klasse will make it into production. We expect the concept’s tech features, which include Panoramic Vision, the 3D head-up display, the new central display, the multifunction steering wheel, and BMW’s new iDrive operating system, to make it to upcoming EVs. A production version of the Neue Klasse is expected to arrive in 2025.
Pictured: BMW Vision Neue Klasse
http://www.carsdirect.com/automotive-news/green-technology/bmw-vision-neue-klasse-previews-future-design BMW Vision Neue Klasse Previews Future Design