Electromobility: BMW presents the first electric car in its “New Class”

Electromobility: BMW presents the first electric car in its “New Class”

electromobility BMW shows the first electric car of the “New Class”

For the first time, BMW is presenting an electric car of the so-called “New Class” at the IAA. Nevertheless, BMW boss Zipse emphasizes: “There will be no two-class society.” What it is all about.

The name is reminiscent of past successes, the car is intended to propel BMW into the premier league of electromobility. With the “New Class”, the Munich company is presenting its own platform for electric cars for the first time. The vehicles come in the segment of the bestseller three – and thus attack market leader Tesla in the most important vehicle class.

The vision vehicle, which BMW presented on Saturday in the run-up to the IAA motor show, has a “head-up” display covering the entire windshield, which gives the driver all the information they need, and is reminiscent of the vehicles with design elements such as the Hofmeister kink , which were launched in the early 1960s as the “New Class“. “We want to make this generation of vehicles so modern that it looks as if we have skipped a generation,” said BMW Chief Designer Adrian van Hooydonk. “This is necessary, because the new players are coming onto the market.”

He doesn’t just mean the electric car pioneer Tesla, which is now heading towards two million vehicles sold and is therefore not far away from BMW. Chinese suppliers such as Nio or the Volvo subsidiary Polestar, who are attacking in the upscale segment, are likely to cause a stir at the IAA. BMW has not commented on the price. However, BMW boss Oliver Zipse spoke of a “very competitive offer” and emphasized: “We will not price ourselves out of this market”.

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Biggest investment in BMW history

In China – the world’s most important car market – domestic providers have meanwhile left the western competition behind, especially with cheap offers. In addition to the price, the car’s software is what counts for the customer. The Munich company does not say how much money the development of the “New Class” will cost BMW. But it could be billions. “The new class is by far the largest investment in our history,” said Board Member for Development Frank Weber in the run-up to the trade fair. “Because the technology is new in every area, without exception.”

A decade ago, BMW was one of the pioneers in electromobility. But the small car i3 was never sold in large numbers and was finally withdrawn from the market in 2022. There was also a gap after the introduction of the i3 in 2013, and new vehicles were in short supply for years. At the time Tesla occupied the topic for himself. 13 years after the launch of Tesla’s Model S, the “New Class” is to roll off the assembly line at the new BMW plant in Debrecen, Hungary.

BMW has already presented many technical details in recent years – such as the round battery cells in Tesla format. They are to be installed directly in the vehicle floor as a structural battery, which saves space and production costs. Battery assembly factories worth billions are to be built in or near the BMW plants. The Munich-based company buys the cells themselves.

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When it comes to software, BMW relies on four “superbrains” that control the drive, driver assistance systems, navigation and other functions, Weber said. BMW is developing the driver assistance system together with the semiconductor manufacturer Qualcomm, the control for the drive comes from the company itself.

BMW will use fewer components for electric vehicles, said chief designer van Hooydonk, and more parts should be made from one material. The cars should be easier to repair. In its factories, Tesla relies on so-called giga presses, in which large parts of the body are manufactured in one piece – which makes production significantly cheaper because many work steps are eliminated. However, critics point out that it is hardly possible to repair minor damage cheaply.

And yet the “New Class” at BMW does not make the combustion engine obsolete. Zipse refuses to put an end date on combustion technology, unlike Mercedes or Audi, for example. Accordingly, new vehicles would continue to be developed. “There will be no two-tier society. We will remain open to technology for a very long time to come,” he emphasized.

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