It’s rare for the first draft of a vehicle to really hit the mark. But that’s exactly what happened with the shape for the Neue Klasse.
Senior Vice President Customer and Brand BMW
In autumn 2020, while a small number of BMW Group executives and board members were reflecting on the company’s strategy for the future, one of the participants casually remarked: “What we are talking about here right now has the importance and potential that our Neue Klasse had in the 1960s.”
BMW had already reinvented itself once with the 1962 Neue Klasse (➜ Read also: The Neue Klasse). This series’ compact and sporty saloons resonated with the times, giving rise to a “new class” of vehicles. Modern technology, dynamic design, and sporty handling set standards and defined sheer driving pleasure. Suddenly, as if the missing piece of the puzzle had been found, the product, brand and image fitted together in perfect harmony. The Neue Klasse was the launch pad to becoming a company with global significance. What BMW is now can trace its origins back to then. The BMW Vision Neue Klasse vision vehicle marks the next giant leap into a new era.
Like the original Neue Klasse of the 1960s, this Neue Klasse symbolizes more than just a new generation of vehicles. It marks a profound change and revolutionary shift in perspective for many areas of the entire company – something much more than a mere nostalgic look back, even though the feeling may seem similar. It is an essence created with completely new ingredients.
First and foremost, this applies to advanced technologies like the latest generation of highly efficient all-electric drivetrains and newly developed battery cells that have an energy density more than 20 percent higher. The Neue Klasse has an impressive charging speed, up to 30 percent faster, and a range that is also up to 30 percent greater (➜ Read also: Charging e-cars). However, this efficiency does more than just tick one of the sustainability boxes. It creates value for us humans. For our freedom, for our individual mobility, for our well-being, for our Freude. With respect for everyone. The premise behind the Neue Klasse is therefore to use resources sparingly and responsibly, also out of respect for the needs of others.
FOCUS ON THE ESSENTIALS
BMW EfficientDynamics had already been created long before sustainability became such a buzzword and is something the entire company identifies with today. Of course, a BMW must continue to represent innovative technology, joy and dynamism, but the Neue Klasse also delivers on the promise of long-term sustainable circular economy. This demands huge efforts in the supply chain and in the factories not only to reduce the consumption of raw materials, but also to recycle them later.
And like no project before it, the Neue Klasse also stands for comprehensive digitalization. Digitality is changing the way the Neue Klasse is planned, developed, built, and distributed. Most importantly, it has the potential to transform the relationship as well as the interaction between people and vehicles. Not only while driving, but also during charging breaks, in the surroundings of the car and, in principle, from almost anywhere with the My BMW App. The Neue Klasse aspires to be closer to people and our wishes in every respect. On top of the digital user experience, a new clarity in communication and a focus on the essentials bring us closer to this aspiration. These simple, fundamental qualities will make the Neue Klasse special.
The company is not only opening a new chapter in how vehicles are produced with the Neue Klasse, but also what they are made of. People around the world are rightly concerned about our planet’s future. We all know that our resources, from energy to raw materials, are finite and valuable. Improved cycles for raw materials and new processes for recycling (➜ Read also: Circle of life) are therefore being developed for the Neue Klasse. This change started right from the first construction sketches for the vehicles and the individual components. It continues with production planning and selecting raw material sources and ends with specially developed processes for efficient recycling at the end of the vehicle’s life.
Once the name Neue Klasse had been hit upon, a crucial question arose for BMW three years ago: what might a first draft look like for such a multi-layered, technologically demanding and strategically significant project? Because they were looking for a quick roll-out, with the first models hitting the market as early as 2025, it was an obvious decision: an initial visualization for the BMW Neue Klasse could only take up the original idea of a sporty four-door compact saloon. No other vehicle shape better embodies the core and essence of the brand. Like the rediscovery of the name in this small group, the unveiling of the first design draft was meaningful for everyone involved. Love at first sight. The BMW Vision Neue Klasse, impressive as it is, is just the first interpretation of this new design language.
THE HUMAN BEING IN THE CENTER
In the meantime, Neue Klasse at BMW is synonymous with a focus on the future and a transformation. Thinking things anew also means being aware that you are playing an active part in shaping a still-distant future, so there’s a weight of responsibility there. BMW has already rolled out ideas for major future topics such as resource management and circularity and the digitalization of mobility with the two earlier BMW i Vision Circular and BMW i Vision Dee vision vehicles. The BMW Vision Neue Klasse also successfully combines the formal dynamism of a BMW with a modern clarity. One thing all these vision vehicles (➜ Read also: BMW concept cars) already have in common is a new form of responsiveness to us humans and our individual mobility, which will make the Neue Klasse from 2025 simpler, more personal, and more responsible.
Authors: Tassilo Hager, Michael Seitz; Art: Lucas Lemuth, Joao Telmo Parreira; Photos: BMW; Collages: Christiana Couceiro