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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

BMW to Unify Platforms by 2025 with Neue Klasse

BMW’s first-ever i4 gran coupe is just their first step towards an ambitious new electric-focused future. In four years’ time, the German automaker will be unveiling a brand-new platform with a very familiar name: the Neue Klasse.

Neue Klasse or New Class heralded a new chapter for BMW back in 1962. Then, at the brink of insolvency, they produced a premium compact car architecture which brought the brand back to the small displacement category, a space from which they were absent since World War II. Immediately, this reversed their fortunes, and the rest is history.

Almost 60 years later, BMW is reviving the Neue Klasse name to underpin its fully-electric offerings, but will flexible enough to underpin more traditionally engined cars and plug-in hybrids.

The new architecture is highly flexible. While it offers rear-wheel drive as standard, it can also be optioned to add power to the front-wheel thereby giving it all-wheel drive capability.

Neue Klasse will replace two current BMW architectures—the UKL small car platform used by their compacts including MINI, as well as the CLAR large car platform used by the likes of the 5 and 7 Series.

The UKL and CLAR architectures were originally developed for combustion engines, including plug-in hybrid cars. They were given a substantial overhaul with a new central floor to house battery-electric cars and long-range plug-in hybrids.

For CLAR, the upgrade came last year with the introduction of the iX3 midsize full-electric SUV. The coming i4 midsize electric sedan and iX flagship electric SUV, both due this year, will use this platform. Full-electric versions of the 5 Series and 7 Series will follow in the next few years.

This upgraded CLAR also allows plug-in hybrid models to have larger batteries, enabling the cars to travel for longer distances on electric power only.

The Neue Klasse architecture will be the central pillar in BMW’s plan to have full-electric models account for at least 50 percent of its global deliveries by 2030, with all its model series offering a battery power-only option.

Even before the introduction of the New Class architecture in 2025, BMW said its current architectures will allow the company to sell at least one full-electric model in 90 percent of its current market segments by 2023.

The architecture will have an aerodynamic design aimed at electric vehicles with different proportions than in the past, including a more spacious interior, BMW said. It will also have a new high-voltage battery concept with an improved cell design. An electric drivetrain based on the hydrogen fuel cell is also an option.

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