The BMW Group is preparing for a major realignment of its product range from 2025 onwards, based on the Neue Klasse (New Class). The Neue Klasse will be characterized by three key aspects: a completely redefined IT and software architecture; a new generation of high-performance electric drivetrains and batteries; and a radically new approach to sustainability across the entire vehicle life cycle.
The overall vehicle architecture is being uncompromisingly optimized for electric drivetrains.
The BMW Group says that the Neue Klasse models will thus provide a completely novel user experience never before seen in series production vehicles. “Regionalizable technology stacks” will be capable of optimally customizing a vehicle’s operating system to suit the varying requirements in each of the world’s major regions and their digital ecosystems, providing continuous upgrades to ensure that the operating system is always fresh.
At the same time, the digital-first approach systematically integrated in the Neue Klasse will enable an increasing proportion of revenues to be generated over the vehicle’s life cycle via individually configurable and bookable features going forward.
The aerodynamic design of the Neue Klasse will be uncompromisingly aimed at electric vehicles with proportions that differ from the past, including a more spacious interior. These features are to be combined with a new generation of electric drivetrain based on a completely newly developed, highly integrated high-voltage battery concept with an optimized cell design.
In the Neue Klasse, this combination will mean significant leaps in terms of low electricity consumption, with the ultimate aim of matching the range and manufacturing cost of state-of-the-art combustion engines.
The new generation of powertrains will be based on highly scalable modules capable of covering all market segments and Neue Klasse variants from high-volume series through to exclusive high-performance M models. An electric drivetrain based on the hydrogen fuel cell is also a distinct option going forward.
The typical BMW driving experience will be additionally enhanced by focusing on the design features of fully electric vehicles, including options for state-of-the-art driver assistance systems and highly automated driving.
Paradigm shift: secondary first and circular economy are goals for future product generations. With its Neue Klasse models, the BMW Group intends to raise the significance of sustainability to a new level. Apart from switching to renewable energy to power its own production processes as well as those within the supply chain, the BMW Group will also focus on greatly reducing resource consumption in general.
In light of the growing scarcity of finite resources and rising raw materials prices, this step is imperative in terms of efficiency, but also a crucial lever for promoting sustainability from the BMW Group’s perspective going forward.
In 2017, for the first time, mankind extracted more than 100 billion tonnes of raw materials within a single year—a trend that we also need to counteract in the automotive industry. Those wishing to use the earth’s scarce resources to drive their business model will need good reasons to do so in the future.—Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG
Accordingly, the proportion of secondary materials used to manufacture the Neue Klasse (such as recycled steel, plastic or aluminium) will be sharply increased with a view to minimising the extraction of primary raw materials.
With this principle in mind, the BMW Group is examining a paradigm shift based on a secondary first approach in development—in other words, using secondary materials wherever quality and availability factors allow.
We are intent on ensuring that the ‘greenest’ electric car on the market is made by BMW.—Oliver Zipse
In future, recycling will be taken into account from the vehicle design stage. This approach is vital, as one of the main challenges currently faced in recycling processes is to extract the materials in a sufficiently pure form. For example, it is essential that a vehicle’s electrical systems can be easily removed prior to recycling in order to avoid mixing the steel and copper contained in the vehicle’s wiring harness. Otherwise, the secondary steel recovered will no longer meet the strict safety requirements of the automotive industry.
The use of monomaterials, such as for the seats, also needs to be greatly increased in order to maximize the volume of material retained in the recycling loop. Prior to the IAA Mobility in 2021, the BMW Group will provide a detailed explanation of this circular economy approach. It is also exploring the possibility of cross-industry collaborations to make the goal of the circular economy a reality.