BMW will focus its Neue Klasse (New Class) architecture on full-electric models for the midsize premium segment.
The platform, which will go into production in 2025 at the automaker’s new factory in Hungary, will only offer a battery-electric drivetrain, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said during the automaker’s first-quarter earnings call on Thursday.
“When it hits the market, it will be concentrated on the 3-Series segment and at that point in time the market will have developed into a size where it is reasonable to have only one drivetrain in that architecture,” Zipse said.
His comments indicate a change in thinking at the automaker about the architecture.
BMW had previously indicated that the architecture would incorporate electrified options paired with combustion engines. The company’s head of technology, Frank Weber, told journalists last year that the platform would eventually expand across “the entire BMW product portfolio.”
On Thursday, Zipse said the architecture will be “mainly focused on the middle car (midsize) segment. It does not cover from the lower segments all the way to the luxury segments,” he said.
However, after its initial launch on midsize cars, BMW plans to expand the architecture’s use for all-electric cars in other segments.
“The Neue Klasse starts with models from the middle car segment, but of course there is more to come,” a BMW spokesman told Automotive News Europe. “The Neue Klasse is our model range for the future – from the high-volume segment to exclusive high-performance models,” the spokesman said.
The strategy shift to use the platform only on full-electric midsize models will allow BMW to keep combustion engines for longer on larger models.
BMW is launching a new generation of its 7-Series flagship sedan this year with plug-in hybrid, diesel and gasoline drivetrains, and a full-electric variant badged as the i7.
Zipse said on the earnings call that BMW aimed to hit cumulative sales of 2 million full-electric cars by 2025 on its way to a target of having half its sales being electric-only by 2030.
“We are doing everything we can to meet this goal earlier,” he said.
The Neue Klasse platform will play “a crucial part” in the ramp up of EV sales for the company, Zipse said: “It represents a quantum leap in technology.”
The architecture will have the automaker’s next-generation electric drivetrain “with more output, new cell chemistry and new cell formats,” Zipse said.
Zipse’s clarification that the platform will be reserved only for battery-electric vehicles (BEV) was noted by analysts at Deutsche Bank.
“We view it as positive that BMW says that from 2025 onward the Neue Klasse will be BEV only, while a lot of market participants had so far understood it was BEV first,” the bank wrote in a note to investors.