BMW Vision Neue Klasse Concept Previews Future Design, Tech
The electric conceptual sedan looks amazing with its corduroy seats, but the coolest bit is the ultrawide digital display beneath the windscreen.
Antuan GoodwinReviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
ExpertiseReviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainmentCredentials
North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
After wowing us at CES 2023 with the color-changing Vision Dee concept and its 3D augmented reality HUD, BMW's upcoming Neue Klasse (or New Class) of electric vehicles takes another step towards production reality in the automaker's latest Vision concept. Meet the appropriately named Vision Neue Klasse.
The Vision Neue Klasse simultaneously pays homage to BMW's design heritage while previewing the future of the brand. It's a sedan -- which is a nice break from the constant onslaught of crossovers and SUVs of late -- with a traditional three-box silhouette evocative of BMW's most iconic sport sedans, like the 2002, the E30 3 Series or, my personal favorite, the E46.
Up front, Bimmer's current bucktooth grille treatment has been replaced by a broad, horizontal reinterpretation of the kidney grille that integrates the concept's 3D-printed headlamp elements. As an EV doesn't require a large front intake, this is mostly an aesthetic touch that I found, after conferring with colleagues, is the element most likely to make or break your opinion of the concept's design. Personally, I think it looks fantastic.
The concept's glassy greenhouse includes a totally transparent roof and side windows that integrate e-ink displays that indicate the vehicle's status and interact with the automatic door openers. Matte-white paint on Vision Neue Klasse's body is contrasted with large forged carbon aerodynamic elements along the vehicle's lower edge and large 21-inch wheels.
Inside, BMW once again nods to the '70s and '80s with my favorite design element, bright yellow corduroy seats! The buckets aren't super comfortable, but they look amazing flanking the Vision concept's floating center console. The floor is covered with a low-pile shaggy carpet made of recycled and reclaimed materials, and there's not a stitch of chrome or leather to be found in this sustainable interior.
Central to the dashboard is the large touchscreen that skews playfully with parallelogram-shaped OLED tech. Like the circular display in the next-generation Mini vehicles, this is the first of its kind. Powered by the next-generation BMW Operating System 9 software, this oddly shaped screen isn't even the most interesting display in the Vision Neue Klasse's cockpit.
Looking ahead to the base of the windshield reveals the new BMW Panoramic Vision display, a full width display that stretches the entire breadth of the windshield. This is different from the 3D head-up display tech previewed on Vision Dee -- which will also make its way into Neue Klasse series production.
Vision NK's dashboard sits much lower than you'd expect, which gives the Panoramic Vision space to squeeze in beneath the cowl of the hood. In practice, this ultra-ultrawide display sits at about the same height as the digital instrument cluster in a current BMW vehicle -- though also much further forward -- and doesn't block line of sight through the windshield at all.
The display is highly customizable with zones dedicated to driving and vehicle status information, as well as navigation and notifications. Drivers will interact with BMW Panoramic Vision via steering wheel controls and BMW's Intelligent Digital Assistant, which rolls in voice command and predictive machine learning. For example, the Digital Assistant may display more information during assisted driving or less under spirited human operation in Sport mode.
Sixth-generation BMW eDrive
Finally, Vision Neue Klasse gives us a preview of BMW's ambitions for its sixth-generation BMW eDrive electrification technology. Specific numbers aren't given at this point, but BMW claims that its Neue Klasse EVs will feature newly-developed battery tech with round cells with 20% higher energy density than the current prismatic cells in use. That, along with advancements throughout the electric vehicle platform and powertrain, will result in a 30% range increase, 30% faster charging and 25% more efficiency than the current generation of BMW EVs, which includes the i4, iX, i7 and, soon, the i5.
The electric powertrain will be manufactured in BMW's new Debrecen plant in Hungary, making increased use of reclaimed materials, raw materials produced with less CO2 and "entirely without fossil fuels."
Der Neue Klasse
Vision Neue Klasse debuted to the public this weekend at the 2023 IAA Mobility International Motor Show in Munich. Just how much of this design will make it to production is still a big question mark, but BMW confirms that many, if not all, of the technologies including BMW iDrive OS 9, the Panoramic Vision display, the 3D HUD from Vision Dee and many of the sustainable manufacturing practices will be realized when the series production Neue Klasse vehicles hit the road in 2025.