BMW unveils Vision Neue Klasse concept car as it touts the dawn of a new EV era


German automaker BMW on Saturday launched a hotly anticipated electric concept car, saying the so-called “Vision Neue Klasse” represents the dawn of a new era for the company.

BMW’s latest design showcases a platform that will underpin the brand’s next generation of electric vehicles. The first electric vehicles based on the Neue Klasse — or new class — architecture are set to enter production in 2025.

The new line-up of electric vehicles includes BMW’s sixth generation of battery cells, which the company says will improve both the charging speed and range of the Neue Klasse platform by up to 30%. As a result of these measures, BMW said the overall vehicle efficiency would increase by up to 25%.

“With the BMW Vision Neue Klasse, we put every innovative force that BMW has on the electric side, on the digital side and, of course, that car will also be prepared for the industry of circularity,” BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told CNBC’s Arabile Gumede.

“In only two years’ time, these cars will hit the road, and with that, overall, we lead BMW to a new era of innovation and sustainability. That’s the purpose of our show at the IAA,” Zipse said.

The Vision Neue Klasse is set to make its public debut in the coming days at the IAA motor show in Munich, which also serves as the headquarters of BMW. The IAA show is one of the world’s largest mobility trade fairs.

“We believe that electromobility will be the largest growth segment in the world for the automotive industry and we want to be a leading force here,” Zipse said.

An employee checks the logo of a car during its final inspection on a production line at Germany’s carmaker BMW plant in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on October 20, 2022.
Ronny Hartmann | Afp | Getty Images

The BMW chief executive projected that battery electric vehicles will represent 15% of the carmaker’s worldwide sales by the end of 2023 and that “we will increase that further next year and the year after next.”

Frank Weber, member of the Board of Management of BMW responsible for development, said the Neue Klasse range represents a “major technological leap” for the carmaker.

‘Not afraid at all’ of Chinese EV giants

In early August, BMW said that it expected ongoing challenges from supply chain issues and stubbornly high inflation to persist over the coming months. It nevertheless lifted the annual outlook for its margin on earnings before interest and taxes in the automotive segment.

Shares of BMW are up around 13% year-to-date.

Asked about the presence of Chinese electric vehicle giants at the Munich motor show and whether he was worried about Chinese exports into Europe impacting BMW’s business, Zipse replied, “No, we are not afraid at all.”

“That is a sign of attractiveness when global players like the Chinese, which is the largest car market in the world, come here to Munich and showcase what they want. It is far more than auto, this is a tech show, this is an innovation show,” Zipse said.

“And I think to have everyone here, the Americans, the Europeans and now also the Chinese, is super exciting. You hear it in my words already, I’m more excited, and I’m not afraid at all, and it is good that we have a show which attracts a lot of competition. That’s super.”