Improved efficiency, extended range, increased charging power and circular economy are the main pillars on which future electric vehicles from BMW are based. Promises illustrated with this Concept Vision Neue Klasse that we discovered during a static presentation before the IAA show in Munich.
Here we are ! After a cleverly orchestrated teaser by the German manufacturer, it’s time to officially discover BMW’s Vision Neue Klasse concept. You are not unaware that concept cars now display styles that are increasingly close to what are then the series vehicles that result from them. With this, the Bavarian firm outlines what its models will be by 2025 and, in the lead, the future electric 3 Series.
Between circular economy and neo-retro style
During our meeting with the BMW teams, we were reminded of a few important figures. Today 90% of the parts of a BMW can be recycled, but only 30% are. Neue Klasse illustrates the work carried out by the manufacturer on the subject of the “circular economy” applied to the industrial manufacturing process in the automotive world. You should thus hear about “BMW i Vision Circular”, which is materialized in this concept car by recycled and recyclable materials. The goal mentioned is none other than the possibility of producing vehicles with 50% of parts made from recycled materials by 2025.
While waiting to materialize this on production vehicles, the Concept Vision Neue Klasse gives us an overview of the avenues envisaged by BMW. And as much to tell you that the use of this recycled and recyclable plastic material is not something that the manufacturer “hides a little” here and there on the vehicle. They are perfectly assumed through widely visible black parts, in the lower case, or even the interior of the door surrounds, for example.
Other rooms inside also exploit these materials while also taking care – another important point – to reduce the diversity of materials used in the production of Neue Klasse.
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Moreover, on this subject, BMW also exposes some lines of thought, such as the possibility of engraving the brand logo or the name of the models directly into the bodywork. And if this made it possible to exclude from production millions of badges and initials that cannot be recycled, this raises other possible fairly obvious problems such as “what do we do if these same engraved patterns are degraded over time? “. No question of changing or replacing an entire hood, for example.
One thing is certain: whether or not you like the genre, you will probably have to get used to these materials, which should remain in a fairly raw form, or in any case unpainted for obvious reasons.
Let’s face it, on this BMW concept, the result is very successful and, even if it’s a matter of taste, we really like this Neue Klasse, both in these proportions (close to that of a 3 Series with 4, 69 m long), as well as in its very successful look with this new painting called “Joyous Bright”… without forgetting its penchant for new technologies.
The historic double bean is here more generically called “the double grille and the double headlights” with a clearly new design. These use LEDs for the main light signature and each of the headlight units is encrusted with a material that reacts to the wavelength of the light beams. This is what produces this impression of depth in this huge grille which is supposed to represent a “shark’s nose”… and it is true that in profile, we want to adhere to the reference. Not you ?
We find a variant of this new light signature at the rear, in these two very large headlights which also play the role of a small spoiler, again with the aim of limiting the number of parts manufactured. To come back to this light signature, know that it bears the name of BMW Laser Vision.
You will no doubt have noticed that this concept uses camera mirrors and it does not have a door handle. The opening is motorized and triggered by the presence of the palm on a very specific area. Obviously, we are here in the presence of a geekery whimsical and characteristic of the concept car, but the command is all the more original as it is accompanied by a welcome cinematic.
At the bottom of the side windows there is a black band which is in fact electronic ink which lights up in response to an electric current. Thus, BMW is able to create a light animation that starts from the mirror towards the rear of the door to stop and flash at the location of what would normally be the door handle. To request access to the passenger compartment, all you have to do is present your hand in front of a dedicated sensor for the automatic opening to do its job.
Finally, Neue Klasse also inaugurates other elements such as the 21-inch aerodynamic rims paying homage to the classic design of the crossed spokes inspired by motorsport.
Round battery cells for better autonomy
BMW does not associate any power, performance or range data with its Concept Vision Neue Klasse. On the other hand, the subject is naturally on the table since, by 2025, many improvements will land on the brand’s electric vehicles. Less energy-consuming tyres, composition of platforms, engines… we will obviously have the opportunity to come back to this, but we can already highlight one of the main developments concerning batteries.
Exit the current battery packs which come in the form of a large rectangular module accommodating the cells resembling small rectangular blocks. Within 3 years, the complete architecture will be revisited to accommodate cylindrical cells offering better energy density and therefore better efficiency. And the other good news is that this shape would also improve integration while allowing better cooling of the cylinder-shaped cells.
According to the latest information communicated by BMW, switching to these tubular cells makes it possible to obtain up to 25% more efficiency, 30% more autonomy and 30% faster recharging. On site, we were told that it is possible, in the same volume of a “battery pack”, to integrate 20% more energy density.
Two formats are already mentioned by BMW, a first reports a cell measuring a diameter of 46 mm for a height of 85 mm and a second of 46 mm in diameter also for 120 mm in height. The first will be dedicated to the sedan and compact segment (what about city cars?) and the second will address the SUV segment. Moreover, for comparison, it is specified to us that the batteries of the Tesla Model Y would measure 46 mm in diameter for 80 mm in height.
BMW iDrive: look up to the cockpit of the future
The life on board experience inspired by this concept suggests radically different things, especially if the manufacturer goes so far as to adopt the fabrics and their colors presented here on Neue Klasse. In any case, as we know, vintage often comes back into fashion and BMW does not close any doors on this type of cabin, which it describes as very bright. It must be said that in this case, the fully glazed roof of this concept car does not leave anyone indifferent.
Concept Vision also stages the future of embedded technologies. Few details are shared on connectivity, or even driving aids – this is not the subject here – in favor of an emphasis on infotainment. Starting with the large central screen which takes up the inclined design of the multimedia interface of the brand’s latest on-board systems. No diagonal is officially communicated, but we are betting on a minimum of 15 inches. Anyway, that’s not where the innovation is.
No, this one is housed in the bottom of the windshield and it is called BMW Panoramic Vision. This is the new BMW iDrive update which now includes this panoramic display occupying the entire lower part of the windscreen and where it is possible to slide the information from the central screen upwards.
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We were not allowed to sit on board to manipulate this system in more detail, but the responsiveness on board of this concept is already there. With a simple swipe of two fingers on the screen, GPS navigation instructions, telephony instructions or even information related to the vehicle’s range are displayed in front of your eyes.
As always, the BMW iDrive cockpit promises to change color according to the driving modes used and a personal assistant will once again be honored in what should be the manufacturer’s version 9 operating system.
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