Last Saturday, Oliver Zipse played it a bit like Steve Jobs. “One more thing”… Towards the end of his “keynote”, the boss of the Bavarian brand took out a black object. It was neither an iPhone nor an iPad. It was an enclosure, the size of a hard drive from a few years ago. In fact, the “heart of joy” is one of the 4 “super brains” of the future Neue Klasse platform.
Like other manufacturers, BMW is changing the electrical and electronic architecture of its cars. The tendency is to reduce the number of computers and to use a large computer (what is called an HPC: High Performance Computer).
The propeller firm has chosen to use four. There is one for infotainment, another for driving assistance (with a calculation capacity multiplied by 20), a third for the traction chain and a fourth that could be described as a “super brain”, controlling all communications inside the vehicle. We are of course talking about a staggering amount of data and millions of lines of code.
The obligation to differentiate
“Everyone thinks that making an electric car is simple,” complains Martin Tholund, BMW spokesperson on digital issues. “We think it’s just a matter of batteries, but there’s a lot of engineering behind it,” he says.
And precisely, the whole issue is to ensure that an electric vehicle struck from the grille to the double bean is a BMW, with road behavior comparable to that expected of a model of the brand in thermal equivalent. “For the first time, we have put the software that controls the electric powertrain and the one that manages the driving dynamics in the same box,” Oliver Zipse said in his speech. And this will result in a concentration of know-how. It’s as if BMW’s DNA has been translated into lines of code.
The “heart of joy” will bring spice to the driving of electric cars. A bit as if we had added a Sport ++ mode in the choice of the type of driving. Faced with ever-increasing competition, BMW must differentiate itself. And what could be more obvious than driving pleasure. It’s not just “canon” acceleration, but the feeling of being able to become one with the vehicle. The bet is to electronically bring a feeling of performance that belongs only to the brand. It’s also a question of survival, because electrification erases the differences in level, which were very noticeable with the internal combustion engine.
“It’s time to raise the bar”
What we do know is that this “heart of joy” essentially comes from the experience and talent of BMW engineers. The brand has a good command of electronics and software. She also stakes her reputation on this one. “It’s time to raise the bar,” read the screen as Oliver Zipse held up the precious case.
We understand that the new Neue Klasse platform is a real event, and not only in terms of the integration of electrical components. It will open up new possibilities, including much higher computing capacities and therefore the possibility of “tuning” vehicles. The Munich manufacturer will say more about it shortly. Scheduled for 2025, the platform will allow the release of 6 models in the space of 24 months. And they will bring joy when it comes to dynamic behavior.
To sum up
Back to the BMW conference at the 2023 Munich Motor Show where the German manufacturer unveiled a box called Heart of Joy at the same time as its platform which will be used for its future electric vehicles, Neue Klasse.