BMW is working on a 3 Series sedan to introduce the next generation of its electric car technology. It could look that way.
New computer illustrations show what the electric future of the BMW 3 Series sedan, due to hit showrooms in 2025, could look like.
The German automaker has confirmed its plans to unveil its “New Class” architecture – which will underpin the next generation of its electric car range – on a 3 Series sedan, due in 2025 and widely destined for the i3 badge.
The i Vision Dee concept, unveiled at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the US, is said to be a preview of the new sedan’s styling – and the digital artist theottle showed what the show car could look like in production form.
The CES concept car follows the 2021 i Vision Circular showcar by previewing a new design language for BMW, trading in the big grilles and bold features for a minimalist, simple look that BMW designers call “reductive design”.
Key features of BMW design are “reinterpreted” in the concept, according to the company – the dual front “kidney” grilles are faded out and become style cues, while the square circular headlights become diagonal stripes.
Theottle’s render retains the shape of the i Vision Dee but adds wing mirrors, grips and number plates needed for the road, as well as stock wheels, a new rear bumper and a front air intake for battery cooling.
The thick black trim surrounding the concept car’s side windows has been retained, albeit toned down. A similar design feature can be seen in the i Vision Circular concept – suggesting it could be a key design feature of future BMW production vehicles.
The i Vision Dee’s four headlight strips may not provide the illumination – low/high beam, daytime running lights and indicators – needed for a production car, so we’ve added some small LED projection beams behind the front glass panels.
Few technical details of the cars on the Neue Klasse chassis have been confirmed – however executives have announced they will not share anything with previous BMW cars and the new platform is the the most expensive project in BMW history.
BMW has confirmed that the Neue Klasse electric platform – named after the cars that saved BMW from bankruptcy in the 1950s – is due to debut in 2025 with a 3 Series car ahead of a BMW X3 SUV.
However, it’s unclear if the current petrol-powered 3 Series will be directly replaced by the electric car, as some reports suggest – or if the petrol will live on, either as another update to the current model or as a new model with redesigned bodywork via carry-over substructures.
According to a report from the UK automobile Magazine New class cars can offer battery packs between 75 kWh and 150 kWh, between 200 kW and 1000 kW, ultra-fast charging and a range of up to 600 km.
The publication reports that regular BMW models are planned to offer single-motor rear-wheel drive or dual-motor all-wheel drive options – while performance M models will be upgraded to four motors, one powering each wheel.
The batteries in the Neue Klasse cars have a similar design to Tesla, packaging the battery cells in cylindrical containers with a diameter of 46 mm.
BMW claims its next-generation batteries can offer up to 30 percent more range, 30 percent faster charging (10 to 80 percent) and 60 percent less CO2 emissions during production – for half the price of current designs.
In the latest Tesla cars, the BMW batteries are described as “structural”. – That is, instead of packing the cells into modules that fit into packs, the modules are done away with, the battery cells are mounted directly onto the pack and used in the core structure of the car.
This lowers costs by eliminating the need to manufacture battery modules – and gives automakers more space to pack battery cells in each car.
Production of the BMW i3 electric sedan is set to begin in 2025 – or 2026 if there are delays – at three plants: in Germany, Mexico and a brand new plant in Hungary.
If previous BMW models are any guide, expect photos of the first prototypes to appear on public roads in Europe towards the end of this year – or two years before the car is set to go on sale overseas.
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