BMW hones in on the future with the Neue Klasse concept EV

It's a tech forward car, ideally coming in 2025

BMW has been hinting at its electric future, the Neue Klasse, for years, but the automaker’s newest concept is the closest look at that vision so far.

The new concept, aptly named the Neue Klasse, is an exciting car that looks like a much more refined version of the i Vision Dee we saw at CES 2023. Gone are the E-ink elements, and instead, the car focuses on the next-generation style and infotainment for BMW.

What’s important to know is that this concept car is called the Neue Klasse, but it’s named after a new lineup of vehicles that will start getting announced in 2025. This isn’t the company’s first use of Neue Klasse in its marketing. In the 50s, BMW suffered financially and used the term successfully to redefine its cars moving into the 60s.

While the company is in a much better place in 2023, the term still represents BMW shaking things up and trying new ideas to move into a new generation of automobiles.

Based on what was shown at the BMW shareholder event in Munich, the new cars will offer minimal designs with light replacing chrome and a new suite of sustainable materials to help its vehicles feel classy and homey.

Even the plastic used for parts of the car’s interior and exterior is recycled. It’s a unique blend that shows flecks of white and grey. This gives the car a distinct starry pattern. I found it looked a little too random on the exterior, but inside the front foot-bays, it appears as an almost endless celestial space. It’s very cool, and the subtlety of the plastic gives it a nice touch of class while retaining futuristic elements.

On the outside, the car’s proportions and matte white paint job gave me slight Polestar vibes, but that’s not to say it’s bad. On the contrary, minimalism gives the car’s tightly packed stance a chance to shine. I was a massive fan of the sharp, almost 90-degree panel connection point above the front wheel well. It’s clean and aggressive without being overstated and shows the level of craftsmanship BMW is known for.

That artisan flair extends to the interior as well, with futuristic yellow seats with a retro-futuristic corduroy pattern. I loved these and hope that BMW releases a real car with them someday, even if they’ll likely be a nightmare to keep clean.

This concept is also an amalgamation of some of the most cutting-edge tech BMW has been testing over the last few years. This includes voice controls, handleless doors, an ultrawide heads-up display and much more.

While a lot of this tech is fascinating, the newness of it means that it’s untested in the market, so it’s unclear how the public will react once it starts shipping in a few years. For instance, the new steering wheel has no buttons. Instead, there are two touch pads that you use for most of your interactions with the car. It looks very slick, but time will tell if it’s an upgrade.One of the most exciting future glimpses was the software running on the Neue Klasse concept. While it’s unfinished and likely to change before launch, the design ismodern and minimal. The company also showed off an alternate skin that can be used in sport mode, suggesting that the Neue Klasse of cars will offer customizable infotainment, much like the new Mini vehicles.

The company also showed off a presentation slide of two people using their phones as controllers to play a multi-player arcade-style game. It looked fantastic, and it’s intriguing to see BMW explore new in-car entertainment ideas with its EV fleet. BMW OS 9 is built on a fork of open-source Android, so perhaps it will be able to port over some games from there. However, since it’s not likely to run Google Automotive Services, I wouldn’t expect a flood of apps on the platform.

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One area that’s been refined in the new concept is the heads-up display the company showed off at CES 2023. This full-colour projection stretches along the bottom of the car’s windshield and displays information like your sped, now-playing music, contacts and other car information. From the demo, it appears to be a row of widgets you can navigate with the touch pads on the steering wheel. To add new items to that row, you need to swipe the widget card up from the real display, and it will float up to the heads-up display.

It’s very cool tech, but BMW is clearly still figuring it out. For instance, one of the widgets was a contact card, which felt weird to be on a car’s windshield. There’s something about the display that feels like it should be reserved for driving functions. Things like the weather and quick access to calls felt out of place to me. But since it’s a concept, that will likely be ironed out in time.

Overall, the Neue Klasse concept is a stunning design from BMW, and it’s starting to drum up excitement for the company’s big electric push in 2025. As someone who’s been covering BMW for years, I love the company’s cars, but the software has always felt a little out of step with the top-level craftsmanship of the physical cars and their driving experience.

From what we’ve seen in the Neue Klasse and the upcoming electric Mini fleet, that sentiment is changing. The German automaker appears to have a clear vision of the future that includes software as a core principle alongside its other car features, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.