BMW’s New Electric Architecture Comes With a Lot of Surprises, the First Being An Electric 3 Series - story fullscreen Fullscreen

BMW’s New Electric Architecture Comes With a Lot of Surprises, the First Being An Electric 3 Series

It all starts with an electric 3 series, 800 Volt battery tech, and 350 kW charging capability, but the possibilities are endless

We now know that BMW is working on a new compact EV Saloon. Internally known today as the NK1, the rest of the world will know it as the 3 Series EV when it launches in 2025. It will serve as an alternative to the next-gen, fuel-powered 3 Series. Sitting atop a new electric architecture known as Neue Klasse, this electric 3 Series will be the first big step forward in BMW’s massive shift to electrification and will pave the way for a whole-new generation of BMW EVs – including an extended lineup of SUVs. This news, however, is about a lot more than a new electric 3 Series, and more about BMW’s path to the future.

2022 BMW i4 Exterior
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  • BMW’s third phase of electrification starts in 2025 with the “Neue Klasse EV platform and the subsequent launch of the all-new 3 Series EV
  • Internally known as the NK1, this new 3 Series EV will be largely different from the current 3 Series
  • The 3 Series EV will be sold alongside the gas-powered 3 Series much like Porsche’s dual Macan strategy
  • The Neue Klasse EV platform will go on to underpin an entire fleet of EVs ranging from subcompact (think 2 Series) up to full-size SUVs like the X7
  • The Neue Klasse EV platform will support single-motor RWD, and FWD configurations as well as xDrive AWD
  • Until solid-state batteries arrive, BMW will continue to increase battery density, with the 3 series EV expected to be capable of around 435 miles on a single charge
  • The Neue Klasse Platform features an 800V battery technology and 350 kW charging capability like that found on the Porsche Taycan and the Audi E-Tron GT
  • Ultimately, the Neue Klasse platform will replace the current FAAR and CLAR architectures and will allow factories to build ICE and electric models down the same line.

The Neue Klasse Architecture

BMW's New Electric Architecture Comes With a Lot of Surprises, the First Being An Electric 3 Series Exterior Spyshots
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The Neue Klasse platform is currently being developed at BMW’s FIZ research and innovation center in none other than Munich. Up to this point, and until 2025, all BMW EVs are based largely on current architectures, but this platform will serve as the basis for all electric BMWs beyond 2025. It will support FWD, RWD, and AWD configurations with a single motor or dual motors for AWD. It will also allow for different capacity modular battery packs, wheelbases, and track widths, along with a range of different ride heights and wheels ranging from 18- to 22-inches. 800-volt battery technology is on the menu, as is 350kW fast charging – just like that offered on the Porsche Taycan and the Audi E-Tron GT.

BMW’s Chief of Research and Development, Frank Weber, told Autocar:

“The Neue Klasse represents the beginning of a new phase of operations for BMW. It’s scaled to allow us to build electric cars from a 2 Series-sized saloon up to an X7-sized SUV.”
BMW's New Electric Architecture Comes With a Lot of Surprises, the First Being An Electric 3 Series Exterior Spyshots
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Ultimately, the Neue Klasse platform will replace the current FAAR and CLAR architectures and will allow factories to build ICE and electric models down the same line.

Going even deeper, the platform structure will be composed primarily of aluminum and high-strength steel and will be able to support plug-in hybrid powertrains with a front-mounted engine and an electric motor on the rear axle. To cover all bases, Weber admitted that the platform is also capable of supporting hydrogen fuel cells and powertrains should it become necessary in certain markets where certain regulatory framework is being considered.

The Neue Klasse platform will eventually replace the current FAAR and CLAR structures and is aimed to give BMW a uniform starting point for all vehicles. It will provide for more economical building and even more manufacturing capability to the extent that factories will be able to build bother ICE and electric models on the same production line. This is, essentially, what BMW has been able to accomplish with the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the upcoming i4 EV.

“We won’t be building separate structures. The Neue Klasse will see a big ramp-up in volume potential. We’ve learned a lot in scaling over the past two generations of platform development”

The New BMW 3 Series Electric – Not Just a 3 Series With an Electric Motor

BMW's New Electric Architecture Comes With a Lot of Surprises, the First Being An Electric 3 Series Exterior Spyshots
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BMW’s third phase of electrification starts in 2025 with the “Neue Klasse EV platform and the subsequent launch of the all-new 3 Series EV

The 3 Series EV is internally known as the NK1, and it will be the first model based on the Neue Klasse platform. It will be the last of four electric sedans BMW will launch by 2025, with the i4, i5, and i7 coming first. However, the i4, i5, and i7 are based on the same CLAR architecture that underpins the related non-electric models, the 4 Series, 5 Series, and 7 Series. The NK1 will take full advantage of the Neue Klasse architecture and will be offered with either rear- or all-wheel drive, but that’s not the most important part.

Unlike the “I” models that will come before it, the 3 Series EV will be quite different from the next-gen 3 Series. It will be the first BMW EV that will feature an all-new styling direction that will eventually land on all future BMW EVs. The NK1 is expected to feature the aluminum and steel platform base, a carbon-fiber cage body, and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic in areas like the sills. There will be a combination of steel, aluminum, and composite plastic body panels as well.

BMW's New Electric Architecture Comes With a Lot of Surprises, the First Being An Electric 3 Series Exterior Spyshots
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Finally, the NK1 will be powered by BMW’s new sixth-gen powertrain, which includes synchronous electric motors. Since the new platform supports it, 800V battery tech and 350kW fast charging capability are also expected. Ultimately, BMW is hoping to push its battery tech even further, allowing the NK1 to offer up more than 435 miles of range, something that will be made possible by increased-density batteries and the higher efficiency of the sixth-gen powertrain.

P.S. BMW’s six-gen EV powertrain and this new Neue Klasse platform are scalable, which means electric M models will be easily doable in the future.

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Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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