In 2025, BMW will launch its first model based on the new New class multi-energy platform: the 8th-generation 3 Series. The electric versions of this D-segment sedan will revert to the i3 designation, used so far in a B-segment minivan whose production will end in 2022 or at the latest in 2023.
The revamped BMW i3, which is being developed under the codename NK1, will be the natural replacement for the newly launched BMW i4, which sits on the CLAR multi-energy platform. The new model will employ the Bavarian manufacturer’s sixth-generation eDrive power unit (current i4, iX3, and iX use fifth-generation eDrive technology) with synchronous electric motors.
The New class platform, which is being developed at BMW’s FIZ research and innovation center in Munich, will enable the creation of electric vehicles with front, rear, and all-wheel drive. This architecture will be characterized by its enormous flexibility, as it will be able to accommodate several battery packs of different capacities, as well as to adapt to different distances between axes, track widths, and heights.
In practice, the new base will replace the CLAR platform, as it will range from compact sedans like the 2 Series to large SUVs like the X7. This could therefore indicate to us that the MINI models and the BMW entry range (1 Series, X1, X2) will continue to use a different, smaller, and more affordable architecture.
The new BMW i3 will replace the current BMW i4
The new platform will also be able to accommodate plug-in hybrid powertrains with an electrified rear axle and even fuel cell systems. Although both the CLAR and the New class are multi-energy platforms, the second will have a flat floor that will eliminate the bulky central tunnel that its predecessor presents; in addition, it will allow longer wheelbases and shorter hoods, which will improve habitability.
The new BMW i3 will be a relatively light vehicle, as part of its structure will be made of carbon fiber, while the body panels will be made of aluminum, steel, or plastic. Frank Weber, head of research and development at BMW, wanted to emphasize the high efficiency of which the sedan will boast.
“We are developing electric motors that will be even more efficient and more powerful than the ones we use today. The New class will also incorporate the 800-volt technology already seen in some models of the competition, and how could it be otherwise, it will use more capable batteries than its predecessor, so the maximum autonomy of the new i3 could exceed 700 km WLTP.