Global BMW 3 Series Electric (2025) will use the Neue Klasse platform [Update]

Update: ‘BMW M3 electric successor’ sub-section added to ‘BMW 3 Series Electric Specifications’.

After announcing the China-only BMW i3 sedan in March 2021, BMW Group is working on a global BMW 3 Series Electric with a plan to launch it in 2025. All around, the latter will be more advanced to lock horns with the established Tesla Model 3, which has now become the default sedan choice for early EV adopters across many markets worldwide.

NA5/NK1 to be the first BMW 3 Series electric

The internal name of the next-generation BMW 3 Series Electric is BMW NA5, according to a report from whichcar.com.au dated January 2022. The codename seems to conflict with BMW Blog’s report, which states that the codename is BMW NK1, according to its sources. The abbreviation NK1 could refer to the first Neue Klasse platform-based model. The global-spec BMW 3 Series Electric must be a highly desirable global car, whatever the codename may be.

On August 3, 2022, during a conference call to discuss BMW Group’s H1 2022 results, Oliver Zipse, the company’s CEO, indicated that the first Neue Klasse EVs will likely be the global BMW 3 Series Electric and the next-gen BMW iX3. Below were his exact words:

For the launch of the Neue Klasse, we are planning a compact sedan in the 3 Series segment and a sporty SUV.

Oliver Zipse, CEO, BMW Group (BMW Group H1 2022 results conference call on August 3, 2022)
BMW i3 sedan rear three quarters
The model pictured here and in the hero image of this article is the China-only BMW i3 sedan which debuted in March 2022. It is based on a tweaked version of the existing Cluster Architecture (CLAR) and is closely related to the BMW i4. Image: BMW

Neue Klasse to focus on the 3-Series segment

According to an Autocar report dated October 18, 2021, the Neue Klasse platform would allow BMW to manufacture cars from the 2 Series-sized sedan to a full-blown SUV the size of the X7, said Frank Weber (BoM member responsible for Development at BMW AG). However, there seems to be a strategy shift at BMW as per a recent Automotive News Europe report dated May 6, 2022. During the Q1 2022 earnings call, Zipse stated that the Neue Klasse would focus on premium mid-size (middle size) cars. He said that the Neue Klasse does not cover from lower segments all the way to the luxury segments.

Earlier reports suggested that the Neue Klasse would be “BEV first.” In addition to BEVs, it was also thought to support gasoline, diesel, and plug-in hybrid cars. Now, BMW Group says that Neue Klasse will be an electric-only platform.

To rival the Tesla Model 3

The international-spec BMW 3 Series Electric will be an eighth-generation model. And to keep up with the highly competitive nature of the segment, it will have to offer plenty of novelty. Its new platform, design language, powertrain, in-cabin technology, and other features will enable it to compete. It will sport an electric-first ‘Neue Klasse’ platform under development at BMW Group Forschungs- und Innovationszentrum (BMW FIZ) in Munich, Germany, serving as the foundation of the third phase of the company’s electrification.

Design & Build

To keep the weight of the 3 Series electric’s bodyshell in check, BMW Group could rely on its multi-material formula. A combination of aluminum, steel, and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic could be used when designing it.

The global BMW 3 Series Electric would look distinct from its internal combustion engine models due to its electric-first platform. It will likely be sleeker, more technologically advanced, and more practical than the BMW i4. Expect the global BMW 3 Series Electric to have a longer wheelbase and more raked A-pillars.

Bimmerpost claims that BMW Group plans to launch the global 3 Series electric in a sedan version and also a Touring (wagon) version. There were speculations in the media if there will be an electric successor to the 3 Series Touring, seeing how SUVs are already getting lower in the electric era and offering similar levels of practicality. However, it looks like the German automaker sees wagons continuing to have potential.

Interior

BMW i3 electric sedan cabin
The global BMW 3 Series Electric’s cabin would be a significant departure from the i3 sedan’s interior (pictured). Image: BMW

The BMW 3 Series Electric might take inspiration from the BMW i Vision Circular showcased at IAA 2021, which is developed using the principles of rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle. To minimize wastage and offcuts, the concept uses 3D printing so that surplus material can be systematically fed back into the materials cycle. Moreover, the Neue Klasse platform would also allow a cab-forward design making the cabin airier. The 3 Series Electric may get a windscreen header that’s placed rearward to improve the sense of space in the cabin.

Recycled materials

A high proportion of recycled materials are expected to be used in upcoming BMW electric cars. The BMW i Vision Circular concept gives us an idea of what may be available in the future. For instance, the upholstery would have a velvet-like texture and feel but is made using recycled plastic. Also, expect future BMW electric cars to have a greater harmony between exterior and interior designs. The i Vision Circular uses bronze metal accents in the exterior and interior for greater design uniformity.

2021 BMW i Vision Circular interior
The BMW i Vision Circular makes use of a high proportion of recycled materials in the cabin. Image: BMW

The floor will be flat in the cabin, with no center tunnel obstructing the space. This could result in a flexible cabin (for luggage and passengers) and a clean design. Buyers can also expect a ‘frunk,’ or storage space where the engine would typically be. The use of recycled and sustainably sourced eco-friendly materials should be significant, contributing to the company’s carbon-neutral goals.

BMW 3 Series Electric Specifications

It is reported that BMW plans to sell the global 3 Series Electric with two drivetrain layouts: single-motor RWD and dual-motor AWD system. It will use BMW eDrive technology, which will consist of a newly developed propulsion motor (including power electronics) and an 800-volt high-voltage battery pack. The NK1 could have a range of more than 435 miles, according to an Autocar report. The 350 kW DC charging power capability could help customers charge from 10% to 80% in 20 minutes at a charging station.

BMW is pouring resources into the development of Neue Klasse that would enable the brand to focus on volume production and streamline processes to reduce manufacturing and delivery times. NK would also support multiple drivetrain layouts, including FWD, RWD, and AWD. What’s more, NK can also allow multiple ride heights and support various wheel sizes, ranging between 18- and 22-inches. With this level of flexibility, the future 3 Series variants could be designed for cruising, performance, and even all-road capability.

BMW M3 electric successor

A BMW M3 electric successor is in the pipeline, Autocar reported on August 15, 2022. BMW M CEO Frank van Meel has told the British publication that if the M3 goes electric, and maybe it will, it will still be an M3. He said he would love to see electrified BMW M cars, including BMW M electric models.

BMW M is gathering feedback from customers about its potential switch to EVs, and what it has learned so far is that 90-95% of them don’t care about the propulsion system as long as the model is a proper BMW M. Perhaps, the BMW NA0 (U.S.)/BMW NK1 (Europe) will get the full-blown BMW M treatment.

Manufacturing & Release Date

We expect to see a concept version of the BMW 3 Series electric (‘Vision’ concept) next year, before the car is available in dealer showrooms in 2025, alongside the new iX3. It will make its foray into a highly competitive space—Xpeng launched its entry-level sedan P5 in 2021, Nio plans to launch the Nio ET5 in September 2022, Mercedes-Benz plans to sell the C-Class Electric by 2025, and Ingolstadt is also planning a future Audi E4 (A4 Electric). And did we mention the evolved Tesla Model 3?

During BMW Group’s H1 2022 results conference call, Zipse revealed that the first Neue Klasse EV will be present at IAA 2023, which will take place in Munich, Germany, from September 5 to 10, 2023.

For IAA 2023, I can already promise you a glimpse of the Neue Klasse – with a spectacular digital experience for our customers.

Oliver Zipse, CEO, BMW Group (BMW Group H1 2022 results conference call on August 3, 2022)
BMW Group Debrecen plant image
The whichcar.com.au report stated that the next-generation 3 Series will be manufactured at the upcoming factory in Debrecen, Hungary, which is on track to be inaugurated in 2025. Image: BMW Group

Production of the first Neue Klasse model will start at a new electric vehicle plant in Debrecen, Hungary, in 2025. The report by whichcar.com.au has mentioned that Debrecen will be the production site of the next-gen BMW 3 Series and next-gen BMW X3.

On June 1, 2022, BMW Group announced that it had laid the foundation stone for its new electric vehicle plant in Debrecen. This will be a CO2-free ‘BMW iFactory’ plant with a press shop, bodyshop, paintshop, and assembly. Spread over more than 400 hectares to the northwest of Debrecen, it will have an annual production capacity of approximately 150,000 vehicles. It comes after an investment of more than EUR 1 billion, and over the next two years, the factory will employ over 1,000 people. This production facility, which comes online in 2025, will not use fossil fuels, depending exclusively on renewables for all its energy needs.

BMW Plant Munich, where the current 3 Series is made, will begin manufacturing Neue Klasse models from 2026.

North American Production

BMW Group has started planning for the North American production of the BMW Neue Klasse electric cars, as per Bimmerpost’s intel. The BMW-focused forum claims that the German automaker’s main factory for manufacturing these models will be BMW Group Plant San Luis Potosi. The Mexican production site started making cars in 2019 beginning with the seventh-gen 3 Series, and since 2021, builds the second-gen BMW 2 Series Coupe as well. By the end of 2022, the second-gen BMW M2 will join these models.

Bimmerpost says that BMW Group Plant San Luis Potosi will initially manufacture two BMW Neue Klasse models. One model will be the global BMW 3 Series electric, including both sedan (codename: BMW NA0) and touring (codename: BMW NA1) versions. The other model will be the next-gen BMW iX3 (codename: BMW NA5), built alongside the next-gen BMW X3 (codename: BMW G45). Production of all these models will start in 2027.

Electric drive units

BMW Group is likely to employ the e-drive units manufactured in Steyr, Austria, in the new 3 Series Electric. The company has confirmed that it plans to use sixth-gen e-drives in its Neue Klasse models and manufacture the same at the BMW Group Plant Steyr. In an announcement on June 20, 2022, it said that the Austrian factory will build the next-gen e-drives starting in 2025. Steyr will produce more than 600,000 e-drives annually. In the future, the Austrian engine plant will make all the key components for the e-drive, including rotor, stator, transmission, inverter, and housing.

Gasoline-powered BMW 3 Series is not retiring anytime soon

The global launch of the BMW 3 Series Electric will take place without any doubt, but the gas-engined 3 Series will not be consigned to the history books. As part of BMW’s commitment to providing customers with the Power of Choice, a thermal-engined model will remain in dealer showrooms for years to come. After all, the 3 Series is the bread and butter for BMW.

BMW plans to extend the current model’s lifecycle by a couple of years, as per a post on a BimmerPost forum. As per the recent post, the company will continue making the G20 sedan until July 2027 and the G21 wagon until October 2027.

Electric vehicles are unlikely to be democratized by the middle of the decade in many regions where BMW has built a market share. In an interview with auto motor und sport in January 2022, Weber shared that even in 2025, customers may not be able to freely drive an electric car due to infrastructure limitations. The progress isn’t as fast as some may have imagined.

Weber said that BMW would not like to put customers in a situation where only EVs are listed on the menu. The brand “will not force” customers to choose between new (electric models) and “old” (ICE models), according to Weber. EV adoption has already gained momentum in China, Western European markets, the United States, and Canada, but ICE models will continue to dominate sales in many markets like Southeast Asia and South America, among others, throughout this decade.

BMW to use green aluminum from 2024

On April 9, 2022, BMW Group announced that BMW and MINI cars will run on cast aluminum wheels manufactured using 100% clean energy from 2024. A high-power-consuming electrolysis process is currently used to make aluminum and wheel castings. As a result, about 5% of the supply chain CO2 emissions are generated because of the methods mentioned above. BMW says using green energy would save 500,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. BMW has signed 400 contracts with its wheel suppliers to execute this sustainable process that oblige them to use green energy.

BMW 3 Series sales in the U.S.

The 3 Series is the third highest-selling BMW model in the U.S. in 2022. It recorded sales of 14,330 units in the first half of the year, marking a year-over-year decline of 39.7%. For reference, the mid-size luxury sedan had registered 23,776 units in sales in the first half of 2021.

Most of the U.S.-built X range of SUV and SUV-coupe models grew in the first half of 2022. The X4 (4,972 units), X5 (35,526 units), X6 (5,399 units), and X7 (14,168 units) recorded a year-over-year growth of 14.3%, 21.5%, 17.1%, and 25.6%, respectively. The only exception was the X3, the sales of which declined 10.0% to 32,651 units. The German-made BMW iX that wasn’t available in the U.S. before 2022 saw sales of 1,428 units till June 2022.

BMW Electrification Roadmap

In BMW Group’s Investor Presentation dated April 2022, the brand has shed light on its E-Mobility Roadmap. By 2023, BMW says 90% of the segments (where BMW has a presence) would have at least one BMW electric car. For Phase 2 of the roadmap, the recently unveiled BMW iX1 and BMW i7, as well as the BMW i5, Rolls-Royce Spectre, next-gen MINI Cooper electric, and the Electric Mini Countryman have been confirmed officially. Additionally, the brand expects 10 million BMW pure electric cars to be on the roads in a decade.

BMW electric vehicle (EV) strategy
BMW Group says that battery electric vehicles will account for at least 50% of its global sales by 2030. Image: BMW Group April 2022 Investor Presentation

Between 2025 and 2030, BMW is expecting global sales of BEVs to accelerate, and by 2030, 50% of its total global sales will be BEVs. Moreover, BMW is expecting over a 50% increase in BEV sales by 2025, with more than two million BEVs expected to be on the road. Additionally, BMW Group has a target of having one BEV in every segment where it operates. This would mean that customers would have a pure electric option for every price point by 2030.

BMW 3 Series Electric FAQs

What will be the BMW 3 Series Electric price?

The BMW 3 Series Electric (BMW i3) price might start at USD 50,000 (MSRP).

What is BMW 3 Series Electric release date?

We may see the global BMW 3 Series Electric in concept form in 2023. Market release should be in H1 2025.

What are BMW 3 Series Electric rivals?

The 3 Series Electric’s competitors would be the Tesla Model 3, Mercedes C-Class Electric and Audi E4 (A4 e-tron).

Featured Image Source: BMW