After previewing some of the technology on its “Neue Klasse” EV platform at CES last week, BMW’s CEO Oliver Zipse is not mixing words when speaking about the German automaker’s future in the EV market. Zipse was as bold to say that BMW’s next wave of EVs will be the industry benchmark in range, charging speeds, and pricing. Forgive us if you’ve heard this one before.
It’s been over three years since BMW introduced its first full wave of EVs and ten years since the debut of its first all-electric model, the eminent (for better or worse) i3 hatchback. Following early adoption of that ultra-compact vehicle, the German automaker’s quest to go all-electric truly began with the iX3 SUV – the first of 13 EV expected to arrive by this year, as inform Electrck.
At the time, BMW was making some bold claims about the iX3 and its overall EV technology, providing more range, power, and cargo space than a majority of the other competitors on the road at the time.
As we’re sure you’re quite aware, many of those competitors have debuted benchmark technology of their own, and although BMW has continued to roll out more and more EV models like the i4 sedan and kidney bean-heavy iX, it has not yet dominated the market as planned.
Amongst German EV automakers alone, BMW’s EV sales were middle of the pack in 2022 when compared to VW Group (including Audi) and Mercedes-Benz. Nothing to scoff at, but room for improvement nonetheless.
Where BMW believes it has improved is in the EV platform technology its next wave of all-electric models will sit atop, which recently made its debut at CES inside the i Vision Dee concept seen below.
BMW’s Neue Klasse EV platform sounds promising on paper
While this first taste of BMW’s Neue Klasse (“new class”) architecture exists within a concept EV that will more than likely never see an assembly line, the capabilities it represents are ample enough to leave BMW’s CEO Oliver Zipse feeling rather emboldened. He shared the following sentiment with journalists in Las Vegas following the reveal of the i Vision Dee concept:
We will be the benchmark in terms of range, charging speed and pricing. Don’t forget pricing.
Love the confidence, but as they say, “show, don’t tell.”
A key factor in the success of this new BMW architecture will be its battery technology, an area of the EV industry the German automaker has invested heavily in, in recent years. BMW has already shared that the new platform will include new cylindrical cells that are expected to improve energy density, charging speeds, and overall range by 20-30% percent compared to its current battery tech.
This technology itself appears to be much of the reasoning behind Zipse’s “benchmark” comments, but the BMW CEO has promised other EV battery projects in the works as well. For instance, we reported in December that BMW had committed $20 million to long-time partner Solid Power to license its solid-state battery technology and implement assembly lines at its own production facilities.
Solid Power’s energy dense cells have not reached scalability or cost parity with lithium-ion cells, but BMW intends to continue development overseas alongside the Colorado-based battery developer to help reach that sought after epoch for EV battery breakthroughs.
If successful, BMW might be able to deliver on Zipse’s promising of setting the standard in key EV specifications for consumers. However, there are plenty of other competitors also invested in Solid Power and other solid-state battery developers looking to do it first – or at the very least, do it better.