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BMW unveils new concept electric SUV

BMW unveils new concept electric SUV

BMW has unveiled a concept vehicle that showcases novel electric underpinnings that the company said will boost profitability and steal electric vehicle (EV) buyers from Tesla and Mercedes-Benz. 

“It is redefining the BMW brand,” Oliver Zipse, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW, said in a press statement. 

The BMW Vision Neue Klasse X electric sport activity vehicle comes with interiors that largely make use of plant-based materials, as well as personalised driving sounds and impressive new drive technology. It follows last year’s unveiling of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept car, an offering developed to compete with Mercedes-Benz’s upcoming CLA electric sedan and Tesla’s revamped Model 3 electric sedan. 

This larger concept is intended to showcase evolution of BMW’s X model SUVs and will compete against the Mercedes EQA and EQB and Tesla Model Y EVs, among other luxury electric SUVs. 

Now With ‘Super Brains’ 

BMW is calling its new concept a “sport activity vehicle,” although most consumers will simply consider it an SUV for its generous ground clearance, higher ride height, spacious interior, long wheelbase, short overhangs, large window areas and panoramic glass roof. 

With vertically aligned LED headlights and a kidney grille backlit against the contours, the Vision Neue Klasse X retains elements of BMW’s trademark aesthetic but updates them to more of a monolithic feel. Fans of the brand will notice that its signature “Hofmeister kink” design element in the rear three-quar- ters of the car is now highlighted by a reflective print, rather than defined with chrome detailing.

The Vision Neue Klasse X will offer novel drive and chassis control based on a software stack BMW developed to guarantee an even smoother drive than other existing electric vehicles provide. The company is calling the new technology “super-brains” — high-performance computers working together in the place of previously separate processing units. 

“The result will be more dynamic performance, more precision, more efficiency and even more fun to drive,” said Frank Weber, the member of the Board of Management of BMW responsible for development, in the press statement.

BMW’s top-end Neue Klasse models will boast a range of about 800km (497 miles) and will charge from 10% to 80% in less than 30 minutes — competitive figures, considering that the Mercedes CLA sedan is rated to go more than 750km on a charge, with a battery system that can add 400km of range in just 15 minutes of charging. A spokesman for BMW confirmed on March 20 that the production version of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse X will feature new, 6th generation eDrive technology, including an 800-volt system that will improve charging speed by up to 30% and boost range as much as 30%.

Company executives say the vehicle’s driving performance will ultimately separate it from rivals.

“We still believe that we can make a difference in the dynamics of the drivetrain,” Zipse told Bloomberg in September.

A Challenging Market

The Vision Neue Klasse X arrives as automakers in China are outpacing European brands with lower costs and advanced technologies, just as growth in demand for EVs slows globally. BYD is the top brand in China, which is expected to rely 90% on EVs by 2030. In December, BYD announced it would build its first European factory in Szeged, Hungary, posing swift, formidable competition to Continental automakers like BMW AG, Mercedes-Benz Group AG and Volkswagen AG.

Meanwhile, Tesla has repeatedly slashed prices to lure Mercedes and BMW buyers seeking exciting EVs, though Tesla just raised the price of its Model Y variants in China and in the US. In 2023, Tesla delivered more than 1.8 million EVs, exceeding the aggregate for Volkswagen AG, BMW AG, Mercedes-Benz Group AG and Porsche AG.

The road-legal version of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse X will start production next year at its plant in Debrecen, Hungary.

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