BMW is getting ready to debut the most important new chassis since the original Neue Klasse chassis of the 1960s and it’s going to be called… Neue Klasse. Reviving the name makes sense because this will truly be a new class of BMWs—electric cars built on an electric car platform. While BMW will launch sensible models first, such as 3 Series’ and 5 Series’, after a few years of selling Neue Klasse models, there’s going to be room for more exciting, high-performance cars. Perhaps the return of a BMW supercar?
Neue Klasse Could Bring New Opportunities
BMW hasn’t developed a true supercar since the original BMW M1 back in the late ’70s. One could argue that the BMW i8 was a supercar but its mid-engine layout was really the only thing it had in common with other supercars. Its three-cylinder hybrid powertrain wasn’t exactly “super.” But even if you consider the i8 a supercar, BMW will still need another one and the Neue Klasse chassis is the perfect platform on which to build one.
Looking at BMW’s current lineup, you’d think a supercar is unlikely. BMW is too busy making ungainly SUVs and uber-expensive limited-edition models. However, an electric supercar might be inevitable, as other brands are making their own and the Bavarians don’t want to be left out.
Plenty of EV Supercars Coming Up
Lotus is preparing an EV supercar, the Evija, Rimac is crushing the EV supercar game, and Audi is likely preparing some sort of electric R8 successor. And that’s just the beginning. Electric supercars are coming, there’s really no getting around it. Those electric supercars will benefit their manufacturers in two ways. One way is that they’ll be tentpoles for their brands, creating huge profits with which to make other cool stuff. The other way is that they’ll act as flagships with which to attract customers to the other electric cars in the brand. The best example of such a car is the original Audi R8, which was so cool looking that it brought customers into dealerships just so they could buy A4s and Q7s, which had the R8’s familial design language. BMW will eventually need such a car to get enthusiasts excited about its less expensive electric offerings.
BMW’s New Tech Capable of 1,341 horsepower
BMW also already has the technology lined up. The M Division is currently working on a quad-motor powertrain that’s capable of one megawatt of power (1,341 horsepower). However, BMW didn’t say if battery voltage would limit that or not. During a recent Maserati press briefing, I was told the GranTurismo Folgore electric GT car’s three-motor setup was capable of over 1,000 horsepower but was limited to 751 horsepower due to its 800-volt battery technology. So it’s possible that BMW’s quad-motor setup can technically make a megawatt of power but that it will make significantly less—even in the most expensive, highest-performance models—due to battery limitations.
However, that could change in the future, as BMW is planning on upgrading the Neue Klasse’s battery technology to solid-state batteries, which are not only lighter than conventional lithium-ion battery packs but they’re more energy dense. So perhaps with solid-state batteries, BMW can utilize all 1,341 of its quad-motor horses.
What makes this even easier is that BMW already has the perfect template. The Vision M NEXT was a hybrid supercar concept that was said to be very near production-ready and its styling was achingly beautiful. I remember seeing it in person at Pebble Beach in 2018 and it blew me away. Unfortunately, BMW ended up scrapping the project altogether. However, that design is still fresh and looks great, so it could be migrated to the Neue Klasse chassis, given the quad-motor setup, and get a cool name. Hell, if BMW is bringing the Neue Klasse name back, why not bring back the M1? Maybe call it the iM1? That would be fantastic.
BMW certainly has all the opportunity in the world to develop a new electric supercar on the Neue Klasse platform, and it’s likely going to be forced to do so at some point. The only question is whether BMW has the courage to do it sooner than later.