Back in May, the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture in China celebrated its 20th anniversary by announcing plans to commence local production of Neue Klasse-based EVs in 2026. To make it happen, an investment of RMB 10 billion (approximately $1.37 billion at current exchange rates) will be made to build a new battery factory and hire around 2,000 workers.

Speaking at the World New Energy Vehicle Congress held this month at the IAA Mobility show in Munich, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse followed up on the original announcement with additional preliminary details. He said BMW Design Shanghai is already preparing “special designs and functions” tailored to Neue Klasse models that will be sold exclusively in China.

The company’s head honcho didn’t go into details about the initial models planned to roll off the assembly line at the factory in Shenyang, but we’ll remind you the first global NE products will be a sedan and an SUV in the 3 Series segment. It’s not that hard to imagine one of the Chinese models being a long-wheelbase i3 Sedan considering it already exists in the People’s Republic as a CLAR-based stretched 3 Series EV not sold elsewhere.

Mind you, the 3er and 5er are not the only long-wheelbase cars built and sold in China as BBA also makes and commercializes the X1 Li and X5 Li SUVs. In addition, elongated versions of the iX1 and i5 were introduced earlier this year. At the same plant, the CLAR-based, rear-wheel-drive-only iX3 is built for both the local and global markets. It’s worth noting that in early 2022, BMW increased its share in the joint venture with Brilliance to 75%.

During the same 2023 World New Energy Vehicle Congress, Oliver Zipse reiterated the Neue Klasse platform is being developed not just for battery-powered EVs but also for zero-emission vehicles with a hydrogen fuel cell. In a previous statement, the top brass from Munich said a hydrogen production car will be launched before the end of 2030 and will likely take the shape of a large SUV to echo the iX5 currently undergoing a pilot program

Source: Automotive News Europe (subscription required)