Currently reading: BMW 1 Series to be reinvented as radical EV hatchback
BMW's Neue Klasse platform will be used for new i1 hatch - and a taller i3 replacement

BMW has given the green light to new electric i1 and i2 models, according to sources close to the German car maker.

Already in development at the company’s FIZ R&D centre in Munich, the two new models will be sold alongside updated versions of today’s combustion-powered 1 Series and 2 Series when they arrive later this decade.

The intention is to provide prospective customers with more affordable alternatives in BMW’s electric car line-up, which currently opens with the £46,205 iX1.

The new i1 is expected to be sold as either a hatchback or a saloon, while the i2 will be a compact crossover with the option of a coupé bodystyle. Insiders describe the i2 as a spiritual successor to BMW’s debut electric car, the i3 hatchback, launched in 2013 and discontinued in 2022.

BMW remains committed to the 1 Series and its derivatives and sees its future operating in all major segments – a stark contrast to rival Mercedes-Benz, which will retire the A-Class for good in 2026.

BMW product boss Bernd Körber told Autocar recently that the brand wants to grow in all markets and “connect with the younger generation”, and having entry-level models like the 1 Series and 2 Series is essential to do that.

Körber added: “Of course they have lower profitability but they also fulfil a different purpose in getting younger customers and developing [BMW] in certain markets.

“So yes, they are still part of our strategy and it’s good that we have two brands in the segment, with of course Mini playing a big role.”

Körber agreed with the notion that the A-Class bowing out presented an opportunity for BMW to grow market share with the 1 Series.

The company plans to launch the electric i1 in 2027, with the more sporting i2 set to follow in 2028. But while the updated 1 Series and 2 Series remain on the existing FAAR platform, the two new compact EVs have been conceived around the new dedicated Neue Klasse electric car architecture.


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As previewed by the Neue Klasse saloon and Neue Klasse X concepts, the new structure supports an 800V electric architecture designed to accommodate single-, dual- and quad-motor electric drivetrains.

Our BMW sources confirm there are two distinct variants of the Neue Klasse platform: the NBx, denoting front- and four-wheel drive; and NAx, for rear- and four-wheel drive.

NAx also forms the basis of a larger NDx platform for luxury-class models, as well as a weight-optimised ZAx platform reserved exclusively for future electric sports cars from BMW’s M division.

Initial models will use NAx – including the second-gen iX3 SUV and i3 saloon based on the Neue Klasse concepts – and give the choice of rear- or four-wheel drive.

However, the new i1 and i2 are set to become the first BMW models to be based on the NBx platform, with either standard front- or optional four-wheel drive.

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Plans exist for the electric iX1 and its Mini Countryman sibling to also switch from the 400V FAAR platform to the 800V NBx platform as part of efforts to achieve greater economies of scale, Autocar has been told.

The Neue Klasse architectures are set to introduce new cylindrical battery cells.

With a standard diameter of 46mm and two different lengths – either 95mm or 120mm – the sixth-generation battery has been developed with revised cell chemistry that is said to provide future models with much-improved performance.

The Neue Klasse range of models remains on track for launch in 2025 and BMW plans to build six new cars on this electric architecture within the following 24 months.

Körber confirmed that Insiders call the i2 the spiritual successor to the i3 hatch Neue Klasse will not be a consumer-facing brand or name and the models launched off the architecture will take regular model names like 3 Series and X3.

He added that BMW will “not change its naming logic” for its models, as Audi has done in making electric cars evennumbered and combustion ones odd-numbered. The first Neue Klasse models are now in their “final stages” of development, said Körber, and being readied for production. “We have built the first pre-series cars and have driven them,” said Körber.

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While Neue Klasse includes an all-new bespoke electric architecture, it also encompasses next-generation software and connectivity functionality that will be rolled out across all future BMW models regardless of their underpinnings, said Körber.

It also refers to a new styling theme that will be applied to all future BMW models and the electric cars will not be differentiated, as with the likes of the 4 Series and 5 Series sharing the same basic look as their related i4 and i5 models.

“We will change the entire portfolio within a relatively short period of time, so that it has one look and feel and also the same capabilities,” said Körber.

“Our ambition is that we unify that in a way that ideally one push of the button and your entire portfolio gets updated.”

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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405line 20 June 2024

I would have thought the engineers would've looked to be nature and developed hexagonally shaped cells, cylindrical cells will waste quite a bit of space, perhaps they have some cooling pipes or wiring that they need to make room for.

Andrew1 20 June 2024

Do you actually think they are so stupid not to think of that or is it more likely there are reasons why the cells are cylindrical?

nicfaz 20 June 2024

Lots of people love their i3's and BMW currently offer them nothing.  I know the i3 was expensive to make and that's why it was canned, but there's a lot of goodwill there that will be in different showrooms if they don't give a BMW alternative.  

johnfaganwilliams 20 June 2024

Still the only BEV I find remotely attractive. I've friends here in Spain who absoltely love them.


catnip 21 June 2024

To my eyes, still, after 11 years, a lot more attractive and distinctive than anything BMW is selling or proposing at the moment. The iX look, which seems to be being distilled down the ranges, is distinctive for the wrong reasons.

johnfaganwilliams 20 June 2024

Looks fantastic! Love those thin A pillars. Expect the production version to be yet another bloaty, ugly BMW. Shame.

Peter Cavellini 20 June 2024
johnfaganwilliams wrote:

Looks fantastic! Love those thin A pillars. Expect the production version to be yet another bloaty, ugly BMW. Shame.

 I gave up being confrontational with my opinions of cars, trying to get a reply just isn't productive,and, just for the record, the concepts usually look better than what leaves the Factory gate, huge wheels super aggressive bodywork just aren't practical or legally permitted for public road use,BMW must be doing something right, I see loads of them everything from a 1 series to an X5,infact one day in the space two miles or so I counted 13 of them, that's not confrontational,that's a fact.