BMW likely to drop combustion models with ‘New Class’

BMW has apparently decided that the next generation of models based on the ‘New Class’ platform planned for 2025 will be built exclusively with pure electric drive systems. In addition, another rumour about the battery cells for the new architecture is confirmed.

The German publication Manager Magazin reports on this change of strategy. As recently as May, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse had said when announcing the latest quarterly figures that the first model based on the New Class would be purely electric. “When it hits the market, it will be concentrated on the 3-Series segment and at that point in time the market will have developed into a size where it is reasonable to have only one drivetrain in that architecture,” Zipse explained at the time. However, Zipse still left open the technically possible option of also installing combustion engines later on the basis of this architecture. Only the first model was confirmed as a pure BEV.

But now BMW seems to be concentrating exclusively on battery-electric drives for the New Class, also for future models: Contrary to initial plans, the platform will no longer include options for petrol and diesel engines, nor for plug-in hybrids, the magazine writes, citing top managers at the group.

However, this does not mean a complete phase-out of the combustion engine: combustion engines can still be built on other BMW platforms, according to the report “probably also in new models”. However, the board has not yet decided on a new combustion engine model for the period after 2025. According to the report, new petrol and diesel models are conceivable “depending on demand and availability of batteries” – but not in the new class.

Manager Magazin concludes that BMW is planning to phase out the internal combustion engine “more radically than expected”. Zipse has ended the lurching course – analysts had already criticised in view of the unclear and partly contradictory statements of board members on the New Class that one did not really know “what this platform is”. Now it seems to be emerging that it will be an electric-only platform.

In addition, rumours about the drive system for the internally named NK1 model seem to be confirmed. For the first model of the New Class, BMW wants to develop an 800-volt drive architecture for the first time and use round cells for the battery, as a high-ranking BMW manager has now confirmed to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. There were reports about the change from prismatic to round cells at BMW as early as May.

The SZ also provides details on the format of the round cells and their chemistry: it will be 46XX cells, i.e. with a diameter of 46 mm and a flexible height depending on the vehicle type. This fits with an earlier report from South Korea, according to which Samsung SDI, in addition to the battery cells of the format requested by Tesla with a diameter of 46 mm and a height of 80 mm, is also developing variants for other car manufacturers such as BMW that also have a diameter of 46 mm, but whose height is between 40 and 60 mm. According to SZ, NMC chemistry will be used in the cells, with the nickel content being increased to around 90 per cent and the cobalt content minimised.

With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany. (combustion models), (batteries)


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