The company can't take the same approach with the country as it can with the rest of the world.
BMW plans to make China-specific models based on its upcoming Neue Klasse platform to better cater to tastes in the EV-rich country. According to Automotive News Europe, CEO Oliver Zipse made the announcement at the World New Energy Vehicle Congress held earlier this month at the new and improved IAA Mobility Mobility Munich Motor Show.
"I cannot reveal too much today," Zipse said, "but BMW Design Shanghai is already working on special designs and functions for China-specific models of the Neue Klasse."
This news came after the company unveiled the Vision Neue Klasse concept car that previews what the company's future cars will look like. Decidedly futuristic with distinctive BMW design cues all around, we know the 3 Series will be the first to stem from the concept. Now we're intrigued to see what the company comes up with exclusively for the Chinese market.
News of BMW taking a bespoke approach to the Chinese market doesn't come as a surprise. Unlike the rest of the world where electric cars tend to be luxury items, in China it's the exact opposite. So to ensure it doesn't alienate its affluent customer base in the country, the brand has focused on offering products that look and feel the same but with different powertrain options.
BMW's Head of Design, Domagoj Dukec put it bluntly earlier this year when asked about the subject. "Luxury electric cars do not work in China," revealed Dukec, "as they don't associate electric with luxury…ICE cars are better for expressing wealth, as a number plate for a combustion engine you pay like 100,000 Yuan ($14,100). So electric cars are considered cheap, and everything which is combustion is expensive."
What this means for these Neue Klasse models being made for the market is unclear. Perhaps the company is going to focus on luxury features that really help its vehicles stand out beyond the updated iDrive system that is on its way. Perhaps it's also working on the feel of the vehicle to better mimic a combustion car akin to the sound the upcoming Dodge Charger Daytona SRT EV makes.
Whatever the company cooks up, we have a few years to wait and see the finished product. The company plans for the first Neue Klasse model to roll out in 2025, but these Chinese-produced ones won't arrive until 2026. The company then plans to have six new Neue Klasse models launched by 2027.