At the 2023 IAA auto show in Munich, German brands BMW and Mercedes were playing on their home turf. That’s why It didn’t come as a surprise that they would both choose the “Messe” to reveal their new vision for the future of the respective brands.
BMW Neue Klasse
BMW went all-in with a bold new concept, Vision Neue Klasse (literally “New Class”), a direct reference to the BMW Neue Klasse from the 1960s. The line began production in 1962 and revolutionized the entire midsize sports sedan segment.
With the 2023 Vision Neue Klasse, BMW is trying to do the same. With the concept, the brand is reaffirming its view on what driving pleasure will mean. The user experience will be front and center, while car design will have to consider added elements like circularity and digitalization. In the era of the software-defined car, that’s nothing completely new, but it’s clear that with this effort, the brand has finally accepted the need to reinvent itself in a bold and stark way to maintain future relevance.
The company’s executive has underlined this approach multiple times and certainly didn’t mince words when describing Neue Klasse’s role in BMW's strategy.
“With the Neue Klasse, we are bringing mobility for the next decade to the roads from 2025 – and taking BMW into a new era”, said Oliver Zipse, CEO of the BMW Group, with a pretty bold statement. “The Neue Klasse means nothing less than the future of the BMW brand.”
Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA Class
Mercedes-Benz’s take on the future of electric at IAA Mobility was more grounded on reality and tech specs than BMW’s, thanks to a concept, the CLA Class, that’s more of a close-to-production model than a vision.
The new electric car showed off a design that draws heavily from current CLA models while adding interesting novel details, like the LED front lights shaped like the company’s logo.
“The Concept CLA Class is the forerunner for an entirely new all-electric segment of entry-level vehicles at Mercedes-Benz. The range will comprise a total of four new models – a four-door coupé, a shooting brake, and two stunning SUVs – each with significantly elevated product substance”, explained Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG. “This hypermiler is the one-liter car of the electric age, with a range of more than 750 kilometers (466 miles) in the WLTP1 and energy consumption of just 12 kWh/100 km.”
The car is based on the MMA platform, and it’s meant to give an insight into the first complete family of Mercedes-Benz electric cars developed from scratch. While the platform is new, the technology transfer from the EQXX series enables the CLA Class’s remarkable range and power specs.
On top of that, the new operating system “MB.OS” focuses on user interface and user experience (UI/UX) via the MBUX Superscreen, also derived from the VISION EQXX real-time graphics display.