Expert Insights

Coming soon: 2026 BMW 3-Series EV

Dave Nichols
March 27, 2024
BMW proves that the electric future doesn’t have to be boring. The retro-yet-futuristic Vision Neue Klasse gives us a glimpse of the next 3-Series, due in 2026 in electric form.
close up shot of a bmw 3-series ev driving down an empty road

Preview: 2026 BMW 3-Series EV

In 1962, BMW created the template for the sport sedan with its Neue Klasse line of two- and four-doors. The German automaker had gone through financial difficulties in the fifties, but the Neue Klasse vehicles were entirely new – including an all-new body style and engineering, and a sparkling new 1.6-Liter engine. Introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show as the BMW 1500 four-door sedan, the Neue Klasse BMWs gave us what we now know as the BMW look – and set the standard for generations of sport sedans.

ariel shot of 2026 BMW 3-Series EV

Previewing the 2026 3 Series

Now, as the world turns to electric vehicles for the future of personal transportation, BMW is about to give birth to a new Neue Klasse – and has introduced a vehicle that previews the 2026 3-Series in electric form. The concept car known as the Vision Neue Klasse was inspired by the lines of BMW’s 1968 model, and debuted at the IAA Mobility Show in Munich last September.

The Vision Neue Klasse showcases a new design language for the entire BMW brand for 2026 and beyond. Its retro-futuristic looks provide assurance that future cars don’t have to be boring. Indeed, the front grille “kidneys” have been stretched across the whole front of the car’s hood, getting rid of the giant, toothy grille look seen in recent years. The digitally-lit front-end pulses as if the car is breathing, and the glass roof and large windows make you feel like you are out in the open.

2026 BMW 3-Series EV: The Next Generation of Cool

Those side windows feature a strip of “e-ink” that lights up as you approach and serves as a clever, touch-sensitive door latch. To remind you that this is an electric car, LED are present everywhere – including amazingly animated taillights. The concept car also has video cameras in place of side mirrors and wears sleek 21-inch wheels.

The Vision Neue Klesse tells us a lot about where BMW is going for the rest of this decade, offering a tantalizing glimpse of the automaker’s electric future. The EV drive system uses a modern 800-volt architecture, and a new battery design is said to offer 20 percent greater energy density, for more range and less weight.

Indeed, BMW tells us that vehicle range will be increased by nearly 30 percent compared with current standards thanks to higher-efficiency electric motors, better thermal management, and improved aerodynamics.

A Look Inside the Future

While the Vison Neue Klasse is a concept car, and many of its more exotic details may not be seen in the production vehicle, its basic architecture and shapes are real – and sitting inside this EV is a stunning experience.

The use of glass all around and above you gives it a light, airy feeling. Four corduroy bucket seats have a retro 1960s feel, while the minimalistic controls look right into the future.

Instead of screens here, there, and everywhere, a black panel stretches across the dash –BMW calls it Panoramic Vision. It acts as a projection screen for the infotainment system, which runs BMW’s latest iDrive interface. A heads-up display keeps drivers alert to speed and range, while a multi-function rectangular steering wheel is a reminder of the Jetsons.

Maybe the Neue Klasse will make that cool whirring sound like George’s flying car, as well.