BMW 1 Series to be reinvented as radical EV hatchback

BMW i1 front three quarter
BMW i1 front three quarter

The i1 will be BMW’s new entry-level EV when it arrives in 2027

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.

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.

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.

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.”