Powered by
Subscribe to the only car newsletter you’ll ever need

Next-gen BMW 3 Series to have both electric and ICE engine options, likely on two platforms


Reaffirmed commitment to power-of-choice fuel philosophy means petrol 3 Series remains in the plan alongside entirely new EV sedan on Neue Klasse platform

German manufacturer BMW this evening confirmed its intention to retain its policy of offering buyers the choice of combustion-powered or electric vehicles for at least the next 10 years – including for the next 3 Series range that is expected to be released in 2026.

In response to a question about whether the next-generation ‘G50’ 3 Series range would still include a petrol (gasoline) engine, BMW board of management member and development director Frank Weber confirmed the brand would stick to its current choice-driven plan.

2023 BMW i Vision Dee concept on green background
The next-generation 3 Series is expected to take design cues from the Vision Dee concept

“We are fully convinced that the co-existence of the best internal combustion offerings and the best battery-operated [EV] offerings is something for the next 10 years, and something that makes BMW really strong,” Weber said.

“This is a decision that we have made, and we are only going to make [new] decisions if and when there is a need to.”

The next-generation 3 Series, with its choice of powertrains, will follow about two years behind the incoming combustion 5 Series and electric i5 range that will launch in 2024.

EV 3 Series will sit on Neue Klasse, petrol versions likely to remain on CLAR

It is widely expected that the next-generation 3 Series will be offered mainly with fully-electric power, as previewed by the company’s 2023 Vision Dee concept.

But while the new 3 Series EV – possibly a model that will be named the i3 if BMW retains its electric badging structure – will move onto a new platform, petrol and diesel versions may not.

BMW 3 Series 2023 range
The outgoing 3 Series platform will likely be retained for the next-gen petrol versions

The forthcoming electric 3 Series will sit atop BMW’s Neue Klasse platform that will debut in late 2025. Neue Klasse is an all-new, dedicated electric vehicle architecture that can support battery electric (BEV) applications, but also hydrogen fuel-cell electric (FCEV) powertrains.

“We are really investing in Neue Klasse in high-volume segments, and of course we are certainly going to include a vehicle [on Neue Klasse] at the volumes of the 3 Series,” Weber said.

“But that doesn’t mean whatsoever that we are going to completely let up on the internal combustion engine side. Being really present in both segments is something that makes BMW so strong.”

Next-gen 3 Series could have a hydrogen option, final decision pending

While the decision appears to be very clear that the next 3 Series is planned to be sold with at least one petrol engine, a decision remains pending on the hydrogen front.

BMW has not yet made a final decision on whether the next 3 Series, or other Neue Klasse vehicles, will offer a hydrogen engine option to buyers, but this remains on the table, and such vehicles are being tested as prototypes.

BMW ix5 hydrogen 2023-1
BMW is extensively testing a new hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain that could make its way into the next 3 Series

Because Neue Klasse is not expected to be compatible with internal combustion engines with petrol or diesel power, it’s probable that the next-generation combustion 3 Series will instead sit on a separate platform.

That petrol and diesel 3 Series platform would likely be an upgrade of today’s BMW Cluster Architecture (CLAR) chassis that underpins the current-gen G20 and G21 3 Series sedan and station wagon that are sold in Australia from a price of $78,900 before on-road costs.