Tesla Model 3 Highland rivals Mercedes CLA and BMW Vision Neue Klasse unveiled with better specs but later release date
While Tesla's European, Asian, or Australian customers can preorder the new Model 3 Highland sedan right now, its German rivals Mercedes CLA and BMW Vision Neue Klasse were only presented as concepts with a release slated for 2025.
Granted, both the entry level Mercedes CLA Classic and the BMW Neue Klasse concepts offer signature brand designs, new features, and, in some respects, better specs than the Model 3 Highland, but they are yet to materialize.
Mercedes CLA Classic price, specs, and release date
The first entry-level EVs by Mercedes will offer longer range than the Tesla Model 3 Highland. At least on paper, they will come with 466 miles (750 km) WLTP range on a charge. That's on the European driving cycle standard, though, which is at least 20% more generous than the EPA ratings in the US.
Mercedes says that it will achieve this range with a combination of new battery system, drivertrain efficiency, and design centered around its new 800V Modular Architecture (MMA) EV platform. Two types of batteries will be used for the Mercedes CLA - an LFP pack like on the base Highland and one with silicon-oxide anode - with the latter bringing higher energy density and perhaps the top 466-mile range that Mercedes is advertising.
Mercedes will aim for battery capacity consumption of 12 kWh per 100 km with its CEO hinting that efficiency is the new EV currency, rather than simply slapping bigger batteries. The Model 3 Highland efficiency is rated for 13.2 kWh/100km on the WLTP cycle, so Mercedes will be gunning for roughly those levels, too. The 800V architecture will allow 248 miles (400 km) of range to be added in 15 minutes on a fast charger, while the Mercedes CLA will also offer bi-directional charging.
As for design and autonomous driving software, there will be some transfers from its more expensive siblings like the EQS, like the pillar-to-pillar OLED Hyperscreen by LG, or the Level 3-capable self-driving system. The Mercedes CLA, however, will rate its driver-assist software as Level 2 for the CLA release, just as Tesla does for regulatory reasons.
BMW Vision Neue Klasse specs, price, and release date
Moving on to BMW's claim to electric fame, the brand wants to resurrect its ICE glory in the EV era with a concept named after the Neue Klasse line one that brought its financial and brand name turnaround in the 60s.
The Neue Klasse EV concept will come built on a new sixth-generation BMW eDrive 800V platform. As for specs, the Vision line electric vehicles will come with 30% longer range and faster charging, as well as a more power-sipping drivetrain. BMW says the range and efficiency boost will come from new cylindrical batteries, perhaps like the 4680 cells Tesla uses for the Model Y and the Cybertruck.
When it comes to design, the electric Neue Klasse vehicles will come with all the signature BMW elements, from the kidney grill, through the "Hofmeister kink of the side window graphic," to the iDrive controller in the centre console and an enhanced Panoramic Vision heads-up display system.
"Information is projected at the ideal height into the driver's line of sight and, for the first time, across the entire width of the windscreen," says BMW about the Panoramic Vision debut, so that "both the driver and front passenger are able to interact with information displayed on BMW Panoramic Vision, creating a shared user experience." Drivers will also be able to flick info from the central console display to the Panoramic Vision projection if needed.
Both BMW and Mercedes stayed mum on the exact price ranges of the electric CLA and Vision Neue Klasse vehicles. Mercedes deems the "four-door coupé, shooting brake, and two stunning SUVs" in the line to be a "gateway to the brand" for the new affordable EV era that Tesla is also preparing for with the new Highland and the rumored cheaper Model 2. All of these vehicles, however, won't hit showrooms before 2025, and at that time they may have formidable competition with similar specs already.