Our spy photographers have spotted the next-generation BMW 7 Series in testing, featuring a pure-electric powertrain. Despite the heavy camouflage in our pictures it’s clear that the new 7 Series will also make use of BMW’s bold new styling language and the brand’s latest interior technology
The seventh-generation BMW 7 Series is expected to reach showrooms next year, and now that the electric Jaguar XJ has been scrapped, its only direct competitor will be the new all-electric Mercedes EQS, which is set to arrive later this year.
These spy shots offer our first look at the new car’s styling. The front end is unlike anything else in BMW’s line-up – the kidneys grilles have shrunk compared with the outgoing model, while the streamlined nose and low-slung headlamps reference BMW’s latest electrified model, the BMW iX.
The rear of the car is a little more conventional, with the only major changes being a slightly taller bootlid and reshaped bumper. Like the current model, the new 7 Series should be available in either short or long wheelbase body styles.
Inside, BMW’s new flagship saloon will likely feature the same technology destined for the X8 SUV. That means dual 12.3-inch displays up front, one for the infotainment system and one for the instruments, which you can just make out in our pictures.
The electric 7 Series will be powered by BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, a variant of which also appears in the iX3 SUV. The system groups the electric motor, transmission and associated electronics into a single bolt-in unit, which reduces the overall mass and size of the EV system, while dramatically speeding up production times.
Technical specifications are yet to be announced but, to keep pace with its rivals, the electric 7 series will need to offer a range of at least 500 kilometres. Tesla’s recently launched Model S Plaid has a claimed range of 630 kilometres, while the Audi e-tron GT has a maximum range of 480 kilometres.
This should be achievable. The iX3, despite its less aerodynamic SUV body, has an official range of 460 kilometres. The most potent version of the iX3 features a twin-motor, all-wheel-drive electric powertrain and a 70kWh battery pack, which offers a power output of 397kW.
Combustion engine options for the BMW 7 Series will continue, too – the EV version will be just one of four different drive technologies available. Buyers will get the choice of diesel or petrol engines with 48-volt mild-hybrid tech, a plug-in hybrid model or the full battery-powered option.
BMW recently confirmed that the BMW Group (which includes MINI and Rolls Royce) will bring 25 electrified vehicles to market by 2023, more than half of which will use a fully electric powertrain. The firm hopes the move will drop the average emissions of its entire range by more than a third.
The German brand will realise this plan by building its next-generation fleet on flexible platforms, which support pure-electric, plug-in hybrid and combustion-engined drive.
We’ve seen this already with the new BMW X3 and iX3. It’s one of the most diverse model lines in the company’s range, offering buyers a choice of petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric powertrains.
All versions share the same basic CLAR Cluster Architecture platform, with the required hardware for the hybrid and all-electric variants being bolted on as necessary. The idea will also soon be expanded to include the 3 Series, with a pure-electric version expected to arrive later this year.