The new BMW 7 Series has been spotted undergoing the latter stages of its development programme at the Nurburgring. The seventh-generation flagship will reach showrooms next year, with the brand’s bold new design language and a range of hybrid and electric powertrains.
However, the next BMW 7 Series will enter a shrinking market. Now that Jaguar has axed the pure-electric XJ, the flagship’s only direct competitors (meaning luxury car’s which can be specified with either hybrid or pure-electric power) will be the new Mercedes S-Class and its electric equivalent, the EQS.
BMW is yet to release any technical specifications for the new 7 Series and i7 but, to keep pace with its EV rivals, the electric model will need to have a range of at least 480 kilometres. Tesla’s recently launched Model S Plaid can cover a claimed 630 kilometres between charges, while the Audi e-tron GT has a maximum range of 480 kilometres.
Figures like those should be achievable, though. 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(s), 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.
The new BMW i4, which also uses the firm’s fifth-generation eDrive system and 80kWh battery, can cover 590 kilometres on a full charge. It’s thought that electric 7 Series buyers should get the same 390kW twin-motor powertrain as the i4, while the extra space between the larger saloon’s axles could be filled with more cells to further boost the car’s maximum range.
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 either 48-volt mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology, in addition to the full battery-powered option.
New 2022 BMW 7 Series: design and platform
This 7 Series test car is still heavily camouflaged, but we can still make out some of the flagship’s key styling features. Its front end is unlike anything else in BMW’s line-up – the kidney grilles have shrunk compared with the old model, while the streamlined nose and low-slung headlights reference BMW’s latest pure-electric 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 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.
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 powertrains.
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 in 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.