BMW will offer an electric version of its next-generation 7 Series luxury saloon, likely to be branded the i7, alongside petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models. Revealed in the company’s annual press conference by chairman of the board of management Oliver Zipse, the move means the Mercedes-Benz EQS is set to face another core battery-powered rival in addition to the new Jaguar XJ.
“All [7 Series] drivetrains will be based on a single architecture,” said Zipse, “and the top, most powerful 7 Series will be fully electric.” This means it’s likely that BMW will ditch the twin-turbocharged 6.6-litre V12 found in today’s headline 7 Series, the M760Li. That makes 601bhp and 590lb ft, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 3.7sec. Given that its kerb weight is already nearly 2.2 tonnes, expect a high-powered electric 7 Series to weigh at least 2.5 tonnes once a large lithium ion battery pack is factored in.
Production of the current 7 Series is due to end in 2022. The next-generation car is expected to arrive in the same year, but it’s not yet clear which powertrains will be the first to go on sale.
BMW’s strategy, Zipse said, means “different drive technologies will coexist alongside one another into the long term”.
In 2020, the X3 SUV will be made available with four drivetrain variants, including the new electric iX3, which is set to enter production this year in China and be exported globally, alongside the new 4 Series Gran Coupé and its electric i4 sibling.
BMW aims to have one quarter of its new vehicle fleet electrified by next year, one third by 2025 and half by 2030. In January and February this year, 10% of its vehicles sold were electrified, and the German brand leads the electrified car segment in its home market with a 21% share of sales.