Since December of last year, we’ve been learning more and more about the upcoming BMW i7, which is billed as the world’s first all-electric luxury sedan. Due to be unveiled next month, the i7 is essentially an electric version of the upcoming seventh-generation 7 Series, the latter of which we haven’t heard all that much about until BMW detailed the acoustic testing prototypes of both models recently underwent. At this week’s BMW Group Annual Conference, however, new details about the brand’s flagship sedan were divulged by Frank Weber, the BMW board member responsible for overseeing development.
The current G11/G12 7 Series will be the final BMW model to use a V12 engine, and to commemorate the end of such a captivating offering, BMW is giving it a send off in the form of the M760i Final V12. Just twelve will be built for the U.S. market, and to replace its range-topping capability for the next generation, the BMW i7 will be the most powerful variant of the 7 Series. Internal combustion engines such as a V8 and inline six will still be offered, but the i7 will be undisputed leader of the lineup, and may very well help regain the crown as BMW’s technological flagship from the iX. Perhaps most importantly, the i7 will have a range of approximately 600 kilometers, or just under 375 miles from a full charge.
“The new BMW 7 Series is absolutely trail-blazing in every respect. Like no other model, the BMW 7 Series stands for BMW’s innovative strength,” explained Weber. “The all-electric BMW i7 is also the most powerful BMW 7 Series. It combines the best driving experience with the ultimate digital experience. This makes it the ideal vehicle for forward-thinking, responsible decision-makers and avant-garde pioneers.”
Highlights of the upcoming 7 Series generation include a reinterpreted front end design that seems to heed direction from the BMW XM concept. When the XM concept was revealed last November, BMW made it clear that the bold front end design would set a tone for future luxury models from the brand, with key elements such as the large kidney grilles which feature an illuminated frame, and narrow, squinted headlights made of crystal glass that sort of harken back to the days of twin round headlights on each side of the grille. The next-generation 7 Series wears. front clip eerily similar to that of the XM, indicating that BMW has committed itself to the forceful and striking design.
The interior is effectively described as an exhibition for new technologies and materials. The instrument panel and door panels will feature what’s being referred to as the BMW interaction bar (pictured below), which can be interfaced with by way of haptics and visual cues in addition to being part of the ambient lighting for the cabin. BMW’s wide curved display has become an integral component of iDrive 8, and the sky lounge, which uses a panoramic glass roof, has been updated and redesigned from the current generation of the 7 Series. Finally, the big TV screens BMW revealed at this year’s CES back in January seem like they’ll soon become reality, with the i7 being optionally available with the BMW theater screen integrated within the headliner. The BMW theater screen measures 31 inches, has an aspect ratio of 32 by nine, and supports 8K resolutions.
Historically speaking, BMW sells only a fraction of 7 Series sedans when compared with the 3 Series and 5 Series, but the technological innovations that are typically first seen on the range-topping luxury sedan are eventually democratized throughout the lineup. BMW has been referring to the iX as its new technological leader, but given the equipment the upcoming 7 Series will be offered with, it’s clear the Seven still reigns supreme.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]