BMW’s flagship sedan, the 7 Series, is the latest Bimmer to go all-electric. However, the German automaker will still sell a gas-powered version with an all-new, more efficient V8 engine. Surprisingly, both the electric and gas versions start at the same price in Canada – $147,000.
“If some country says they don’t want our combustion engines, we stop them immediately,” said Oliver Zipse, chairman of BMW AG during a round-table discussion after the unveiling of the seventh-generation 7 Series in New York City. He added the strategy of offering both versions works because charging infrastructure is behind and electric vehicles are dependent on raw materials.
Despite sedans dwindling in popularity in Canada, Zipse maintained the luxury market “is not shrinking. It is stable, even growing.” Pointing to the fact, BMW has sold nearly two million 7 Series sedans since production started in 1977.
At a closed-door event at the Chelsea Industrial, journalists gathered, without any cameras or cell phones, to get a glimpse of the first ever all-electric i7 xDrive60 sedan. Powered by two electric motors, it delivers a combined output of 536 horsepower and 549 lb-ft of torque. The motor driving the rear wheels generates 308 horsepower, while the motor at the front axle produces 255 horsepower.
As a result, this big electric sedan can accelerate to 100 kilometres an hour in about 4.7 seconds and has an estimated range of up to 498 kilometres, according to preliminary BMW AG tests based on the EPA’s test procedure standards. AC charging is at a rate of up to 11 kilowatts; while DC power is up to 195 kilowatts. On a DC fast charger, BMW claims the i7 can charge up to 128 kilometres in ten minutes. On a Level 2 (11-kilowatt, 240-volt) charger it would take about 10.5 hours.
The high-voltage battery, which provides 101.7 kilowatt-hours of usable energy and has a cell height of 4.3-inches, is located in the vehicle floor. The battery is heated using a 5.5-kilowatt electric flow heater. The heat pump technology helps boost efficiency, as does the adjustable recuperation feature, which allows more than 90 per cent of all deceleration to be done using brake energy regeneration, without touching the brake.
The new 7 Series has grown longer, wider and higher and its wheelbase is also 5 millimetres longer. BMW’s hallmark twin circular headlights and kidney grille have been updated with new lighting details, which include Swarovski crystal headlights on the display model.
Inside, it’s elegant, minimalist and clean with few buttons, switches and dials. That’s because connectivity, driver assistance features including a personal assistant and technology, such as a new available Highway Assistant feature that allows for hands-free driving at speeds up to 130 kilometres an hour, are at the heart of this sedan. A 14.9-inch centre screen is curved toward the driver for better visibility, a 12.3-inch information display sits behind the steering wheel, air vents are barely visible and a huge panoramic glass sunroof with LED light threads covers the front and back seats.
To access the rear seats, there are optional automatic doors, which can open via the key fob or phone. The new rear seats are comfy and wider than the outgoing model; they also recline, have adjustable cushions, and a gap-free leg rest for the sculpted individual seat behind the front passenger. But the best feature in the rear is a huge, 31-inch theatre screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV and 8K resolution. The screen drops down from the ceiling with the touch of a button on a mini, 5.5-inch tablet in the rear doors.
Many items are made of sustainable eco-friendly materials. The floor coverings, for example, are made from a synthetic yarn produced from recycled nylon waste. The substructure of the door panels, the bumper guides and the surround on the front grille derive from reused plastic. The fibres used for the surface material in the headliner and the A-, B- and C-pillar trim come from recycled PET bottles.
The 2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 and 760i xDrive, with a 4.4-litre TwinPower Turbo V8, which now has a new 48-volt mild hybrid and an electric motor integrated into the new eight-speed transmission, launch in Canada toward the end of 2022. Preorders for the i7 open Wednesday, April 20, at 5 p.m. ET, with a deposit of $5,000.
The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.