Update: ‘BMW Theatre Screen’ section added.
Last year, Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW, confirmed that BMW will introduce the electric variant of the 7 Series in the next generation and that the electric variant would be its most powerful variant.
Let’s take a look at what we know so far on BMW’s big electric vehicle launch for this year – the BMW i7.
BMW i7 design
The BMW i7 won’t be a standalone EV like the Mercedes EQS, rather a next-gen 7 Series variant. However, it would be distinguishable from the donor model. Unlike the plug-in hybrid variant that gets soft visual changes, the pure electric variant would have a bold exterior and new panels to leave the i7 with a different identity.
The BMW i7 could feature clear surfaces to improve airflow around the car. Clear aero lips, mouldings to the skirts concealing the battery technology, retracting door handles, and rear diffuser elements that fill the design space opened up by the exhaust pipes are a few examples of the possible aerodynamic efficiency enhancement design measures.
The BMW i7’s design should incorporate the company’s signature four-eyed front, modernized with a pared-back look. The car should also be adorned with BMW’s traditional blue accent on the grille. The kidney grille of the electric saloon would hide a plethora of sensors required for autonomous driving systems and active safety systems. Spy shots suggest that the front-end could be polarizing, with regal headlamps reminiscent of Rolls-Royces, an unusually-shaped kidney grille, and a C-shape forming on the outer sections.
ElectricVehicleWeb reader Roc Terricabres Esperalba (Instagram: rocterrii) recently shared spy shots of a BMW i7 test mule. The BMW i7 prototype features a flattish roof, an angular greenhouse, and a decklid longer than the EQS. Most automakers are giving more coupe-like characteristics to EVs for higher aerodynamic efficiency and a longer range. But it looks like the Munich-based automaker is trying to preserve the traditional shape in the electric sedan.
The first full-body prototypes of the BMW i7 hit the roads in Europe in 2020. Our reader Kurt from Munich shared a short clip of one driving past his car in December 2020. The sighting indicated that following extensive global testing through to beginning of 2022, the BMW 7 Series electric will be showroom-ready this year.
BMW i7 interior & features
In February 2021, a report on motor1.com citing a post on Bimmer Post forum talked about the next-gen 7 Series’ features and the BMW i7 should download them. Air suspension, soft close doors, flush door handles, and Bowers & Wilkins audio system will be standard on the next-gen BMW 7 Series. Premium features available as options will include automatically closing doors like on Rolls-Royce models, high-end headlights, Iconic Glow grille (illuminated grille), and Sky Lounge roof.
The BMW i7 will offer Level 3 autonomous driving, BMW R&D chief Frank Weber has confirmed, as per a Forbes report. Weber has assured that this feature will be ready at the time of launch. Customers will be able to opt for Motorway Assist, a new autonomous driving system package, and a natural AI-enabled voice assistant as well. However, this might be possible only in a few markets initially, like Western European countries.
As Forbes points out, the U.S. regulations don’t allow Level 3 autonomous driving at the moment. The government hasn’t set a timeline for approving the L3 autonomous driving yet. Maybe the U.S.-spec i7 units would come hardware-ready, and would be possible to enable the feature with a software update when the law permits.
Spy pictures published on Motor1.com have shown a next-gen 7 Series test mule with a small ears on the front fenders. The winglet-like parts could be hiding side cameras required by the car’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems for performing safety and/or autonomous driving functions. Flush-fitting door handles similar to those of the BMW iX can also be seen in these images, and it looks like the test mule has the iX’s high-res Curved Display as well. The electric door openers should come with a soft close function option.
‘Smart routes’ & Digital Key 3.0 expected on the new BMW 7 Series family
BMW is already working on the next generation of the Digital Key using Ultra Wideband technology. iPhone users can now use their device as a fully digital car key to perform vital functions of their BMW. Users have to just tap their screens to unlock, and they can start the vehicle by placing their iPhone in the designated smartphone tray and pushing the start button. They can perform these functions via the BMW Smartphone App present on the phone. The various functions also include:
- Access for the vehicle can be shared with up to 5 friends.
- Car access can be configured for younger drivers which restricts the top speed, horsepower output, maximum music volume, etc.
- Vehicle access details are stored in the Secure Element of the iPhone and can also be accessed through Apple Wallet.
- Inbuilt Power reserve feature for iPhones which will allow car keys to function for up to five hours in case the phone switches off due to low battery.
- It is compatible with Apple watches.
The BMW 7 Series Electric should support the 3.0 version of the Digital Key that promises additional convenience and features. Digital Key 3.0 will use Bluetooth Low Energy and Ultra-Wideband technology for performing various functions. This would mean consumers may no longer be required to take out their smartphone and hold it next to the door handle to unlock it. Passive access to the vehicle via these new functions will allow owners to leave their smartphones in their bags or pockets.
A new “smart routes” feature that uses Apple Maps to pick an optimal route based on the vehicle’s electric range and the locations of charging stations along the way is also in the list of expected highlights. This feature should be accessible via the Apple CarPlay function on the infotainment screens.
BMW Theatre Screen
The concept version of the BMW Theatre Screen feature was showcased at the CES 2022 in Las Vegas held in January 2022. My Mode Theatre features a 31-inch ultra-wide 8K display screen that extends out of the roofliner and is controlled via the touch pad integrated into the car’s rear doors and with physical touch. It transforms the rear cabin into a premium cinema lounge for a unique in-car entertainment.
The BMW Group press issue dated January 5, 2022, says that the Theatre Screen has the features of a Smart TV and benefits from the built-in Amazon Fire TV services and 5G connectivity on board. The viewers can choose between 16:9, 21:9 or 32:9 format with the high resolution display of 8000 x 2000 pixels. The tilt of the display could be controlled via touch operation menu in the in-car entertainment setup. The Bowers & Wilkins surround sound audio system only enhances the overall experience. The BMW Theatre Screen should be a part of the BMW i7.
The BMW iX has launched in two regular variants (xDrive40 & xDrive50), and there’s a hot M60 variant in the pipeline for this year.
According to Bimmerpost forum member ynguldyn, who is a BMW insider according to BMW Blog, the i7 will come in three variants: BMW i7 eDrive45, BMW i7 xDrive50, and BMW i7 M60. Previously, reports said that it will be available in i740, i750, and M60 variants. The speculation was that the i740 could have the cheapest MSRP, the i750 the longest range, and the M60 the fastest acceleration on the tarmac. BMW Group has probably changed the variant names for customers to understand the positioning and drivetrain layout, given their similarity with the variant names of the 7 Series.
BMW i7 Specifications
The BMW i7 eDrive45/BMW i740i could have a single motor at the rear, while the BMW i7 xDrive50/BMW i750i and BMW i7 M60 could have dual-motor all-wheel drive. Company officials haven’t spoken about a full-blown BMW M variant of the i7 yet, though.
The BMW iX comes with two battery pack options, one with a gross energy storage capacity of over 76.6 kWh and one with a gross energy storage capacity of 111.5 kWh. The BMW i7 may feature 80 kWh and 120 kWh battery packs that offer a range of around 500 km (WLTP) and 650-700 km (WLTP), respectively. The top-end BMW 7 Series electric would support fast-charging at up to at least 200 kW, powerful enough to achieve a range of 100 km (62 miles) in around ten minutes.
As per BMW’s press release, dated 1 December 2021, the combined power consumption on the BMW i7 is 22.5 – 19.5 kWh/100 km (WLTP). These figures are based on the current developmental progress of the electric luxury sedan.
The BMW i7 will chiefly rival the full-size Mercedes EQS, and to a considerable extent, executive electric sedans like the Tesla Model S, the Porsche Taycan, the Lucid Air, and perhaps even the Audi e-tron GT. Volkswagen Group has a promising rival coming up in 2024 – the Audi Landjet (project name).
BMW i7 price & release date
BMW Group hasn’t revealed the exact unveiling date of the BMW i7 yet. Dutch publication autovisie had learned from company sources that it is likely to conduct the world premiere in the spring of 2022. The German automaker is aiming to pull the covers off its new flagship electric car in April. As for the new BMW 7 Series, a thread on a Bimmer Post forum says that production will begin in July 2022, which indicates an early-2022 global premiere is on the cards for the combustion model.
At BMW Group’s annual analyst and investor day on 18 March 2021, Jochen Goller, President & CEO, BMW Group (Region China), had confirmed a 2022 world debut for the first-ever pure electric 7 Series. Below is what he had said:
At the moment, in the BEV area, others have more products, and especially Tesla’s share is stronger. But we are now ramping up, we’ve got cars in all the volume segments. Let’s not forget next year 3 Series, 7 Series, and so on, so forth.Jochen Goller, President & CEO, BMW Group Region China (BMW Group Analyst and Investor Day 2021)
The base BMW i7 could have an attractive price of EUR 100,000 (including 19% VAT and excluding delivery costs) in Germany. Expect the market launch in Europe to happen in late 2022.
BMW Group aims to sell some ten million EVs by 2030. By 2023, it plans to unveil several new BMW EVs, and the 7 Series’ electric variant will be one of them. Zipse confirmed this during the company’s Q2 2021 earnings conference call.
New models will be coming in rapid succession from here on: In the next two years, we will launch all-electric versions of the BMW 7 Series, X1 and 5 Series.Oliver Zipse, Chairman of BoM, BMW Group (Q2 2021 earnings conference call)
BMW i7 completes winter testing
BMW’s i7 is the first all-electric luxury sedan to complete the last stages of suspension and driving tests as per the press release on 1 December 2021, at the brand’s winter test centre in Arjeplog, Sweden. BMW engineers put prototypes through vigorous testing by finding snow-covered roads and frozen surfaces to challenge the driving dynamics and suspension setup.
The suspension system, steering feedback and braking unit, are being tested for the future BMW 7 Series and along with that, the driving dynamics and stability systems are tweaked to be better. The testing climate in Arjeplog is the perfect playground for BMW to find those inch-perfect results that make the production-spec cars loved by all automotive enthusiasts.
The frozen surfaces on the lakes make the perfect scenario to fine-tune the suspension control systems due to the minimal friction of the driving surface. The steering systems also undergo intensive testing as the frozen lake offers next to zero friction between the car and the road. The Dynamic Stability Control system (DSC) is inspected by the BMW engineers and is precisely tuned. In cryogenic conditions, BMW is testing the car’s electric motor, temperature control setup and functioning of the battery pack, and proving the reliability of these components.
BMW’s EV strategy
BMW Group is working on several EVs in addition to the BMW i7, including BMW 5 Series electric or BMW i5, BMW iX1, and BMW 3 Series electric. The upcoming BMW i3 will likely be a China-only model, but the next-gen model should be available worldwide. By 2023, BMW Group aims to have 13 pure electric models on sale across brands. By 2025, it aims to sell around two million EVs, and the company’s long-term goal for 2030 is to convert half of its worldwide sales to electric.
BMW i7 FAQs
What is the BMW i7 release date?
BMW is likely to unveil its flagship electric sedan in the first half of 2022, and launch it in the latter half of the year.
What is the expected BMW i7 price?
The base BMW i7 could have an attractive price of EUR 100,000 (including 19% VAT and excluding delivery costs) in Germany.
Which are the main competitors to the i7?
The Mercedes EQS, Tesla Model S, Lucid Air, and the 2024 Audi Landjet/Artemis would be its chief rivals.
Featured image: Kleber Silva/KDesign AG