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BMW i7 electric car unveiled

While BMW is probably best known for its smaller 3 and 4 Series, the 7 Series is the brand’s centerpiece of luxury and technology. The i7 is the electric version of a new generation of the flagship of the BMW 7 Series unveiled on Wednesday.

With a starting price of $119,300, the 536-hp all-wheel-drive i7 xDrive60 will be able to travel 300 miles on a full charge, which is less than competitors Mercedes EQS or Lucid Air. It will also offer a V8-powered gasoline version, the 760i X-drive, with the same power and a starting price $300 less. It will be almost identical. A gasoline version with a 6-cylinder engine will have a starting price of $93,300.

This new version also highlights BMW’s flexibility-focused electric vehicle strategy, which is different from that of luxury competitors like Mercedes-Benz and Audi. While these other luxury brands’ EVs are based on dedicated EV chassis with little relation to their gasoline-powered models, BMW emphasizes adaptable engineering as its edge.

BMW has designed all of its new models so that they can be built with internal combustion engines, all-electric power or plug-in hybrids that combine both electric and gasoline. BMW executives insist it’s not just about fitting batteries and electric motors into cars slated for gasoline engines. Instead, these vehicles were designed, from the ground up, to be built with one of these drive systems.

According to BMW executives, one of the main advantages of doing it this way is that it gives the company flexibility to easily produce more or fewer electric or gas-powered cars on the same assembly lines rather than having to commit manufacturing resources just to electric vehicles. With cars and SUVs designed to be built like either, the automaker also doesn’t risk pouring millions of dollars in development costs into an electric-only model that might find little demand on the market. certain markets.

Another benefit, BMW Chairman Oliver Zipse said, is that customers don’t have to choose between two completely different models when deciding whether they want an electric or gas-powered car. They can simply decide to buy a BMW 7 Series and then choose whether they want the petrol or electric version, just as they could decide whether they want a V8 engine or an inline-6 ​​engine. Either way, customers get the same luxury car experience and design.

The downside of a common engineering platform is that to enable both electric and gasoline, designers need compromises. Cars with internal combustion engines need a large amount of free space in the front for the engine, a smaller space usually under the trunk for the fuel tank, and often a long tunnel in the middle to connect the wheel motor. Electric cars, on the other hand, can have smaller electric motors mounted closer to individual wheels, and although they don’t have a fuel tank or transmission tunnel, they need a large surface area. relatively flat, usually at the bottom of the car. , for batteries.

The Mercedes EQS electric sedan, for example, has only a short bonnet that houses some electronics, and it has a nearly flat floor allowing for more interior storage space.

Zipse insisted that the 7 Series represents a superior full-size luxury sedan, regardless of its power source. The driving experience will be excellent, he said, as will interior comfort and technology.

“There is no car with a more spacious and luxurious second row,” he said when meeting with reporters.

Rear seats are a major reason to buy this type of big car. In full-size sedans, there usually isn’t much more room (if any) in the front seats compared to small cars. The extra space usually goes to those in the back.

As in many other high-end large cars, the rear seats can recline while the legrests and footrests lift under the seats. (BMW claims, however, that its seats recline more than those of its competitors.) The front passenger seat, if unoccupied, can also move forward and down to allow more room.

BMW 7 Series buyers can get an optional 31-inch high-resolution video screen that folds down from the roof to provide rear-seat entertainment. Combined with an available premium stereo system and electric blinds to block out light, the 7 Series may be a better place to watch a movie than someone’s living room, according to BMW. Front seat occupants can also watch streaming videos on the center screen when the car is parked.

Four-wheel steering will allow the car to turn tighter on winding roads and in parking lots and change lanes more smoothly on the highway. Inside there are few knobs and buttons. Instead, the buttons appear as illuminated icons on a strip of what looks like decorative trim that runs across the dash.

The car’s headlights are masked by dark bezels while above them the turn signals and daytime running lights are housed in prominent narrow bars. As an option, the indicators and daytime running lights can include Swarovski crystals that sparkle in the sun. As another option, the 7 Series’ large “kidney” grille can be highlighted with lights at night.

When the driver prefers not to care, assistive technologies allow the driver to let go of the wheel completely for extended periods on divided highways. This technology, similar to General Motors’ Super Cruise, forces drivers to keep their eyes on the road at all times.

The 7 Series can automatically enter and exit parking spaces even with the driver outside the vehicle using a smartphone app. It can also drive itself on a pre-programmed route, such as around pylons in a parking lot, a feature somewhat similar to Tesla’s Summon mode.

A sophisticated “heads-up display” that displays data on the car’s windshield can align images and text so they appear as if they’re resting on roads and other real-world features. The system can also display parking regulations in the area.

Performance is an integral part of the BMW brand image. For decades, BMW’s marketing slogan was: “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. Executives now say electric vehicles will take the lead in the automaker’s performance pantheon, with the fastest and most powerful versions of its vehicles being battery-powered. Along with the new 7 Series, the i7 shares its most powerful version ranking with the V8-powered 760i. There are no plans for a V12-powered 7-series model in this generation of car.

A sophisticated air suspension works automatically to keep the car level even in fast corners. Computers can use data from GPS maps and cameras in front of the car to predict when an upcoming curve will require the suspension system to react.

BMW has said half of the cars the company sells globally will be electric by 2030. This includes Rolls-Royce and Mini vehicles. Both of these iconic British brands are owned by BMW and plan to sell only electric vehicles by 2030.

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