BMW just held its Annual Accounts Press Conference 2020, the state of the business address for the German automaker. While they acknowledged upcoming hard times, BMW's top executives also talked about some positive developments.
The biggest announcement came from Chairman of the Board Oliver Zipse, who confirmed that the next-generation 7 Series will be electric. And not just an electric offering lost amidst conventional models, the EV 7 Series (i7?) would be the flagship one. "The top, most powerful 7 Series will be fully electric!" Zipse said.
If you're keeping track, that's four completely different drivelines in the flagship sedan, including gas, diesel, plug-in hybrids, and the EV. We're not sure when to expect the new car, but there is traditionally a new 7 Series every seven years, meaning that 2022 is the likely time we'll see it. How much power could a new electric 7 offer? The electric i4 is expected to offer 530 hp, and the top current 7 Series with the 6.6L V12 offers 577, so expect figures higher than both of those.
Zipse also said that the EV i4 and the conventional 4 Series Gran Coupe would come off of the same production line, meaning that "they will use the same structures in the press plant, body and paint shops and assembly." So despite the wildly different powertrains, the next BMW EVs will not be far removed from their petrol-powered counterparts. Though it will have a new motor that uses no rare earth metals in its construction. The next BMW EV will be the iNEXT, which Zipse says will have Level 3 semi-autonomous driving, meaning a driver can be eyes-off and hands-free in some situations, but will still need to be ready to respond.
Lastly, plug-in hybrid versions of the X1, X2, and 3 Series Touring will follow the 3 Series sedan as part of BMW's work to have a quarter of its European fleet electrified next year and half by 2030. BMW's latest PHEV vehicles can now automatically switch to electric mode in city centres, with that software able to be updated online. There has been confirmation yet on if those vehicles will come to Canada.