2018 BMW i7
BMW’s ‘i’ division is beginning to make some headway in the electric car segment. The i3 and the i8 were the first two cars to enter this niche and now, it’s looking more and more likely that the next i-badged vehicle to come out of Munich will be a sedan. The car in question still has no name, but most people believe that it’s either going to be the i5 or the i7. For or the purpose of this space, let’s call it the i7. More importantly, the vehicle is being prepared to take on the current standard-bearer of the electric sedan segment: the Tesla Model S.
Not much is known at this point about the i7 except for a few details that have been divulged by Car Magazine. According to the British magazine, the i7 is being prepared for a 2018 launch to coincide with the arrival of the next-generation 5 Series. You’re probably wondering why the two cars are connected? Well, as it turns out, the i7 will use BMW’s new Cluster Architecture (CLAS), a modular platform that will underpin all BMW models from the 3 Series to the 7 Series.
The other interesting tidbit about the i7 is its engine composition. Just like the i8, the i7 isn’t going to be a pure electric vehicle like the Model S. Instead, BMW’s working on a pair of electric motors that will be joined by a gas engine, allowing the sedan to run on either all-electric or all-gas compositions.
Other than these two nuggets of information, BMW’s keeping a close lid on the development of the sedan so as always, stay tuned for more.
Click past the jump to read more about the BMW i7.
2018 BMW i7
Horsepower @ RPM:544 (Est.)
0-60 time:5 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:155 mph (Est.)
The biggest mystery surrounding the BMW i7 is the car’s design and given how little we still know about the i7, it stands to reason that the car’s styling is still evolving as we speak. Right now, I’m left to my own devices to imagine what we think the electric sedan’s going to look like. Here’s what I think. Since the i7 will share in BMW’s Cluster Architecture, it’s likely going to be packaged in a similar vein as the 7 Series so there’s a good chance that it will carry the same dimensions as the next generation 7er. All bets are off if BMW decides to use the name i5.
As far as the design is concerned, I expect the i7 to have similar design cues as that of the i3 and i8. I won’t be surprised if the i7 also gets a multi-tone paint finish similar to both the i3 and i8. The electric sedan could also get BMW’s laser headlights technology, although that would depend on how that particular tech is received two to three years from now, especially in the U.S. where it has yet to be approved.
Note: BMW i8 pictured here.
It’s a similar story with the interior. There are no details on what it’s going to look like so right now, my best guess is that BMW will treat it the same way as it treats most of the cabin designs of its lineup. That means that there should be plenty of luxurious amenities inside the i7. Leather seats are likely to be included, complemented by a generous dose of other high-end materials. Perhaps there will be some Alcantara in there, too? That wouldn’t be surprising at all.
As far as technology goes, BMW should also have time to develop something for the i7. Tesla’s already doing its due diligence on that end so it would be in the German automaker’s best interest to have something in store for the i7. One last thing is the presence of a large digital display that will serve as the main reference point for all of the i7’s functions, especially with all the important details coming from its powertrain system.
One of the most interesting tidbits of the BMW i7 is its presumed powertrain. While nothing has been set in stone, Car Magazine believes that the i7 will have a dramatically different powertrain makeup than the i8. For instance, the latter’s 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine will not be used on the four-door model. The assumption is that the i7 will instead use a bigger four-cylinder engine that produces 245 horsepower. That engine will complement two electric motors that will be placed on the front and rear sections of the sedan. The motor on the front pumps out 240 horsepower and the one at the back contributes 95 horsepower to the cause, bringing the total output of the sedan to 544 horsepower.
The i7 supposedly has a zero-emission range of 80 miles and the electric motors are purportedly the main power source with the gas engine only serving as a backup, cutting into the picture only when the car exceeds 40 mph. Transmission options are expected to be a combination of a six-speed automatic and a two-step for the electric motor.
The BMW i7 is still a few years away from hitting the market so don’t expect to hear about pricing details anytime soon. That said, if the i7 really wants to pose a threat to the Model S, it should at least have a competitive price point compared to the segment’s incumbent. That would entail pricing the i7 close to the $69,900 price tag of the base Model S. BMW can also play around with different outputs for the i7 like Tesla has done on the Model S. If that’s an avenue the German company wants to explore, it could spread around the price of the i7 to as high as $120,000. All of this is conjecture at this point because we still have a long way to go before we see the i7 out on the road.
This is pretty obvious considering that BMW hasn’t been shy about what car it wants the i7 to compete against. Ever since it arrived in 2012, the Tesla Model S has been the go-to EV vehicle for upscale sedan buyers.
The latest iteration of the Model S sets the bar even higher for its competitors, thanks in large part to the addition of an all-wheel drive system and new technological features like the Autopilot system. The only downside to the 2015 model is its lack of visual enhancements. That said, prospective buyers should be able to forget that quickly because of all the new updates that come with the EV sedan.
The Model S also benefits from having a wide variety of drivetrains to choose from. Without going into detail on all of them, Elon Musk’s pride and joy can produce anywhere from 380 horsepower all the way up to an incredible 691 horsepower. With that much power at its disposal, the range-topping P85D kWh can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds, faster than a lot of supercars today.
That’s the kind of challenge BMW has to cope with if it wants the i7 to be as good as it intends it to be.
Read more about the Tesla Model S here.
It’s too early to say what I think of the BMW i7. What I do know is that BMW has the technology, finances, and know-how to give the Model S a serious run for its money. We’ve already seen the German’s capacity to develop EV cars with the i3 and the i8. Now, it’s venturing into a more mainstream segment that currently has one undisputed leader and a handful of other competitors looking to eat into Tesla’s market share. Only time will tell if BMW’s bite is as ferocious as its bark. I’m optimistic that the i7 can live up to the hype, even if it means putting a lot of pressure on BMW to prove me and everybody else right.