BMW i7 EV in polar testing
BMW has released images of the new all-electric BMW i7 undergoing driving dynamics testing near the Arctic Circle as the car’s development reaches its final stages.
The i7 endured final testing to its drive and suspension systems at BMW’s winter test centre in Arjeplog, Sweden. The extreme conditions present the ideal environment to fine-tune the car’s driving dynamics.
The new flagship saloon EV is expected to be revealed in 2022 alongside the new ICE-powered 7 Series saloon, with sales starting towards the end of the year.
The i7 is effectively the fully-electric variant of the new 7 Series, with both cars sharing the same platform. The introduction of a pure-electric version of BMW’s flagship saloon means the brand has a direct rival for the Mercedes EQS, Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S, as well as the Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class.
Looking past the heavy camouflage of the i7 prototype, it appears the new model will combine BMW’s oversized grilles with a slim LED headlight cluster and a separate row above for the daytime running lights. We expect the rear of the car to look rather more conventional but with a different look to BMW’s compact 3 Series and mid-sized 5 Series saloons.
Being BMW’s flagship saloons, both the forthcoming 7 Series and i7 will be full of the manufacturer’s latest technology. One of the main focus areas will be autonomous driving, and we’d expect the i7 to feature enough gadgetry to be able to drive itself for long periods of time, where legal. This development mule looks to be adorned with an array of sensors and cameras.
Both cars will sit on BMW’s ‘cluster architecture’ (CLAR) platform, which can accommodate both an electric powertrain and fossil-fuelled engines. There will be a wide range of power options for the new 7 Series, including petrol or diesel with 48-volt mild-hybrid hardware, and a plug-in hybrid. The i7 will use BMW's fifth-generation eDrive technology, which integrates the electric motor, electronics and transmission into a single unit, reducing total weight and size.
Full performance details have yet to be released but to be competitive, the i7 will need a range of at least 400 miles. The Tesla Model S currently offers a range of up to 390 miles, while the Mercedes EQS manages nearly 500. The BMW iX SUV can manage a range of up to 380, so the more aerodynamic i7 should manage that with similar hardware. Given that all the power in electric cars is available instantly, we expect the new i7 to be blisteringly quick in a straight line.
The BMW Group, which also includes MINI and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, is planning to have 25 electrified models in its portfolio by 2023, cutting its average fleet emissions by over a third. Around half of these are expected to be fully electric models, with most cars designed to accommodate a range of powertrains.
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