BMW Unveils New Lightweight, High-tech 7 Series Flagship.
Mercedes S-Class Domination Won’t Be Threatened Though.
BMW unveiled its new flagship 7 Series luxury limousine, pointing with pride at its cutting edge technology but probably crossing its fingers that the Chinese market holds up.
The new 7 Series has some tough competition in a sector that is shrinking under pressure from big SUVs. The main contenders are the Mercedes S class, Audi A8, Porsche Panamera and the Tesla Model S. FCA’s Maserati is also a pretender with the Quattreporte.
The new 7 Series boasts fully-autonomous automatic parking and uses gesture-recognition to allow front-seat passengers to change volume control and change the navigation direction.
According to investment researcher Evercore ISI, the 7 Series is a key model for BMW, particularly in China, where it makes most of its profits.
A range of six and eight cylinder engines will be available when sales start in October. BMW made no mention of a possible plug-in hybrid, or electric power trains, although it’s likely that’s both these technologies will find themselves in this top of the range sedan eventually.
“The BMW 7 Series luxury sedan sets new standards for lightweight design, driving dynamics, comfort, intelligent connectivity and operating systems, and opens new horizons in its class. The classic attributes of high-end sedans, such as luxury, comfort and status, are complemented in the BMW 7 Series in other areas that offer customers decisive added value, with more interior ambience, more personal well-being and more innovative functionality,” BMW said.
The New BMW 7 Series concentrates on shedding weight as the basis for improving fuel economy and handling with carbon fiber in the forefront, which is about 30 per cent lighter than aluminum and 50 per cent lighter than steel.
The body structure, referred to as the “carbon core”, is based on technology transferred from the BMW i electric models. This helps optimize vehicle weight, as well as strength and rigidity.
“This results in significantly lower fuel consumption and emissions, combined with improved driving performance, dynamics and comfort. The new BMW 7 Series models weigh up to (280 lbs) less than the previous generation,” BMW said.
Evercore ISI said since 2011, 7 Series sales have fallen nearly 30 per cent or by 20,300 as the existing model aged, and competition like the Mercedes S-Class stepped up.
“If the new 7 Series is able to achieve prior peak volumes of 68,800 a year, we believe volume alone can deliver an incremental 1.3 billion ($1.5 billion) euros in revenue to BMW and importantly about 250 million euros ($280 million) with the aggregate effect likely greater still as a result of better pricing and mix,” Evercore ISI said.
As deliveries don’t start until later this year, the financial impact won’t be noticed until 2016.
Evercore ISI pointed out that Mercedes financials and share price have benefitted from its model renewable programme, while BMW’s in only just getting start.
After the 7-Series comes the X-1 SUV and new 5-Series sedan. BMW is planning a new small, coupe-styled SUV, the X2 to launch in 2017, looking a bit like the current X4 and X6. BMW has also launched a refreshed, face-lifted version of its biggest selling product, the 3-Series.
IHS Automotive liked the way the car looked, but didn’t think it would spell danger for the market leading Mercedes S-Class.
“The new 7 Series appears highly attractively styled. It has the imposing and impressive presence combined with graceful lines and neat proportions. The model’s styling is also likely to give a clear indication of what the next 5 Series will look like, which will debut next year,” said IHS Automotive analyst Tim Urquhart.
The new 7 also has a vast array of advanced driver assistance systems and in-car connectivity options which will eventually lead on to fully autonomous cars. But it won’t come close to the S class.
“IHS Automotive expects the Mercedes-Benz S-Class to dominate the segment thanks particularly to its strong sales in China and the U.S., which includes a forecasted 96,000 global sales volume in 2016 and 101,000 units in 2016. The IHS Automotive global sales forecast for the 7 Series is expected to rise from 47,000 units in 2015, to 64,000 units in 2016. As such, we expect Mercedes maintaining a strong lead until the end of the decade,” Urquhart said.