BMW 7-series hybrid due in 2009

Published: 07 July 2008

BMW will launch a hybrid petrol version of the newly unveiled 7-series in 2009, but admits it’s more for green-leaning V8 addicts than seriously eco-aware bosses.

Even with the latest lithium-ion batteries, the forthcoming 4.4-litre V8 petrol-electric version will struggle to match the astonishing 39.2mpg and 192g/km of CO2 of the new six-cylinder diesel, especially when BMW will launch stop-start technology for the whole range within two years.

The hybrid is likely to cost several thousand more than the £65,000 it’s estimated you’ll need to buy the regular, twin-turbo 750i that goes on sale in November 2008.

Why an expensive hybrid when the diesel is so efficient?

We put that question to Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW board member responsible for R&D and project leader for the new Seven. He shrugged and said: ‘Some customers really want a V8 with very good fuel economy.’

Mercedes, one of BMW’s partners on the hybrid technology, is also expected to launch a hybrid version of the S-class next year, and both cars will rival the V8-engined Lexus LS600h. There’s no word yet whether the 7-series hybrid or the similarly powered X6 hybrid will come to the UK, but the publicity would be difficult to pass up.

Click ‘Next’ below to find out why the new Seven doesn’t come with BMW’s full plethora of Efficient Dynamics technology

So no Efficient Dynamics on the new Seven, then?

The new range does get elements of BMW’s fuel-reduction programme, such as the decoupling alternator, but the company is still working on a stop-start engine cut-out for automatics. According to Dr Draeger, the system right now ‘is not state of the art’, which is why it’s only used on manuals.

The traffic-friendly technology will likely be grafted to the 730d, 740i and 750i, as well as next year’s 735d. This twin-turbo version will replace the V8 diesel, a engine Dr Draeger calls ‘heavy and expensive’.

In overseeing the design of the car, BMW’s head of design Chris Bangle had to ensure that the essentially boxy but fuel-efficient shape still had enough drama and elegance. ‘Even though it’s a very clean car it’s still got a wonderful sense of emotion in the form,’ he told CAR. ‘The line-work of the car basically gives its gesture and proportion, dividing up the body and making sure it looks long and lean.’ The result is undeniably more elegant, if not as bold as the previous car, but the Bangle Butt has definitely gone.