BMW 7-series Hybrid (2008)

Published: 04 December 2007

This hearse looks vaguely familiar…

 

This is BMW’s new 7-series, and yes, we snapped it first in late 2006 when it broke cover in Germany. The car’s hefty disguise may not have changed much - but its location has.

This prototype was caught less than a mile from Milford, GM's main proving ground in Michigan. Why? This is the hybrid petrol-electric Seven, the first fruit of the Daimler-Chrysler–GM–BMW hybrid alliance to come to Europe. GM’s Yukon Tahoe, Chevy Silverado and Caddy Escalade, plus Chrysler's Aspen and Dodge Durango will all receive the technology in America within the next 12 months, too.

A big luxobarge running a hybrid powertrain? Makes sense to me…

Hence BMW burning the midnight oil to ready the new Seven, complete with two-mode hybrid option, before the car goes on sale late in 2008. Expect the X6 to be the second BMW model to employ the hybrid set-up when it arrives in 2009. The two-mode hybrid system is pretty advanced and brings together a four-speed automatic transmission, a petrol or diesel powertrain, a pair of compact electric engines and a 300v battery pack.

The electric motors – housed within the transmission – act as ‘steppers’ between the gears to create effectively eight gears and top up the combustion engine’s torque levels to keep the it closest to its sweet spot where economy, performance and emissions are at their best.

The system uses twin computer programmes for low-speed urban work and faster motorway driving - hence the system’s dual-mode moniker. BMW is expected to offer the system on both petrol and diesel-powered models.

So plenty of performance without the green guilt?

Yes, in a word. Co-developer Chrysler claims the system slashes economy and emissions by a quarter in overall driving and an eyebrow-raising 40 percent around town where the system runs purely on electric power up to 25mph. Bearing in mind the lethargic average traffic speed in London, this could offer huge savings for the 7-series and X6 (above).

And the packaging flexibility of the system means the battery pack - used to store regenerative braking energy - can be housed in the floor or the rear bulkhead, so it doesn’t intrude on cabin space too much.
 

What else do we know about the new 7-series

The fifth-generation Seven will be launched in regular and long-wheelbase guises in autumn 2008 after a Paris Motor Show unveil. And it won't just be the hybrid that wins the green laurels - the whole range will benefit from BMW's Efficient Dynamics package, so expect stop-start systems, intelligent alternator control that tops the battery up only when coasting and active aero systems that blank off the radiator grille when the engine is cold.

Underneath all that disguise (our original 2006 scoop, above) lies a much less controversial car than the current E65 with which Chris Bangle unleashed his radical Flame Surfacing at the start of the millennium.

What else do we know about the new 7-series

The fifth-generation Seven will be launched in regular and long-wheelbase guises in autumn 2008 after a Paris Motor Show unveil. And it won't just be the hybrid that wins the green laurels - the whole range will benefit from BMW's Efficient Dynamics package, so expect stop-start systems, intelligent alternator control that tops the battery up only when coasting and active aero systems that blank off the radiator grille when the engine is cold.

Underneath all that disguise (our original 2006 scoop, above) lies a much less controversial car than the current E65 with which Chris Bangle unleashed his radical Flame Surfacing at the start of the millennium.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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