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Petrol-electric BMW 7 Series set for Australia

Revised flagship: A hybrid version of the facelifted BMW 7 Series will emerge in Australia several months after the rest of the range launches in October.

BMW Australia to take hybrid range from zero members to three by 2013

BMW logo25 May 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

BMW Australia has confirmed it will offer a hybrid version of its flagship 7 Series limousine as soon as the first quarter of next year, by which time it will offer three petrol-electric passenger vehicles Down Under.

The petrol-electric 7 Series will join the 5 Series ActiveHybrid, several examples of which are already doing the rounds at dealerships ahead of a September launch, and the 3 Series ActiveHybrid, which is on track for a fourth quarter release.

The news came as BMW announced a global mid-life facelift of the entire 7 Series range, headlined by engine and styling tweaks, a new eight-speed automatic transmission, even more standard features and a new 750d variant powered by the 740Nm tri-turbo diesel engine from its M Performance line.

Conventional combustion-engined members of its new 7 Series range will arrive here in October, several months head of the hybrid, which has suffered production delays in Germany due to the unavailability of specific components.

The facelifted ActiveHybrid 7 Series is powered by the 235kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six from the 740i variant, combined with a 40kW/210Nm electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack for a combined system maximum output of 260kW.

14 center imageBMW claims fuel efficiency of 6.8 litres per 100km on the European combined cycle, compared to 7.9L/100km for the standard 740i petrol with the new transmission.

This falls short of the 5.6L/100km figure achieved by the revised 730d diesel, however, which is powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six producing 190kW and 560Nm.

BMW Australia product communications manager Scott Croaker said the ActiveHybrid 7 would help change the perception of petrol-electric prestige cars in Australia, given its demographic of “high-level influence” buyers such as company CEOs.

Mr Croaker told GoAuto that the hybrid 7 would be pricier than the $206,900 740i on which it is based, but will sit beneath the higher-specified 750i and 750Li/760Li models that are currently priced between $276,200 and $388,200.

The petrol-electric 7 Series is likely to arrive ahead of arch-rival Audi’s A8 hybrid variant, which is also confirmed for an Australian launch in 2013, and will foreshadow even greener versions due further down the track.

“Hybrid is an integral technology, but a stepping stone to our goal of zero emissions through full electric and even hydrogen in the future,” said Mr Croaker.

BMW created a hydrogen-powered version of its previous-generation 7 Series in 2007, although wider development has been hindered by prohibitive costs and a lack of infrastructure.

The German company will also launch its electric and plug-in ‘i’ sub-brand globally from 2013.

Lexus is currently the only manufacturer to offer a large luxury hybrid in Australia with its $243,814 LS600hL.

Headlining the changes to the conventional 7 Series range due in October is a more potent version of the 4.4-litre turbocharged V8 in the 750i and Li, lifting output to 330kW and 650Nm (up 30kW and 50Nm).

The range – comprised of the entry 730d, 740i and Li, 750i and Li and 760Li – gets a new eight-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic manual mode to replace the old six-speeder.

The new transmission, along with fuel-saving features like the second-generation Eco mode and brake energy regeneration, cuts consumption by up to 25 per cent.

BMW Australia has ruled out selling the tri-turbo 750d xDrive here alongside M Performance versions of the X5 and X6, which are powered by the same engine.

The line-up also gets new full-LED headlights, tweaked ‘kidney’ grille with three fewer vertical slats than before and a modified front apron, while inside there is a new multifunction display, centre console display with ‘3D graphics’, and a more comprehensive rear seat entertainment package.

New technology includes BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition technology, anti-dazzle LED ‘high-beam assistant’ headlights and automatic fatigue recognition.

New features to overseas markets including speed limit information plus certain map functions will not be available here.

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