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Demand high for new-gen BMW 7 Series

Goodwill gesture: BMW’s new 7 Series includes Gesture Control, allowing users to swipe, point, pinch and use other hand gestures to control volume, camera angles, and to accept or reject incoming phone calls.

BMW flies in pre-production new 7 Series to show potential buyers as demand soars

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BMW logo18 Aug 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

BMW Group Australia says demand for its new-generation 7 Series is so strong that it has air-freighted a pair of pre-production models to its Melbourne headquarters as a part of a pre-launch campaign targeting potential and existing customers of the flagship luxury sedan.

The two examples of the new limousine will hit the road for a series of “unique closed-room events” at dealerships in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth in the coming months to showcase its technological advancements.

The latest 7 Series arrives in Australian showrooms in late October, with the diesel-powered 195kW/620Nm 730d and petrol-engined 240kW/450Nm 740i in regular and long-wheelbase versions the first to hit Australian shores, followed by the 330kW/650Nm 4.4-litre turbocharged V8-powered 750i and 750Li flagships in early 2016.

BMW Group Australia chief executive Marc Werner highlighted the appeal of the latest technology in the 7 Series at a media preview event at the company’s Mulgrave headquarters this week.

“Clearly the all-new BMW 7 Series, with its unique technology, is set to make a strong impact on the Australian premium vehicle segment,” he said. “The sixth-generation BMW 7 Series represents a significant leap forward with extraordinary luxury and a unique combination of ride comfort and dynamic performance.

“But the highlight of the new 7 Series is the innovative technology inherent in the vehicle. As a group, BMW has adopted the famous quote that ‘the best way to predict the future is to create it’. And the new 7 Series is the true embodiment of that sentiment.”

The tech-heavy flagship features a number of segment firsts, including a Touch Command system, which allows users to control a number of in-car entertainment and comfort features via a 7.0-inch cordless tablet that functions inside or outside the car, as well as being used at home as a regular tablet.

Mr Werner also highlighted other “ground-breaking” technological advances, including Gesture Control and the innovative Display Key that features a screen and controls so the user can set cabin temperatures and check the fuel level prior to getting in.

“The BMW 7 Series is the the most technologically advanced and innovative production vehicle in the world,” he said. “This vehicle will transform the way we interact with our motor vehicles through its game-changing technology and this includes BMW Gesture Control – the first ever in the automotive industry.” While Mr Werner said he “certainly” expects sales growth over the outgoing series, he was quiet on whether the 7 Series could regain segment leadership it lost to rival Mercedes’ W222 S-Class last year.

“We are not talking about sales numbers at this point in time, because in that particular segment where you are operating it is not really about volume push, it’s really about getting the brand message out there and definitely positioning this car as our flagship,” he told GoAuto.

“And I think we have such a convincing product in the market now. We are confident that we will see pretty good sales from that car.”

Mercedes-Benz has continued to post strong sales of the S-Class this year, with 174 sales to the end of July compared to just 44 for the 7 Series. Audi’s A8 is just ahead of the BMW limo on 47 sales, enough for second position in the segment but a long way behind Mercedes.

Mr Werner dismissed the suggestion that the 7 Series could one day become irrelevant given the low take-up of larger sedans in many markets, including Australia, as buyers shift to high-riding SUVs instead.

“I think there will always be a market for 7 Series, because not every customer wants to have an SUV,” he said. “A lot of customers want to stand out, in particular as we call it the performance elite. So the 7 Series will always have its place in the luxury segment.

“In particular if you think about the technology we are offering in this flagship, this will definitely cascade through into all the other vehicles, but if you want to be first in technological innovation this is the car you want to go for.”

While the 7 Series buyers is typically older and well-off, Mr Werner said there was a slight shift to younger buyers, particularly from wealthy Asian backgrounds.

“What we have seen around the globe, and also true for Australia, it is probably more the older generation that we are typically attracting with this car. However, having said that, particularly amongst Asian buyers, we actually see younger customers as well,” he said.

“So I think we have to work on both ends when it comes to customer segmentation and obviously also in Australia, given the high influx of affluent Asian customers.” The 7 Series is built on BMW’s ‘35up’ platform that will also underpin the next-generation 5 and 6 Series models, with rumours of other body styles and variants to come.

While Mr Werner did not confirm any future variants, he hinted that there could be more to come.

“For the time being this will be the majority, and everything else has to be announced,” he told GoAuto.

One version under consideration for Australia is the plug-in hybrid 740e that combines a 190kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 70kW electric motor for a combined output of 240kW/650Nm.

Mr Werner highlighted the interest in the company’s ‘i’ models – including the i3 electric city car and i8 plug-in hybrid sportscar – as a key reason to consider the 740e.

“Given the success of the BMW i brand, it would be the next logical step,” he said.

BMW Group Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said the 740e was not yet confirmed and that the car-maker was focusing on the core variants arriving in October and early 2016.

“It is something that we are looking at obviously because we have that interest in lower-emission vehicles that are coming through in the majority of our ranges as well,” she said. “So we are interested but there is no confirmation.”

The sixth-generation 7 Series will be available with a number of standard features that were not offered across the board in the outgoing model, including Nappa leather upholstery, a leather-finished instrument panel, 19-inch alloy wheels, a heat comfort package and the Pure Excellence interior and exterior design package.

In Australia, BMW is offering the new model with the M Sport package as a no-cost option, which was a $10,000 option on the superseded model. It includes 20-inch M double-spoke light-alloy wheels, as well as other exterior and interior trim highlights. In terms of technological innovations, the 7 Series has as standard the aforementioned Touch Command tablet controls housed in the rear seat, allowing control of air-conditioning, seats, sunblinds, ambient lighting, heated and cooled seats, and infotainment.

The Display Key and Gesture Control are offered standard across the board.

Gesture Control operates via a camera in the roof that allows users to swipe, point, pinch and use other hand gestures to control volume, camera angles, and to accept or reject incoming phone calls, among other things. BMW says the Gesture Control complements the existing iDrive Touch Controller.

The 7 Series is built using BMW’s Carbon Core – first used in the i8 sportscar – that includes a mixture of steel, aluminium and carbon-fibre reinforced plastic for lightweight construction, making for a 120kg weight reduction over the old model, as well as improved fuel economy and better handling.

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