What Downsizing Trend? BMW X7 Proves That Big Is Still In – Forbes

Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Suddenly BMW is upsizing.

Over the last few years, the German automaker has put a lot of effort into hyping its tiny i3 electric car, which arrives in U.S. dealerships this spring.

It also has downsized and turbocharged engines across its lineup. Not even high-performance models like the M3 sedan and M4 coupe were spared, a controversial move that we wrote about here.

But now BMW has announced what will be — by far — its largest vehicle to date. It will build a full-size sport utility vehicle called the X7 at its plant near Spartanburg, S.C.

The new model is diametrically opposed to the BMW i3 in every way, and the decision to build such a large SUV underscores just how diversified automakers have to be these days.


BMW’s current lineup of X models is expanding. The new flagship X7 SUV will be built at the Spartanburg, S.C., plant, which already builds the X3, X5 and X6 models and recently added the X4. (Credit: BMW)

On the one hand, they are pursuing radically different methods of construction (see the 2015 Ford F-150 at the Detroit auto show) and propulsion (see Toyota’s hydrogen-powered FCV concept at the Tokyo Motor Show). It’s all part of a massive industry effort to reduce emissions and fuel consumption, in response to stricter government regulations.

But on the other hand, consumer demand is prompting a lot of new SUVs. Even luxury companies that previously had no SUVs are about to start rolling them out, from Bentley to Maserati.

BMW has not released specs for the X7, but it is expected to offer three rows of seating and be powered by the company’s six- and eight-cylinder gasoline engines. Diesel and plug-in hybrid versions are also likely.

The BMW X7 will compete with the Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LX and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.

When making the X7 announcement, BMW also said it would boost annual production of its Spartanburg plant 50 percent, to a capacity of 450,000 units by 2016. That’s when production of the X7 is expected to begin.

The plant already builds the BMW X3, X5 and X6 SUVs, and just started making the all-new X4. Soon it will add a plug-in hybrid version of the X5 too.

The X7 will be sold worldwide, though the U.S. market is expected to contribute a significant share of the sales. SUVs made up roughly a third of total U.S. vehicle sales last year.

Read more about BMW:

Though You May Not Notice At First, The 2014 BMW X5 Brings Big Improvements

The Legendary BMW M3 Is All New For 2015, With Some Controversial Changes

Get a closer look at the newly redesigned BMW X5:

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