The time, money, and effort BMW put into developing multi-energy platforms will continue to pay dividends when the company introduces the next-generation 7 Series in the early 2020s. The flagship sedan will be offered with at least four powertrain types, though they might not all be available when the model first goes on sale.
BMW Chairman Oliver Zipse confirmed the next 7 will be offered with gasoline- and diesel-burning engines, a plug-in hybrid option, and an electric powertrain. The first three are already part of the lineup; the latter will be new. He stopped short of providing technical details, but Autocar learned the battery-powered model will be the most powerful member of the range, and it will correspondingly slot above the combustion-engined variants.
The yet-unnamed zero-emissions 7 will use BMW's fifth-generation electric technology, which will also power the i4 and the iNext, and it will ride on the same platform as the other versions. This means the Munich-based company will theoretically be able to build every 7 on the same assembly line regardless of what it's powered by.
Another point with a question mark hovering over it is what the panoply of plug-less gasoline- and diesel-burning engines will look like. As of 2020, 7 buyers can choose from six-, eight-, and 12-cylinder options. The straight-six will almost certainly make a comeback, the V8 likely will, too, but the mighty V12's fate is murky at best.
The electric 7 is one of 25 electrified models — including over at least 12 fully electric cars — BMW plans to release by 2023. It won't have a monopoly on its segment, however, because it will need to fend off competition from the Mercedes-Benz EQS due out in the coming years. It will be positioned as an electric alternative to the S-Class, not as an electric S-Class, and it will wear a model-specific design inspired by the Vision EQS concept.
The current-generation 7 Series (pictured) will retire in 2022, meaning its successor could enter production by the end of that year; we can't imagine BMW will go long without a flagship. It might not arrive in American showrooms until the 2023 model year, and it's unclear whether all four powertrain types will be offered at launch.