Not perfect timing with a recession upon us and a UK new car market in freefall, but BMW’s new generation 7 Series luxury flagship arrives in dealer showrooms from 15 November 2008. BMW UK’s total new car sales are down 1.2% so far this year against a market which is down by 8.8%.
Each UK dealer will have a new 7 Series demonstrator as BMW (UK) Ltd is providing the vehicle at their cost and they retain ownership until it is sold. The demonstrators will be replaced by BMW every six months.
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BMW says this new move by them will control residual values and reduce the financial pressure of stocking charges for dealers. The demonstrator will be of the type and specification most commonly sold in each dealer’s area using data captured from past 7 Series sales.
Most of the questions this week at the UK media launch of the new model range were based on the recession and is it the right time to be launching luxury limousines priced from £54,160?
BMW UK firmly thinks it is and David Tuckett, the 7 Series Product Manager is predicting around 1,800 registrations for the new model in a full year, although this figure is down on the 2,300 being quoted in the press pack. The diesel model is expected to take 85% of sales, business customers will take 85% of registrations, 60% of drivers will be chauffeurs and 40% of sales will be for the long wheelbase variants.
He added the prices represent a 4% increase over the outgoing models and take into account the additional technical features and the increase in the price of raw materials such as aluminium, widely used throughout the new cars.
The SMMT official new car registration figures for the first nine months of this year show ‘luxury’ saloon sales being down by nearly 20% against the same period last year. Figures from BMW show 13,120 luxury saloons were sold in the UK in 2007 and year-to-date this year sales have reached 9,044 units. The BMW 7 Series takes 12% of sales in this sector.
Around 50,000 7 Series are sold worldwide each year
Tuckett added, “The 7 Series doesn’t sell in big numbers but it is still an important car for us. The type of buyer is predominately a business user such as a senior manager or professional driver. Such a core customer base does not go away so the 7 Series is still very relevant. What we are doing with EfficientDynamics just makes it more realistic in the current climate."
The new 7 Series is the final model in the BMW range to receive their EfficientDynamics fuel and CO2 saving technologies. Excluding the 7 Series, which has CO2 emissions ranging from 192 to 266g/km, BMW offers 73 models with CO2 emissions of 140g/km or less in the UK.
The fifth generation 7 Series, priced from £54,160 to £69,400 with standard and long wheelbase body styles, debuts several BMW ‘world firsts’ or new to BMW technologies that will filter through to models in their other ranges in due course.
Included as standard, or as options depending on the model, the ‘firsts’ include active four wheel steering, night vision with predestrian recognition, speed limit display which uses a forward facing camera to scan road signs and then displays the current speed limit to the driver on the head-up display in the windscreen, lane departure warning shares the same camera, lane change blind-spot warning provides a rearward-facing safety blanket using sensors and side view cameras which help with parking or moving out into traffic after parking.
Other technical features used before by BMW include rear air suspension for long wheelbase models, Drive Dynamic Control, where the driver or VIP passenger can choose the ride comfort setting and the driver can choose the settings for optimum gearchange, throttle and power steering responses and all models have Dynamic Stability Control.
Initially the new 7 Series range will be offered with the choice of three engine options, a 3.0-litre 245hp diesel which will take 85% of sales and two petrol units, 3.0-litre 740i 326hp unit which will take 5% of sales and the twin turbo 750i with its 4.4-litre 407hp engine which will attract 10% of customers.
All are used in conjunction with a six-speed automatic transmission. The two petrol powered cars will be offered with standard and long wheel-base body options. A long wheelbase version with a diesel engine will join the line-up in the first half of next year. BMW says all three engines produce more power, use less fuel and produce fewer emissions then the models they replace.