BMW has got some big plans in the pipeline if a report by Autocar is to be believed. Rumor has it that the automaker has plans to power their vehicles by primarily electric motors in the future. The plan will start with the reinvented 3-series, which launches in 2022, which means that the upcoming X7 won't be a part of the initial move. The system will be scaleable however, which means that it should be usable throughout the BMW lineup.
The motivation for this change is mostly the ever stricter EU fuel economy and emissions regulations. By the year 2021 automakers are to have a fleet average CO2 output of 95g/km, with a range between 85g/km and 11-g/km for the various brands. That is a lofty goal that will require some major changes to achieve.
In order to pull off this radical shift, BMW engineers have had to rethink their cars from the ground up. This starts with the weight of their cars. Future bodies and under-structures will make use of lightweight materials like carbon fiber, aluminum, and high-strength steels.
The electric motor will primarily power the front wheels of each vehicle. At speeds above 50mph, the engine will be on hand to assist the vehicle. Generally, the engine will work mostly as a generator though. The engine will only be driving the front wheels of the car about 10 percent of the time according to one BMW engineer.
The BMW X7 will begin production in Spartanburg in 2017 for a 2018 launch. This system won't make it into the first iteration of the X7, but by the time the X7 is due for its first redesign sometime around the year 2022, we could be seeing an X7 that only comes as a EV. Indeed, it is with BMW's larger models that there will be the most need for increasing fuel efficiency in order to meet new EU regulations.
There will likely be a X7 hybrid for the X7's 2018 launch, and fuel efficiency will already be a priority in that design. It should give us some very interesting signals about what to expect in the mid-term future when it comes to future X7 models and the BMW lineup generally.