BMW's heaviest SUV and heaviest vehicle won't arrive until next year with as the production version of the XM SUV. Australian outlet Car Sales spoke with BMW 7 Series project lead Christoph Fagschlunger about BMWs developing the mass and gravitational pulls of small planets.
The new battery-electric 2023 BMW i7 weighs 5,820 pounds. To be fair, that is just 132 pounds more than the battery-electric Mercedes-AMG EQS, and 66 pounds more than a Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB. It is also 159 pounds heavier than the mightiest trim of the 2023 X7, the M60i. Fagschlunger said the end of the embiggening is near, "I don’t think cars will get more heavy than they are now, and there are many reasons for that."
While electrification is responsible for a sudden leap in vehicle weights, we have to remember that enthusiasts (like us) have been groaning about heavier cars for at least 15 years. The primary culprits have not been batteries, but luxury features, safety equipment, increasing adoption of all-wheel drive, and the popularity of crossovers and SUVs. "Cars were getting heavier even without electrification, with safety regulations and then NCAP and then luxury," Fagschlunger said. He explained that a modern luxury seat is at least 88 pounds heavier than it was 20 years ago, Car Sales adding that some seats exceed 220 pounds. Those 22-way motors, massaging mechanisms, and climate control equipment are burdensome. This became a pointed issue in regard to safety, because heavier vehicles needed heavier structures to pass increasingly stringent crash tests.
But the BMW engineer believes technology will be start shaving pounds from platforms thanks to advances like more energy-dense batteries and wider use of active noise cancellation (sound deadening is heavy). Suppliers are working on features like vehicle audio that uses the architecture as speakers, instead of loading a car up with woofers and tweeters (speakers are heavy, too). Let's hope the diet begins before the industry hits the wall Fagschlunger warns is imminent: "Size of cars will have a natural ending someday, when you can’t fit in the garage or turn around on the street corner. That day is getting closer."
If you want to see how far the 7 Series has come, PD Evolution just released an eight-minute tour of how the executive sedan has evolved since its debut in 1977 — when it weighed "just" 3,527 pounds.