New range-topping BMW X7 SUV confirmedFri, 28 Mar 2014 00:00:00 -0700
BMW has officially confirmed it will add a new range-topping SUV called the X7 to its lineup.
The X7 will be the largest SUV ever produced by BMW, offering seating for up to seven in three rows of seats.
X7 production will start in 2016 at BMW's Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. The large SUV will be sold worldwide, but BMW expects a significant chunk of the vehicles will go to buyers in the United States.
The basis for the latest BMW SUV is a modified version of platform structure that underpins the existing third-generation X5 and upcoming second-generation X6, alongside which the X7 will be produced. To accommodate the third row of seats, it will feature a longer wheelbase and longer rear overhang.
The four-wheel drive X7 has been conceived as a direct rival to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GL and Range Rover. It is planned to be sold with the choice of inline six-cylinder or V8 gasoline engines, as well the plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid driveline recently previewed on the X5 Electric Drive.
The announcement of the addition of the X7 to the BMW lineup was made by BMW boss Norbert Reithofer at a media presentation celebrating 20 years of manufacturing at BMW's Spartanburg factory.
The presentation coincided with the start of production of the new X4. It is the fourth SUV to be built at the BMW facility after the X3, X5 and X6.
To accommodate production of the X4 and X7, BMW says it will invest $1 billion in the Spartanburg plant through 2016. Production capacity is planned to increase from an existing 300,000 units to 450,000 units.
By Greg Kable