Nearly a month after unveiling the hugely controversial facelift for the 7 Series, BMW is ready to kick off assembly of its flagship model at the Dingolfing factory in Germany. The fullsize luxury saloon has been in production at the German plant since 1977 and so far nearly two million examples have left the assembly lines. Most of the current production is for export markets, with more than 90 percent of the vehicles headed to customers residing outside Germany.
China is currently by far the largest market for BMW’s range topper when you take into account 44 percent of the cars produced last year were earmarked for the People’s Republic. Another interesting fact released by the Bavarian marque on the occasion of the facelift’s start of production has to do with the popularity of the long wheelbase version. According to BMW, 80 percent of clients are spending extra on the stretched version, which increases the distance between the axles by 14 centimetres for additional rear legroom.
The facelift’s reveal comes less than four years since the unveiling of the current-generation BMW 7 Series (G11, G12) and could represent the swan song for the V12-powered model you see here with its giant kidney grille finished in glossy black. According to the rumour mill, the seventh 7 will ditch the V12 altogether, so no more M760Li. Not only that, but the same report published recently by our colleagues at BMW Blog goes on to mention even the V8s will be retired.
Getting back to the facelifted 7er at hand, it hasn’t brought that M7 some had hoped to see. However, Alpina has already updated the B7 also known as the fastest saloon in the world. It tops out at 205 mph, which makes it 1 mph faster than the previous title holder, the mental 707-bhp, 204-mph Dodge Charger Hellcat.
Aside from the usual 7 Series versions, BMW is introducing a six-cylinder plug-in hybrid version that goes by the name of 745e and 745Le for the long-wheelbase derivative. It’s actually the first PHEV from the brand with a six-cylinder engine and it offers a combined output of 394 bhp if we include the electric motor. Its battery pack, built a few miles away from the factory, is a fourth-generation version with enough juice for up to 36 miles of pure electric range.
Gallery: BMW 7 Series Facelift production starts
Start of production for new BMW 7 Series Sedan
Extensive update for Dingolfing’s top model – First plug-in-hybrid with six-cylinder engine – Digitalisation supports production process
Dingolfing. Production of the new BMW 7 Series Sedan got underway at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing just a few days ago. Roughly three-and-a-half years after the sixth generation was launched, the BMW brand’s top model has been thoroughly revised and given greater presence.
“The BMW 7 Series has defined our identity at this site for over 40 years. We are proud that BMW’s top model, the new BMW 7 Series Sedan, will also be built here in Dingolfing. Our goal as the brand’s primary plant for the luxury class is to ensure that every vehicle our experienced and competent team puts on the roads guarantees excellent quality,” says Ilka Horstmeier, Director of BMW Group Plant Dingolfing.
The so-called “digital launch” presented a particular challenge for the production start: It means production of a new vehicle is ramped up to the full daily volume from one day to the next. To ensure high quality standards are fulfilled from the very first vehicle, complex components underwent virtual testing for fit accuracy prior to the start of production.
Since production of the first 7 Series began in 1977, more than 1.9 million BMW 7 Series cars have been built in Dingolfing. From the very beginning, the global market was crucial to the success of the luxury sedan. The BMW 7 Series is easily the number-one export from the plant in Lower Bavaria. Last year, over 90 percent of all units produced were exported abroad. The Chinese market plays an especially important role for the model: In 2018, 44 percent of global sales were delivered to customers in China.
New exterior design accents
The redesigned front and rear ends give the new BMW 7 Series a uniquely expressive appearance. At the front, the enlarged kidney grille contrasts very effectively with the slim headlights. As a result, the BMW 7 Series is clearly recognisable as part of the new BMW luxury segment and fits in with the design language of the BMW 8 Series and the BMW X7.
The rear-end design also brings fresh accents: The flatter three-dimensional rear lights rely completely on LED technology. Beneath the chrome bar between the two rear lights, there is now a slim six-millimetre light strip, which creates a discreetly illuminated accent when daytime running lights are switched on and produces a distinctive night-time design in the dark. There are also special rear lighting effects when the car is locked and unlocked.
The BMW 7 Series will continue to be available in two body variants, including the Long Wheelbase version with its 14-cm-longer wheelbase. 80 percent of customers opt for this version, which offers even more space in the rear.
The interior of the new BMW 7 Series Sedan is now also available with extended quilting around the centre console and in the armrests integrated in the door trim. New fine-wood interior trim is also available. Improved acoustic shielding in the rear wheel arches reduces the level of tire noise noticeable in the interior. To further enhance acoustic comfort, the side windows now also come with increased material thickness.
Six-cylinder plug-in hybrid debuts in the new BMW 7 Series
For the first time in a BMW Group vehicle, a plug-in hybrid will be available with a six-cylinder engine. In the BMW 745e / 745Le (combined fuel consumption: 2.3 – 2.1 l/100 km / 2.3 – 2.2 l/100 km; combined power consumption: 15.6 – 15.1 kWh/100 km / 15.7 – 15.6 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions from fuel: 2 – 48 g/km* / 53 – 50 g/km*), a 286 horsepower six-cylinder inline engine is combined with a 113 horsepower electric engine, for a total system output of 394 horsepower. The new BMW 7 Series is the first BMW Group vehicle with a fourth-generation battery. The latest battery-cell technology gives the luxury sedan an all-electric driving range of up to 58 kilometres*, ensures local emission-free driving and is virtually silent. The battery installed in the BMW 745e / 745Le is manufactured in Dingolfing, just a few kilometres away, at the Competence Centre for e-drive Production (component plant 02.20).
From there, Dingolfing already supplies BMW Group vehicle plants worldwide with batteries and electric engines for production of electrified vehicles.
Digitalisation supports BMW 7 Series production process
The production process for Dingolfing’s top model is supported by a range of innovative solutions. For assembly of less-ordered special equipment, like the rear centre console, the vibrating alarm of a smartwatch alerts employees on the corresponding section of the line that an “exotic” is coming up and gives them instructions for additional work steps.
Data glasses are also used in training new staff. When learning new work steps, virtual assistance is projected into the employee’s field of vision. This enables rapid, sustainable learning in pre-assembly of complex components like the rear light. This augmented-reality application is used at assembly training centres and constantly refined in agile working methods in close cooperation between production planning and IT.
Digitalisation is also making further inroads in supplying assembly lines with components. The latest generation of autonomous tugger trains is currently being piloted on longer routes between the warehouse and assembly hall. The capabilities of driverless tugger trains go beyond automation of earlier solutions. New and smarter logistics helpers will enable dynamic route guidance according to delivery priority, with active obstacle avoidance.