After years of promoting the image of EfficientDynamics, BMW has recently announced their plants to build a large SUV, a side step from the “green message” promoted by the brand. The BMW X7 is scheduled to arrive in 2017 and will be built at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina.
BMW first considered building an X7 before the 2008 economic crisis but abandoned that idea to focus on smaller crossover vehicles that consume less fuel and the BMW i sub-brand.
The general strategy for many carmakers over the last few years was to move away from large vehicles which, despite the latest efficiency developments, are difficult to be “greenified”.
But like rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz, BMW is unwilling to take this track because its customers still demand high-performance sedans and SUVs.
“The X7 is a perfect reflection of the premium carmaker’s dilemma,” says Arndt Ellinghorst, head of automotive research at ISI Group. “On the one hand they need to launch more environment-friendly cars, on the other they have to make money to be able to afford to do so.”
BMW steps in to defend their upcoming large SUV. BMW said its decision to build the X7 is “thoroughly in accordance with the subject of sustainability . . . With large vehicles and SUVs there is often the blanket assumption that these have a very high [fuel] consumption. Our SUVs are efficient.”
Norbert Reithofer, BMW CEO, said there is no contradiction between the company’s green goals and its SUV line-up, including the X6 which weighs more than two tonnes and emits 236g carbon dioxide per km (petrol version).
“Customers worldwide have very different needs, and in the US, in particular, customers have always asked for a model above the X5. We are now responding to those wishes,” he told investors in May.
The X7 is also partly a response to its competitor Mercedes-Benz, which already has the GL, a seven-seat, 2,455kg, 5.1 meter SUV in its line-up. Audi has also given the go-ahead for a range-topping Q8 SUV to complement its chunky Q7.