WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — BMW’s new North American chief is worried about the launch of the redesigned 7 series next year. With credit markets collapsing, Jim O’Donnell, CEO of BMW (U.S.) Holding Corp., says he has little hope for increased sales of the flagship sedan. At best, he says, BMW wants its new 7, which goes on sale in March, to do better than the overall import luxury segment.
“As a percentage of the segment, it will do better, but the segment will continue to be depressed this year and through next year,” O’Donnell says. The United States continues to be the car’s biggest market. The price of the current 7 series ranges from $77,625 to $126,625, including shipping. The new car’s price is expected to rise.
Dealers don’t have pricing or detailed product data. Ordering will start at year end and deliveries in March.
O’Donnell is confident the current model will be sold out by year end: “We’ll have a two-month gap — and that will be ideal — when there’s not a car in sight.”
O’Donnell says the iDrive control system has been further simplified. The system has a larger display screen, and climate control adjustments are on the instrument panel. The shifter on the steering wheel — a feature that annoyed customers — has been moved back to the center console. The styling also has changed. The prominent rear deck — dubbed the “Bangle butt,” after BMW’s chief designer, Chris Bangle — has been replaced with a much smoother rear. But despite the sniping, several manufacturers copied the rear because of the aerodynamic benefits.
The redesigned 7 series gets a new-generation, 4.4-liter V-8 engine with direct injection and twin turbocharging. Weight has been reduced by extensive use of aluminum in the body and major components. The suspension is new and has damping control that sets shock-absorber firmness. Advanced technology includes lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, a head-up display, night vision with pedestrian detection and backup cameras.