Tesla’s Mode S has been enjoying its lead in a segment of its own with no real competitors in sight. For months now, the rumormill has churned out that a BMW i5 Tesla-killer will eventually arrive, but details around the alleged electric sedan have been scarce. As always, BMW takes a more conservative approach by launching a series of plug-in hybrids. Latest eDrive-powered vehicle is the BMW 740e, the plug-in hybrid built upon the new 7 Series.
According to BMW R&D Chuef, Klaus Frolich, the Bavarians won’t built a fully-electric 7 Series, citing reasons like extended driving range needed by 7 Series customers and the negative effect on weight by the additional batteries to sustain the long electric-drive mode. BMW is also working on a hydrogen fuel-powered solution which could arrive in 2020 for larger BMWs in need of long distance driving capabilities.
Set to compete with the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid, the 740e will use advanced technologies learned from BMW’s newfound experience in electric mobility. The 740e xDrive will employ similar techniques found in the i8 and its integration of gas engine, Steptronic transmission and electric drive unit. The 740e xDrive will use a similar setup to the X5 xDrive40e, a 2.0 liter TwinPower turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor and eight-speed Steptronic transmission which will send power through all of the wheels via BMW’s latest xDrive all-wheel drive system. The electric motor will be powered by a Lithium-Ion Battery, located under the rear seat for better weight distribution and crash protection, which can be recharged via any domestic power socket, BMW i Wallbox or public charging station.
MAX eDrive allows the 740e xDrive to drive purely under electric power, at up to 75 mph, for 23 mile.
Even though more plug-in hybrids are expected in the future, BMW is also likely to unveil a Tesla competitor in the future, but for now, the company is being tight-lipped when it comes to the next “i” project.