BMW goes Big with Three-Row SUV Monster

BMW AG is unleashing its biggest-ever sport utility vehicle, a brawny three-row luxury cruiser targeted at churning out fat margins to help fund the company’s shift to electric vehicles.

Featuring a massive vertical grille in the brand’s trademark kidney shape and glaring narrow headlights, the new X7 will go on sale next year to challenge the likes of the Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX and Mercedes-Benz GLS. A prototype of the vehicle will be on display next week at the Frankfurt International Auto Show.

The X7 was revived after plans for a big SUV were culled almost a decade ago. At the time, the global financial crisis prompted BMW to rein in spending as high oil prices pushed consumers to smaller cars. But now, the German carmaker is counting on upscale models to shore up its bottom line as it invests in next-generation vehicles, such as the self-driving battery-powered iNext, which will take years to pay off.

While BMW this week announced plans to roll out 12 battery-powered vehicles by 2025, the bulky sport utility vehicle won’t be entirely at odds with the green-car shift. The company will show the X7, which will be built at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that can drive emission free for short distances.

“Electric mobility has absolute priority for us, and we’ll increase the number of electrified models across all brands,” Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger said at an early unveiling of the car in Munich. Flanking that effort are plans to “increase sales and revenue from the high-end segment significantly,” including models like the glitzy 8-Series coupe, he said.


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