BMW and arch rival Mercedes-Benz have taken two different approaches to launching electric flagship models. On one hand, BMW's i7 (pictured) looks almost exactly like the new 7 Series and the two sedans share a platform. On the other hand, the Mercedes-Benz EQS is unrelated to the S-Class in terms of design and in terms of architecture. BMW design boss Adrian van Hooydonk explained this decision.
"That was a deliberate choice. We feel that electric mobility is going to happen but nobody knows how quickly. So, we felt that if we were to combine luxury and electric in one vehicle, that would be beneficial because, otherwise, in the near future we might force our customers to make an uncomfortable choice. 'Am I modern, do I want to go electric, or do I want a certain comfort and space?' So, that's almost an unfair decision that we don't want our customers to make," he told Autoblog on the sidelines of the Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance.
He stopped short of revealing if this strategy will permeate the rest of the range in the coming years, though we've seen it before: the iX3 sold in some global markets is nearly identical to the X3 save for a handful of trim pieces inside and out and, of course, its drivetrain. The i4 and the 4 Series Gran Coupe are very similar, too. However, some electric BMW models (like the iX) have no gasoline-powered counterpart.
Speaking of design, the front end that the i7 and the 7 Series share falls in line with a design language inaugurated by the face-lifted X7, but it's not a look that's going to extend to the rest of the range; don't expect the next-generation 3 Series to look like a 7 that shrunk in the wash. So-called Russian doll styling isn't what van Hooydonk hopes to achieve as he overhauls the rest of the lineup and adds new cars.
"We are going to offer more variety in the character of the vehicle. It's not going to be one [design] language applied to all of our vehicles. Our lineup is quite large right now, so we feel that we need to get these vehicles in character to the specific customers because there are always different competitors in each segment. You could say, in broad terms, that the 7 Series represents that philosophy at the top end, in the luxury segment, but we will do that all across the board. Things like grilles and headlights will vary. The front-end design you saw on the i7 we will reserve for cars like the 7 Series, the X7 and the XM. We will do different interpretations for different vehicles," he summed up.