Dawn Of A New Era

State-of-the-art technology in bmw’s I cars now features in its flagship 7 series limousine — to brilliant effect.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

State-of-the-art technology in bmw’s  I  cars now features in its flagship 7 series limousine — to brilliant effect.

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BMW had the world in awe when it first revealed the electric i3 and plug-in hybrid i8 sports car. More than just design masterpieces that captured the imagination, the vehicles were pioneers of the new reality in motoring: sustainability. The cars also feature a series of technical revolutions, such as a high-performance lithium-ion battery that charges faster and more easily. Thus, it better complements the electric motor that’s found in both BMW i models.


A key pillar of success for the BMW i models, though, was the fact that they are very light, aerodynamic and yet very strong. The all-encompassing lightweight approach to the design of BMW’s new car – dubbed “Intelligent Lightweight Engineering” – has seen engineers shave weight off every possible aspect of its build for improved fuel efficiency and performance on the go. Complementing the range of TwinPower Turbo powerplants available, the combination of intelligent design and use of advanced materials, high-tensile steels and aluminium in the construction of the car has resulted in a lighter yet stronger coach, with significant weight savings.

This is pivotal in reducing its weight, which in turn, maximises dynamism and efficiency. As a direct result of this mixed-material construction, the new 7 Series now weighs 130kg less than its predecessor – this is in spite of all the newly added innovations that would have increased the overall weight. Central to this is the use of a very special material called carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).Used extensively in aircraft manufacturing and Formula One race cars, CFRP is a very rigid, lightweight material that’s  five times stronger than steel, yet 50 per cent lighter. However, given its unique nature, mass producing it for both the i3 and i8 models required over a decade of extensive research. The result: optimised CFRP production techniques that can handle both large quantities of the material and complex shapes for various parts of a car.

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With the BMW i models setting the benchmark, technological advances like the extensive use of CFRP have been transferred to the latest generation of the company’s flagship 7 Series luxury limousine. Quality here is not limited to the end product, but stems from the processes used to create it as well. For the all-new 7 Series, Carbon Core is at the centre of its body structure, making it the  first car in its segment in which industrially manufactured CFRP is combined with steel and aluminium. The intelligent body concept uses this mixed-materials approach to increase the.

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