The BMW X7, one year on
I love the BMW X7 at launch, I thought it was the perfect Range Rover Vogue competitor for the Germans. Mercedes hadn't quite found its pace in competition to the Range Rover over previous years and Audi didn't have a product to compete at all. Not just that but the interior quality of the X7 was genuinely good. It was so good that I'd gladly get driven around in it all day long.
But then, a couple of months later, I remembered another car BMW had on range, the 7 series. And I love that car. I love the fact that for a long time BMW's large saloon was the fastest car on their entire range. I thought that was just a little bit special, and I still do. And then I thought, so if I had to choose between the X7 and the 7 series, what would I choose? The truth is, I'd be the 7 series every time. Because it isn't just fun to get driven in, it's fun to drive.
We're now one year into the BMW X7's long, long life. Unfortunately the situation hasn't got much better. In fact the X7's new car appeal is totally gone. Worse still there aren't a huge amount of those cars being sold. And it brought up a good point about cars in general.
Just because a car is good, and it looks good and it's good quality, doesn't mean the thing is going to sell. We've seen it over and over again in fact throughout automotive history. Some of the most expensive and brilliant cars had to be discontinued due to falling sales levels. I'm not saying BMW are considering the discontinuation of the X7. But surely the idea might've popped into an executive's mind.
But then again, upon reflection, I think BMW got that market all wrong to be frank. The X7 should never have been a full combustion vehicle. Chauffeurs nowadays are avoiding those pesky internal combustion vehicles like wildfire. It's why we're seeing so many Lexus Hybrid LWB in airport carparks here in Australia. Drivers are cluing in to the fact that the amount of money they'll save on buying a hybrid or full electric vehicle is astronomical.
Thing is, what does it matter to the passenger? They aren't driving the car. They're only riding in it. So as long as the back seat is comfortable why the hell would they care of the car isn't making any noise?
That's the market BMW should've been targeting with the X7. Even large families who are genuinely going to buy the car for its size would nowadays be more inclined to be eco-friendly in comparison to the X7's gas gussling engine. All of that aside though it was an opportunity for BMW to beat every other manufacturer to the punch. A large, full electric SUV. That hasn't been done yet. It could've been a vision into the future of automotive. Because the fact is, as I've pointed out multiple times, the roads by-en-large are consumed by SUVs, sedans and small vehicles which means that the only way you make a dent on carbon emissions is by convincing the average Joe to buy an EV or a PHEV.
So what went wrong? Well my theory is that despite the X7 is a magnificent car. It was rushed to market without cause. I'm sure BMW had some good market intelligence to say that Audi and Mercedes both had competitors coming to market. But at the time the Range Rover Vogue had already just had an update and the only other car that might sneak a bit of competition was the Volvo XC90, and to be honest that car was competing in a totally alternative market.
The reality was, Audi came out with a sport back product to compete with the X6 and GLE and Mercedes released more of the same. Which means BMW still sits out on an island with Land Rover competing in a very small volume market with little market share to fight over. With that in mind, I'm sure the X7 does fantastically in Asia (a market which BMW intended it to compete in). That market though is problematic for a range of reasons, and as we've found out at the start of this year with the outbreak of Coronavirus. And plus, China are heavily investing themselves in electric vehicles so there must be a market there for them.
So where does that leave the BMW X7 in the long term? I don't actually know. I don't know whether that car survives the next round of BMW products or it was a one trick pony to shove BMW's nose in front of its long term rival, Mercedes. What I do know is that one year on the BMW X7 is becoming far less relevant in the automotive market. And the car needs to change quick in order to adapt. Otherwise it'll become another BMW relic from an era which was considered the golden age of the BMW.