As Spartanburg Slowly Births the BMW X7, an Ever-growing Pool of Buyers Awaits

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
as spartanburg slowly births the bmw x7 an ever growing pool of buyers awaits

It certainly feels like BMW is taking its sweet time getting the full-size, three-row X7 to market, but the automaker assures us it’s almost here. Announced yesterday, pre-production models are now rolling off BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, assembly line — a major step in a product timeline that began in 2014.

Offering up an all-important third row and front end styling that’s sure to spark debate (this year’s X7 iPerformance concept set a high bar for controversy and grille size), the production model should be ready for a late 2018 debut. In the meantime, certification drudgery and copious amounts of hot and cold weather testing awaits.

As the sole member of the Big German Three without a three-row SUV (SAV in BMW parlance), the X7 is a much-needed vehicle, and not just because the automaker wants more high-margin vehicles to fund its electrification efforts. True, the new car market is contracting, but big premium utility vehicles sell.

From what BMW is willing to show us, the X7 — like the concept that preceded it — shouldn’t want for airflow through the front fascia. It was a big grille before, and it remains one now. A large, wraparound lower opening underscores the brand’s signature twin kidneys, which, unlike those found on all other X-models, are fused in the middle. The headlights are not nearly as narrow.

The X7 rides atop BMW’s CLAR modular platform, and buyers of the 2019 production model should expect a range of engine choices, as well as a likely hybrid option.

By adding the X7 to its Spartanburg assembly plant, BMW expects the factory’s workforce — which currently stands at 9,000 — to swell by a further 1,000 employees over the next few years. Spartanburg, Bimmer’s largest plant, builds the X3, X4, X5, and X6.

But what does the market hold for the X7? If sales of the model’s future competitors are any indication, Bimmer won’t regret spending the cash needed to make the X7 a reality. Three-row premium SUVs are a license to print money.

With one month left to go on 2017’s sales calendar, Audi’s Q7 has already surpassed 2016’s record U.S. sales volume. Through the end of November, sales are up 22.8 percent.

Mercedes-Benz soldiers on with its GLS class, formerly the GL. Year-to-date, GLS sales in the United States are up 7.6 percent, with the model poised to break last year’s record volume.

Over at Lexus, the brand can’t get enough three-row utility vehicles. The aging GX and range-topping LX simply aren’t enough to satisfy the automaker’s thirst for volume, so there’s a new three-row variant of the midsize RX coming for 2018. Still, GX sales are up 10.1 percent, year-to-date, with the model’s on track for its best sales showing in 12 years. Sales of the LX grew 8 percent in 2017.

As Infiniti prepares a new QX50 and introduces a refreshed QX80 flagship, the three-row QX60’s sales are down 2.2 percent, year-to-date. It’s worth noting that 2016 was the model’s best sales year since its 2013 model year introduction.

Suffice it to say there’s buyers waiting for the X7.

[Images: BMW Group]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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3 of 23 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Dec 20, 2017

    Wow, that front end is hideous. Is it time for BMW to get the Old Yeller treatment?

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Dec 20, 2017

    "As the sole member of the Big German Three without a three-row SUV (SAV in BMW parlance), the X7..." The X5 is available with a third row. Mine has one, and while only suitable for kids, it does come in handy at times. . .

    • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Dec 22, 2017

      I thought you found your huff, and left in it. Did the bookmark rebookmark itself?

  • ToolGuy "Mr. President, no government agency, no think tank, and no polling firm knows more about the automobile customer than us. We talk to customers every day. As retail automotive dealerships, we are agnostic as to what we sell. Our business is to provide customers with vehicles that meet the needs of their budgets and lifestyles.”• How many lies can you fit into one paragraph?
  • Spamvw Three on the tree, even Generation X would have a hard time stealing one of those.
  • ToolGuy This trend of cyan wheels needs to end NOW.
  • Kwik_Shift Interesting nugget(s) of EV follies.
  • SaulTigh I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you really cared about the environment you'd be encouraging everyone to drive a standard hybrid. Mature and reliable technology that uses less resources yet can still be conveniently driven cross country and use existing infrastructure.These young people have no concept of how far we've come. Cars were dirty, stinking things when I was a kid. They've never been cleaner. You hardly ever see a car smoking out the tail pipe or smell it running rich these days, even the most clapped out 20 year old POS. Hybrids are even cleaner.