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High Voltage

BMW continues to expand its electrified offerings with a plug-in hybrid 7-Series

The plug-in hybrid BMW 740e is virtually identical to its opulent gasoline-only counterparts, save for some exterior badging, phosphor blue front grille bars and wheel hub covers.

Until recently, drivers wishing to stay in the BMW fold while exuding some eco-consciousness had two equally impractical options: the i3, a quirky, all-electric, overgrown microcar, or the futuristic, over-the-top, plug-in hybrid i8 sports car.   

Now BMW has distilled the technological know-how gleaned from those cars and started injecting it into its existing vehicle lineup. The most recent addition to the small-yet-growing electric Bimmer family is a hybrid flagship 7-Series sedan. With starting prices just south of six figures, it’s an opportunity for moguls to enjoy some plug-in electric motoring.

First off, the obvious: The new BMW 740e (and long-wheelbase 740Le) plug-in hybrid includes all the things that make the posh 7-Series one of the leading luxury land yachts. Some of the more indulgent and innovative options include a panoramic glass roof with integrated LED lighting; rear “executive lounge” seating with footrests, 10-inch entertainment screens and Wi-Fi hotspot; and a “gesture control” interface whereby hand movements control certain infotainment features, like circling a finger near the center console to adjust audio volume up and down.

As for power, the 740e features an electric motor that makes 111 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. This is coupled with a potent twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine making 255 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. BMW says the combined system output is enough to propel this limo from zero to 62 mph in an impressive 5.5 seconds. EPA efficiency numbers were not available at press time but BMW promises fuel consumption on par with that of a compact car. Surely, we can expect better figures than the 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway of the gasoline-only 740i.  

Like most plug-in hybrids, the 740e is capable of driving on all-electric power. BMW says the battery pack stowed behind the rear seats can be fully charged in less than four hours using a standard wall charger (or less than three hours using an optional accessory charger). When fully juiced, the battery-powered Bimmer can reportedly travel roughly 30 miles in pure electric mode with a top speed of 82 mph. In addition to all-electric mode, drivers can select from settings that automatically maximize range through a combination of gas and battery power and a mode that maintains the overall battery charge between 30 percent and 100 percent, thus planning ahead for all-electric use on longer trips.

The 740e is part of BMW’s long-term plan to expand and rebrand its electrified offerings under the new iPerformance moniker. Next up to receive the plug-in hybrid treatment is BMW’s perennial volume leader, the 3-Series sedan, making it that much easier to go a little greener in a Bimmer.

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