BMW 7 series to launch new platform

35up architecture to underpin rwd cars

The Vision Future Luxury Concept provides styling cues for the next 7 series.

BMW will launch its next wave of rear-wheel-drive cars on a new platform called 35up.

The platform will be used for the 3, 5, 6 and 7-series cars starting with the redesigned 7 series next year. The 5-series sedan and 5-series GT wagon will use the platform about 18 months later.

Smaller vehicles will be based on the front-wheel-drive UKL platform that is shared with Mini. The first BMW using UKL is the 2-series Active Tourer. Other cars below the 3-series sedan will debut in the coming years -- including a 1-series four-door for the United States. All-wheel-drive variants will be produced on both 35up and UKL platforms.

Some of BMW's product plans for North America are tied to factory projects. BMW said this year it will spend $1 billion to expand its Spartanburg, S.C., plant and add a fifth crossover, the full-sized X7.

It is also spending $1 billion to build a 150,000-unit-capacity plant in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico. According to sources, the plant will build a new generation of rwd 3-series sedans and later, a fwd compact.

Here's a look at BMW's future product plans.

i8: The plug-in hybrid goes on sale this month. The all-wheel-drive supercar has a 129-hp electric motor that powers the front wheels and a 228-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine that powers the rear wheels. The motor-engine combination can deliver 357 hp.

BMW executives tout the i8 as an environmental statement because recycled and environmentally friendly materials are used throughout the car. Most of the aluminum used in the i8 is recycled or produced using renewable energy.

The supercar is nimble and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.

Pricing starts at $136,625, including shipping. Fewer than 500 i8s will be sold in the United States this year.

The i8 joins the i3, which went on sale in May in the United States.

i3: No changes to the eco-friendly i3 compact are expected for several years.

i5: BMW will launch a family of i vehicles. There has been speculation that the next will be the i5, a four-door, five-seat electric vehicle with conventional doors. It could come as early as 2017.

1-series sedan: The 1-series sedan, scheduled to arrive in 2017, will precede the third-generation 1-series hatchback, whose current rwd powertrain will be replaced by fwd. Both will ride on the company's new UKL architecture.

The 1-series sedan targets Audi's A3 sedan and Mercedes-Benz's CLA. Like the competition, the new BMW model has been developed to support fwd and four-wheel drive.

X1: The 1-series-based crossover will be redesigned in 2015 using BMW's new fwd platform. Awd will be optional.

The second-generation X1 will be slightly smaller but have the same interior room as today's version. It will share many components and engines with Mini, including the new 1.5-liter three-cylinder and 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

2015 2-series convertible

2-series convertible: With the launch of the 2-series coupe this year, BMW brought a new performance line to the United States. The M Performance Automobiles, or MPA, lineup debuted with the M235i.

The MPA models are BMW's attempt to offer the enthusiast a sporty but moderately priced model similar to Audi's S line, which is a step down from Audi's top-tier RS cars.

The 2-series convertible goes on sale in early 2015.

2-series Active Tourer: The compact fwd crossover will be the first BMW-badged vehicle off the new platform being shared with Mini. BMW of North America says it has not decided whether the crossover will come to the United States. If it does, it may come only with awd and not until 2016.

The Active Tourer is the first BMW to have a head-up feature that displays on a transparent screen that pops up above the steering wheel. The sharp angle of the windshield made it impractical to put the head-up display in the traditional lower left-hand side. The Active Tourer is powered by BMW's new three-cylinder 1.5-liter engine that makes 136 hp. Awd will be an option.

3 series: The 3-series sedan range got a high-performance M3 this summer that's 180 pounds lighter than the predecessor. BMW ditched the V-8 engine used in the previous generation in favor of an inline six-cylinder 3.0-liter TwinPower turbo that generates 450 hp.

The 3-series sedan will be freshened next summer. It's expected to have updated engines.

The 3-series station wagon will be freshened in mid-2015 and a diesel for the United States is likely.

3-series GT: The com-pact wagon won't be freshened for another two to three years.

4 series: The 4-series convertible went on sale this year. The M4 high-performance model was added this summer. It has the same engine as the M3 and also features more lightweight materials than the previous generation to reduce weight.

The coupe and convertible will be freshened in 2016.

4-series Gran Coupe: The all-new 4-series Gran Coupe will be freshened in 2016.

X4: BMW added a fifth crossover to fill the gap between the X3 and the X5. The new coupelike vehicle is available with BMW's xDrive awd system. It went on sale last month.

5 series: The mid-sized sedan will be the second car to use BMW's new 35up scalable architecture with high-strength steel, carbon fiber and aluminum modules and components. It is expected to go on sale in the United States in late 2016 or early 2017.

To keep pace with the Mercedes-Benz E-class sedan, BMW will migrate new semiautonomous driving features from the redesigned 7-series sedan to the 5 series. Awd, M high-performance, diesel and hybrid variants are expected.

5-series GT: The bulbous wagon based on the 5-series sedan will return. The redesigned five-door will shed its controversial rear end for a more flowing style similar to that of the 3-series GT. The GT will go on sale in 2017 or early 2018.

7-series sedan: BMW's flagship hasn't been competitive with the high-tech and sleekly styled new Mercedes-Benz S class sedan. BMW hopes to remedy shortfalls of today's heavy and aging 7-series sedan with a redesign that will debut at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show and go on sale in the United States in late 2015 or early 2016.

The 7-series sedan will be the first car to use BMW's new 35up lightweight scalable architecture. The body will move from all-steel to carbon fiber and aluminum to reduce weight and improve driving dynamics. The roof, hood and trunk lids will use carbon fiber, according to reports.

Willisch: Concept was a design study.

Semiautonomous driving features including self-parking and improved distance-control cruise control are expected.

Styling will take some cues from the elegant Vision Future Luxury Concept that debuted in April at the Beijing auto show.

That car led to rumors that BMW would add a 7-series coupe as a range topper and possibly call it the 9 series.

BMW will not build the coupe, and the concept was a design study for the future 7 series, Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America, said in an interview this year with Automotive News.

The new generation will have a 50-state clean diesel, a plug-in hybrid and possibly a four-cylinder engine that may be unavailable in the United States.

BMW is considering a high-performance awd M version of the 7 series for the first time, primarily for the United States, to compete with the Mercedes-Benz AMG S-class sedan.

Z4: The two-seat sports car will be redesigned in 2018. It will use an architecture jointly developed with Toyota. There are unconfirmed reports that the redesign-ed Z4 will have awd and a hybrid powerplant.

X3: The X3 will be redesigned in 2017 and there's talk of a plug-in hybrid and M high-performance model. Because it will sit on the new modular platform, the replacement X3 is expected to gain interior space.

X5: A hybrid based on the concept X5 eDrive is expected to go on sale next year. It likely will have a 245-hp four-cylinder 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and a lithium ion electric motor that makes 95 hp. The car can be charged from an ordinary electric socket.

The concept could drive 20 miles on electric power alone.

BMW's largest current crossover will get a freshening in 2016.

X6: The re-engineered second-generation crossover with coupe styling has grown about 1.3 inches in length and has increased luggage space. It goes on sale late this year.

The re-engineered X6 has contouring on the hood, a more pronounced shoulder line and a bolder front end. It will be available with rwd in addition to awd.

The X6 has a base 3.0-liter TwinPower turbo inline six-cylinder engine with 300 hp and BMW's updated 445 hp TwinPower turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine.

X7: The new seven-seat crossover will be built at BMW's factory in South Carolina. Specifics are unavailable but it will go on sale in 2017 or 2018. The X7 will not account for the entire 100,000 unit planned increase in capacity at the factory.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at -- Follow Diana T. on Twitter: @dianakurylko



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