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First Drive: 2019 BMW X7

Bavaria’s big boy offers Euro alternative to Escalade, Navigator – as well as 7-Series.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.21, 2019

The 2019 BMW X7 shown here in Euro trim heading off into the sunset.

Laissez les bon temps rouler…let the good times roll. And since I’m heading to New Orleans, it’s nice to be rolling that way in the new 2019 BMW X7.

The German automaker was one of the first to get serious about building luxury SUVs with the 1999 launch of the original X5. And as the global market has steadily shifted from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, it has steadily expanded the range of what the Bavarian marque prefers to call “Sport Activity Vehicles.” The X7 is the latest and most lavish entry, essentially a two-box alternative to the brand’s familiar flagship, the 7-Series.

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To see if it’s really up to the challenge I headed down to Tallahassee to pick up one of the Bavarian brutes, beginning a day-long drive across the Florida Panhandle, through Alabama and Mississippi and wrapping up in the Cajun State, just in time for the start of the annual Mardi Gras.

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BMW Warns Profits Will Fall in 2019 After Tough 2018

A disorderly Brexit could impact German automaker's bottom line.

by Michael Strong on Mar.20, 2019

The BMW Group warned that profits would be down again in 2019, and at higher levels than 2018.

BMW Group officials are predicting that this year will be tougher than last year and plans to implement a more than $13 billion plan to cut costs and improve efficiency by 2022 to offset technology development investments and currency costs.

The company saw profits drop 7.9% in 2018 and expects that to rise to 10% this year. As a result, it’s looking to improve efficiency levels and find ways to cut costs as Brexit issues are likely to make for a bumpy ride for European-based automakers.

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Additionally, the need to plow more money into electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle development is driving the $13.6 billion, or 12 billion euros, plan to trim expenses. However, BMW officials admit it’s an aggressive response to only a potential problem. (more…)

BMW Reassigns Key Management Responsibilities

Moves designed to make company leaner.

by Joseph Szczesny on Mar.18, 2019

BMW's Harald Krueger noted the company's recent shuffling of executives should make the company leaner and more competitive.

The BMW Group is reorganizing its Board of Management to create what Is described as a new leaner, future-oriented management structure.

“We are restructuring our divisions to give us the best possible foundation for the future. It sends out a clear signal that our organization is lean and efficient throughout the company,” said Harald Krüger, chairman of the BMW AG Board of Management, speaking in Munich on Friday.

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The moves come at a time when carmakers the world over are facing sweeping change and major financial pressures. In fact, BMW recently announced plans to alliance with archrival Mercedes-Benz to address technical issues with autonomous vehicles. German carmakers, such as BMW, also are still reeling from a losing bet on diesel technology that has cost them dearly. (more…)

BMW: The Leading US Exporter of New Vehicles

Automaker's SUVs extreme popularity give it the title.

by Michael Strong on Mar.08, 2019

BMW shipped more than 234,000 SUVs and coupes from the U.S.

Once again, BMW is the top exporter of vehicles from the United States. For the fifth year in a row, the German automaker’s X series sport activity vehicles took it to the top of the heap.

The company said it exported 234,689 units of its sport-utilities and coupes from its Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant during 2018, totaling more than $8.4 billion in 2018.

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“Despite…the ongoing uncertainty regarding trade and tariffs, plant Spartanburg is still positively contributing to the U.S. balance of trade,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co LLC. (more…)

BMW, Daimler Announce Another Alliance Focused on Autonomous Driving

Joint venture revealed days after deal to combine mobility services operations.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.28, 2019

A pair of fully autonomous concepts from BMW and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand.

Just days after they announced plans to combine their mobility services operations, BMW and Daimler AG now say they will team up on the development of self-driving vehicles.

The move is meant to help them share costs and speed to market a technology many expect will radically transform the auto industry over the coming decades. Autonomous vehicles also could anchor some of the new ride- and car-sharing services the German automakers plan to roll out under their earlier joint venture – and help them fend off upstart rivals such as Waymo, Uber and Tesla.

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“Initially, the focus will be on advancing the development of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and parking features,” the automakers said in a statement announcing the autonomous driving partnership.

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BMW, Daimler Launching New Ride-Sharing Service, Other Mobility Ventures

New partners open door to other participants.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.22, 2019

BMW Chief Harald Krueger, left, and Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche are all smiles after announcing plans to merge mobility operations.

Nearly a year after announcing plans to combine their ambitious mobility services operations, Mercedes’ parent Daimler and erstwhile rival BMW have announced an array of new joint venture projects that will include car and ride-sharing operations that could challenge upstarts like Uber, Lyft and China’s Didi Chuxing.

The two luxury automakers plan to invest a combined 1 billion euros, or about $1.1 billion, to expand the five projects BMW CEO Harald Krueger and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche outlined at a news conference Friday, which also include parking and electric vehicle charging. The two newly minted partners also opened the door to cooperation with other automotive manufacturers.

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“These five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously,” said BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger. (more…)

BMW Pumps Up with New X3 M and X4M Utes

Competition package delivers 503 hp.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.13, 2019

BMW will start delivering the new X3 M and X4 M to U.S. customers in April.

BMW is putting the emphasis on “sport” with two new sport-utility vehicles, the 2020 X3 M and X4 M.

The compact models get the BMW M treatment for the first time, and it starts out with a twin-turbo inline-six that, in Competition trim, will push as much as 503 horsepower to the pavement – enough to launch from 0 to 60 in just 4.1 seconds.

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Both of the new models will be assembled at the Bavarian automaker’s South Carolina assembly plant, BMW notes, something that should minimize the impact should Pres. Donald Trump authorize new tariffs on European auto imports, as he has been threatening. That said, don’t expect them to come cheap. (more…)

BMW Reveals New 7-Series Plug-In Hybrid

Three versions worldwide, including U.S.-bound 745e xDrive.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.01, 2019

The second-generation BMW 7-Series plug-in opts for a bigger engine and bigger battery.

BMW continues its push to electrify its line-up with the official launch of the new 745e model. Three different versions of the plug-in hybrid will be offered worldwide, including the 745e, the 745Le and the 745e xDrive, the latter being the only variant planned for the U.S. market.

The new model marks the second-generation 7-Series plug-in but gets a complete makeover under the hood, abandoning the previous model’s 2.0-liter inline-four gas engine in favor of a 3.0-liter inline-six. Paired with a single electric motor, the package is claimed to delivered both improved performance and longer range when operating in EV mode.

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Part of the credit for those improvements comes from the increase in the size of the 745e sedan’s lithium-ion battery pack from 9.2 to 12.0 kilowatt-hours.

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BMW Updates Flagship 7 Series

In an SUV era does it matter?

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.16, 2019

BMW's new flagship model, the 7 Series, is ready to hit the road, borrowing some styling cues from the X7.

In an era of exotic SUVs like the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, do sedans really matter anymore? Can a conventional four-door model still be considered a “flagship?”

That’s a question BMW is trying to answer with the launch of the updated, 2020 7 Series. But it’s takes just one look to recognize which side of the product line-up is influencing the other. With the all-new X7 set to roll into showrooms in short order, it looks like the SUV is setting the tone for the sedan.

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Just one glance at the image shown here and you’ll see what that means. As a midcycle update, there’s a limit to what the Bavarian marque can achieve, since it won’t be able to change the underlying platform for a few years. Nonetheless, you can’t miss the massive new version of the traditional BMW double-kidney grille that looks like it was lifted whole from the new X7. (more…)

Long-Awaited Toyota Supra Finally Set to Break Cover at NAIAS

The icon is back after nearly two decades away.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.14, 2019

Toyota chief Akio Toyota welcomed back an "old friend," the new Toyota Supra at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

At a generally quiet 2019 North American International Auto Show one thing seems certain: there’ll be plenty of buzz as Toyota lifts the covers off the reborn Supra.

Though the automaker did tease us last year with a track version of the sports car, as well as a heavily disguised version of the street model during the summer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, this is the first time most of the world will see it, sans camouflage, as the Toyota Supra makes its return after a 17-year global absence and a 21-year deficit in the U.S. market.

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(We did get a sneak peek over the weekend, however, thanks to Toyota Mexico which issued a tweet declaring, “Our new #Supra arrived in Japan!, and this is the story that #AkioToyoda tells us about its return”, with an accompanying video profiling the sports car.) (more…)