BMW 7-Series Diesel for the US?

The BMW 335d clean diesel sedan arrives in showrooms this month, followed by the BMW X5 clean diesel SUV in January. Before the public has had a chance to decide on the value equation of its first two luxury diesel vehicles in the $40,000 to $50,000 price range, BMW is now considering an even more expensive clean diesel 7-series sedan.

The European 730d is powered by a turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine and yields 45 miles per gallon. Even with this impressive fuel efficiency, BMW is gambling on a much-improved economy, and the price of gasoline heading back up, by the time the diesel 7-series would arrive sometime in mid-2010.

The price would most likely be 10 to 15 percent higher than the non-diesel—pushing the sticker beyond $80,000.

There are other reasons for BMW to consider carrying the European 730d to American shores. A diesel with fuel economy in the mid-40s would help BMW meet more stringent fuel efficiency standards on the way. As a comparison, a conventional version of the new 7-series is expected to grant just 16 in the city and 24 on the highway.

BMW dealers from the US recently gave the new 7-series diesel a test drive in Munich. “They all told me they wanted it,” said Jim O’Donnell, president of BMW North America. “It wasn’t in our plans, but we’ll look at it.”

If the 730d makes it to the US, it will probably utilize a clean diesel system similar to the one found in the BMW 335d. The technology, known as BluePerformance, utilizes a fluid called AdBlue, which is injected into the exhaust system to reduce oxides of nitrogen. BluePerformance is very similar to the Bluetec system found in Mercedes Benz diesel vehicles.

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  • Dom

    Nice. I would buy one… if BMW was in my price range…
    But I want to see more diesel choices here so I hope they bring it.

  • RKRB

    Well, the 7 series Bimmer diesel will surely get worse mileage than the 3-series Bimmer, and that car doesn’t get very good mileage. Fuel economy in the mid 40’s? Try the high 20’s, probably. That kind of mileage won’t solve many of our problems, that’s for sure.

    If the Big 3 did something like this, people would be screaming things like “greenwashing” or “over-hyped major disappointment.” BMW does it, and they will no doubt receive little but praise. Somehow, the European and Asian manufacturers seem to avoid the same negative press that has so deeply affected Detroit, whether it’s fuel economy, emissions, safety, reliability, or whatever.

  • AP

    RKRB, you’re absolutely correct. Automatically rejecting another country’s ideas is called NIH (not invented here) syndrome. What do we call the incessant criticism of domestic ideas? IH syndrome doesn’t have a good enough ring to it.

    FYI, American pollution controls make it very difficult to sell diesel vehicles here. Besides the extra costs, refilling a urea tank under the hood doesn’t sound like fun. In Europe, they are a bit more lax on the NOx values to make it viable. Then again, with US diesel at $1/gallon more than gasoline, the market here is probably limited anyway.

  • Dom

    I beg to differ with RKRB’s claim that the diesel will only get high 20’s as far a fuel economy is concerned. Didn’t you read the article?? It says the “conventional model”, which is no doubt referring to a gasoline model, is expected to gets high 20’s. Put a diesel engine in its place and the mileage is going to be significantly better than that. At least in the 30’s. 40mpg isn’t unreasonable or impossible. Take a look at the difference between a gasoline and diesel VW Jetta.

  • RKRB

    -Note to Dom:
    My estimates were based on the mileage for existing diesels. The 335 diesel, a less massive car than the 5- or 7-series, is listed elsewhere on this website with a 29 mpg combined figure. The E series Benz diesel (which is still trimmer than the 7-series BMW, and closer to the weight of a 5 series Bimmer) gets 23 city/ 32 highway/26 combined, from the EPA. Even the Jetta diesel gets 30mpg EPA in the city, and I doubt the 5- or 7-series will do better than that.

    -Of course, these are estimates based on the EPA for the US. You will predictably get someone who claims to get much better mileage figures, just as some people will complain about low figures, but it’s hard to generalize from these reports. No one should expect a car like the 7-series (or even a 5-series) to have very good mileage, based on the figures above.

    -Diesels don’t necessarily equate to magical mileage. The original Hummer had a diesel, and many light truck diesels are not terribly fuel-efficient, even compared with their gas cousins, for several reasons.

    -Anyway, we’ll see. I hope I’m wrong because we need to save fuel, but physics is physics.

  • Dom

    I guess we’re talking about two different figures RKRB. You’re talking about combined/average, whereas the article doesn’t really specify whether the 45mpg figure is city, highway, or combined. It also doesn’t say whether that is a US/EPA estimate or a European one, as I know the figures end up different (EPA is usually lower). I kind of assumed the 45mpg figured had to be the highway figure.

  • RKRB

    Dom: You have a good point, amigo.

    I selected the average EPA mileage because that’s what probably correlates best with the amount of fuel the car will be using in a year in the US (along with the total miles driven, of course).

    Hope this helps.

  • jrc

    Well, I’m a few hundred miles into a new 335d – a welcome replacement to my 5 series. So far it’s pretty close to the EPA sticker of 23/36. Long trip next week and we’ll see if I can break 40.

    Getting the best MPG means putting efficient power plants in smaller, lighter vehicles. The European BMW 1 series are what we want to see. A big car will always be more wasteful.


  • Katherine Martin

    diesel suv is perfect for the whole family. For a farmer like me, i can definitely get what I deserve.