BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer has recently mentioned the possibility of a hybrid version of the automaker’s next-generation 7-series sedan, which is due to hit the marketplace in late 2008/early 2009. But details on the hybrid model are quite sketchy at this point. An unnamed source at BMW has told that even if the 7-series hybrid comes to fruition, it would probably not be for at least another two years. “Everything about this automobile is highly speculative at this point. Things are still being weighed. But that doesn’t mean an official announcement isn’t around the corner.”

Vagueness aside, a hybrid version of BMW’s largest passenger car seems to make perfect sense. Market research shows that buyers of high-end luxury vehicles are, in fact, interested in going green, for both monetary and social reasons. The success of vehicles like the Mercedes Benz E320 Bluetec and the Lexus GS450h are indicative of this growing trend. The 7-series currently gives fuel economy of 15 city/23 highway. A significant enough boosting of these numbers could make BMW a leader in the luxury-hybrid market, while giving new meaning to the carmaker’s “Efficient Dynamics” initiative, which these days is being looked at as more of a publicity rouser then any kind of serious effort in a green direction.

Since BMW is currently partnered with GM and Chrysler to co-develop hybrid technology for implementation by all three manufacturers, it is likely that the 7-series hybrid would be powered by the same two-mode system found in the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. “This is certainly a logical assumption, but not a definitive one,” our source at BMW asserted. If this is the case, the 7-series could be looking at a 30 to 50 percent increase in fuel economy.