New 7 Series’s lightweight materials are likely to be used on the 3 and 5 Series too

The next generation of BMW’s 5 Series and 3 Series will be able to use the advanced carbonfibre and aluminium construction techniques from the forthcoming 7 Series, according to comments from senior company insiders.

The next 7 Series’ chassis mixes carbonfibre, aluminium and high-tensile steel in a manner in which, BMW claims, “no other company could produce right now”. The techniques wipe 40kg from the bare body and the use of aluminium in other key areas increases the total saving to 200kg, although extra sound deadening and safety kit reduce the net gain to 130kg.

Three types of carbonfibre are used - braided, layered and raw ‘recycled’ fabric - depending on the directional rigidity required.

BMW’s first two carbonfibre-focused production cars, the i3 and i8, were hit by early production snags as the firm struggled to stitch together a complex workflow that involves two plants in Germany, one in Japan and one in the US.

However, a senior 7 Series project insider told Autocar: “Arguably, the biggest achievement with the 7 Series is the industrialisation of these processes. We have learned many lessons from i3 and the carbonfibre components are not the limiting factor in the speed of 7 Series construction.”

Asked if this could allow the same processes to be used for smaller models, the source said: “It’s not a simple question but, in the broad sense, yes.”

Scaling up the use of the lightweight materials for the 7 Series is a solid achievement. But using them for volume models like the 3 and 5 Series will be a further challenge.

However, lightening the next versions of these cars is key to improving their fuel efficiency, allowing the use of smaller engines and fitting batteries to plug-in hybrids that allow longer electric-only running.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Our Verdict

BMW 7 Series
The BMW 7 Series features a new platform and entirely new bodyshell

Technology-laden BMW 7 Series looks better than its predecessors, but is ultimately disappointing

Join the debate

Comments
6

10 May 2015

I hope BMW don't source their lightweight materials from the same supplier as Jaguar Land Rover

 

 

10 May 2015

Leslie, you are a twat.


10 May 2015

I'll take that as a complement, Mr Savile.

 

 

11 May 2015
Leslie Brook wrote:

I'll take that as a complement, Mr Savile.

Take it any way you like, hand pump.


11 May 2015

Compliment.


11 May 2015

"...safety kit reduce the net gain to 130kg." So, why are you claiming 200 kg then?

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder
    First Drive
    24 August 2016
    Awful driving position aside, drop-top Huracán handles UK roads well. It's more dynamically rounded than its rangemates, but lacks rivals' handling bite
  • Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel
    First Drive
    23 August 2016
    Its predecessor may have been a bit limp, but the Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel is crushingly rapid and suitably luxurious
  • Car review
    23 August 2016
    Can the best sports coupé of the decade absorb a contentious new engine?
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo
    First Drive
    22 August 2016
    Porsche has striven to make its Panamera even more luxurious this time around, but the four-seater retains the grip and pace to go with its increased refinement
  • Tesla Model S 60D
    First Drive
    22 August 2016
    Updated Tesla Model S gets tweaked styling and a new entry-level 60kWh powertrain. Could this new version be the pick of the range?