BMW already makes cars series from 1 through 7. Its X range of crossovers quickly approaching the same coverage, now that there's the X4 compact sports activity coupe and rumor of a smaller X2 coupe. So why haven't they sucked it up and made a large three-row X7 already?
This might be the strangest omission in BMW's X lineup, as it's actually a logical niche. I can remember back to 2000 or so, just after the X5 was launched, that there'd be an X3 and X7 in the lineup. Rumors of an X7 have been re-lit thanks to an announcement that BMW is announcing an investment at its South Carolina plant next week.
But it's worth remembering the sequence of events here. The smaller, cheaper X3 became real in 2004. Then there was the X6 in 2008, followed by the X1 shortly thereafter for Europe and later North America.
The third-generation 2014 X5 is ever so slightly larger, slightly more expensive and still offers that optional third-row seat that's almost useless. However between it and the more expensive and less practical X6, BMW is able to compete with crossovers from Audi, Mercedes and Land Rover just fine. And yet Mercedes has the enormous GL-Class, while the Range Rover is only getting larger and more expensive. Doesn't BMW worry it's going to be left behind in the high-lux SUV race?
Of all the niches, it sounds like the least risky one. Full-sized three-row crossovers are popular for a good reason: they're good at hauling people and things. The X5 right now is too small to carry seven people. Make it larger, though, and you risk changing the dynamics and styling that's made it popular all these years.
Perhaps there are thoughts it will cannibalize sales of the 7-series sedans. That's a fair point to consider. But the same worry could be put on the X4 eating sales from other 3 and 4-series cars.
As eyeroll-worthy as the entire BMW range is these days, an X7 is an addition to the lineup I could actually see the reasoning behind.