Moving boldly into the future of luxury automobiles with Xenon headlight bulbs
The new BMW 7 Series, while remaining true to BMW traditions and philosophy, moves boldly into the future with new design, new engineering and technology, and new solutions to the challenges of contemporary driving. It is a fascinating exercise in the application of original thought to virtually every area of automotive concepts. In contrast to the somewhat broader line of 7 Series models being introduced to the European market, which include two sizes of V-8 engines (and other engine configurations to come), the initial U.S. offering will consist of two models, both powered by the larger V-8: the 745i (available January 2002) and the long-wheelbase 745Li (March 2002). Both are 2002 models. Standard and optional equipment will also reflect differences between the European and U.S. markets, which will be explained in the course of this text.
THE CONCEPT: A NEW ‘‘DESIGN LANGUAGE’’ AND NEW APPROACHES THROUGHOUT
There are times when evolution is appropriate, and there are times when bolder steps are justified. Indeed, evolution is more often the appropriate way to proceed in the development of motor vehicles; almost by definition, revolution cannot occur frequently.
For some time now, BMW has been on an evolutionary path, carefully and intelligently refining highly successful basic concepts. With the occasional exception of a conceptually new product such as the Z3 or X5, BMW Series --- 7, 5 and 3 being the most established lines --- follow an evolutionary line from generation to generation. Each recent new generation --- the E38 7 Series in 1995, E39 5 Series in 1997, E46 3 Series in 1999 --- has brought with it new design and technology: an abundance thereof, to be sure, but not the most revolutionary sorts of breakthroughs.
The new 7 Series for 2002 breaks with this pattern. Even its internal ‘‘E’’ designations --- for the first time there are more than one, E65 and E66 --- signal a bold departure from the past. But there is more, much more, to the ‘‘new 7’’ story than that. The utterly new look is apparent enough at the first glance, but underneath and inside the innovative design is one of the richest palettes of new concepts and new technology ever to appear in a new BMW vehicle generation: Altogether, there are more than 60 significant improvements over the predecessor Series.
Not out of necessity is BMW taking this step; for the past four decades, the marque has moved from strength to strength, and in recent years U.S. BMW sales have been trending dramatically upward. Rather, BMW is seizing the initiative of future-oriented leadership. Here, then, is the story of the new 7: the luxury-performance automobile that redefines luxury, performance, design and technology --- and in doing so, launches a new era of automotive excellence.
THE LOOK: A KEYWORD IS ‘‘PRESENCE’’
The present E38 7 Series, introduced in 1995 and produced through the 2001 model year, is an excellent performance-luxury design in the BMW tradition. ‘‘Tradition’’ is in fact a keyword for the E38: It was not radical when introduced, and today it is an archetype of conservative luxury-car design. At the same time, for a large luxury car, it has a look that outwardly represents its inner values: performance, agility, quality, elegance. Over its production years, independent experts have confirmed again and again the qualities that make it the BMW of luxury cars: In a November 1999 comparison test, Car and Driver magazine declared the 740iL winner against four key competitors. After praising the big BMW’s spacious back seat, the magazine concluded: ‘‘But forget the back seat, because that’s not where the fun happens. ‘Planted, secure, and confident,’ wrote one tester. ‘No other [car in this test] tells me more clearly what it’s doing and where its limits reside.’ And that’s why we like the 740iL best.’’
For all the 7 Series’ excellence, customers in certain countries --- notably North America and Asia --- have been telling BMW they would like a 7 Series with more ‘‘presence’’ --- a big BMW that looks bigger, more prestigious, more impressive. And of course they want BMW to accomplish this while retaining, even improving, the traditional BMW traits of strong performance and active driving pleasure. This is precisely what the new 7 does.
Christopher Bangle, Director of Design at BMW AG, explains the E65 design philosophy: ‘‘The Board of Directors requested that we exercise strong design leadership,’’ says Bangle, who believes that ‘‘A leader is someone who takes you where you don’t want to go.’’ ‘‘To produce an excellent product and outstanding design,’’ adds Bangle, ‘‘you must believe in what you’re doing. We believe strongly in this car.’’
Bangle and his design team set a progressive direction for the new look. ‘‘The dynamic is all BMW. But the presence is new. The ‘greenhouse’ --- the passenger cabin, that is --- is set back, making it clear that there is Power up front. The wheels are big,’’ continues Bangle. In fact, for the U.S., the standard wheels and tires are 18-in., with 245/50 tires. Together with an inch-and-a-half greater height, these underscore the new models’ ‘‘presence.’’
See and be seen. At the front, the traditional BMW ‘‘kidney’’ grilles take on a higher, more assertive position and look. The ‘‘eyes,’’ also in the BMW tradition with four round headlights, are set relatively low by virtue of carrying the turn indicators (eyebrows) above them. They incorporate new technology: The outboard beams are Bi-Xenon, with high-intensity-discharge low and high beams (previously only the low beams were Xenon). The inboard lights are conventional halogen high beams. All four beams are outlined by light rings, which function as parking lights and illuminate whenever the parking- or headlights are switched on. A high-pressure headlight cleaning system is standard.
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Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.discount-light-bulbs.com.
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