In March 2023, BMW held a conference in Auckland to give a state of the nation address and to let us know what’s happening in their world. This would also be the first time DriveLife will see the new i7 EV sedan in the flesh, as one would be on display.

We’d also be alerted to all the new models coming up, with some of them highly desirable – such as the new M3 CS and M3 Touring.

2022 BMW Sales – Global

For 2022, BMW sold a total of 2.1 million cars globally, down 5.1% from 2021. MINI as a brand sold 292,000 cars, down 3%. These numbers are pretty much in line with other car manufacturers. As far as motorcycles go, Motorad, BMW’s motorcycle division, sold 202,000 bikes, up 4.4%.

Out of all BMW cars sold, 215,000 of those were EVs, up 107% from 2021. That’s an impressive gain

Rolls-Royce also bucked the downward trend, selling a record 6,000 cars worldwide, up 7.8%.

It was interesting to note that the MINI EV was the single most popular MINI model  – even with Ukraine wiring loom restrictions. BMW New Zealand claims they could have sold more MINI EVs if they had access to more supply. Part of this demand could be down to the free wall box home charger that comes with that model, but we do love the MINI EV here at DriveLife.

All the above means that overall, the BMW Group sold 2.4 million vehicles, down 4.8% over the previous year, however, they claim that they have maintained their number one position as the global premium brand.

While the overall 2022 result is negative, in Q4 of 2022 sales were up 10%, so they feel this is a sign of a turnaround in the market.

2022 BMW Sales – New Zealand

New Zealanders bought 1,657 new BMWs last year, down -9.3% vs 2021. Of those 454 were full EVs – up 134% on 2021.

MINI managed a small positive gain last year, selling 855 cars, up 0.8%. Of those 855, 482 were MINI EVs, an increase of 88%. Those 855 cars represent a record year for new MINI sales in New Zealand.

Interestingly, the MINI Countryman Hybrid had 83% growth.

It’s well known that the New Zealand market loves performance cars, and for BMW New Zealand this was represented by 2022 being the 50-year celebration of M cars. In fact, M cars take a 25% share of overall sales. Incredibly, this means that one in four new BMWs sold here is an M version

The new i7 with its illuminated grille

2023 BMW New Zealand – Outlook

Even with cyclones, storms and earthquakes, the New Zealand market has started out hard, with January sales of BMW vehicles at 156, and 21 of those full EVs. MINI too is doing well, with 63 sales in January and 23 of those full EVs.

With ten new models launched in 2022, what can we expect from the brand for 2023?

This the first half of this year you can expect the all-new iX1, M2, M3 touring, and XM. June onwards will see the arrival of the M3 CS, the X5 and X6 LCI, X5M LCI, 2 Series Active Tourer, and the 750e xDrive PHEV.

The 2 Series Active Tourer looks tasty, with the entry-level 225e xDrive running a 3-cylinder hybrid setup giving 180kW of power and 90km of EV range. It will have the same curved display as iX and will be priced at under the Clean Car Rebate limit, at around $78,500. This model is arriving in May.

Front door on the new i7

In the second half of the year, we’ll see the 750e xDrive PHEV, a new model. It will have BMW’s 230kW 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine but as a hybrid will give a stunning 400kW of total power, getting to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds. It should have 89km of EV-only range, and again the same curved display as is appearing in all BMW models. It’s priced at $229,500 and BMW New Zealand expects to see it in June.

The new X5 and X6 will come with a facelift with the new kidney grille, and the M Sport package will be standard in New Zealand. It will have the curved display, vegan upholstery and a mild-hybrid 48-volt drivetrain. Also in June, we’ll see the X5 M Competition, priced from $249,500.

And the one many are hanging out for? The new M3 CS with 405kW of power, M xDrive as standard, getting to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds. It will have CS suspension tuning for the track, and an M Drift analyser. Only 15 units are coming to New Zealand, with most of these pre-sold. It’s priced at $264,900 and should be here in June.

Leaving what is potentially the best to last, the M3 Touring has been promised to arrive in  July/August. We can’t wait.

2023 BMW i7 – New Zealand

With the presentation over, it was time to check out the new i7. This car is essentially direct competition to the Mercedes-Benz EQS, so it’s an EV version of the 7 Series sedan. On inspection, the i7 is all about the rear-seat passengers, as it should be. There is so much legroom in the rear, one should never need for more. I’m sure this is helped by a long wheelbase – the rear doors are extremely long.

It’s the luxury that sets the i7 apart from the EQS; it feels so much more luxurious than the EQS, with the i7 having electric blinds in the rear doors, and colour, high-definition digital panels in the rear doors to control seat heating/cooling, massaging, phone, sound settings, AC settings, and other items.

Digital controller for rear-seat passenger

The doors themselves are fully automatic, so a press of a button on the key fob will see all the doors open fully, automatically. It’s an impressive party trick.

Front-seat passengers also get a pretty good feel for luxury, with a massive curved display and lots of glitz and glamour. It’s an impressive sight to be in the front seat.

Mechanically, with 400kW of power and a 105kWh battery pack, the all-wheel drive i7 should get around 630km of range.

While we wouldn’t get to drive the i7 today, DriveLife took the all-new X1 from the floor and drove it to Wellington. A full review of that car is coming shortly.

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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