It should have a powerful hybrid setup.
We still aren't sure what it will be called, but we do know that BMW is working on a new flagship SUV. Speaking to CNBC, Chairman Oliver Zipse confirmed that the new halo model will be built at BMW's US manufacturing center in Spartanburg, South Carolina. "At the end of the year, we will make an announcement to build another high-end car from this manufacturing site," he said. "It is not a successor model, it's a brand-new model, high-end for the American market but also for the world market."
This description sounds a lot like the rumored BMW X8 that we've spotted multiple times in spy shots. The X8 would slot above the X7 and BMW's most luxurious SUV model, and is rumored to use a potent hybrid drivetrain producing upwards of 750 horsepower in X8 M guise.
This new model is rumored to use the internal designation "Project Rockstar," and pack the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 used in models like the X5 M and X6 M. BMW's V8 produces 617 hp on its own, so a 750-hp output with electrification sounds possible. The same hybrid setup may appear in future M models, like the M5. It's unclear if this new model will use the X8 M designation, or go by a new name. BMW already trademarked XM, which could be the name for this upcoming SUV flagship.
Based on the spy photos, the X8 (or XM) will ride on the same platform as the X7, but feature different styling such as stacked exhaust pipes. Unlike the X7, which can seat seven people, this new model is expected to include only two rows of seats.
Zipse said he supports President Biden's plans for half the car industry to go all-electric by 2030, but says such a transition can't happen overnight. In the meantime, plug-in hybrid vehicles offer the best of both worlds.
"With today's infrastructure, we will not get there, but of course we have 10 years to build up together an infrastructure for charging needs, and so on," he said. "And I think with the infrastructure goals which the Biden administration set, I think there's a good opportunity to at least come very close to that market."