It takes a lot longer to produce the two-tone finish.
For the past 20 years, the BMW 7 Series has either flown under the radar (F01 and original G11) or shocked the world (Chris Bangle's E65 and the big-grilled, facelifted G11). The all-new G70 7 Series that was revealed in April this year falls firmly into the latter camp with its humongous grille, all-electric i7 variant, and jaw-dropping interior. Another aspect that sets apart the G70 is the introduction of an optional two-tone paint finish, much like that seen on Rolls-Royce and Maybach models. It signifies BMW's intention to move the new 7 even further upmarket. Getting this two-tone finish just right is no small feat and the guy who makes it all happen has provided more insight into the paint's intricate and lengthy production techniques.
"We have established a special process in the paint shop for two-tone paint application that combines fully automated large-scale standard production processes with our experts' manual painting skills," said Bernd Gress when talking to BMW Blog. A mechanical engineer and the Head of Painted Body Technology at the brand's Dingolfing facility, Gress has to ensure that paint shop production, the press plant, and the body shop all run smoothly.
Because of the two-tone paint's unique production process, it is far more time-consuming than if a more common one-paint application was used. "Lead times for a regular standard finish are currently under ten hours; for two-tone paintwork, we allow several hours more," said Gress.
While the application of one color is typical automated, applying a second color involves a more manual process, hence the extra time dedicated to these models.
"In the case of two-tone paints, the primary color is initially applied in fully automated large-scale standard production processes," the engineer says. "The vehicles are then "side-tracked" into a custom process in which the body is masked manually and the contrasting color and coach lines on the side of the body are applied by hand (front and rear flaps are painted separately in the contrasting color in an automated process). Once the two-tone custom process has been completed, the whole body is given another clear coat in the standard automated process."
Customers won't be able to feel a tactile separation between the two paint colors because a final clear coat is applied, essentially creating a perfectly smooth transition from one color to the next. Repeating the manual masking process with accuracy was one of the major challenges for the two-tone 7 Series. Gress pointed to the limited and insanely expensive 8 Series by Jeff Koons as another vehicle where integrating the body sections painted by machine and those by hand required a special effort.
Evidently, the two-tone 7 Series requires far more effort to produce than one painted in a single shade, and that's why you'll need to spend $12,000 on one of these paint finishes in the USA. Those choices include two-tone Black Sapphire Metallic and two-tone Oxide Grey Metallic.
Despite the extravagant cost of the two-tone paint, we're not convinced it improves the appearance of the car. A darker shade like the no-cost Carbon Black Metallic seems to do the best job of toning down the otherwise in-your-face 7 Series.