End is near for BMW's V12

BMW M760Li XDrive 2017 1600 B9

BMW's 760Li is being retired, soon. 

The economic consequences of coronavirus, and increasingly strict emissions regulation, have hastened the demise of large capacity engines.

From Germany, it is reported that the latest victim of this new reality is BMW’s sole V12-powered vehicle, its 760Li limousine. According to BimmerToday, the 760Li is being scheduled to end production later this year.

In a world where most luxury vehicles are now being hybridized, the appeal of a V12 is waning. Beyond its status, the performance discrepancy between a new generation of turbocharged V8s and legacy V12s has become too small to justify the latter.

Unlike Mercedes-Benz, which managed to leverage its V12 engine across a variety of models, BMW has only used its N74 V12 in the 760Li. The narrow scaling meant unjustifiable development and production costs, a scenario which is now pressuring BMW to retire the V12 760Li later this year.

For BMW fans the pending discontinuation of the brand’s V12 will be telling. Engine technology has always been the anchor engineering value for BMW. Producing a V12 was seen as an act of validation by the Germany company.

Economic and environmental realities are now rather severe and forcing rapid change in BMW’s future strategy. Large BMWs of the future, including the next iteration of 7 Series, will feature significant powertrain electrification, with much smaller-capacity internal combustion engines.

The V12 had served BMW well and in its final configuration, was an especially potent powerplant. Displacing 6.6-litres and boosted by twin-turbochargers, the N74 powering these final 760Li cars is good for 449 kW.

Despite the 760Li being retired, the broader BMW Group will still retain a link to the V12 engine configuration. Rolls-Royce, which is owned by BMW, has no plans to retire its 6.75-litre version of the N74 engine.

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