BMW GB is considering adding diesel versions to the 7-series range for the first time when it launches an all-new model in spring 2002, senior executives said yesterday.

Managing Director Jim O'Donnell and Sales Director Graeme Grieve said the diesel engine option was "still being considered".

O'Donnell said that factors to be considered included "engineering time for right hand drive versions" - whether the German factory could spare time and resources to engineer right hand drive diesel variants.

The all new 2002 BMW 7-series
Left hand drive 7-series diesel variants have been sold in continental Europe for some years.

They have been fitted with in-line, six-cylinder turbodiesel engines similar to those already sold in right-hand-drive 3- and 5-series models in Britain.

Journalists on both sides of the English Channel have critically acclaimed the BMW diesel sixes, with some British magazines claiming that the three-litre 3-series turbodiesel outperforms its petrol-powered sibling in day-to-day driving.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz both offer diesel-powered versions of their rival 7-series and S-class in Europe but to date have not built right-hand-drive versions because demand is limited in markets other than Britain, where sales of diesel cars are on the rise and expected to get a further boost from new CO2 emissions-based company car tax regime due to come into effect shortly.

"The factory is willing to build [RHD 7-series diesels] for us but there is a gap between what we think we can sell and what the factory would like to build for us," Grieve said.

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