BMW unveiled the second model in its “BMW i” program at a driving event at the BMW Group’s Miramas test track in France: the butterfly-doored BMW i8.
The introduction follows the world debut of the first production model, the BMW i3.
The BMW i8, says the company, “fulfills the promise of The Ultimate Driving Experience in a revolutionary and mold-breaking form.” Maybe so, but the facts say that the combines an exceptionally lightweight, aerodynamically optimized body with BMW eDrive technology, a compact, turbocharged 1.5-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine and intelligent energy management.
A carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell allows the BMW i8 to meet new standards for a plug-in hybrid vehicle in terms of low weight. It can operate solely on electric power, which means no tailpipe emissions, and offers the performance of a sports car, with an expected 0 – 100 km/h sprint time under 4.5 seconds.
The BMW i8 was designed from the outset as a plug-in hybrid sports car, with the emphasis on agile performance and outstanding efficiency. Its characteristic BMW i LifeDrive architecture provides the basis for lightweight design. Its main components are the aluminum Drive module, which incorporates the internal combustion engine and electric motor, the battery, the power electronics and the chassis components, along with structural and crash functions, and the Life module, which essentially comprises the 2+2-seater CFRP passenger cell. This architecture also gives the BMW i8 a very low center of gravity and a near-perfect 50:50 axle load ratio.
The BMW i8’s plug-in hybrid system is specific to this model. Developed and produced by the BMW Group, it marks the next step in the evolution of the Efficient Dynamics programme. A compact three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology is combined with an electric drive system and a lithium-ion battery which can be recharged at a standard household power socket. The 231 hp gasoline engine sends its power to the rear wheels, while the 131 hp electric motor powers the front wheels. This configuration offers all-electric driving capability with a range of up to approximately 35 kilometers and a top speed of approximately 120 km/h. With both drive systems engaged, it also offers road-hugging all-wheel-drive performance with powerful acceleration and dynamic torque vectoring during sporty cornering. The more powerful of the two powerplants drives the rear wheels. The hybrid system supplements this with power from the electric motor to deliver typical BMW driving pleasure combined with groundbreaking efficiency.
Calculated using the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the average fuel efficiency of the BMW i8 at model launch will be less than 2.5 liters/100 km, with CO2 emissions of less than 59 grams per kilometer