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The German automaker will focus next year on starting production for its i-Series according to a statement by Dr. BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer.
The i8 plug-in hybrid is the product of BMW‘s best engineering and innovation in an effort to create the most advanced automobile to ever come from the Bavarian automaker.
Motivated by a 170-hp electric motor driving the front wheels and a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine producing 223-hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque at the rear, the performance figures don’t sound exactly supercar territory. However, thanks to a lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum chassis, BMW managed to keep its i8 down to a thin 3,197 lbs., good enough to earn respectable performance numbers like a 0-to-62 mph time of 4.9 seconds. A unique all-wheel drive system, which can change into an all-front or all-rear powered car in an instant, should provide the i8 with superior all-condition handling performance as well. What’s more, on a full charge, the BMW i8 can travel 20 miles in full electric mode.
But BMW isn’t going to stop there. In an effort to make the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car even more appealing, a convertible “Spyder” version is also in the works, with a selection of photos having been released ahead of the cars debut at the New York Auto Show next week. Could this be the world’s first plug-in hybrid electric convertible to go into production?
GALLERY: BMW i8 Spyder
The plug-in hybrid will reportedly weigh in at 3,197 lbs with a 2+2 seating configuration and pop-up door design. Powering the i8 will be a 170-hp electric motor driving the front wheels, while a turbocharged 1.5L three-cylinder powers the rear wheels with 223-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Despite earlier rumors that a non-hybrid, M-variant of the i8 would be in production, ideas of a V8- or V10-powered i8 has been tossed out the window. That’s no real surprise as BMW really wishes to push the future of its technology with their i-model lineup.
And speaking of that technology, the new i8 can be front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive thanks to a clever black box. Fully charged, the BMW i8 can cover 20 miles in full-electric mode. 0-62 mph is in a mere 4.9 seconds when all 393-hp and 406 lb-ft of torque is in effect. The i8 will feature a four-speed transmission and in the European driving cycle it’s reporting 104.2-mpg.
As with most plug-in hybrids, recharge time depends on which voltage you are able to get. Standard charging time will be around six hours with high voltage allowing it to be done in less than an hour.
The German automaker anticipates the i8 to sell around 10,000 units a year and pricing will be over $130,000 (€100,000).
The production model of the BMW i8 is scheduled to make its official debut in 2014.
GALLERY: BMW i8 Spy Shots
[Source: CAR Magazine]
The BMW i8 is a highly anticipated release and this new set of spy photos shows off the door design we can expect on the German automaker’s hybrid sports car once it makes it to production.
Hinge placement seems to be the key difference between the i8′s doors and similar examples we’ve seen before. It looks as though the doors open upwards and twist, to make sure they are fully out of the way entering and exiting the vehicle.
The i8 will be powered by a 170 hp electric motor sourced from the entry-level i3, mated to a 3-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine producing 223 hp.
The i8 is supposed to be available come 2013. After seeing the doors already fully functioning, it seems likely that this hybrid sports car will be here soon. We’ll be sure to bring you details as they emerge.
GALLERY: BMW i8
Marking a new era for BMW, the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car and BMW i3 electric city car were first unveiled as concepts last year. Set for release in 2013, BMW will also launch a new complementing smartphone app that promises new levels of technological sophistication.
Previewed at the BMW i Facebook fan page, screenshots of the app display levels of smartphone-car integration that seem far more advanced than anything that currently exists. While the charging status and range information on your BMW i vehicle is displayed in ways similar to many current apps, the new app will introduce the additional ability to program routes into the car and schedule when the routes will be driven. Its full route planner will even allow time for walking and public transportation to be accounted for in the journey. A user could calculate more accurately how long a journey should take and how soon one should have left the house in order to arrive to the destination on time.
The app will also allow the scheduling of charging times so that the BMW i vehicle could take advantage of less expensive electricity rates during off-peak times. While the app is not yet available, it is expected to reach your smartphone before the BMW i cars are released.
GALLERY: BMW Electric Car Smartphone App
With the launch of BMW‘s next-generation i-models, the German car manufacturer is also looking for new ways to sell its lineup of green machines. Tim Abbott, BMW’s UK Managing Director, has expressed an interest in more flexible test drive times, a mobile sales force for the i-models, and turning to the Internet for online sales.
Abbott spoke about how test drives could become more flexible, with catering to customers at odd hours of the day and taking the vehicle to them for a test drive. But more importantly is BMW’s hope to turn online for future car sales for the BMW brand. “That could even stretch to selling cars online, with the back up of our existing dealers of course. eBay manages it, so why can’t manufacturers sell cars online too?” Abbott said.
Lastly, BMW is also looking into changing the usual three-year buying cycle around, possibly offering customers the ability to swap out their electric vehicles for a more flexible sedan (5-Series for example) when the customer wants to take a long trip. Essentially a system of car swapping could be possible with just a 12-hour notice.
Will BMW successfully spearhead the change of convention dealerships and having to deal with a physical salesperson to purchase a car? We sure hope so, everything else can be bought online these days.
GALLERY: BMW i3 and i8
BMW has developed two new hybrid vehicles that the German automaker says have redefined the understanding of personal mobility with a focus on sustainability.
The i3 concept, previously know as the Megacity, is an all-electric car that focuses squarely on the mobility challenges in urban areas. The i8 hybrid concept is a “forward-looking, intelligent, and innovative” sports car with both an electric drive system and a fuel efficient combustion engine. The i3 is built for four passengers, and BMW’s LifeDrive architecture conjures up a feeling of space inside the car more generous then even the latest conversion vehicles can offer. The i3 features wide-opening opposing “coach” doors, and trunk capacity of around 200 liters. The electric motor is over the rear axle and can produce 170-hp with 184 lb-ft of torque. The i3 can achieve a 0-62 mph time of just under eight seconds. The i3 can achieve what BMW calls an “everday” driving range of between 130 and 160km on a single charge, with a standard charge taking six hours, although with the right equipment, an 80 percent charge can be done in one hour.
The four seater i8 concept “embodies the vision of a sustainable contemporary sports car brought to life” according to BMW. The plug-in hybrid system combines the modified electric drive system from the i3 fitted over the front axle and a high performance three cylinder engine at the rear. The engine can produce 220-hp and 221 lb-ft of torque delivering a 0-62 mph time of just under five seconds. The i8 delivers 94 mpg or three liters per 100 kilometers. The i8 can also run purely on electric power, with a driving range of 35 kilometers (20 miles) and the battery can be fully recharged in two hours at a standard power socket.
GALLERY: BMW i3 and i8
A few months ago, BMW announced that it will introduce a new sub-brand, that will focus its energy on electric and hybrid vehicles, and this new division will simply be called “i.”
Now comes a report that suggests BMW hopes the “i” brand will be able to sell 30,000 of its i3 electric model per-year. That number matches that of the lower production Mini models. The i30 is also expected to cost around 40,000 Euros (roughly $56,000), so it won’t be cheap.
This won’t be the only model under this brand, an i8 hybrid sportscar based on BMW’s Vision Efficient Dynamics concept will also be introduced around the same time. So it’s worth keeping an eye out on this upcoming Bavarian brand.
BMW has confirmed that it will launch a new sub-brand of fuel efficient vehicles under the ‘i’ badge. Representing the greener side of the automaker’s portfolio, the i branded vehicles will focus on “sustainable vehicles and mobility solutions.”
Set to hit the market in 2013, the first two models in the i lineup will be the i3 and i8. The i3 (an indication that this will be the projected volume model) will be the production version of the BMW MegaCity, which will use an entirely carbon fiber chassis. As for the i8, it is expected to be the production version of the Efficient Dynamics Concept car and use hybrid technology to achieve incredible performance.
Expect more from BMW on the i brand at the Geneva Auto Show. Until then, check out more of the teasers below.