BMW has a good idea where it will sell the majority of its new i8 plug-in hybrid supercars.
"The U.S. will be by far the largest sales market for the i8," the car's product manager, Hendrik Wenders, told Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche. In Europe, he sees the top markets being the UK, Germany and France.
The target customers, according to Wenders, are high-earning, technology-savvy men who are at least 35 years old.
BMW's i subbrand has been showcasing the i8 prototype at a test facility in Miramas, France. Development engineers expect the i8's market launch to take place in about nine months with a simultaneous rollout at dealerships around the world. The car will be sold in about 50 countries, Wenders said.
Like the i3 electric car, the i8 also will be sold online, through a call center or via salespeople who will go to a customer's home to complete the transaction.
Wenders said the automaker is still discussing whether i8 customers will be offered their choice of another BMW model if they are planning a long journey. As part of BMW's 360 Degree Electric service program, i3 owners can borrow a 5 series for the weekend.
BMW will unveil the production version of the i8 at the Frankfurt auto show next month, two years after it presented the car's concept model at the show. The production i8 is nearly 4700mm long, 1940mm wide and about 1300mm tall. The wheelbase is 2800mm.
In addition to its battery-powered propulsion, it will have a newly developed 1.5-liter gasoline engine. The three-cylinder powerplant delivers 231 hp and drives the rear wheels. The car's 131-hp electric motor drives the front axle. Combined, the car has 362 hp, which can propel the car from 0 to 100kph in less than 4.5 seconds and take it to an electronically limited top speed of 250kph.
BMW says the i8's average fuel consumption is less than 2.5 liters per 100km and its CO2 emissions are less than 59 grams per kilometer.