BMW believes its i8 plug-in hybrid perfectly addresses the growing demand for powerful sports cars that are also environmentally friendly. "The i8 is the most revolutionary vehicle BMW has developed and built to date," Herbert Diess, the automaker’s r&d chief, said at the car’s press launch in Los Angeles, California, last month.
BMW i8 hits the green spot
How fast is the i8?
The i8 accelerates from 0–100kph (62mph) in 4.4 seconds.
Is it frugal?
Average fuel economy is 2.1 liters per 100km (112 U.S. mpg; 135 UK mpg)
What is the i8's range?
37km (23 miles) on electric power at a maximum speed of 120kph. Combined range of 600km.
What will be the biggest markets?
The United States will account for 25 percent of i8 production, followed by Germany at 20 percent and the UK at about 13 percent.
Diess said that in 10 years all "good sport cars” will rely on some form of electrification for their powertrains. BMW opted to fit the i8 with a three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine despite a strong push by some company engineers to give the car a larger powerplant, said Carsten Breitfeld, the car’s project leader.
Launch date: June (Europe); August (United States)
Base price: 126,000 euros (Germany)
Where built: Leipzig, Germany
Annual sales: 3,000 (IS&I forecast)
Platform: Newly developed aluminum chassis with carbon fiber body passenger cell
Lowest CO2 emissions: 49g/km
“We did not want to provide the performance through a big heavy engine, which mostly works in a very inefficient way. If the driver needs more power, the electric motor in the front, plus a smaller electric motor in the rear, will come into play,” Breitfeld said.
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The all-wheel-drive i8 has a rear-mounted 228-hp 1.5-liter gasoline engine. Its front-mounted electric motor comes from the i3 hatchback. Total power is 357hp.