BMW i8, the second model unveiled by the new BMW i brand, combines a plug-in hybrid drive system with a passenger cell made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and an aluminum frame for the combustion engine and electric motor, the battery pack and the suspension.
The BMW i8 was conceived from the ground up as a plug-in hybrid sports car boasting agile performance attributes and extraordinary efficiency. Its LifeDrive architecture – developed specifically for BMW i – offers the ideal platform for a weight-minimizing construction, low center of gravity and even weight distribution. The combustion engine and electric motor, battery pack, power electronics, chassis components, and structural and crash functions are all arranged within the aluminum Drive module, while the central element of the Life module is the i8’s CFRP passenger cell. This structure also allows a considerable degree of design freedom, which has been utilized – within the framework of the design language developed for BMW i – to give the BMW i8 its distinctive appearance.
The BMW i8 offers a revolutionary and future-focused interpretation of BMW’s signature driving pleasure – and in so doing, makes its case as the world’s most progressive model in the sports car segment. The plug-in hybrid drive system developed and manufactured by the BMW Group especially for the BMW i8 represents a new stage of evolution in the Efficient Dynamics development strategy.
The BMW i8 will arrive in US showrooms in spring of 2014 with a base Manufcturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $135,925 including destination and handling.
Design: Vision becomes a reality
With its ultra-dynamic proportions, elegantly sporty lines, low-slung silhouette and innovative design features, the BMW i8 represents a new generation of sports car. Bringing together hallmark features of the BMW brand with the design language developed especially for BMW i creates a progressive aesthetic which faithfully communicates the performance attributes, efficiency and innovative premium character of the plug-in hybrid sports car.
The launch of the BMW i8 sees the world’s first sports car to be developed from the ground up under the banner of sustainability complete its journey from vision to reality. Both the exterior and interior of the emotionally-led 2+2 embody a revolutionary, pioneering take on the The Ultimate Driving Machine. Clean, minimalist lines and homogeneous surfaces defined by a small number of precise edges and function-focused details underline the status of the BMW i8 as the most forward-looking car in its segment.
As the second series-produced BMW i model on the road, the BMW i8 also reveals the versatility of the design language which is establishing itself as an unmistakable signature of BMW i cars. Its design signals lightness, safety, efficiency and pure driving pleasure – stand-out qualities that the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car shares with the BMW i3, its pure-electric sibling conceived for agile and comfortable urban driving.
A length of 4,689 millimeters (184.6 inches) , width of 1,942 millimeters (76.5 inches) and height of 1,293 millimeters (51 inches) give the BMW i8 typical sports car proportions. Its dynamic character is also reflected in its long bonnet, clearly visible aerodynamic aids, stretched roofline, short overhangs and long, 2,800-millimeter (110.2 inches) wheelbase. The pioneering combination of sporting ability and efficiency is translated into the design of the 2+2-seater with intoxicating élan – and with the signature BMW i design language to the fore. The car’s wide track: 1,644 millimeters (64.8 inches) at the front axle, 1,715 millimeters (67.5 inches) at the rear, completes the powerful dynamic presence generated by the car’s proportions.
Exterior design: an aesthetic synthesis of dynamic appeal and pioneering technology.
The design of the BMW i8 body is as groundbreaking as the plug-in hybrid sports car’s concept as a whole. Hallmark BMW dynamics, lightweight design and efficiency are all expressed in the car’s proportions, lines and surface design. The 2+2-seater is immediately recognizable as a BMW i model and a new-generation sports car.
The structure of overlapping and interlocking surfaces – lent additional emphasis by the car’s color concept – also contributes to the unmistakable appearance of the BMW i8. This layering principle allows aerodynamic forms to be wrapped up in a progressively styled package, while powerfully formed wheel arches draw attention to the wide track of the BMW i8. The compact construction distinguishing both the electric motor and combustion engine allows the front and rear sections of the car to be particularly low-slung and thus accentuate the car’s dynamically stretched flanks. The scissor-type doors, which open forward and upwards like wings, add extra intrigue to the sports car design of the BMW i8.
The front view of the BMW i8 exudes sporting ability in its purest form. Large front apron air intakes arranged over several levels generate a powerful feeling of depth. The extremely broad BMW kidney grille stretches over to the slim headlights, accentuating the width of the BMW i8 and its road-focused stance. The car’s full-LED headlights adopt the hallmark U-shape of BMW i models. The dipped and high-beam light is emitted by a lens positioned on the far outer edge of the light units. The three-dimensional design of the light sources lend their appearance a sporty character.
The low-slung stance of the rear end and its horizontal, width-emphasizing lines also provide a clear showcase for the dynamic potential of the BMW i8. The rear is bordered by the sculpted rear wheel arches. The sloping rear window opens high, allowing easy access to the storage compartment located underneath. The rear lights, reflectors and rear diffuser form a single visual unit that strengthens the car’s already powerful appearance. Like the headlights, the intricately designed rear light clusters also feature the characteristic BMW i U-shaped design. The directional indicators are integrated above the rear lights into the descending roofline. All of the exterior lights on the BMW i8 are LEDs.
The BMW i8 boasts a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.26 and a fine aerodynamic balance. The low-slung hood, almost totally blanked off kidney grille, Air Curtains in the front apron, sealed underbody, contoured side skirts, “stream flow” lines of the car’s flanks, and the air ducts between the rear lights and roof frame allow the air to be channeled extremely effectively as it hits the car.
Interior design: customary BMW driver focus in a progressive ambience defined by dynamics and lightness.
Future-focused design also dominates the interior of the BMW i8. The driver orientation typical of BMW cockpit design is complemented by progressive elements which highlight the sports car’s dynamic flair and light weight. The driver, front passenger and rear passengers sit low down – in traditional sports car style – in lightweight seats. The standard leather trim extends beyond the seat surfaces to parts of the center console, instrument panel and interior door panels. The use of leather treated with natural substances, including olive leaf extract as a tanning agent, underlines the sustainable character of the BMW i8 alongside its exclusivity and sporting allure. Exposed CFRP sections of the passenger cell visible around the entry apertures when the doors are opened provide a reminder of the low weight of the BMW i8.
The instrument panel of the BMW i8, with its horizontal lines emphasizing the width of the interior and a structure determined by the “layering” principle, creates a light yet powerful impression. The arrangement of the overlapping, three-dimensional segments is complemented by a contrast-rich color scheme. The layering approach also finds its way, through dynamically curving lines, into the design of the center console, which is home to the gearshift lever, the Controller for the iDrive operating system, the start/stop button, the eDrive button and the Driving Experience Control switch. The iDrive system’s Control Display comes in a freestanding 8.8-inch format. A bespoke sports steering wheel with multifunction buttons and the Navigation system are standard in the BMW i8. Also standard is the multifunction instrument display, whose content and presentation formats take their cue from the driving mode selected.
Available as alternatives to the standard Mega trim for the BMW i8 interior are the Giga and Tera Worlds. In standard specification, the contrast between black surfaces in the cockpit and light Carum Grey leather surfaces emphasizes the lightness and sustainability of this vehicle concept. The leather surfaces of the door and side trim are complemented by functional textile highlights made from recycled material. The optional Giga equipment World is available in light or dark versions. The naturally treated leather surfaces feature perforated elements and subtle contrast stitching which underline the superior character of the material and workmanship involved. Painted surface elements on the instrument panel, door trim and center console add the finishing touches to the cutting-edge ambience. The likewise optional Tera equipment World brings a pervasive aura of luxury and sustainability to the interior of the BMW i8. Top-quality leather surfaces combine with textile accents and contrast stitching in BMW i Blue. And when it comes to the color scheme, dark Dalbergia Brown and light Carum Grey provide attractive contrasts. The Tera World also brings high-class paintwork to selected instrument panel and door trim surfaces. The accent ring for the leather steering wheel comes in BMW i Blue in the Tera equipment World and in Satin Silver in the other variants.
Powertrain and driving experience: The best of both worlds
The BMW i8 embodies a revolutionary, future-focused interpretation of the driving pleasure for which BMW is renowned. It was purpose-designed as a plug-in-hybrid sports car offering agile performance and outstanding efficiency. An exceptionally lightweight and aerodynamically optimized body – including a passenger cell made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) – plus advanced BMW eDrive drive system technology, a compact, highly turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and intelligent energy management all come together to create an overall concept that represents a new landmark in the Efficient Dynamics development strategy. The BMW i8 blends the performance of a top-end sports car with fuel economy and emissions levels below even small urban subcompacts. It is based, moreover, around a vehicle architecture that offers the perfect platform for agile handling, thanks to an ultra-low center of gravity and near perfect 50 : 50 weight distribution.
The three-cylinder combustion engine in the BMW i8 develops 170 kW/231 hp and drives the rear wheels, while the 96 kW/131 hp electric motor draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery, which can be charged from a conventional 110 volt power outlet as well as a 220 volt electric vehicle charger, and sends its power to the front axle. This bespoke plug-in hybrid system, developed and produced by the BMW Group, enables a range in everyday driving of up to 35 kilometers (approx. 22 miles) and a top speed of 120 km/h (approx. 75 mph) on electric power alone, coupled with a “glued-to-the-road” all-wheel driving experience headlined by powerful acceleration and a dynamically-biased distribution of power through enthusiastically taken corners. The more powerful of the two power sources drives the rear wheels and uses the electric boost from the hybrid system to deliver hallmark BMW driving pleasure while at the same time offering groundbreaking levels of efficiency. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes just 4.4 seconds, yet average fuel consumption – as calculated in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles – stands at the equivalent of 94 miles per US gallon from launch.
The plug-in hybrid drive system of the BMW i8, which comprises a BMW TwinPower Turbo engine combined with BMW eDrive technology, offers the best of both worlds: excellent potential for improved efficiency and exciting, sporty driving characteristics. The BMW Group has developed not only the internal combustion engine and electric motor in-house but also the power electronics and the battery. This ensures that all these components offer high product and quality standards, based on the outstanding capabilities of the BMW Group in the field of powertrain research and development.
The revolutionary character of the BMW i8 is emphasized by a further innovation: the use of an internal combustion engine which is making its debut in this model. The BMW i8 is the first BMW production model to be powered by a three-cylinder gasoline engine. This highly turbocharged unit is equipped with latest-generation BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. It is exceptionally compact and develops maximum power of 170 kW/231 hp from its 1.5-litre displacement. The resulting specific output of 113 kW/154 hp per liter of displacement is on a par with other high-performance sports car engines and is the highest of any engine produced by the BMW Group.
The car’s second power source is a hybrid synchronous electric motor specially developed and produced by the BMW Group for the BMW i8. The motor develops maximum power of 96 kW/131 hp and produces its maximum torque of around 250 Newton meters (184 lb-ft) from standstill. Power is instantly available –an advantage of electric motors- from 0 rpm and remains available into the higher load ranges. Credit for the linear power delivery, which extends right up to the high end of the rpm range, goes to a special motor design principle exclusive to BMW i. BMW eDrive technology refines and improves on the principle of the permanently excited synchronous motor with a special arrangement and dimensions for the torque-producing components. This results in a self-magnetizing effect normally confined to reluctance motors. This additional excitation ensures that the electromechanical field generated when current is applied remains stable even at high rpm.
As well as providing a power boost to assist the gasoline engine during acceleration, the electric motor can also power the vehicle by itself. Top speed is then 120 km/h (approx. 75 mph). The BMW i8 has a maximum driving range in this emission-free, virtually soundless, all-electric mode of up to 35 kilometers (approx. 22 miles). The motor derives its energy from the lithium-ion battery which is centrally mounted underneath the floor of the vehicle. This model-specific version of the high-voltage battery was developed and produced by the BMW Group. It has a liquid cooling system, offers a maximum usable capacity of five kilowatt hours and can be recharged from a conventional 110 volt power outlet, at a BMW i charging station, or at a public EV charging station.
The BMW i8’s vehicle concept and powertrain control highlight its progressive, revolutionary character. The BMW i8 always achieves the optimal balance between dynamic performance and efficiency, whatever the driving situation. For example, the battery can also be recharged via the electric motor while decelerating. In addition to this, when power demands allow, the high-voltage battery is recharged by the electric motor. The high-voltage starter-generator, responsible for starting the combustion engine, can also be used as a generator to charge the battery, the necessary power being provided by the BMW TwinPower Turbo engine. These various processes help ensure that the BMW i8 always has sufficient energy on board to power the electric drive system. The all-electric driving range is sufficient to cover most urban driving requirements. Out of town, the BMW i8 delivers impressively sporty performance with extreme efficiency, thanks to the electric motor’s power-boosting support for the gasoline engine. With such versatility, the BMW i8 belongs to a new generation of sports cars which unites exciting performance with cutting-edge efficiency – to enhance both driving pleasure and the sense for sustainability.
The rear wheels of the BMW i8 are driven by the gasoline engine via a six-speed automatic transmission, while the front wheels receive their power from the electric motor via a two-stage automatic transmission. Combined maximum output of 266 kW/362 hp and combined peak torque of 570 Newton meters (420 lb-ft) provide all-wheel-drive performance which is as dynamic as it is efficient. The BMW i8’s intelligent powertrain control system ensures perfect coordination of both power sources. The variable power-sharing between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor makes the driver aware of the sporty temperament of the BMW i8 at all times, while at the same time maximizing the energy efficiency of the overall system. Utilizing both power sources enables a 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) time of 4.4 seconds. The BMW i8 has an electronically controlled top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), which can be reached and maintained when the vehicle operates solely on the gasoline engine.
Five driving modes allow drivers to adjust efficiency and dynamic performance as desired – at the touch of a button.
The BMW i8 offers the driver unusual scope to adjust the drive and suspension settings of the vehicle in order to adapt the driving experience to his or her individual preferences. As well as the electronic gear selector for the automatic transmission, the driver can also use the Driving Experience Control switch – a familiar feature of the latest BMW models – or, exclusively to the BMW i8, the eDrive button. It gives the driver five operating modes to choose from: D for automated gear selection in COMFORT and ECO PRO modes, SPORT mode and eDrive for pure-electric driving – likewise with a choice of COMFORT and ECO PRO mode.
BMW i8 Preliminary Technical Data
|No. of doors/seats
|2 / 4
|4689 (184.6) / 1942 (76.5) / 1293 (51)
|Weight, unladen (DIN)
|< 1490 (3285 lb)
|BMW TwinPower Turbo technology:
turbocharger, High Precision Direct Gasoline Injection, VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control
|Config/No of cyls/valves
|In-line / 3 / 4
|170 / 231
|Technology electric motor
|BMW eDrive technology:
hybrid synchronous motor with power electronics, integrated charging module and generator mode for recuperation
|96 / 131
|250 (184 lb-ft)
|Total system output
|266 / 362
|Hybrid-specific all-wheel drive,
combustion engine driving the rear wheels,
electric motor driving the front wheels
|195/50 R20 /
|7J x 20 light-alloy /
7.5J x 20 light-alloy
|Type of transmission combustion engine
|Type of transmission
|Acceleration 0–100 km/h
|Top speed electric
|approx 35 (22)
|Consumption in EU cycle
|ltr/100 km (mpg)
All Technical data are provisional and based on EU measures.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]