BMW introduced the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster matching BMW eDrive technology with the Ultimate Driving Machine. The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster takes the BMW i8’s combination of locally emission-free mobility, high-caliber performance and adds the top-down driving experience.
The i8 Roadster offers a whole new sensation of freedom, opening the door to virtually silent driving with zero CO2 emissions and bringing an extra edge of purity to open-air driving. An optimized BMW eDrive technology means more power – total output increased to 369 hp (+12 hp), a refined high-voltage battery with increased capacity and range, the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles (preliminary) in purely electric driving. With hybrid-specific all-wheel drive, combustion engine driving the rear wheels and the electric motor driving the front wheels, acceleration 0 to 60 mph takes just 4.2/4.4 seconds (preliminary) Coupe and Roadster respectively with both reaching an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Following the world premiere of the first-ever 2019 BMW i8 Roadster at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2017, sales will commence in spring 2018. Simultaneously, the new 2019 BMW i8 Coupe will also be available at certified BMW centers with both models offering LifeDrive vehicle architecture designed for BMW i cars. Price to be announced closer to market launch.
Vehicle concept and driving experience
The BMW i8 has performed the role of sports car of the future with extraordinary success since 2014. The progressively designed 2+2-seater doubles up as an eye-catching object of desire and a technological pioneer. Indeed, the BMW i8 has been the world’s best-selling hybrid sports car since it first hit the roads in 2014 and has collected an array of awards in recognition of its visionary design and trailblazing vehicle concept. The BMW i8’s plug-in hybrid drive system has won the International Engine of the Year Award three years in succession (2015 – 2017) and paved the way for the constantly expanding number of plug-in hybrid models from the BMW and MINI brands.
The aluminum Drive module combines the powertrain, high-voltage battery, suspension, crash system and structural functions, while the Life module takes the form of a passenger cell made out of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster also benefits from a light-weight construction, complete with low center of gravity and even weight distribution. The aerodynamically optimized exterior – with model-specific gullwing doors and a soft-top roof that also displays great visual lightness – is a fine exponent of the signature BMW i design language. The result is a two-seater boasting a distinctive and elegantly silhouette, and delivering an immediate promise of instantaneous power ready to be unleashed.
The BMW i8 Roadster
Passengers inside the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster can either enjoy the open sky or a high-quality, all-season fabric soft-top with additional soundproofing. The electrically operated convertible top, opens and closes in less than 16 seconds and while the vehicle is in motion at up to 31 mph.
The BMW i8 Roadster is alone among its rivals in offering owners a fabric soft-top which stows away into a perpendicular position in the rear when opened and therefore takes up very little space. The three segments of the roof fold vertically in a ‘Z’. Additional storage space between the roof box and the seats for the driver and front passenger is around 3.5 ft3 (preliminary figure). In combination with the storage area in the rear, which can accommodate 4.7 ft3 cargo, the rear compartment helps to ensure the open-top version of the plug-in hybrid sports car is also as well equipped as possible for everyday use.
Opening the roof raises the rear window automatically by around 1.9 inches into a comfort position. By raising the rear window, the air flow is guided towards the rear, reducing wind turbulence optimizing the passenger’s experience. The driver can adjust the height of the rear window at the touch of a button to control the impact of the inflowing air as desired.
Intelligent lightweight design and innovative production technology also play a key role in the construction of the soft-top. For example, aluminum elements connecting the roof mechanism with the body of the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are produced in a new 3D printing process. This manufacturing method for aluminum components breaks new ground in the automotive industry and allows the topologically optimized bracings to be produced in a geometric form, which would not be possible using conventional casting techniques and ensures an optimal balance between component rigidity and weight.
Optimized BMW eDrive technology
Rigorously developed BMW eDrive technology powers both the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and new BMW i8 Coupe. The number of driving situations where the electric motor is solely responsible for powering the car has been significantly increased. By contrast, the combustion engine is only brought into play when accelerating hard, and is switched off again far more frequently with a measured driving style. The optimized operating strategy of the intelligent energy management highlights the future-focused character of the new BMW i8 Coupe and ensures that drivers of the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster can enjoy silent open-top driving with zero local emissions.
Underpinning this new level of locally emission-free electric mobility is the updated version of the lithium-ion battery developed for the BMW i8. The high-voltage unit is located centrally in the car’s underbody and its cell capacity is up from 20 to 34 Ah and gross energy capacity from 7.1 to 11.6 kilowatt hours (kWh, net energy capacity: 9.4 kWh). Plus, the cell configuration allows a 12 hp increase in peak output to 141 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, lacing quick sprints on pure-electric power with an even sharper streak of dynamism.
The electric range of the i8 has also been increased. The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles (preliminary) in purely electric driving. And that broadens the reach of all-electric mobility well beyond the city limits.
The BMW i8 is the world’s first sports car to be developed from the outset primarily under the banner of sustainability. Groundbreaking lightweight design, systematic improvement of aerodynamics and advanced plug‑in hybrid technology. The framework for the concept’s implementation was provided by the brand new LifeDrive vehicle architecture for BMW i models, whose horizontally split structure comprising an aluminum chassis and a CFRP passenger cell offers an exceptional degree of design freedom. The visionary styling of the BMW i8 Coupe therefore succeeds in expressing not just the car’s dynamic performance credentials, but also its outstanding efficiency. A string of prestigious accolades, including the iF Design Award and the Red Dot Award, testify to the design’s quality and allure. And the BMW i8 Roadster translates the unmistakable BMW i design language to another vehicle concept, fusing the dynamic proportions of the i8 with signature roadster features to give it a character all of its own.
Their proportions, lines and surface design mark out the BMW i8 Coupe and the BMW i8 Roadster as belonging to a new breed of sports car. A flat hood, visible aerodynamics measures, short overhangs, a long wheelbase, large track widths and an elongated roofline create an aura of dynamism, lightness and efficiency. On an individual level, meanwhile, the BMW i8 Coupe stands out as an extremely sporty 2+2-seater, while the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster exudes the freedom of open-top motoring for two.
Powertrain, chassis and body
With its intoxicating blend of advanced BMW eDrive technology, BMW TwinPower Turbo technology internal combustion engine, sophisticated chassis technology, hybrid-specific all-wheel drive and rigorously applied lightweight design measures, the BMW i8 has come to epitomize the future of the Ultimate Driving Machine. Since its market debut in 2014, it has established itself as the world’s highest-selling plug‑in hybrid sports car. It succeeds in melding sports car performance qualities with the sort of fuel economy and emissions usually associated with compact models. The LifeDrive architecture, meanwhile, ensures a perfect distribution of weight.
The new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are powered by a drive duo in the form of a hybrid synchronous electric motor and BMW TwinPower Turbo technology 1,499 cc 3-cylinder gasoline engine (228 hp and 236 lb-ft). The engine’s power is channeled to the rear wheels through a 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, while the electric motor propels the front wheels via a two-speed automatic gearbox. The end result is a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that glues the car to the road.
A refined high-voltage battery and an electric motor with more power
The constant process of development has enhanced the performance capabilities offered by BMW’s eDrive technology. The energy capacity of the latest version of the model-specific lithium-ion battery is far greater, battery cell capacity having increased from 20 to 34 ampere hours (Ah) and gross energy capacity from 7.1 to 11.6 kilowatt hours (kWh, net energy capacity: 9.4 kWh). This advance is rooted primarily in advances made to the battery cell technology, which in turn stem from the BMW Group’s ever-increasing expertise in the field of electrical energy storage.
These extra energy reserves have made it possible to raise the electric motor’s peak output by 12 hp to 141 hp. In typical electric motor fashion, it generates its maximum torque of 184 lb-ft from standstill, which means it is ideally equipped to deliver razor-sharp responses to the slightest movement of the accelerator. The electric motor developed by the BMW Group also stands out with its consistent power delivery up to very high revs.
The battery cells’ higher capacity means that the proportion of all-electric driving can be increased substantially, even in hybrid mode. With the default driving mode engaged, both the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are capable of pulling away and reaching speeds of up to 65 mph purely on the electric motor’s power, making it possible to drive with zero local emissions. And if the eDrive button is pressed, the all-electric threshold of both models is increased to 75 mph.
The new high-voltage battery benefits the electric range of the two plug-in hybrid sports cars too. The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles in purely electric driving, almost 30 percent more than before (preliminary figures).
Three-cylinder gasoline engine with improved sound and lower emissions
The i8’s combustion engine has also undergone further optimization to ready it for the new Coupe and Roadster. The turbocharged three-cylinder unit featuring direct injection and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing extracts a maximum output of 228 hp from its displacement of just 1.5 liters, plus peak torque of 236 lb-ft. It is pleasantly refined and generates a distinctive soundtrack that now has an even sportier note when its power reserves are called upon.
The system output produced by the electric motor and gasoline engine acting in unison has increased to 369 hp in the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster. The new BMW i8 Coupe accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds (preliminary), while the first ever BMW i8 Roadster accelerates in 4.4 seconds (preliminary). Both models have an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Combined fuel economy in everyday driving, both models return fuel economy and emissions figures that undercut those for conventionally powered sports cars with similar outputs by around 50 per cent, yielding approximately 70 MPGe (preliminary figures).