Confirming plans to reveal the production version of its new plug-in hybrid at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW has also offered up a look at a camouflaged version of the new i8 battery sports cars.
The unveiling at the Miramas test track in France comes just a week after the Bavarian maker gave the world a first official look at another new electric model, the little i3 city car. Both the i3 and i8 will form the backbone of a new battery brand-within-a-brand to be called BMW i.
The plug-in drivetrain will rely on a 231 horsepower turbocharged 3-cylinder 1.5-liter TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine – similar to what we’ll be seeing in a new version of the BMW 1- and 3-Series models but here paired to an electric motor turning out 131 horsepower. That will be enough to launch the BMW i8 from 0 to 60 in just 4.5 seconds, or roughly comparable to the fully-electric Tesla Model S.
Notably, the electric motor will be paired with a 2-speed gearbox, an unusual move as other makers have been opting for a simpler, single-speed approach. The gas engine will be mated to a 6-speed transmission.
The gasoline engine will drive the rear wheels, the electric motor handling the front axle. That approach creates what some have dubbed a “through-the-road” all-wheel-drive system. It also will permit torque vectoring – directing power to the appropriate wheels to improve handling through aggressive corners.
In electric-only mode, BMW projects a range of about 22 miles per charge – a bit closer to the Toyota Prius Plug-in than the Chevrolet Volt – and a top speed of 75 mph. With both sources of power engaged, the BMW i8 tops out at 155 mph.
As for fuel efficiency, a statement from BMW notes, “Calculated using the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the average fuel efficiency of the BMW i8 at model launch will be less than 2.5 liters/100 km, which equates to approximately 95 miles per US gallon, with CO2 emissions of less than 59 grams per kilometer.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency typically gives a lower mileage rating than its European equivalent, however.
(BMW reveals new i3 battery-car, prices it at $42,000. Click Here for more.)
BMW isn’t saying much about the battery pack beyond noting it makes use of liquid-cooled lithium-ion cells. Based on what other manufacturers are using in their plug-in models, TheDetroitBureau.com estimates the pack is sized somewhere around or under 10 kilowatt-hours.
The i8 will be able to operate in both combined hybrid or battery-only mode. When switched to electric operation the gas engine will fire up only when the battery is drained.
Like the smaller, all-electric i3, the BMW i8 will make extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, or CFRP, for key elements of the vehicle’s design, such as its passenger cell and door inners. The material will help lower weight while improving range and performance, the maker explains. Along with CFRP, the i8 will utilize other lightweight materials, such as the aluminum used for its door outers. In all, the new BMW i8 is expected to weigh in at 3,285 pounds.
(GM slashes price on Chevrolet Volt. Click Here for details.)
BMW says the i8 will recharge in approximately 3.5 hours from a U.S. 120-volt wall outlet or just 1.5 hours from a 240-volt Level 2 charger. The maker has not said if the new battery car will also be able to connect with a high-speed Level 3 system but BMW is one of the first manufacturers to sign on for the new SAE fast-charge plug that was developed to encourage a rapid proliferation of such 440-volt DC chargers. That would likely cut to 20 minutes or less the time needed to get an 80% recharge from a drained battery.
It’s not been revealed what BMW will charge for the i8 which will follow the smaller i3 into production next year. The little city car will carry a $41,350 MSRP plus a $925 delivery charge.