BMW recently issued a press release stating that deliveries of the new BMW i8 will start in June, with the European markets seeing the first deliveries with actual production of customer vehicles start next month in April. BMW also notes that demand for the i8 is outweighing the planned production volume which should serve to drive prices up and increased production numbers for the next year.
In the press release, BMW also announced the i8′s specifications. The i8 will run o-60 mph in just under 4.4 seconds, and can go from 50 to 75 mph in a brisk 2.6 seconds; courtesy of its plug-in hybrid system. In the i8, this system consists of a three-cylinder gas engine with TwinPower Technology that produces 231 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque mated to a hybrid synchronous electric motor that is good for an additional 131 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. BMW will of course be limiting the i8′s top speed to a “modest” 155 mph.
The i8’s body shell is made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) riding on an aluminum platform carrying the crash structures and running gear, it’s still the plug-in hybrid power-train–BMW’s first–that really sets the i8 apart.
Its rear-mounted and turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, adapted from one used in the latest 2014 MINI Cooper, provides an output of 231 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, and drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox.
The car has a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack with a usable capacity of 5 kilowatt-hours, housed in a wide tunnel between the two seats. It powers an electric motor driving the front wheels that’s rated at 96 kilowatts (131 hp) and 184 lb-ft of torque. In all-electric mode, the BMW i8 can run up to 22 miles, at a top speed limited to 75 mph. The i8 can run electrically (with the front wheels powered) or on gasoline only (through the rear wheels), with all-wheel drive provided when both sets of wheels are powered at the same time. Performance with all wheels driven is simply the sum of the two maximums: power output of 362 hp and torque of 420 lb-ft. An arrangement makes the BMW i8 what’s called a “through-the-road hybrid,” a formulation also used by the far more expensive and limited-edition Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid sports car.
The car’s statistics are impressive: curb weight of just 3,285 pounds, a drag coefficient of 0.26, and a center of gravity less than 18 inches above the ground. BMW’s press release calls it a “revolutionary interpretation” of BMW’s tradition of driving pleasure, and for once, the word “revolutionary” may not be hyperbole.