BMW i8 Plug-in Hybrid Sports Car Priced at $135,925 For U.S. Market

By · September 10, 2013

BMW’s luxury plug-in hybrid sports car will sell for a base price of $135,925, when it goes on sale in the U.S. next spring, the German automaker announced this morning at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The announcement was made as part of the official unveiling of the production version of the company's first plug-in hybrid car.

The i8 is a 2+2 seater powered by both a powerful 96-kilowatt electric motor driving the front wheels through a two-stage automatic transmission—and an efficient 231-horsepower 1.5-litre, turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine driving the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox. Combined, the two powertrains are capable of producing 420 pound-feet of torque, accelerating the i8 from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds. The vehicle's top speed in blended mode is an electronically-limited 155 miles per hour.

BMW i8

BMW said innovative use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic to build the passenger cell—combined with extensive use of structural aluminum and magnesium and a slippery drag coefficient of just 0.26—helps the i8 achieve the same level of fuel consumption and emissions as a small car. While the EPA has yet to certify fuel consumption in blended mode, BMW said the i8 manages the equivalent of 94 mpg U.S. on the new European driving cycle. Given the NEDC fuel economy test is known to be overly optimistic, the EPA figures for the sleek and sporty plug-in hybrid are likely to be below 80 mpg.

With a small five kilowatt-hour liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery on board, the i8 is designed to be driven primarily in gasoline only or blended power modes, but can also operate in electric only mode at speeds of up to 75 mph. Despite its battery pack being less than a quarter of the size of the Nissan LEAF battery pack, BMW said the i8 will also travel in all-electric mode for up to 22 miles per charge, resulting in a potential electric efficiency of 4.4 miles per kilowatt-hour. Like fuel economy ratings, that figure is likely to vary greatly between test cycles and drivers.

As you might expect with a six-figure car, the BMW i8's list of features are impressive: a heads-up display, BMW online entertainment, real-time traffic information and a suite of concierge services. As a plug-in, i8 owners will also be enrolled in BMW’s 360º ELECTRIC program, which includes installation of a BMW i Charging station at the customer’s home, access to MyCityWay and ParkatmyHouse, and a ChargeNow card that BMW said will give i8 drivers a cash-free way to fuel up at public charging stations.

The low-slung 2015 BMW i8 bears a strong resemblance to the first i8 concept vehicle unveiled by BMW at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. As with many cars first displayed in concept form, the production i8 has lost many of the concept car’s futuristic design points, including its see-through doors and space-age wheels. However, the concept car’s overall design shape and futuristic scissor doors are still present.

Due to its good looks and impressive performance specifications, the i8 is more likely to attract sports car fans than plug-in car shoppers. With a base price of $135,925, including destination fee, the i8 is substantially more expensive than a 85 kilowatt-hour Tesla Model S. The i8's 300-mile driving range—combined electric and gasoline—slightly beats the Model S's range on a single charge. And the i8, as a plug-in hybrid, can refuel at any one of the country's ubiquitous gas stations.

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