BMW i stands for the creation of pure-bred vehicle concepts, sustainability throughout the value chain, complementary mobility services and a fresh understanding of premium defined squarely in terms of sustainability. And now the BMW Group can unveil the BMW i8 - a new, cutting-edge generation of sports car. 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. With this revolutionary concept and the emotional appeal of its aerodynamically optimized body design, the 2+2-seater - which was conceived from the outset as a plug-in hybrid - paves the way for an engagingly dynamic and futuristically efficient take on BMW's hallmark driving pleasure. By cementing the brand's new premium character, strongly defined by sustainability, in the sports car segment, the new i8 also demonstrates the broad spread and universal appeal of the BMW i philosophy.
The research and development activities carried out by the BMW Group since 2007 as part of its project i initiative have laid the groundwork for a visionary car conceived with the impact of environmental, economic and social change around the world very much in mind. Alongside its conceptual and technological development work, the company has also conducted field studies looking at the use of pure-electric vehicles in everyday conditions. More than 1,000 people have taken part in the studies, racking up in excess of 32 million kilometers (20 million miles) at the wheel. The knowledge gained as a result has been channeled into the creation of innovative vehicle concepts and mobility solutions.
Breaking new ground: premium cars underpinned by sustainability-led concepts arrive in the sports car segment.
The development of BMW i cars follows a revolutionary approach, a strategy focusing on the creation of premium cars purpose-designed to be powered by purely electric or plug-in hybrid drive systems. This electric drive technology (packaged under the BMW eDrive banner) is therefore a central component of the vehicle concept - in contrast to the "conversion" model, where vehicles are retrofitted with electric drive systems. Characteristic BMW driving dynamics coupled with emission-free mobility, precise energy flow management, pioneering design, intelligent lightweight construction and production processes that preserve energy and resources come together to mutually complementary effect to form the innovative, sustainability-led premium character of BMW i cars.
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 perfect balance of performance and fuel consumption: the BMW i8 represents an exciting new landmark in Efficient Dynamics.
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 Group launched Efficient Dynamics over a decade ago with the aim of significantly enhancing the performance characteristics and efficiency of every new BMW Group model. Efficient Dynamics incorporates both the evolution of existing technology and the use of revolutionary new drive system concepts. For example, efficient vehicle concepts focusing on lightweight design and aerodynamics, dynamic drive systems featuring both BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and BMW eDrive, and intelligent management of energy consumption within the vehicle are applied in various current BMW models. BMW i cars benefit from the introduction of revolutionary new technology which subsequently finds its way into the models produced by the core brands of the BMW Group.
As a world-leading supplier of premium cars and, increasingly, also premium services, the BMW Group is playing an active and defining role in the changing face of personal mobility. And awareness of issues such as resource scarcity, climate change and creeping urbanization is also growing among the public. The BMW Group's commitment to sustainability has long been a key element of its corporate strategy and is one of the fundamental principles enforced throughout the company's value chain, as independent studies have regularly confirmed. The BMW Group has been named the "world's most sustainable automobile manufacturer" in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for eight consecutive years.
BMW i8: the trailblazer for a new generation of sports car.
The underlying principle of Efficient Dynamics - more driving pleasure, lower fuel consumption - is expressed with particular purity by the BMW i8. With the performance attributes of a pure-bred sports car and the fuel consumption of a small city model, the first BMW plug-in hybrid vehicle hits heights only attainable through the revolutionary BMW i vehicle concept. And that makes the BMW i8 a trailblazer for a new generation of sports cars, defined not only by their performance characteristics but also by intelligent solutions to the challenges personal mobility will encounter over the years ahead.
Thanks to its revolutionary vehicle concept and intelligent drive system management, the BMW i8 strikes the optimum balance between dynamic ability and efficiency in a variety of driving situations. The output of the engine and electric motor, the capacity of the high-voltage battery, intelligent energy management and the vehicle's overall weight are tailored to form a precisely composed package that defines the unique character of the plug-in hybrid sports car. Its all-electric driving range is sufficient to cover most urban driving requirements, and out of town, the BMW i8 offers impressively sporty performance which is also very efficient thanks to the power-boosting support for the gasoline engine from the electric motor.
Efficiency and driving dynamics alike are optimized by the broad application of lightweight design - from the CFRP passenger cell to the weight-reduced construction of all other components - and mobility services developed specially for BMW i. The all-encompassing approach of the BMW i brand also includes the extensive use of recycled materials, renewable raw materials and naturally treated materials, alongside extremely resource-efficient production methods. This overall concept makes the BMW i8 the world's most forward-looking sports car. It brings together thrilling performance and progressive efficiency. In the process it boosts driving pleasure and sustainability awareness in equal measure.
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.
The key to this versatility is the innovative LifeDrive architecture, which opens up an exceptional degree of freedom for BMW i design. The central element of the Life module is the carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell. The Life module is fixed to the aluminum Drive module, which houses all the drive and chassis technology. This distinctive two-way split is reflected on both the outside and the inside of the car by the visible layering and intertwining of different surfaces, with three-dimensional and flowing transitions between the Life module and Drive module accentuating the dynamic appearance of the BMW i8.
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.
A signature feature of the BMW i brand is the "black band". On the BMW i8, it emerges in a "V" shape from the hood and extends back over the roof into the rear section of the car, where it frames the center section of the rear apron. At the front end, the black band is framed by the body-colored apron and fenders, while at the rear it is overlapped by the "floating" roof pillars, which extend over the rear lights. Another element of the standalone BMW i design language is the "stream flow" contour of the side window. On the BMW i8 the stream flow also determines the path travelled by the air between the falling roofline and the character line rising through the rear section of the car's flanks towards the rear spoiler lip.
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.
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.
Maximum driving pleasure and efficiency: BMW TwinPower Turbo engine and electric motor developed by the BMW Group.
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.
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 new three-cylinder engine derives its typical characteristics from BMW's inline six-cylinder engines, to which it is closely related and which are noted for their eager power delivery, revving ability and refinement. The three-cylinder's BMW TwinPower Turbo technology comprises a high-performance turbocharging system and direct gasoline injection with high-precision injectors positioned between the valves, along with VALVETRONIC throttle-less load control, which improves efficiency and response thanks to seamlessly variable valve lift control. Like a six-cylinder engine, the three-cylinder unit is free of first and second-order inertial forces. The low roll torque, a typical feature of a three-cylinder design, is further reduced by a balancer shaft, while a multi-stage damper integrated in the automatic transmission ensures very smooth and refined running at low rpm. BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and low internal friction improve both fuel consumption and torque characteristics. Accelerator response is sharp and the three-cylinder unit quickly reaches its maximum torque of 320 Newton meters (236 lb-ft).
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.
Variable front-rear power splitting in line with changing driving conditions makes for excitingly dynamic cornering. On entering the corner, the power split is biased towards the rear wheels to improve turning precision. For more vigorous acceleration out of the corner, the powertrain controller returns to the default split as soon as the steering angle becomes smaller again.
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.
The Driving Experience Control switch on the center console gives drivers a choice of two settings. On starting, COMFORT mode is activated, which offers a balance between sporty performance and fuel efficiency, with unrestricted access to all convenience functions. Alternatively, at the touch of a button, ECO PRO mode can be engaged, which, on the BMW i8 as on other models, supports an efficiency-optimized driving style. The powertrain controller coordinates the cooperation between the gasoline engine and the electric motor for minimal fuel consumption. On overrun, the intelligent energy management system automatically decides, in line with the driving situation and vehicle status, whether to recuperate braking energy or to coast with the powertrain disengaged. At the same time, ECO PRO mode also programs electrical convenience functions such as the air conditioning, seat heating and heated mirrors to operate at minimum power consumption - but without compromising safety. The everyday driving range of the BMW i8 on a full fuel tank and with a fully charged battery is over 500 kilometers (310 miles) in COMFORT mode.
SPORT mode offers sequential manual gear selection and at the same time switches to very sporty drive and suspension settings. In SPORT mode, the engine and electric motor deliver extra-sharp performance, accelerator response is faster and the power boost from the electric motor is maximized. And to keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode also activates maximum energy recuperation during deceleration and braking. If the battery is being recharged using the car's kinetic energy, the electric motor's generator function switches to a more powerful setting. At the same time, gear change times are shortened and an extra-sporty setting is selected for the standard Dynamic Damper Control and the Electric Power Steering.
The BMW i8's ECO PRO mode can also be used during all-electric operation. The vehicle is then powered solely by the electric motor. Only if the battery charge drops below a given level, or under sudden intense throttle application (kickdown), is the internal combustion engine automatically activated.
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Source: BMW Press Release