The BMW i8 Concept with eDrive is an icon of progress. The BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics made it clear that an emotional sports car with the fuel economy of a small car is no contradiction and could soon be reality.
The story of the i8 begins with its so-called LifeDrive architecture. BMW says that its experiences in creating the Mini E and 1-series-based BMW ActiveE showed that adapting cars engineered for internal-combustion power to electric propulsion results in a lot of excess weight and compromises in packaging. As a result, the i8 is built using two purpose-built modules: one to house passengers, dubbed “Life,” and one for propulsion and suspension components, called “Drive.”
It features a glass nose-to-tail roof and glass butterfly-opening doors. Hybrid power comes from two electric motors, one front, and one rear, while the rear axle also gets a boost from a 3-cylinder turbo diesel and 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. BMW has since refined the idea and has presented a second i8 concept that is closer to the final production version.
Acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in under five seconds combined with fuel consumption in the European cycle of 2.7 liters per 100 kilometers are figures currently beyond the capability of any vehicle powered by a combustion engine of comparable performance. This incredibly lightweight material allows the i8 to use a smaller, lighter battery than would be needed if the car were made of heavier steel. This frees up room in the cabin and keeps the curb weight around 3,300 pounds.
While most other hybrids are based on existing front-drive vehicles, BMW had the luxury of starting from scratch. As with all 50/50-balanced cars, the majority of braking forces occur at the front axle. So, in the effort to recoup as much energy from regenerative braking, it made sense for BMW to fit the electric half of the powertrain up front. The LifeDrive architecture of the BMW i8 Concept has been carefully adapted to enhance the vehicle’s sports car character deliver unbeatable performance and driving dynamics.
During its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show BMW, officials have confirmed that a production version of the i8 will arrive in 2014. The most recent concept was shown in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.