2015 BMW i8
That's the premise of the 2015 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupe, which was unveiled in production form this morning at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show. When it reaches dealer showrooms in the U.S. sometime next spring, the base price will be $135,925 including destination.
BMW's first-ever plug-in hybrid, the i8 is deemed a "revolutionary interpretation" of BMW's tradition of ultimate driving machines. Certainly the technology is advanced: The BMW i8's turbocharged 1.5 three-cylinder engine, mounted low and behind the passenger compartment, uses its 231 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque to drive the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.
A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack sits between the two passenger seats in the tunnel, and provides electricity to run the electric motor--rated at 96 kilowatts (131 horsepower) and 184 pound-feet of torque--that powers the front wheels. Range in electric mode is up to 22 miles, at up to 75 mph.
2015 BMW i8Enlarge Photo
The body shell of the 2015 i8 coupe is built of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), both very light and very strong, sitting on an aluminum platform that absorbs crash energy and contains the battery pack, electric motor, and rear-mounted engine and transmission. BMW quotes the curb weight at just 3,285 pounds, and says the i8 has a center of gravity that's less than 18 inches above the ground and a drag coefficient of 0.26.
Among the notable design touches are doors that pivot upward, somewhat like wings; standard full LED headlights--with laser headlights, a world first, where they're legal to use--and alloy wheels fully 20 inches in diameter.
We'll have live photos from the BMW i8 introduction, and be sure to check out all our coverage from Germany this week on our Frankfurt Auto Show page.