It was four years ago at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show that we first saw BMW roll out its Vision EfficientDynamics concept and announce its commitment to launching an advanced sports car with stellar gas mileage based on it. At the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show in one month’s time, BMW will finally end the wait by unveiling the production version of the original concept, the new 2015 i8.

The i8 will be like no BMW we’ve ever seen before, yet the brand’s traditional markets are still expected to be its biggest takers. In fact, BMW’s single biggest market, the U.S., is expected to be where most i8s end up.

"The U.S. will be by far the largest sales market for the i8," the car's product manager, Hendrik Wenders, told Germany’s Automobilwoche. Wenders also revealed the car would be sold in about 50 countries and that other top markets will include the U.K. and Germany. However, he didn’t reveal expected sales figures.

No details on pricing have been mentioned by BMW, but previous reports have suggested a figure north of $100k. This will put the i8 in the target of exclusive sports cars like the Audi R8 and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The i8’s advantage will be its efficiency, technology and electric-only capability.

The i8 is essentially plug-in hybrid that pairs a three-cylinder gasoline engine (driving the rear axle) with an electric motor (driving the front axle). Combined output is 362 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, which is said to be enough for 0-60 mph acceleration in under 4.5 seconds and a governed top speed of 155 mph. The car’s electric-only range is approximately 22 miles and fuel economy (based on the European combined cycle) can reach a claimed 95 mpg.

The car will land in showrooms next spring as a 2015 model.


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