The BMW i8 introduces LA to the electric hybrid supercar
The electric vehicle segment is quickly growing in the North American market as vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt will be joined by the likes of the Ford Focus Electric and the Fiat 500 electric version soon but there is nothing quite like the new BMW i8 available in the US. The closest thing to an electric hybrid (that is, a vehicle that features electric power with gasoline support as opposed to a gasoline powered hybrid with an electric aided hybrid transmission) supercar in the US is the Tesla Roadster which is an all electric vehicle but when the BMW i8 hits the street, it will be the first supercar in the US to offer all electric range with high performance driving capabilities – provided that someone doesn’t beat them to market.
The BMW i8 (which is sadly only listed as a concept right now) uses an electric motor powered by a lithium ion battery to send 349 horsepower to the front wheels with an all-electric range of 20 miles. Once that electric range is depleted, the BMW i8 moves to hybrid mode where a turbocharged 1.5L, 3-cylinder gasoline engine sends 220 horsepower and 221lb-ft of twist to the rear wheels while the electric propulsion system kicks in and out to improve fuel economy measures. Finally, when the BMW i8 is being pushed to its limits, the electric drive system and the 1.5L turbo engine work together to provide almost 570 horsepower with an advanced all wheel drive setup that allows the i8 to stake its claim as a supercar. This high tech drivetrain in the vehicle formerly known as the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept allows the car to dash from 0-60 in under 5 seconds and hit a governed top speed of 155 miles per hour, while also achieving an estimated fuel economy figure around 78 miles per gallon.
As you can see in the gallery on the right, the new BMW i8 is really unlike anything on the road today with the sleek, lightweight body being every bit as unique as the high performance drivetrain. The i8 features seating for 4 with access to the futuristic-minimalist interior gained through the unique see-through doors that open gull-wing style towards the front of the car. Across the front end, the familiar BMW kidney grille openings are stretched out to reach the striking LED headlights with the huge hood flowing into the low laying windshield and roofline. The angular side panels integrate the large door openings and out back a set of large LED taillights and a massive rear window give this car help finish the front-to-back sporty look of the i8.