The BMW i8 is a gorgeous car, but a green one?
This, perhaps, explains a lot about why those cars are not getting their due respect vis-a-vis hybrids such as the BMW i8.
At a glance, the numbers and figures to declare the i8 the winner simply do not add up. The article claims "The five judges took into account the vehicles tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and use of a major advanced power plant technology (beyond engine componentry), aimed specifically at increasing the vehicle's environmental responsibility." So, minus powertrain innovation, which is arbitrary when/as it doesn't translate to higher "green" efficiency, it sounds to me like a contest about low carbon emissions. This holds whether such emissions occur directly (via tailpipe) or via energy/fuel use (carbon from generating the electricity used as fuel). My issue with this is, a lot of EVs easily beat the i8's figures in that emissions/"green" arena and much more.
Using the American EPA rating system.
- Tesla Model S P85D: 87 mpge, 0-60 3.2 seconds, 0.89g's skidpad (handling ability), 4 wheel drive.
- BMW i8: 76 mpge (and for only est. 20 miles range, so it's realistically much less unless you are only doing extremely short trips). In the case of rraveling over 20 miles, it gets only 28 mpg on gas. 0-60 4.2 seconds, 0.91g's skidpad , 4 wheel drive.
- BMW i3: 124 mpgE, 0-60 7 seconds, 0.78g skidpad.
- Nissan Leaf: 114 mpgE, 0-60 6.6 seconds, 0.81g skidpad.
If the test really is about emissions and fuel consumption then the i3, last year's understandable winner, achieves a whopping 124 mpge overall, making it over 1.5 times as efficient as the "green champ" i8 in all-electric mode. Also, even if the test is apparently limited to cars with very substantial revisions in 2015, the 2015 Leaf, with its heavily upgraded battery (which is definitely a vital part of the EV drivetrain) technology for 2015, gets 114 mpge, nearly the same as the BMW i3's admirable figure. In addition, the i8's optimistic mileage figures assume you aren't ever going over the i8's petty 20 mile estimated all-electric range, in which case the i8 gets much worse fuel economy (28 mpg instead of 76 mpge).
Performance wise, the Tesla Model S P85D, compared to the i8, achieves a substantially better 0-60 time, a virtually identical skidpad/handling figure, and, like the i8, the Tesla also has an intelligent 4 wheel drive system. Furthermore, it has more advanced, faster charging technology than the i8 and highly upgradable software to control all aspects of the car/drivetrain, right down to automated driving and controlling the entire car via your smartphone. Also, while the i8 flaunts its advanced use of carbon fiber for light weight, neither of its related figures of performance nor fuel economy, which you would expect to be superior due to said weight advantage, top that of the Tesla.
Go figure that I am having a very tough time seeing what the i8 has the new Tesla P85D does not.
So, how on earth did the BMW i8 win this green contest? I highly suspect this quote: "The BMW i8 gasoline hybrid looks so cool, it should be the icon for all “Green” cars." And, I agree, it's likely, for many, easily the coolest looking car of the bunch, almost like an eco-Lamborghini of sorts. I am also suspicious that the i8 may be getting brownie points for being a hybrid, combining a gas and electric motor for those with range anxiety. Then again, the Model S has about a 240 mile range- not exactly skimpy. Plus, when you do run low, the Model S has superior charging speed.
Perhaps we are supposed to assume, for your average gasoline-powered automobile drive, that mere half hour stop at a Tesla (super)charger every 200+ miles (that's generally over 3 hours straight worth of driving) is enough inconvenience to crush all its other advantages since the i8 has instant gas refueling/charging as it's a hybrid. So far as performance and emissions, though, the i8 looks like a clear sheep in wolf's clothing compared to other options; not threatening to the competition. It just happens to look very cool and be produced by a luxurious and reputable German manufacturer, but, apparently, when that shiny rubber hits the road, that is about all that stands out about it.