BMW i8 Plug-in Hybrid previewed ahead of Frankfurt debut

BMW’s visionary i brand has reached another milestone with the presentation of a second prototype, the BMW i8, following the world debut of the first production i model last month, the BMW i3.

The hallmark of the BMW i8 lies in its plug-in hybrid system. A compact three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is combined with an electric drive system and a lithium-ion battery which can be recharged at a standard household power socket. The 170 kW/231 hp petrol engine sends its power to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 96 kW/131 hp electric motor drives the front wheels via an integrated two-stage automatic transmission.

This unique configuration offers all-electric “guilt-free” driving capability with a range of up to 35 kilometres and a top speed of 120 km/h. With both drive systems engaged, the i8 offers all-wheel-drive performance with torque vectoring during sporty driving.

The BMW i8 also offers the driver unusual scope to adjust the drive and suspension settings of the vehicle in order to adapt the driving experience to his or her individual preferences. As well as the electronic gear selector for the automatic transmission, the driver can also use the Driving Experience Control switch – a familiar feature of the latest BMW models – or, exclusively to the BMW i8, the eDrive button.

Thanks to its carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell and intelligent interior design, the BMW i8 managed to offset the weight penalty of its onboard electric motor and batteries, tipping the scale at just below 1,490 kg. Weight is also evenly distributed across both axles with a near-perfect 50:50 axle load ratio. BMW expects the i8 to take just 4.5 seconds to sprint from 0-100 km/h, while returning an average fuel consumption of less than 2.5 litres /100 km.

The 2+2 BMW i8 has a length of 4,689 mm, a width of 1,942 mm and a height of 1,293 mm. Its exterior design is characterised by a long bonnet, conspicuous aerodynamic features, an elongated roofline, short overhangs and a long wheelbase of 2,800 mm. The i8’s overall low slung body shape gives it a drag coefficient (Cd value) of just 0.26.

The BMW i8 will lose its camouflage for its official debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

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