Picture: BMW.
Picture: BMW.

End of the road for BMW's innovative i8

By Jason Woosey Time of article published Mar 11, 2020

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Munich, Germany - BMW’s i8 wowed the world with its futuristic styling when it was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2013. Of course, it also gave BMW a jump on the plug-in hybrid game as an early pioneer of the technology.

But with its innovative and lightweight carbon-fibre-reinforced-plastic architecture, the i8 - along with its i3 hatchback cousin - were always destined to be expensive and low-volume niche models for the Bavarian brand.

Six years after its market launch, the BMW i8 is about to be discontinued, with no immediate successor announced as yet. That said, BMW executives have hinted that an even more radical successor might be on the cards, and the BMW M Next Concept of 2019 could certainly provide the inspiration for that.

For now though, BMW is concentrating on challenging Tesla in the mainstream electric car sales game, with new offerings such as the all-electric iX3 and i4. These are just two of the 25 electrified models that BMW plans to have in its range by 2025, including a vast array of plug-in hybrids.

Although the 2+2-seat i8 was never a big seller, it still enters BMW’s “hall of fame” as the world’s most successful electrified sports car to date, with sales of over 20 000 units since 2014.

The BMW i8 Coupe and i8 Roadster are still listed for sale in South Africa, priced at R2.105 million and R2.34 million respectively.

The i8’s hybrid system consists of a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbopetrol engine that drives the rear wheels, and an electric motor that powers the front axle. The 2018 facelift ushered in an updated lithium-ion battery and electric motor, which not only brought more power to the party - with the total system output rising from 266kW to 275kW - but the claimed electric-only distance increased to 55km.

With its innovative lightweight structure and aluminium chassis, the i8 was the world’s first sports car that had been developed with sustainability in mind right from the outset, BMW said.

The light kerb weight and instantaneous electrical boost also allowed for better performance figures than one might have expected given the power outputs, with BMW claiming a 4.4-second 0-100km/h time for the i8.

IOL Motoring

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