The New Electric BMW i8 Debuts at Frankfurt
As ever the annual Frankfurt Motor Show saw a number of vehicles creating a buzz amongst both the motoring press and the attendees alike. There were the unusual concept cars such as the Citroen Cactus and the doorless, roofless Smart Four-Joy, whilst Audi’s decision to introduce hybrid technology within a concept version of the reworked retro classic Quattro picked up a fair few column inches. However, the arguable star was the new BMW ‘I’ range, featuring the i3 and the eagerly anticipated i8.
In their home country the new BMWs were always likely to be a big draw, but following much speculation in the run-up to the event, the i8 made its first public appearance in Frankfurt, trailing the German manufacturer’s new ‘i’ brand. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the opportunity to get up close with new vehicle in Frankfurt – though she stopped short of taking out one day car insurance for a test drive. However, as we couldn’t all get as close as the Chancellor could, here are a few key pointers on the new i8?
Unlike its more conventional brother the i3 which is produced in a striking two-tone colour-way, the i8 is of a more conventional single colour and, as you would expect of a sports car, much sleeker too. According to BMW the i8 is “a flat silhouette” of “powerfully-formed surfaces and precise lines. Helping the sports car appearance of the i8 are the butterfly wing, or dihedral to give them their proper name, doors. They might not make it easy for you to get out in your garage, but they will certainly leave you in no doubt that you’re owning a sports car.
The i8 boasts a 1.5 litre turbo-charged three-cylinder engine which boasts 231 horsepower which drives the rear axle, whilst and an electric motor which contains a further 131 horsepower in a two-speed automatic power-source drives the front wheels. Driving in electrical mode the i8 is capable of speeds up to 120 km/h and the car itself benefits from being relatively quick to charge; reaching a full charge from a 110-volt outlet in under 4 hours.
PURPOSE & VISION
Enthusiastic about low-emission and eco vehicles Germany’s transport Government has a target of getting 1 million electric cars on the road by the end of the decade. As a German manufacturer then it is very much in BMW’s interests to aim for the electric market particularly with potential tax breaks available to them for helping the Government meets their target. Therefore the i range helps BMW make a two-pronged attack; the i3 hitting the family, or urban audience whilst the i8 looks set to corner the market for sports hybrids.
This isn’t the car for the everyman, especially as it is set to go on sale with a six figure price tag to begin with, and as it is a sports car the room in the back doesn’t exactly shout ‘family road trip’ at you. The manufacturer has indicated that its target market is tech-savvy men over the age of 35, so those with the money to invest and enough of an environmental consciousness to plump for a hybrid .Though the up-front costs may be high, the comparatively cheap cost to run, with subsidies from the Government for installing electric power points, and the option to use daily car insurance if it is to be your weekend tear-up when you get back from the city, the i8 may just live up to its early moniker as a sports car for the future.