In the 2011 film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise is upstaged by BMW’s new star supercar, the i8 plug-in hybrid. The winged-door i8 accelerates from zero to 60 miles in less than five seconds—and is capable of a top speed of around 155 miles per hour. It’s expected to deliver supercar level of performance while offering an equally impressive 90 miles per gallon.
In June, BMW confirmed its plans to offer the i8 for around $125,000, starting in late 2013 or early 2014. Okay, so it doesn’t fit into everybody’s budget. But it’s nice to know that the makers of the ultimate driving machine are heavily investing in electric vehicles.
The i8 uses a gasoline engine alone to power the back wheels. That engine is a small turbocharged three-cylinder with 1.5-liter displacement, capable of 220 horsepower. The electric motor exclusively powers the front wheels, adding 131 horsepower to yield the car’s overall power rating of 353 ponies. In the i8, the all-electric range is about 22 miles, after which the efficient gas engine takes over.
The i8 will be the flagship of BMW’s new i sub-brand, which also features the more modest i3 all-electric car. The company’s plans for the i brand go beyond electron-powered vehicles. BMW will use the i brand to recast itself as a multi-modal mobility company. The car’s software will calculate different route options to avoid traffic jams, and will even tell you when it’s faster to take public transportation. For example, the software will route the i8 to charging station located next to trains or buses, and will even park the car for you. In another sign of changing times, BMW recently acquired an interest in MyCityWay and ParkatmyHouse, a company that makes it possible for individuals to rent their personal parking space via the web or smartphone.
The BMW i Born Electric Tour recently completed the Italian leg of its worldwide itinerary, which included Dusseldorf, Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, and Shanghai. In mid-June, the German carmaker opened its first showroom for the i series, on London’s upscale Park Lane. And the company’s entire line of greener vehicles is on display at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy eBay Green Driving.