BMW i8 Concept Spyder makes its world debut in Beijing

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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BMW's sub-brand, BMW i, is a forthcoming range of vehicles that utilize lightweight construction, innovative materials and alternative powertrains to put an emphasis on sustainable motoring. While rumours suggest that i1 and i5 models will be released under the BMW i brand, confirmed vehicles already include the electric i3 commuter vehicle and the gasoline-electric i8 plug-in hybrid sport coupe. At the recently concluded Auto China 2012 (also known as the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition) BMW displayed a new iteration of its sporty i8 - the i8 Concept Spyder.

News of the i8 Concept Spyder was announced nearly a month in advance of Auto China 2012, but the world had to wait for the open-top two-seater to make its world debut in Beijing. The expressive bodywork features spoiler lips, aero flaps and "AirCurtains" for enhanced aerodynamic efficiency and driving range. Inside, there's an 8.8-inch display screen that relays vehicle information to the occupants, while carbon fibre, plastic and leather trim are used to outfit the cabin. The innovative concept also features a passenger cell that uses carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) for strong, lightweight construction.

Power comes from two sources; a 131-horsepower electric motor on the front axle and a 223-horsepower turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine which routes its output to the rear wheels. With a combined powertrain output of 354 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque, BMW says it's i8 Concept Spyder can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in five seconds and the top speed has been electronically restricted to 250 km/h.

In a departure from convention, the i8 Concept Spyder can send its driving power to either the front wheels, the rear wheels or all of its wheels at the same time and the innovative two-seater also recuperates energy during braking or while coasting on the motorways. Fuel economy is claimed to be just 3 litres/100 km in the European test cycle and the i8 Concept Spyder can operate for over 30 km on electric power alone when the vehicle's lithium-ion battery is fully charged.

In regard to the battery, it can be charged from a domestic power socket in less than two hours according to BMW, and is located between the front and rear axles for a low centre of gravity. A focus on balancing the packaging of other the drivetrain and chassis components has led to a claimed 50:50 weight distribution, which is an ideal characteristic of purpose-built sports cars.

Apart from its intuitive layout and uncharacteristic powertrain, the i8 Concept Spyder has also been outfitted with several modern-day safety and convenience technologies that include a camera-based proactive collision warning system, a parking assistant and a traffic jam assistant.

So, will the i8 Concept Spyder go into production? Well, the i3 and i8 models were once concepts themselves and will soon be introduced in 2013 and 2014 respectively. An open-top version of the i8 sport coupe seems like a logical step and would increase the burgeoning BMW i vehicle range to three models.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Roadster, Hybrid, BMW, 2012, i8 Concept Spyder,

Organizations: BMW

Geographic location: Beijing

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