BMW is about to announce the BMW i8 on September 10th. They’ve created a teaser video for interested drivers ahead of the big event, although many leaked photos of the vehicle can already be found online. The BMW i8 is a follow up to the recently release BMW i3, an all-electric vehicle that featured 80-100 miles of all-electric range, slow acceleration common in efficient vehicles and a more urban-mover profile that reminds one of a VW Beetle, or a Smart ForTwo, than the sleek, growling speed machines that BMW is certainly more famous for.
The BMW i8 seeks to address that by bringing sleek good looks and BMW performance to the i8. Take a look:
The i8 is a curious beast, if the leaked details are true. It initially presents itself as a BMW speed demon with 228 horsepower and a 0-60 of 4.5 seconds whether on all-electric or gas only, according to BMW Blog. But it’s a plug in hybrid. Which is a bit confusing because the car is one of those mixed beasts. It has the ability to do an all-electric mode, but according to the specs it’s 0-40 mph only, and then somewhere above 40 (47 according to the sites linked) the gas engine kicks in. So how does it have an all-electric mode of 0-60 in under 4.5 seconds?
There are a myriad of driving modes. A Sport mode that allows that 4.5 second acceleration and all the fun on laps you can imagine. It has a gas-sipping mode that claims to get about 95 MPG, making the aggressive-looking car use gas at the same level as a Prius, or other hybrid. Then there’s an all-electric mode: that is limited to a top speed of around 47 MPH, and it has a range of 22 miles.
What we get is a BMW that can growl like a tiger, accelerate like a top-end BMW, go all-electric like a Volt for 22 miles, and then sip fuel like a Prius. All depending on the push of a button that you can select.
The press is already trying to figure out how to compare this to a Tesla Model S, priced at around $80,000 with a slightly slower 0-60 (4.2 seconds to 5.9 seconds, depending on model purchased) if you’re in a cheaper model. The BMW will be priced higher, some $125,000 or so, according to guesses, though we’ll find out for sure on the 10th.
Will BMW buyers be willing to use a sub 47 MPH mode for all-electric, then eat gas for the performance, or adjust to sipping fuel in another mode? Or would the luxury demographic prefer to just get those green miles and performance without having to worry about four different modes and a very lackadaisical all-electric range? For $45,000 more? Tesla’s CEO famously dismissed the i3 as not being a competitor, but the i8 is quite clearly making sure BMW has something to offer the same buyers who are attracted to the Tesla Model S.