World premiere of the BMW i8

Tuesday, 10th September 2013 - BMW

The second model unveiled by the new BMW i brand combines a plug-in hybrid drive system with a passenger cell made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and an aluminium frame for the combustion engine and electric motor, the battery pack and the suspension.

With this revolutionary concept and the emotional appeal of its aerodynamically optimised body design, the 2+2 -seater – which was conceived from the outset as a plug-in hybrid – paves the way for an engagingly dynamic and futuristically efficient take on BMW’s hallmark driving pleasure. By cementing the brand’s new premium character, strongly defined by sustainability, in the sports car segment, the new i8 also demonstrates the broad spread and universal appeal of the BMW i philosophy.

The research and development activities carried out by the BMW Group since 2007 as part of its project i initiative have laid the groundwork for a visionary car conceived with the impact of environmental, economic and social change around the world very much in mind . Alongside its conceptual and technological development work, the company has also conducted field studies looking at the use of pure-electric vehicles in everyday conditions. More than 1,000 people have taken part in the studies, racking up in excess of 32 million kilometres (20 million miles) at the wheel. The knowledge gained as a result has been channelled into the creation of innovative vehicle concepts and mobility solutions.

Breaking new ground: premium cars underpinned by sustainability-led concepts arrive in the sports car segment
The development of BMW i cars follows a revolutionary approach, a strategy focusing on the creation of premium cars purpose -designed to be powered by purely electric or plug- in hybrid driv e systems. This electric drive technology (packaged under the BMW eDrive banner) is therefore a central component of the vehicle concept – in contrast to the “conversion” model, where vehicles are retrofitted with electric drive systems . Characteristic BMW driving pleasure coupled with emission -free mobility, precise energy flow management, pioneering design, intelligent lightweight construction and production processes that preserve energy and resources come together to mutually complementary effect to for m the innovative, sustainability- led premium character of BMW i cars.

The BMW i8 was conceived from the ground up as a plug-in hybrid sports car boasting agile performance attributes and extraordinary efficiency. Its LifeDrive architecture – developed specifically for BMW i – offers the ideal platform for a weight-minimising construction, low centre of gravity and even weight distribution. The combustion engine and electric motor, battery pack, power electronics, chassis components, and structural and crash functions are all arranged within the aluminium Drive module, while the central element of the Life module is the 2+2-seater’s CFRP passenger cell. This structure also allows a considerable degree of design freedom, which has been utilised – within the framework of the design language developed for BMW i – to give the BMW i8 its distinctive appearance.

BMW i8: the trailblazer for a new generation of sports car
The underlying principle of Efficient Dynamics – more driving pleasure, lower fuel consumption – is expressed with particular purity by the BMW i8. With the performance attributes of a pure-bred sports car and the fuel consumption of a small city model, the first BMW plug-in hybrid vehicle hits heights only
attainable through the revolutionary BMW i vehicle concept. And that makes the BMW i8 a trailblazer for a new generation of sports cars, defined by not only their performance characteristics but also by intelligent solutions to the challenges personal mobility will encounter over the years ahead.

Thanks to its revolutionary vehicle concept and intelligent drive system management, the BMW i8 strikes the optimum balance between dynamic ability and efficiency in a variety of driving situations. The output of the engine and electric motor, the capacity of the high-voltage battery, intelligent energy management and the vehicle’s overall weight are tailored to form a precisely composed package that defines the unique character of the plug- in hybrid sports car. Its all-electric driving range is sufficient to cover most urban driving
requirements, and out of town, the BMW i8 offers impressively sporty performance which is also very efficient thanks to the power -boosting support for the petrol engine from the electric motor. Efficiency and driving dynamics alike are optimised by the broad application of lightweight design – from the
CFRP passenger cell to the weight-reduced construction of all other components – and mobility services developed specially for BMW i. The all-encompassing approach of the BMW i brand also includes the extensive use of recycled materials , renewable raw materials and naturally treated materials, alongside extremely resource-efficient production methods . This overall concept marks the BMW i8 out as the world’s most forward -looking sports car, bringing thrilling performance into line with progressive efficiency and, in the process, boosting driving pleasure and sustainability awareness in equal measure.

Sustainability: the reference point for the entire development process
As part of the development of BMW i cars, sustainability targets are agreed and then pursued with the same vigour as cost, weight or quality objectives. This all-embracing approach is reflected both in the selection of materials and in the construction and manufacturing processes, which differ substantially from conventional manufacturing methods in the automotive industry. The low overall weight of the BMW i8 (1,490 kilograms) can be credited primarily to a passenger cell made from CFRP. Although it lends a component at least equal
rigidity, this extremely lightweight high -tec h material is 50 per cent lighter than steel and 30 per cent lighter than aluminium. The principle of intelligent lightweight design is applied to all the car’s components. The doors are made up of a CFRP inner structure and an aluminium outer skin and weigh 50 per cent less than a conventional construction. The intelligent construction of the magnesium instrument panel support brings a weight saving of around 30 per cent compared with the BMW 6 Series, for example. In addition, the high structural rigidity of the magnesium support structure gives it a strengthening effect which allows the number of components to be reduced, thereby lowering weight by a further 10 per cent. Innovative foam plastic technology used in the air conditioning ducts cuts their weight by 60 per cent compared with a conventional solution, while also improving acoustics thanks to its sound-absorbing properties. The fact that
the power electronics and electric motor are directly connected reduces the amount of wiring required, while partial use of aluminium wiring enables a further reduction in weight.

The BMW i8 is also the world’s first volume -produced vehicle to be equipped with chemically hardened thin glass. This innovative technology, so far used mainly in smartphone manufacturing, lends the material impressive strength. The partition between the passenger compartment and boot of the BMW i8
consists of two layers of chemically hardened glass, each of which is just 0.7 millimetres thick, with acoustic sheeting sandwiched in between. In addition to excellent acoustic properties, a further advantage of this solution is a weight saving of around 50 per cent compared with conventional laminated glass. As well as weight, the potential for preserving resources is a decisive factor in the ch oice of materials. The majority of the aluminium used in the BMW i8 is either gained through recycling or produced using renewable energy. Added to which, the BMW Group has developed a globally unique recycling concept for CFRP components, body components and segregated production waste which sees offcuts from the manufacturing of CFRP components and reusable materials from accident-damaged and end -of -life vehicles either fed back into
the production process or used for other applications.

The best of both worlds: Powertrain and driving experience
The BMW i8 embodies a revolutionary, future -focused interpretation of the driving pleasure for which BMW is renowned. It was purpose -designed as a plug -in -hybrid sports car offering agile performance and outstanding efficiency. An exceptionally lightweight and aerodynamically optimised body – including a
passenger cell made from carbon -fibre -reinforced plastic (CFRP) – plus advanced BMW eDrive drive system technology, a compact, highly turbocharged 1.5 -litre petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and intelligent energy management all come together to create an overall concept that represents a new landmark in the Efficient Dynamics development strategy. The BMW i8 blends the performance of a top - end sports car with fuel economy and emissions more familiar in a small city model. It is based,
moreover, around a vehicle architecture that offers the perfect platform for thrillingly agile handling, thanks to an ultra -low centre of gravity and almost exactly 50 : 50 weight distribution.

The three-cylinder combustion engine in the BMW i8 develops 170 kW/231 hp and drives the rear wheels, while the 96 kW/131 hp electric motor draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery, which can be charged from a conventional domestic power socket, and sends its power to the front axle. This bespoke plug -in hybrid system, developed and produced by the BMW Group, enables a range in everyday driving of up to 35 kilometres (approx. 22 miles) and a top speed of 120 km/h (approx. 75 mph) on electric power alone, coupled with a “glued -to -the -road” all -wheel driving experience headlined by powerful acceleration and a dynamically-biased distributi on of power through enthusiastically taken corners. The more powerful of the two power sources drives the rear wheels and uses the electric boost from the hybrid system to deliver hallmark BMW driving pleasure while at the same time offering groundbreaking levels of efficiency. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes just 4.4 seconds, yet average fuel consumption – as calculated in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles – stands at 2.5 litres per 100 kilometres (113 mpg imp) from launch. CO2 emissions come in at 59 grams per kilometre.

As well as providing a power boost to assist the petrol engine during acceleration, the electric motor can also power the vehicle by itself. Top speed is then 120 km/h (approx. 75 mph). The BMW i8 has a maximum driving range in this emission-free, virtually soundless, all - electric mode of up to 35 kilometres (approx. 22 miles). The motor derives its energy from the lithium -ion battery which is centrally mounted underneath the floor of the vehicle. This model-specific version of the high-voltage battery was developed and produced by the BMW Group. It has a liquid cooling system, offers a maximum usable capacity of five kilowatt hours and can be recharged from a conventional household power socket, at a BMW i Wallbox or at a public charging station.

The rear wheels of the BMW i8 are driven by the petrol engine via a six -speed automatic transmission, while the front wheels receive their power from the electric motor via a two-stage automatic transmission. Combined maximum output of 266 kW/362 hp and combined peak torque of 570 Newton metres (420 lb -ft) provide all -wheel-drive performance which is as dynamic as it is efficient. The BMW i8’s intelligent powertrain control system ensures perfect coordination of both power sources. The variable power-sharing between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor makes the driver aware of the sporty temperament of the BMW i8 at all times, while at the same time maximising the energy efficiency of the overall system. Utilising both power sources enables a 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) time of 4.4 seconds. The BMW i8 has an electronically controlled top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), which can be reached and maintained whe n the vehicle operates solely on the petrol engine.

CFRP wheels reduce weight in critical areas
The chassis components of the BMW i8 are defined by their weight -minimised construction. The car’s standard -fit 20-inch forged aluminium wheels have an aerodynamically optimised, lightweight design. CFRP wheels developed exclusively for the BMW i8 can be specified as an option and allow a further reduction in weight in an area of the car which plays a particularly prominent role when it comes to agility. The use of three-piece wheels made from this extremely lightweight and high-strength material directly reduces unsprung masses and produces a weight saving of three kilograms per wheel.

Repair costs for the BMW i models are normal for their class
Tests by vehicle insurers and BMW Accident Research show that accidents primarily result in minor damage. In around 90 per cent of all recorded accidents involving conventional vehicles, the damage sustained is to the outer skin. The BMW i8 takes account of this and is equipped with screw/clip-on plastic plating all around. Minor bumps are absorbed without leaving dents, as usually occurs with metal parts, and damage to the paint does not lead to corrosion. If a section of the external skin needs to be replaced, this can be carried out quickly and economically. Overall, the accident repair costs are at a comparable level to those for conventional BMW models. “Cold” repair methods for aluminium parts , time -saving repairs for CFRP components. Repairs to the aluminium structure of the Drive module (welded as part of the series production process) are carried out using the “cold” methods of bonding and riveting. These methods have been in successful use in BMW workshops since 2003.

The reparability of the Life module’s CFRP structure was already a priority in the development of the vehicle concept; for example, several repair stages were set out for the side frame. If a damaged side sill needs to be replaced after a side impact, the workshop carries out a visual ins pection and damage assessment and then removes only the section in need of repair using a patented milling tool. The required side sill component is manufactured to fit and then installed on the damaged vehicle. The new part is bonded to the separation points using repair elements. Any authorised BMW i dealer can repair the outer skin. However, due to the
product-specific features of the LifeDrive module, there will be repair centres in which specialised employees take care of vehicles with damage to the aluminium or CFRP structure.

Sports car also displays maximum efficiency when it comes to operating costs
The vehicle concept and drive system technology of the BMW i8 help it earn top marks for efficiency. The low fuel consumption of the plug -in hybrid sports car brings with it not only impressively low emissions but also significantly reduced running costs. The process for calculating the average fuel consumption of plug -in hybrid vehicles in the EU test cycle also takes into account the use of the available energy capacity in a fully charged battery. All of which allows the BMW i8 to boast unrivalled economy given its performance potential; average fuel consumption is 2.5 litres per 100 kilometres (113 mpg imp). The most rewarding way – environmentally and economically speaking – to drive the BMW i8 is in pure -electric mode, whereby the BMW i8 has a range of around 35 kilometres (22 miles). This equates to an energy requirement of roughly
15 kWh per 100 kilometres (62 miles). Assuming electricity charges of 0.25 euros (approx. 20 pence) per kWh, this results in energy costs of some 3.75 euros (approx. £3.20) per 100 kilometres. At current prices in Germany, this is the equivalent of just over two litres of premium unleaded petrol per 100 km.