2013 Frankfurt Auto ShowJust the Facts:
- The 2014 BMW i8 will start at $136,625, when it goes on sale next spring in the U.S.
- The production i8 debuted at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.
- Official EPA fuel economy numbers have not been published, but BMW said the i8 is expected to return 94 mpg in the U.S.
FRANKFURT, Germany — The 2014 BMW i8 will start at $136,625, including a $925 destination charge, when it goes on sale next spring in the U.S. The i8, which the German automaker calls "a new generation of sports car," debuted on Tuesday at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.
The i8 is a significant vehicle because it is the first plug-in hybrid from the BMW Group and "the world's most forward-looking sports car," the automaker said.
Official EPA fuel economy numbers have not been published, but BMW said the i8 is expected to return 94 mpg in the U.S. BMW does not expect to have EPA numbers on the i8 until sometime next year. It did not specify if the 94-mpg number refers to city or highway driving.
"The i8 will debut as a 2014 model," said David Buchko, a BMW spokesman, in a phone conversation with Edmunds on Monday. Earlier, it was believed that the i8 would be a 2015 model.
Buchko said the i8, a plug-in hybrid 2+2 sports car, competes with "high-performance cars in this general price range, such as the Lexus LFA." The car is pitched at high-tech pioneers or "folks who can afford a car in this price range and are intrigued by new things," Buchko said.
Standard equipment includes full-LED headlights, but some buyers may be disappointed to hear that BMW's laser headlights, which will be available on the i8 in Europe, will not be offered in the U.S. because they haven't been approved by federal safety regulators. The laser headlights use a diffuser to create a pattern similar to a headlight. They are said to use far less energy than even LED headlights.
The plug-in hybrid is equipped with a 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. Total system output is 362 horsepower. This is the first BMW hybrid in which the gas engine and the electric motor are used to operate different drive wheels. The gas engine sends power to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, while the electric motor sends power through the front wheels via a two-stage automatic transmission.
BMW says the i8 sprints from zero-62 mph in 4.4 seconds. It has a range of up to 22 miles and a top speed of 75 mph on electric power alone.
The driver can choose from five driving modes, including a Sport mode with an "ultra-intense boost function provided by the electric motor" and a fuel-saving Eco Pro mode that programs functions such as the air conditioning to operate at minimum power consumption.
Unusual details on the BMW i8 include a passenger cell made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. BMW says the material is 50 percent lighter than steel and 30 percent lighter than aluminum. It helps the plug-in hybrid tip the scales are a relatively low overall weight of 3,285 pounds. BMW says there will be repair centers set up in which specialized employees take care of vehicles with damage to the aluminum or CFRP structure.
The car's design puts a premium on aerodynamics, with a low-slung hood, Air Curtains in the front apron, sealed underbody and contoured side skirts. The car's standard 20-inch forged aluminum wheels have an "aerodynamically optimized" lightweight design, too. Carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic wheels are optional in some markets.
The cabin features lightweight seats and exposed carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic to "provide a reminder of the low weight of the BMW i8," the company said.
The i8 can be charged at a standard 110-volt outlet in 3.5 hours, while the BMW i Charging Station completes the process in 1.5 hours.
Edmunds says: At $136K, the BMW i8 will be the first serious contender for the Tesla Model S that has drawn plenty of attention from wealthy buyers who want a green image.