BMW's laser-emitting, Tron-like future carsS

BMW's Vision EfficientDynamics, shown at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, has spawned two further cars, the i8 and the i3, which are set to propel BMW into a future of glass, electricity and, yes, laser lights.

While the i8 is a plug-in hybrid, the i3 is a purely electric city car with suicide doors, one that BMW calls the "megacity vehicle", which probably doesn't mean Manila or Addis Abeba but L.A. with more neons. It's the love child of a wedge and a glass bubble and it will come with a 170 hp electric motor.

The plan for BMW's i line is real vehicles in the not so distant future, and the one you will probably want is the i8, which will marry electric power with a three-pot for a 0-to-60 of five seconds with the fuel consumption of a paper airplane. Or not much more.

It looks lovely in person, although a bit too clean and precious for the world beyond BMW's pristine and futuristic exhibition hall. To handle the real world out there, the i cars will offer "more safety, more comfort, and more infotainment".

But don't worry if you like your BMW's loud, brutal and in-your-face. The i cars are definitely the company's future.

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The company's present, meanwhile, is the snarling, blue BMW M5, which was driven on the stage at high speed. While the engine's noise was muffled by corporate rock from sound system, it was plenty for a smile.

Photo Credit, Top: Thorsten Wagner / Getty Images News