The current BMW i8 models (the coupe and the roadster) are hybrids, using a three-cylinder engine and an electric motor to power all four wheels. The next generation i8, however, might just ditch the reliance on gasoline once and for all.
BMW higher ups are apparently deciding on the direction of the next i8. Supposedly, they are leaning toward an all-electric, all-wheel drive model for 2023, reports Autocar, citing unnamed sources.
From the story:
... recent information out of BMW’s R&D headquarters in Munich, Germany, reveals the development of an alternative plan under which the next i8 would adopt a newly developed pure-electric drivetrain. The Current i8 combines a three-pot petrol with electric power move would be part of a “race to road strategy” that, Autocar has been told, aims to provide a “tangible link” between BMW’s involvement in Formula E and its i electric car division.
The alternative pure-electric plan developed for the i8 revolves around what one key Munich insider describes as a “new high-torque pure-electric driveline”.
There isn’t any concrete information yet, but the outlet also reports that the new electric drivetrain could share “key elements” with the four-wheel drive system being developed for the BMW iNext. There could even be a new electric motor that will be developed in-house.
An all-electric i8 might just be what BMW needs. If that happens, then BMW could compete directly against the upcoming Tesla Roadster, the alleged electric Porsche 911 and even the rumored electric Audi R8. Right now, the i8 occupies a sort of weird dead space of expensive, performance hybrid car that doesn’t really make enough power for more people to care. (They’re wrong, but that’s an argument for another time.)
Furthermore, Autocar suggests that the i8's existing carbon fiber chassis “lacks the modularity” to support the popular skateboard-design that other automakers implement in their EVs. So, maybe even a new platform is in the works. Who knows!
Personally, I’d like to see the i8 continued and an all-electric version would be extremely cool. If BMW could somehow just give it a little more juice so it would silence the haters, that’s be greeeeeeeeat.
You can check out the rest of Autocar’s story here.