In the not too distant future BMW will be launching a whole range of environmentally friendly vehicles grouped under its new “i” division, the first of which will be an electric compact hatch dubbed the i3.
Today, at a special press conference in Frankfurt, Germany, BMW took the wraps off a concept version of its upcoming i3 as well as a second concept, the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar.
Both are destined for production and these latest concepts give us the best clue as to what we can expect when the two high-tech cars finally go on sale.
As mentioned, the i3 will be the first out of the blocks, arriving in showrooms sometime in 2013. The i8 will follow it, arriving at the start of 2014.
Both cars have been developed using a new design philosophy for BMW called “LifeDrive” where the car is designed in two separate stages; the “Life” stage, which is essentially the bodyshell that will encase the cabin, and the “Drive” stage, which consists of the powertrain and chassis components.
In the case of the i3, the powertrain consists of an electric motor rated at 170 horsepower driving the rear axle. It will have a driving range of about 93 miles on a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries and should a driver require more, a range extended version called i-REX is also being developed.
The i8, on the other hand, features twin power sources, an electric motor rated at 131 horsepower driving the front axle and a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline unit rated at 220 horsepower driving the rear.
The two power sources aren’t directly connected to each other but work together in a “Through The Road Hybrid” fashion where they offer all-wheel drive while running simultaneously or can run independently of each other.
Look out for the concepts’ respective public debuts at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show this September and stay tuned for our full coverage of the event.