At the Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW unveiled the first i8 Roadster, along with the 2019 i8 Coupe. Optimized BMW eDrive technology delivers more power—total output increased to 369 hp (+12 hp)—and a refined high-voltage battery with increased capacity and range. The new BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles (29 km) (preliminary) in purely electric driving, up from 14 miles (23 miles) for the current i8.
With hybrid-specific all-wheel drive, the combustion engine driving the rear wheels and the electric motor driving the front wheels, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph takes just 4.2/4.4 seconds (preliminary) for the Coupe and Roadster respectively with both reaching an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Sales will commence in spring 2018, price to be announced closer to market launch.
The aluminum Drive module combines the powertrain, high-voltage battery, suspension, crash system and structural functions, while the Life module takes the form of a passenger cell made out of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The BMW i8 Roadster also benefits from a light-weight construction, complete with low center of gravity and even weight distribution.
The electrically operated convertible top, opens and closes in less than 16 seconds and while the vehicle is in motion at up to 31 mph (50 km/h). The fabric soft-top stows away into a perpendicular position in the rear and therefore takes up very little space. The three segments of the roof fold vertically in a ‘Z’. Additional storage space between the roof box and the seats for the driver and front passenger is around 3.5 ft3 (preliminary figure). In combination with the storage area in the rear, which can accommodate 4.7 ft3 cargo, the rear compartment helps to ensure the open-top version of the plug-in hybrid sports car is also as well equipped as possible for everyday use.
Opening the roof raises the rear window automatically by around 1.9 inches into a comfort position. By raising the rear window, the air flow is guided towards the rear, reducing wind turbulence optimizing the passenger’s experience. The driver can adjust the height of the rear window at the touch of a button to control the impact of the inflowing air as desired.
Intelligent lightweight design and innovative production technology also play a key role in the construction of the soft-top. For example, aluminum elements connecting the roof mechanism with the body of the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are produced in a new 3D printing process. This manufacturing method for aluminum components breaks new ground in the automotive industry and allows the topologically optimized bracings to be produced in a geometric form, which would not be possible using conventional casting techniques and ensures an optimal balance between component rigidity and weight.
Optimized BMW eDrive technology. The new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are powered by a drive duo in the form of a hybrid synchronous electric motor and BMW TwinPower Turbo technology 1,499 cc 3-cylinder gasoline engine (228 hp and 236 lb-ft). The engine’s power is channeled to the rear wheels through a 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, while the electric motor propels the front wheels via a two-speed automatic gearbox.
The constant process of development has enhanced the performance capabilities offered by BMW’s eDrive technology. The energy capacity of the latest version of the model-specific lithium-ion battery is far greater, battery cell capacity having increased from 20 to 34 ampere hours (Ah) and gross energy capacity from 7.1 to 11.6 kWh (net energy capacity: 9.4 kWh). This advance is rooted primarily in advances made to the battery cell technology, which in turn stem from the BMW Group’s ever-increasing expertise in the field of electrical energy storage.
These extra energy reserves have made it possible to raise the electric motor’s peak output by 12 hp to 141 hp; maximum torque is 184 lb-ft (249 N·m). The electric motor developed by the BMW Group also stands out with its consistent power delivery up to very high revs.
The battery cells’ higher capacity means that the proportion of all-electric driving can be increased substantially, even in hybrid mode. With the default driving mode engaged, both the new BMW i8 Coupe and Roadster are capable of pulling away and reaching speeds of up to 65 mph (105 km/h) purely on the electric motor’s power, making it possible to drive with zero local emissions. And if the eDrive button is pressed, the all-electric threshold of both models is increased to 75 mph (121 km/h).
The new high-voltage battery benefits the electric range of the two plug-in hybrid sports cars too. The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles in purely electric driving, almost 30% more than before (preliminary figures).
The i8’s combustion engine has also undergone further optimization to ready it for the new Coupe and Roadster. The turbocharged three-cylinder unit featuring direct injection and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing extracts a maximum output of 228 hp from its displacement of just 1.5 liters, plus peak torque of 236 lb-ft (320 N·m). It now has an even sportier note when its power reserves are called upon.
The system output produced by the electric motor and gasoline engine acting in unison has increased to 369 hp in the new BMW i8 Coupe and i8 Roadster. The new BMW i8 Coupe accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds (preliminary), while the first ever BMW i8 Roadster accelerates in 4.4 seconds (preliminary). Both models have an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Both models return fuel economy and emissions figures that undercut those for conventionally powered sports cars with similar outputs by around 50%, yielding approximately 70 MPGe (preliminary figures).
In hybrid mode, the electric motor provides a power boost to assist the engine when vigorous acceleration is required. The electric motor is also able to recuperate energy and feed it to the high-voltage battery on the overrun and under braking. The gasoline engine’s high-voltage starter-generator can similarly generate additional reserves of electricity, thereby ensuring that sufficient energy is on tap at all times for the electric drive system in the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster.
The number of driving situations where the electric motor is solely responsible for powering the car has been significantly increased. By contrast, the combustion engine is only brought into play when accelerating hard, and is switched off again far more frequently with a measured driving style.
This blend of dynamism and efficiency is further honed by the intelligent energy management’s proactive function. When the navigation system’s route guidance function is activated, the energy management ensures the electric motor is employed as extensively and as wisely as possible from an efficiency point of view. The system analyzes the route in full and prompts the powertrain management to run on purely electric power, particularly over low-speed sections of the journey.
BMW i8 Roadster chassis and body features. The high-end chassis technology in the new BMW i8 Coupe and BMW i8 Roadster is based on a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle, the aluminum components of which have been engineered for optimum weight and rigidity using specific design techniques and production processes. Also standard on both models is Dynamic Damper Control.
The open-top two-seater comes with newly designed frameless gullwing doors made from CFRP with an aluminum outer shell, while the windscreen frame is made entirely from CFRP. CFRP is also used to manufacture the side skirts with their extra-large cross-section. The skirts are a contributory factor in the body’s stiffness, as are the additional panels in the rear suspension and the specially designed struts for the front and rear axle. Thanks to the high-strength CFRP body, the chassis and body elements specific to the BMW i8 Roadster result in an extremely small weight gain when compared to other open-top models. The unladen weight of the new BMW i8 Roadster stands at 3,513 pounds (1,593 kg), just 132 pounds (60 kg) more in approximate terms than that of the new BMW i8 Coupe (preliminary figures).
Five driving modes. Drivers will find an eDrive button in the center console alongside the Driving Experience Control switch to allow them to adapt not just the vehicle’s set-up but also the drive system’s operating strategy. This provides a total of five driving modes to choose from: hybrid drive with COMFORT, SPORT or ECO PRO settings and all-electric driving in COMFORT or ECO PRO mode. If the eDrive button is pressed in either COMFORT mode—which strikes an even balance between sporty and efficient characteristics—or ECO PRO mode (designed for particularly fuel-efficient driving), power is provided by the electric motor alone up to a speed of 75 mph. The combustion engine will only cut in automatically if the battery’s energy reserves are nearly fully depleted or the driver summons full power via kickdown.
It is in SPORT mode that the intelligently controlled interaction between electric motor and combustion engine can be experienced at its most intense. Both power units deliver extra-sharp performance, accelerator response is faster and the power boost from the electric motor is maximized. To keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode also activates maximum energy recuperation on the overrun and underbraking. The intelligent energy management’s mode of operation can be visualized by calling up the energy flow graphic in the Control Display via the iDrive menu.
The instrument cluster takes the form of a fully digital multifunctional instrument display, which shows the car’s speed and driving status information in a format and color scheme selected to suit the driving mode engaged. Traditional, orange-colored circular dials appear in SPORT mode, in COMFORT mode, a blue “power meter” display keeps the driver up to speed on what the electric motor is up to, and ECO PRO mode supplements this with an efficiency gauge.
The Navigation system Professional, also included as standard, is controlled using the latest iDrive 6.0 operating system, comprising both a Touch Controller on the center console and an 8.8-inch freestanding touch screen Control Display. The main menu is now presented on the screen in the form of horizontally arranged tiles with a live mode.
The BMW i8 Coupe and BMW i8 Roadster are both equipped as standard with a model-specific BMW Head-Up Display. When the driver is shifting gears manually in SPORT mode, this switches to a sport display that adds an rpm readout, gear indicator and Optimum Shift Indicator. Also included as standard are a cruise control system with braking function as well as the Driving Assistant Package including Surround View. This system comprises Frontal Collision warning with City Collision Mitigation Daytime Pedestrian Protection Park Distance Control with sensors at the front and rear, Automatic Highbeams, Speed Limit Info and Cross Traffic Alert and Side and Top View Cameras.
BMW Connected and ConnectedDrive. The driving experience offered by a plug-in hybrid sports car is enriched by the digital services offered by BMW Connected and ConnectedDrive. Intelligent connectivity between vehicle, driver and the outside world paves the way for remarkably efficient mobility, increases comfort, expands the infotainment offering and helps with individual mobility planning. With the ongoing increase in focus on digitalization and connectivity, BMW will continue to enhance the overall experience of driving—factoring in these elements—as part of its value proposition.
BMW Connected is a personal mobility assistant that interfaces the vehicle with the customer’s selected touchpoints, such as a smartphone or smartwatch, via the flexible Open Mobility Cloud platform. This turns the personal mobility assistant into a seamlessly integrated component of the driver’s digital life, available anytime and anywhere. The new BMW i8 Coupe and BMW i8 Roadster also benefit from the latest BMW Connected and BMW Connected+ digital services. These include intelligent route planning, complete with refueling stops at a charging station or filling station (Send my Routes to Car), sharing of the current trip status by text message and live link (Share Live Trip Status), personalized display of the relevant in-vehicle information (BMW Onboard), seamless transfer of route guidance to a smartphone or smartwatch once the car has been parked (Navigate Door-to-Door) and linking of contact details and addresses so they can be imported directly into the navigation system (My Destinations).
ConnectedDrive Services are also included as standard, providing access to functions such as Real Time Traffic Information and On-Street Parking Information, as well as the Concierge Services. The standard built-in SIM card also allows drivers of the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster to use Intelligent Emergency Call with automatic locating and accident severity detection. With the new BMW Teleservice Accident Assistance, the vehicle now also detects low-speed collisions below the threshold for airbag deployment. The driver receives a message in the iDrive display offering to contact the BMW Accident Assistance service directly. A push of a button is all it takes to obtain professional support from the BMW Accident Assistance team, who can also put the customer in touch with a BMW Service Partner if necessary. ConnectedDrive Services are also required to access additional services such as Online Entertainment and unlimited internet access, as well as to integrate various apps.
360° ELECTRIC. 360° ELECTRIC is a range of products and services that help make electric mobility a convenient, everyday experience. The functionality of the standard charging cable supplied with the BMW i8 Coupe and BMW i8 Roadster has been optimized and includes a temperature sensor. Charging at home is user-friendly thanks to the BMW i Charging Station which can supply 7.2 kW of power to charge the high-voltage battery and can fully charge it in under 3 hours. Drivers with a registered ChargeNow card have unrestricted access to the world’s largest network of public charging stations.
Now available as a BMW Original Accessory the BMW TurboCord Electric Vehicle Charger can be purchased at certified BMW Centers for $499 MSRP. This premium charging solution provides BMW i and BMW iPerformance drivers with flexible dual-voltage (120 V / 240 V) capability and nearly three-times faster charging in the smallest, lightest UL-listed portable charger available.
The BMW TurboCord EV Charger components have been specifically engineered by BMW to meet BMW Group standards and requirements, featuring a convenient 20 ft charging cord, and provides two chargers in one. Level 1 charging is readily available when plugged into any 120 V outlet and it also allows customers to charge up-to at 3.6 kW, nearly three-times faster than the standard occasional use cable (OUC) when used with a 240 V outlet (NEMA 6-20). Also integrated are such state-of-the-art safety features as unit and plug temperature monitoring, automatic shut-off and a rugged, waterproof, submersible enclosure (NEMA 6P) that enables users to safely and reliably charge indoors and outdoors.