The Frankfurt auto show is currently exciting the automotive industry in Germany. Electric vehicles are dominating the show, with almost every major auto manufacturer showing their EV or hybrid plans. The most notable is the simply stunning BMW i8.
The car is gorgeously futuristic and is the closest production vehicle to it’s concept counterpart. In terms of car tech, it doesn’t get much better, with the i8 offering some world firsts. The windows in the BMW are made of Gorilla Glass, the product used in mobile phones and laptop displays and is incredibly hard and safe. This toughness, or gorilla strength, makes it some of the safest glass ever put in an road-going vehicle. The glass is just 1.4mm thick and is far lighter than you’ll find on regular cars. When EV’s struggle to loose every gram, this makes a real difference to economy numbers.
Engineers at BMW weren’t finished there, the i8 plugin hybrid also feature optional laser headlights. Yep, freaking laser beams. By default you get the boring current-gen LED headlights, but take out that credit card and you can option the future. Naturally a vehicle with looks that’ll get you a date every night of the week, it features flip-up doors, cameras that see around the entire vehicle, traffic sign recognition (limited countries), internet connectivity and a head-up display and that must have feature active cruise control.
All that external car tech is great, but car fans are also very interested in what’s under that long streamlined bonnet. Turns out there’s a 96kW/250Nm electric motor that turns the i8 into a FWD. Fortunately there’s a turbocharged 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine which achieves a staggering 170kW (231hp), 320Nm of torque sitting next to it. They are some amazing performance numbers for the size of the displacement. One key differentiator between the i8 and the competition, is that the two powertrains aren’t isolated. To achieve the ultimate driving experience, they can work in harmony, or individually for more economy.
When used together they can achieve a 0-100km/h time of 4.5 seconds. When on the track, or in Germany, you could reach a top speed of 250km/h or just 120km/h when powered solely by the electric motor. Hey that’s faster than any Australian speed limit.
Let’s be honest, the 35km EV only range is a complete let down and Tesla are still leading the industry when it comes to EV numbers for performance and distance. BMW it’s time to do some poaching, or at least licensing of their technology.