BMW i8 hybrid supercar primed for 2014 Auto Expo debut

Snapshot: BMW India’s big splash at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo will involve the i8 hybrid supercar. A one of its kind supercar that seats 4 with high performance and high fuel efficiency that go hand in hand, a limited number of BMW i8s will be sold in India as well. The car maker has begun teasing the i8 supercar on social media outlets and on hoardings situated at strategic points across Indian cities.

German luxury car giant BMW is betting big on hybrids and is working with Japanese car maker and industry leader Toyota to explore this emerging sector of the automobile industry. The BMW i8 hybrid supercar is one such product that combines high performance with high fuel economy and low tail pipe emissions.

The car uses a 1.5 liter turbo petrol engine – essentially one half of the 3 liter inline twin turbo straight six petrol engine that BMW uses on its luxury saloons – and a electric motor powered by lithium ion batteries. The 1.5 liter turbo petrol motor outputs 231 Bhp-320 Nm and powers the rear wheels of the car by means of a 6 speed automatic gearbox.

The electric motor powers the front wheels of the car and outputs 131 Bhp of peak power, and 250 Nm of torque right from idle. The electric motor as a standalone power unit, can propel the BMW i8 to a top speed of 120 Kph, giving the car a range of 35 Kilometers in the process.

Together, the electric motor and the turbo petrol engine deliver power and torque outputs of 362 Bhp-570 Nm. Working in tandem, electric and turbo petrol power accelerates the BMW i8  from standstill to 100 Kph in a blinding 4.4 seconds while top speed is an electronically limited 250 Kph.

The sharply styled BMW i8 uses carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) and aluminum extensively for a light weight monocoque body. These measures result in a car that weighs a little under 1,500 kilograms. The low weight, despite the load of the lithium ion battery stack, means that the i8 is not just fast but is also fuel efficient, what with a claimed mileage figure of nearly 40 Kmpl.

Start-stop and brake energy regeneration are two technologies working to maximize the BMW i8’s fuel efficiency. The hybrid car’s lithium ion batteries can also be charged through a wall socket, like other conventional electric/hybrid cars.

The BMW i8 can be driven in many modes. When driven in electric-only mode/eDrive mode, the driver can toggle between Comfort and EcoPro. In a nutshell, comfort delivers steady power and allows the usage of all creature comforts while EcoPro mode makes the drive as efficient as possibly by limiting power and turning off creature comforts as a energy conservation move.

In the turbo petrol engine + electric motor mode, the BMW i8 comes with Comfort, EcoPro and Sport modes. The Sport Mode works all out to maximize performance, by combining the outputs of the electric motor and turbo petrol engine. The Sport mode also makes the car’s suspension tauter, enables manual gear shifting and also makespower delivery sharper for a more involving driving experience.

With the BMW i8 to go on sale internationally this year at 126,000 Euros/1.06 crore Indian rupees, expect the car to cost about 2 crore rupees when it lands in India. Endowed with a four seat (2+2) layout, the BMW i8 hybrid supercar is among the more practical high performance machines that the car world has seen recently.

Notably, BMW India showcased the i8, as the Vision EfficienctDynamics concept during 2011. So, the Auto Expo unveil represents a second coming of sorts for this car. The jury is still out on how well this car is received by driving enthusiasts over the longer term. With the initial lot sold out, the going seems promising.