Under the banner of its sub-brand BMW i, the BMW Group is developing a range of purpose-built vehicle concepts and complementary mobility services which meet the changing needs of customers and redefine the understanding of personal mobility.
Following the presentation of the BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept, the BMW Group introduces the BMW i8 Concept Spyder to the mix. This third BMW i model embodies the future of cutting-edge and emotionally appealing mobility concepts. Its sporting design headlines the qualities of an open-top two-seater blending lightness, dynamic capability and efficiency with a very special aesthetic allure.
The combination of intelligent lightweight design and state-of-the-art hybrid technology imbues the BMW i8 Concept Spyder with genuine sports car performance, yet its fuel consumption is no higher than you would expect from a small car.
Among the most eye-catching features of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder are the upward-swivelling, windowless doors and a range of purpose-oriented on-board equipment including electric kickboards stowed under a transparent tailgate. The sports car is based around the innovative LifeDrive architecture, itself underpinned by a lightweight modular construction and the use of high-quality high-tech materials. The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is a plug-in hybrid powered by an eDrive drivetrain combining a high-performance electric motor and petrol combustion engine. The lithium-ion battery supplying the motor with power can be recharged in an extremely short space of time from any domestic power socket. Together, the car’s minimised weight, low centre of gravity and finely judged balance, coupled with a combined system output of up to 260 kW (354 hp), promise unbeatable dynamic capability, exceptional efficiency and unbridled driving pleasure.
Compared with the Coupe variant of the BMW i8 Concept, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder has a slightly shorter wheelbase and overall length. With its compact dimensions and distinctive exterior paintwork, the sports car exudes a feeling of dynamism before it so much as turns a wheel, while striking features of its design include upward-swivelling, windowless doors and a transparent glass panel at the rear. Underneath this cover two electric kickboards are stowed, providing a visual showcase for the fun factor in mobility and adding another layer to the car’s recreational appeal. Inside, a revised material and colour concept provides an extra dose of sportiness. Like the Coupe, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder with eDrive is a high-performance plug-in hybrid, and it fuses the specific advantages of an electric motor and combustion engine to optimum effect. Exceptional efficiency and dynamic capability are the upshot.
The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is also built around the innovative LifeDrive architecture, a fusion of independent functional units. For example, the carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) Life module gives the car an extremely lightweight passenger cell, while the Drive modules – made primarily from aluminium components – bring together all the car’s operational driving functions, such as the powertrain, chassis and safety structure. Impressively extensive use of high-tech materials allows this innovative concept to chart new territory in terms of weight minimisation, structural rigidity and crash safety. This is good news not only for the car’s dynamic performance, but also for its range and fuel economy. Intelligent lightweight design, encompassing the use of innovative materials, has allowed the unavoidable additional weight of the high-output hybrid drivetrain to be cancelled out in full. Plus, the LifeDrive architecture has been carefully adapted to the sports car character of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder. The front and rear axle modules are connected by an “energy tunnel”, which houses the hybrid battery. This allows the engineers to give the car a low centre of gravity and ideal balance.
The 96 kW (131 hp) electric motor on the front axle works in tandem with a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine sending 164 kW (223 hp) through the rear wheels. Both units are in-house BMW Group developments and generate an aggregate system output of 260 kW (354 hp) and peak torque of 550 Newton metres. That is enough to accelerate the BMW i8 Concept Spyder from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in five seconds on the way to an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Despite this performance, the two-seater burns just three litres of petrol per 100 kilometres (equivalent to fuel economy of 94 mpg imp) in the European test cycle.
The electric motor sources its energy from a lithium-ion battery which can be fully charged from a domestic power socket in less than two hours. The high-output battery is located in the energy tunnel between the front and rear axle modules in order to keep the car’s centre of gravity as low as possible – and therefore to maximise the car’s dynamic performance. The space-saving and well-balanced packaging of this and other drive and chassis components gives the sporting two-seater ideal 50:50 weight distribution.
With its battery fully charged, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder can cover up to 30 kilometres (19 miles) on electric power alone. As such, far from filling in as a bit-part player, the electric motor plays a role equal to that of the petrol engine. If required, a high-voltage alternator hooked up to the combustion engine generates extra power, which is then stored in the hybrid battery. This range-extending function during the course of a journey allows the two-seater to travel further between charging stations.
Another special feature of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder is the ability to send power through the front, rear or all four wheels at the same time. Intelligent control electronics ensure that the optimum drive configuration is available for the situation at hand. The driver can view the driving mode currently engaged and monitor the activity of the two drive sources on the large information display in the cockpit. Furthermore, the electronic systems ensure maximum energy recuperation under braking or when coasting. All of which means that the driver can enjoy maximum dynamic performance, unbeatable directional stability and minimal consumption and emissions at all times.