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20i8: BMW’s electric coupe updated

BMW i8 Coupe (left) and Roadster (right). Source: BMW

New i8 Coupe and limited edition i8 Roadster due this year, as BMW looks to reach 500,000 EVs sold by the end of 2019

BMW has opened strong at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, celebrating progress in its push for greater electrification.

CEO of BMW North America Bernhard Kuhnt told delegates that the automaker had succeeded in its goal of selling 100,000 electrified vehicles in 2017, more than 20% of which were sold in the US – the largest market for sales of the company’s flagship i3 compact and i8 models.

In total, 103,080 electrified vehicles were delivered to customers during the year, BMW announced, an increase of 65.6% year-on-year.

Total sales of the i3 grew by 23.3% to 31,482 worldwide, and plug-in hybrid BMW iPerformance vehicles almost doubled to total 63,605.

By the end of 2019, the company aims to have at least half a million electrified BMW Group vehicles on the road.

BMW intends to launch an updated i8 Coupe later this year, promising “More power, more range, and more refinements” – although somewhat disappointingly it will still contain a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

First launched at the LA Motor Show late last year, the new i8 is pretty, but not the battery-powerhouse some EV fans may be after.

Even with the advances in battery technology since its release in 2014, the battery has only been increased to 11.6 kWh – good for about 34 miles of pure-electric driving, according to BMW. Output from the 105 kW motor is enough to push out 143 HP, while total system output is 364 HP. In a rush, it will carry you from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds.

This will be released alongside the i8 Roadster First Edition, of which a limited run of 200 units will be made. The special-edition models will be among the first examples of the open-top plug-in hybrid available, BMW said.

Other features include 20-inch twin-spoke alloys – lighter than those used in previous models alloys – and an optional head-up display.

Both are cars look fantastic, but still leave something to be desired in terms of their adoption of electric technologies. As a result, Kuhnt was keen to look forward to the next major electric announcement – the iNEXT – for which we’ll have to hang on until in 2021.


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