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 what BMW thinks is the future of cutting-edge mobility concepts.
Among the most eye-catching features of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder are the upward-swiveling, 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 LifeDrive architecture, itself underpinned by a lightweight modular construction and the use of high-tech materials. The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is a plug-in hybrid powered by an eDrive drivetrain combining an 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 minimized weight, low centre of gravity and finely judged balance, coupled with a combined system output of up to 260 kW (354 hp).
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 meters. 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 liters of petrol per 100 kilometers (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 maximize 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 kilometers (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.
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 i8 also has windowless doors and a transparent glass panel at the rear. Underneath this cover two electric kickboards are stowed adding another layer to the car’s recreational appeal. Inside, a revised material and color 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 an electric motor and combustion engine.
Like the Coupe, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder is also built around the innovative LifeDrive architecture, a fusion of independent functional units. For example, the carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) Life module gives the car an extremely lightweight passenger cell, while the Drive modules – made primarily from aluminum components – bring together all the car’s operational driving functions, such as the powertrain, chassis and safety structure. 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.
Outside, key to creating impression of sporty dynamics are large body panels, a hunkered-down stance and numerous aerodynamic elements such as contact surfaces, spoiler lips, AirCurtains and aeroflaps. These features substantially reduce the hybrid car’s Cd and enhance both efficiency and range.
The front end offers a particularly revealing window into the open-top two-seater’s dynamic talent. One defining element is the headlights with pioneering laser light technology, which follow the hallmark BMW i U-shaped design template. A semi-transparent “V” opens out from the front end of the flat bonnet towards the windscreen and beckons the eye to the electric motor below. A spoiler lip positioned on the windscreen frame guides the airflow over the heads of the passengers. And for journeys when the weather cannot quite be trusted, the planned two-section folding roof might well come in handy.
Short front and rear overhangs and a low-slung silhouette define the side view of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder and underline its athletic character. The doors, which open by pivoting forwards around the A-pillar axis, further enhance the BMW i8 Concept Spyder’s emotional impact. Below the doors, the side skirts create a powerful wedge shape which opens out towards the rear. At the same time, the open-top two-seater cuts a light and flowing figure and appears as if carved from a single mould.
Like the front end, the rear also sits low to the road. Its headline feature is a transparent cover revealing the two folded electric kickboards accommodated below. Adopting the hallmarks of BMW i design, the kickboards are perfect for relaxed cruising along promenades and paths or around city squares. A visually imposing rear diffuser, three-dimensional air outlets and the U-shaped rear lights give the BMW i8 Concept Spyder an extremely wide appearance and emphasize its sporting credentials.
The interior of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder is defined by three levels showcasing its various functions. As with the car’s body, the interlocking of surfaces and lines is also one of the stand-out features of the interior design. The outer layer frames the supporting structure, while the inner “comfort” layer comprises seat surfaces and stowage compartments. The cockpit fills the third “technical” layer, bringing together the instrument panel, steering column and steering wheel with the instrument cluster, central information display and control elements. The prominent driver focus of the cockpit and the low seating position, which adds further depth to the open-top two-seater’s credibility, are particularly eye-catching. All the controls are in just the right position and, like the other functional components of the interior, designed to further enliven the driving experience. An 8.8-inch (22.4 cm) screen displays all the relevant driving information in three-dimensional, high-resolution quality.
Length/Height/Width - L 4480 mm, H 1208 mm, W 1922 mm
Wheelbase - 2650 mm
No. of seats - 2
Kerb weight - 1630 kg
Top speed - 250 km/h (155 mph) electr. governed
Acceleration - 0-100 km/h (62 mph) 5 seconds 80-120 km/h (50-75 mph) 4.0 seconds