BMW i8 hybrid supercar (2013) first spy photos

Published: 10 March 2011

BMW is developing its new i8 hybrid supercar and our new spy shots capture the radical BMW coupe on winter test in Scandinavia.

The i8 is based on the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept car, and these scoop photos suggest it will stay remarkably faithful to that show car’s design.

BMW i8: a Vision Efficient Dynamics supercar for the road

Great news: the BMW i8 supercar will make real the hybrid powertrain showcased in the Vision Efficient Dynamics supercar. That means we’ll see a derivative of the mid-mounted combustion engine, aided by electric motors. BMW’s throwing the kitchen sink at this green supercar, so it won’t be cheap: expect a price tag of at least £150,000.

The concept used a three-cylinder diesel engine, and had electric motors turning the front and rear axles, allowing hybrid running or pure EV mode. Although the concept is staying for production, engineers are experimenting with the exact details.

CAR understands that the small derv engine could be jettisoned, as customers in many key markets won’t want diesel clatter at that price. One likely powerplant is the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol, turbocharged to produce 165-185bhp. But electric motors will contribute around 110bhp – enough to allow a sub 5.0sec 0-62mph time and 75mpg economy.

At last! A green supercar!

Indeed. BMW is thought to be offering a simpler petrol-powered version too, to dilute the risk. That points to a spiritual successor to the M1 supercar, long rumoured but never delivered. Internally, Munich refers to this car as the M100 and it’s likely to get the next M3’s twin-turbo six-cylinder.

The i8, like the i3 supermini, relies heavily on carbonfibre for its construction. Light weight will be key to its appeal, meaning that the lithium ion batteries mounted near the front axle can be smaller and lighter. It’s a virtuous circle.

The scissor doors and 2+2 seating arrangement will survive for production too, CAR understands. Sadly, the full-depth side glass was considered too revealing, so more conventional, opaque body panels will inevitably be picked for showroom bound BMW i8s.

BMW i cars: the background

Earlier this spring BMW announced its new electric cars would be sold under the ‘i’ badge. The i3 is BMW’s Megacity Car made real – an electric-drive, carbonfibre supermini with space for four. It arrives first in 2013.

The i8 revealed here joins the electric car push in the same year. And it won’t just be cars: BMW has announced its i Ventures venture capital fund designed to finance tech start-ups offering apps and digital services to support the new generation of BMWs.

BMW is investing €400 million in its Leipzig factory to make the new carbonfibre electrified cars. It’s creating 800 new jobs too.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet