Rumor: All Electric BMW i8 In Development


Klaus Fröhlich, head of development at BMW, tells Autocar that the firm’s i division is working on a prototype that could lead the way to an all electric BMW i8 in the near future. At the heart of the prototype are three high revving but compact electric motors — two in the rear and one in front.

BMW i8 may become all electric

“Revs are the route to making electric motors smaller,” sources within the company say. “BMW has a great history of high-revving combustion engines. We’re looking to take this tradition into the electric car arena with electric motors that rev far higher than those seen in production today.” The proposal to build the prototype is said to be on Froehlich’s desk, awaiting approval.

The prototype will be based on the carbon fiber structure developed for the i division’s fuel cell concept car. In order to make room for the hydrogen storage tanks, it had a wider center tunnel than the production car. “The idea is to use the space within the widened center tunnel to house the battery instead of the hydrogen tanks,” the source says.

Even with the larger battery, ditching the internal combustion engine means the electric car will weigh the same as the current i8 at 3,274 pounds. Range is projected to be 249 miles in the European test cycle, which is considerably more optimistic than the US standard. That number would translate to about 185 miles in US numbers.

The production i8 has a total of 357 horsepower on tap. Autocar’s source says the new brushless motors may be capable of spinning out 268 horsepwer — each!

BMW is working on a revised i8 that incorporates many of the upgrades used in the safety car it provides for the Formula E racing series. The improvements include a larger 26 kWh battery borrowed from the X5 xDrive40e. The onboard wireless charging system from QualComm operates at 7.2 kW instead of the 3.6 kW power level in use previously. Reports are that the updated car will get a 10% increase in total power, a rumor that BMW refuses to confirm. The refreshed i8 is expected to go on sale next year.

Source: Autocar    Photo credit: Autoblog

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.