BMW reveals i3 and i8 concept vehicles (+video)

BMW reveals i3 and i8 concept vehicles (+video)

BMW’s hotly anticipated i-brand has officially arrived with the first introduction of two concept models.

BMW has given out the first details and images of its i3 and i8 models before the concepts are shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Originally teased as the MegaCity concept, the BMW i3 electric car will be the first vehicle to be produced under the i brand and will arrive in 2013. Built for urban environments this high-tech machine uses an electric motor mounted on the rear axle for an output of 125kW with 250Nm of torque. Power will go through a single speed gearbox and the i3 will accelerate briskly from 0-100km/h in around eight seconds. Top speed is limited to 150 km/h.

BMW claims the i3’s battery pack can be charged to full in six hours and will get to 80% charge in just one hour using a standard socket. Expect details on battery capacity and range to be revealed soon.

The i8 concept (main image) is a very different proposition than its i3 brother. As a plug-in hybrid sports car it features the same electric motor as in the i3, but it’s mounted at the front axle. The electric motor assists a 1.5 litre, 3-cylinder gasoline engine turbocharged combustion engine that outputs 164 kW of power with 300Nm of torque at the rear wheels.

The i8 can sprint from 0-100km/h in under five seconds and will push on to a limited top speed of 250 km/h. It can travel around 35 km on electric power alone and fuel economy is estimated at 3 litres/100 km. This means the i8 is both an economy front driving machine and a rear drive sports car when desired, it also has all-wheel-drive for maximum grip.

Away from the advanced powertrains are new construction principles at work on both the i3 and i8 concept models. BMW uses the term LifeDrive to describe this two module design. The Drive module consists of the power train, vehicle suspension, and battery and contains it in an aluminum structure which also provides crash protection. The Life module is the passenger cell and body paneling which makes extensive use of high-strength and lightweight CFRP – carbon-fibre reinforced plastic.

The i8 features similar LifeDrive construction where the front and rear axles, battery and passenger cell comprise the Drive unit of the car while the rest makes up the Life module with plenty of CFRP.

Check back for more on these exciting models shortly, until then check out the video below and photos in the gallery.

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