Report: BMW i3, i8 to feature carbon fiber composite body panels

As BMW unveiled the concept version of the forthcoming carbon fiber composites-intensive i8 hybrid-electric car, the company reports that the i3 and i8 will feature carbon fiber in the body panels as well as the passenger cell.

Related Topics:

Auto Week reported on March 31 that BMW (Munich, Germany) has revealed another preproduction concept of its upcoming carbon-fiber-intensive i8, the gasoline-electric hybrid sports car that is planned to follow the i8 coupe into showrooms in 2014.

According to the report, as with all future BMW i subbrand models, the i8 spyder is based around a lightweight carbon-fiber-reinforced composite structure clothed in body panels of the same material. Length, width and height are 175.2 inches, 75.7 inches and 47.7 inches, respectively (4.5 by 2 by 1.2m).

The report notes that gone are the transparent body sides and doors that adorned the i8 coupe concept. They are replaced by more conventional panels and doors — the latter supporting sloping side windows that integrate with smaller, fixed rear-quarter glass panels. The body-side treatment below the doors, however, remains the same, hinting that it will be reflected on the production car.

The rear also was modified, with a flat bay above the engine enclosed in a transparent cover. It acts as a trunk, offering a wide but shallow stowage space that is occupied by a newly developed BMW electric scooter on the concept car bound for Beijing.

Inside, the 2+2 layout of the i8 coupe was ditched in favor of a purer two-seat arrangement, with the rear bulkhead moved forward to provide added space for the engine at the rear of the cabin. With a 104.3-inch wheelbase, interior accommodation is described as "generous."

The heart of the i8 spyder is the same plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid system used by the i8 coupe. It is based around a mid-rear-mounted turbocharged 1.5-liter, three-cylinder direct-injection engine that sends up to 223 hp to the rear wheels.

The reports says that with a claimed 3,954-lb/1,793-kg weight, BMW says its computer simulations put the i8 spyder's 0-to-62-mph time at 5.0 seconds. BMW also says that it will be able to achieve combined-cycle consumption of up to 78.3 mpg (U.S.) on the existing European cycle — run almost entirely in electric mode to take advantage of loopholes in the procedure. In electric mode, it has a zero-emission range of between 17 and 19 miles depending on ambient temperature and the topography of the road.

Click here for the full Auto Week report.