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BMW i8 Concept Roadster Unveiled in Advance of L.A. Auto Show

11/20/2012
It's no secret that BMW is planning to build a new range of "BMW i" electric vehicles, as the company has been displaying and discussing the electric-drive i3 "Mega City" Concept and the performance-oriented i8 Concept with its plug-in hybrid powertrain for more than a year. What's new is this BMW i8 Concept Roadster model, which debuted in New York City in advance of the upcoming 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.

An open-top 2-seat convertible, the i8 Concept Roadster is constructed around the automaker's LifeDrive vehicle architecture, a plug-in hybrid pairing a gasoline engine with a Lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor to produce a combined 356 horsepower and acceleration to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, according to BMW. The electric motor powers the i8 Concept Roadster's front wheels, and the turbocharged 3-cylinder gasoline engine drives the car's rear wheels. Top speed is a claimed 155 mph.

BMW says the Lithium-ion battery "can be fully recharged from a domestic power socket in less than two hours." When fully charged, driving range is 19 miles with the car's Eco Pro driving mode engaged. After the battery is expended, the range-extending gasoline engine starts and provides a total driving range of more than 300 miles.

The i8 Concept Roadster is shorter than the 4-passenger i8 Concept Coupe on which it is based, and offers a shorter wheelbase. It employs carbon fiber-reinforced plastic and aluminum in its construction, reducing weight for improved efficiency and performance while retaining structural rigidity and safety. BMW says the model has a perfect 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution.

In addition to its plug-in hybrid powertrain, the BMW i8 Concept Roadster showcases connectivity features that can be operated remotely via smartphone applications. These include the ability to find the closest charging stations, program specific charging times, and prepare the cabin and powertrain for driving in advance of the driver's arrival.

BMW is taking its new BMW i models on a "Born Electric World Tour" and, as part of the debut festivities in Manhattan, rolled out the i8 Concept Roadster with the help of actress Uma Thurman. The BMW i will also appear at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 28.

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