MUNICH, Germany – Global sales of the BMW amazing i8 sports car – 5456 – in 2015 exceeded the total of all other hybrid sports cars produced by all manufacturers*. Having driven one at the original launch in South Africa, I don’t see that as remotely surprising.
The car has the looks, the comfort, the performance, and the BMW heritage and is about as far from Joe Public’s idea of a battery-powered eco-car as you can go.
In fact, if you take time to read the launch report I wrote as Editor of Wheels24 back in early 2015 – which included the arrival of the much smaller and less spectacular, but still unique, i3 that was launched at the same time you’ll understand my enthusiasm for the car.
TWO POWER SOURCES MAKE 266kW
Just a reminder: at that time it cost around R2-million. It’s fuel consumption was (and of course still is) awesome: a claimed 2.1 litres/100km* or a theoretical Cape Town – Jozi – Cape Town trip on less than a conventional car’s tankful.
The combination of conventional and electric power delivers 266kW while CO2 emissions are a mere 49g/km.
A former BMW SA boss and now BMW AG board member for sales and marketing, Ian Robertson, told The Corner in a media release: “The success of the BMW i8 speaks for itself. It is already the world’s most successful hybrid sports car and has comfortably exceeded our own expectations.
“I can think of no better illustration of the relevance of our young BMW i brand.”
MORE ‘VERY INDIVIDUAL’ CARS
Now the i8 is about to add further lustre to its appeal with a range of exclusive special-edition models to be shown at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show which opens on March 3. The range will. BMW says, present even more ways to own a very individual car – the first of them the BMW i8 Protonic Red Edition which will go into production in July 2016.
It and the models to follow will, BMW says, be available for but a limited period. This take on the 2+2-seater with is carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic passenger cell and efficient BMW eDrive drive technology will have a Protonic Red finish with accents in Frozen Grey metallic.
The cars will move on BMW W-spoked 470 20″ light-alloy, Orbit Grey, metallic rims with hubs finished in matte aluminium shod with 215/45 rubber up front and 245/40 at the rear.
The cabin will have red double-stitching; applications in high-grade carbon-fibre and ceramic “will provide indications of its exceptional sporting character”.
LARGEST GLOBAL PRESENCE
Since entering the global market in late 2013, BMW i has concentrated exclusively on vehicles designed from the outset for zeo emissions driving. In 2015 sales of the BMW i3 and BMW i8 were around 66% up on 2014 with a total of 29 513 deliveries to, at present (Feb 2016) 36 countries.
That’s the largest worldwide market presence of any electric vehicle manufacturer; further, in its launch phase, the BMW i brand and its BMW i3 and BMW i8 models won more awards and accolades than any other brand in automotive history, among them an International Engine of the Year award for both its TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder engine and for the overall hybrid drive train.
The i8 was also voted World Green Car of the Year and Green Luxury Car. And it received the Paul Pietsch Award presented by German motoring magazine Auto Motor and Sport in recognition of the most innovative technical concept.
No other vehicle, BMW claims, has ever picked up so many awards in such an array of disciplines.
* Fuel consumption figures based on the ECE test cycle, dependent on tyre format.