Underneath the athletic and
futuristic exterior skin, the i8 Concept Spyder is as
advanced as its Coupé relation, built, once again, around
the innovative LifeDrive architecture and underpinned by
lightweight, modular construction.
A new way of making a
The i8 Concept Spyder uses
the modular LifeDrive architecture as developed by BMW i,
joining together the various independent functional units of
the vehicle in the most efficient way possible. The Spyder’s
occupants sit in a very light but immensely strong
carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) cell, while the
various Drive modules (mainly constructed from aluminium
components) are those of an operational nature – powertrain,
chassis and the safety structures. So successful is this
approach that the additional weight of the high-output
Hybrid drivetrain has been completely cancelled out.
A further example of the
LifeDrive concept is the housing of the car’s lithium ion
batteries in an ‘energy tunnel’ that joins the front and
rear axles, thereby maintaining a low centre of gravity and
ensuring BMW’s trademark 50:50 weight distribution.
interpretation of BMW i design
The bold, futuristic design
of the i8 Concept Spyder perfectly illustrates the dynamic
and lightweight character of the vehicle, with its
traditionally sporty proportions of a wide but low body,
minimal overhangs and an aggressive stance. Large body
panels and distinctive aerodynamic elements such as the
spoiler lips, Air Curtains and aero flaps are as functional
as they are visually expressive.
The new upward-opening
doors pivot forward around the axis of the A-pillar, giving
the i8 Concept Spyder a particularly distinctive appearance
with them open. A two-section roof is planned for when the
weather is less favourable.
At the front, advanced,
laser light headlamps utilise the familiar BMW i ‘U’ design,
while at the rear a transparent tailgate reveals two
electric scooters ready for use. Given BMW i’s approach to
personal mobility, these are ideal for relaxed local
transportation once the vehicle is parked.
The cockpit of the i8
Concept Spyder is designed around a three-layer composition,
with the interlocking lines and surfaces complementing the
style of the exterior. The
‘off-white’ outer layer is
the supporting structure; the inner layer the ‘comfort’
portion featuring the seats and storage, while the
‘technical’ layer that includes the steering wheel and
information display is the third segment.
The Spyder features sporty,
naturally tanned orange leather for parts of the seats and
various areas of the interior structure, while there have
been slight modifications to the design since the original
i8 2+2 model.
The very latest in
The driver has three
screens from which to access information: the twin ellipses
of the instrument cluster, the central information display
and the climate display. The cluster has a digital
speedometer and an efficiency display, giving information on
how much energy the driver is currently using or
recuperating, as well as navigation details and fuel range.
In the ECO PRO mode that maximises efficiency this ellipse
turns blue: in SPORT mode it glows orange.
The 8.8-inch central screen
displays a wide range of information from the status of the
hybrid system to navigational data and connectivity
functions. This is particularly important given the advanced
suite of driver assistance systems found in the new i8
Concept Spyder, such as the camera-based proactive collision
warning feature, park assistant and traffic jam assistant.
By using a smart phone, the driver can find where his
vehicle is parked with CarFinder; show nearby charging
stations; allow batteries to be charged at pre-determined
times and stay informed of the vehicle’s status. Even the
interior can be pre-warmed on a cold morning.
Not only does the extensive
connectivity of the i8 Concept Spyder allow the driver to
integrate the car fully into their life, it also enables the
car to assist the driver in a proactive way. For example,
the vehicle’s power electronics are linked to the
intelligent navigation and traffic guidance systems. If a
jam is detected ahead the hybrid system will charge the
battery in advance, thereby allowing the car to run in pure
electric mode while stuck in traffic, to the benefit of fuel
consumption and emissions reduction.
power equals high performance and efficiency
A plug-in hybrid, the i8
Concept Spyder is powered by an eDrive drivetrain combining
a high performance electric motor with a turbocharged,
three-cylinder petrol engine. The lithium Ion batteries are
stowed centrally for the benefit of weight distribution, and
can be charged quickly from a domestic power socket. The i8
Concept Spyder uses a 131hp electric motor to power the
front axle, and a 223hp turbocharged three-cylinder engine
to power the rear axle. Both have been developed in-house by
BMW. With its lightweight construction the combined power
output of 354hp propels the Spyder from zero to 62mph in
just 5.0 seconds and on to an electronically limited top
speed of 155mph, yet delivers an outstanding combined fuel
consumption of 94mpg.
The electric motor gets its
energy from the car’s lithium ion batteries and can be fully
charged via a domestic plug socket in under two hours. The
Spyder has a range of 19 miles running on electric power
alone, while a high voltage generator hooked up to the
combustion engine can generate additional power if needed
and store it in the battery. Due to the arrangement of the
power sources, the Spyder can run in front-wheel, rear-wheel
or all-wheel drive, the vehicle’s electronics deciding on
the optimum configuration depending on the situation.
BMW i is founded on the
principles of inspiring design, purpose-built solutions and
sustainability. The sub-brand has energetically demonstrated
its work previously through two concept cars and this third
vehicle gives the clearest indication yet of how BMW’s
fourth brand will appear when it is revealed in 2013.