New BMW i8 Concept Spyder

The i8 Concept Spyder represents a vision of the futurewhere intelligent thinking, advanced materials and innovative constructiontechniques fuse together to create a high performance roadster that isoutstandingly efficient and environmentally aware. In effect, the i8 ConceptSpyder possesses the performance of a sports car with the consumption of a citycar.

Although closely related to the original i8 Concept, the newi8 Concept Spyder is strictly a two-seater, with a shorter wheelbase and new,upward swivelling, windowless doors. It also features a fresh interpretation ofthe i8’s interior design, and additional on-board equipment including a pair ofelectric scooters, housed under a transparent tailgate.

Underneath the athletic and futuristic exterior skin, the i8Concept Spyder is as advanced as its Coupé relation, built, once again, aroundthe innovative LifeDrive architecture and underpinned by lightweight, modularconstruction.

A new way of making a sports car

The i8 Concept Spyder uses the modular LifeDrivearchitecture as developed by BMW i, joining together the various independentfunctional units of the vehicle in the most efficient way possible. TheSpyder’s occupants sit in a very light but immensely strongcarbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) cell, while the various Drive modules(mainly constructed from aluminium components) are those of an operationalnature – powertrain, chassis and the safety structures. So successful is thisapproach that the additional weight of the high-output Hybrid drivetrain hasbeen completely cancelled out.

A further example of the LifeDrive concept is the housing ofthe car’s lithium ion batteries in an ‘energy tunnel’ that joins the front andrear axles, thereby maintaining a low centre of gravity and ensuring BMW’strademark 50:50 weight distribution.

A new interpretation of BMW i design

The bold, futuristic design of the i8 Concept Spyderperfectly illustrates the dynamic and lightweight character of the vehicle,with its traditionally sporty proportions of a wide but low body, minimaloverhangs and an aggressive stance. Large body panels and distinctiveaerodynamic elements such as the spoiler lips, Air Curtains and aero flaps areas functional as they are visually expressive.

The new upward-opening doors pivot forward around the axisof the A-pillar, giving the i8 Concept Spyder a particularly distinctiveappearance with them open. A two-section roof is planned for when the weatheris less favourable.

At the front, advanced, laser light headlamps utilise thefamiliar BMW i ‘U’ design, while at the rear a transparent tailgate reveals twoelectric 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 athree-layer composition, with the interlocking lines and surfaces complementingthe style of the exterior. The ‘off-white’ outer layer is the supportingstructure; the inner layer the ‘comfort’ portion featuring the seats andstorage, while the ‘technical’ layer that includes the steering wheel andinformation display is the third segment.

The Spyder features sporty, naturally tanned orange leatherfor parts of the seats and various areas of the interior structure, while therehave been slight modifications to the design since the original i8 2+2 model.

The very latest in ConnectedDrive technology

The driver has three screens from which to accessinformation: the twin ellipses of the instrument cluster, the centralinformation display and the climate display. The cluster has a digitalspeedometer and an efficiency display, giving information on how much energythe driver is currently using or recuperating, as well as navigation detailsand fuel range. In the ECO PRO mode that maximises efficiency this ellipseturns blue: in SPORT mode it glows orange.

The 8.8-inch central screen displays a wide range ofinformation from the status of the hybrid system to navigational data andconnectivity functions. This is particularly important given the advanced suiteof driver assistance systems found in the new i8 Concept Spyder, such as thecamera-based proactive collision warning feature, park assistant and trafficjam assistant. By using a smart phone, the driver can find where his vehicle isparked with CarFinder; show nearby charging stations; allow batteries to becharged at pre-determined times and stay informed of the vehicle’s status. Eventhe interior can be pre-warmed on a cold morning.

Not only does the extensive connectivity of the i8 ConceptSpyder allow the driver to integrate the car fully into their life, it alsoenables the car to assist the driver in a proactive way. For example, thevehicle’s power electronics are linked to the intelligent navigation andtraffic guidance systems. If a jam is detected ahead the hybrid system willcharge the battery in advance, thereby allowing the car to run in pure electricmode while stuck in traffic, to the benefit of fuel consumption and emissionsreduction.

Intelligent hybrid power equals high performance andefficiency

A plug-in hybrid, the i8 Concept Spyder is powered by aneDrive drivetrain combining a high performance electric motor with aturbocharged, three-cylinder petrol engine. The lithium Ion batteries arestowed centrally for the benefit of weight distribution, and can be chargedquickly from a domestic power socket. The i8 Concept Spyder uses a 131hpelectric motor to power the front axle, and a 223hp turbocharged three-cylinderengine to power the rear axle. Both have been developed in-house by BMW. Withits lightweight construction the combined power output of 354hp propels theSpyder from zero to 62mph in just 5.0 seconds and on to an electronicallylimited top speed of 155mph, yet delivers an outstanding combined fuelconsumption of 94mpg.

The electric motor gets its energy from the car’s lithium ionbatteries and can be fully charged via a domestic plug socket in under twohours. 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 generateadditional power if needed and store it in the battery. Due to the arrangementof the power sources, the Spyder can run in front-wheel, rear-wheel orall-wheel drive, the vehicle’s electronics deciding on the optimumconfiguration depending on the situation.

BMW i is founded on the principles of inspiring design,purpose-built solutions and sustainability. The sub-brand has energeticallydemonstrated its work previously through two concept cars and this thirdvehicle gives the clearest indication yet of how BMW’s fourth brand will appearwhen it is revealed in 2013.