It is our collective and individual responsibility … to preserve and care for the environment we all live in – Dalai Lama

BMW cars have always been more than just cars. They are something like a Swiss army knife; a finely crafted tool with everything you need for whatever the road brings you. A BMW is a purpose built car that you wear like a Robot Man suit, one so technically advanced; you have to be a rocket scientist to understand all its intricacies. Appreciate all that potential and fully understand why BMW builds their cars this way; all you have to do is drive one.

With the world plunging into an abyss of climate change and the future of oil as secure as Lindsey Lohan’s next role in the film, everyone is turning to greener vehicles. Hybrids and electric cars are no longer trendy toys, but have become a necessary and important cornerstone in the plan for freedom from oil. Once limited by bad technology and microscopic reach, the electric car is underway reborn as a valid alternative to the beloved internal combustion engine. BMW joined the fray not just with a new car, but with a whole new line of cars. The BMW i8 Concept is the first of a group of cars produced by BMW i, a new sub-brand for the marketing of low-emission (green) vehicles.

Along with the i8, BMW plans to introduce a convertible roadster version called the i8 Spyder, as well as a small electric sedan called the i3. The i8 hybrid electric vehicles are designed to combine the sportiness of regular BMW cars with the fuel economy of a small car. The design features a new BMW Vision Efficient Dynamic Concept, an innovative plug-in hybrid that combines the modified electric drive system of the i3 Concept. The electric motor is mounted on the front axle with a rear-mounted high-performance three-cylinder combustion engine to extend range. The engine will act as an on-board generator and BMW promises 0-62 MPH acceleration in under 5 seconds, along with an estimate of 86 MPG.

The key to this setup is torque, which is available from standstill and will give uninterrupted acceleration. The battery technology is based on ultra-powerful lithium-ion cells with an integrated liquid cooling system for ideal operating temperatures. The car can be recharged from a home power system and can travel over 20 miles on battery alone. The architecture is known as LifeDrive and is basically a layered approach to car design with a low weight. The bottom layer is the Drive section, which includes the chassis, battery, powertrain, suspension, steering and brakes. The top layer is the Life section, which is a passenger cell made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. This is the first time that carbon fiber has been used on a mass market vehicle and has been developed here in the United States. The two sections are joined by just four bolts and industrial grade adhesive. Using this configuration, the BMW promises a low center of gravity, perfect 50/50 weight distribution and amazing handling.

The i8 is strikingly beautiful, with sweeping lines and a flat silhouette. It features a large transparent greenhouse (although I doubt the production version will remain unchanged) with doors that swing upward like wings. The car is sculptural and organic, with a characteristic kinetic wedge shape and a lean forward stance. From the front, the car has typical BMW design cues which are augmented by two configurations of U-shaped full-LED lights. There is also a semi-transparent black V that rises from the hood and gives a glimpse of the electric motor and airframe. Life in carbon fiber. At the rear are three-dimensional vents, a massive rear diffuser and “floating” taillights that match the U-shaped headlights. Both the headlights and taillights pulsate like the heart of a futuristic monster and the effect it’s astounding.

Inside the i8 there are large transparent surfaces in the doors and roof that give each section of the car the appearance of blending together. The interior is finished in a layered design with a white porcelain support structure, a black tech level and a comfort section finished in mocha brown. The effect is modern and comfortable at the same time, and the dashboard and center console are free from excessive buttons and switches. The instrument cluster consists of a large display with information provided in a high-resolution three-dimensional format. There is also a freestanding information display mounted in the center. The i8 is expected to be priced around $ 122,000 USD. Production is expected to start in 2014.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

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