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AIMS: BMW's i8 eco-supercar to cost $300k

Carbon footprint: BMW says the carbon-fibre i8 plug-in sportscar will be 99 per cent faithful to the concept when it reaches production in 2013.

Vision EfficientDynamics concept made reality to become BMW's most expensive car

BMW logo1 Jul 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

JUST weeks before BMW officially unveils production versions of its i3 Megacity EV and i8 plug-in hybrid supercar in Germany, BMW Australia general manager of marketing Tom Noble hinted that the i8 would cost in the region of $300,000 when it goes on sale in Australia in 2014.

He also told GoAuto the i8 would remain “99 per cent” faithful to the Vision EfficientDynamics concept.

Talking about the safety and practicality issues surrounding hybrid and electric vehicles, Mr Noble joked, “you don't really want to be driving your $300,000 car into a river” when asked about what would happen if the BMW's 364-volt lithium-polymer battery became submerged.

Pressed on whether there was any truth in his jest, Mr Noble said that was the expected Australian dollar price for the i8, but nothing had yet been finalised.

Mr Noble said he had only seen sketches of the i8 and that the design team kept things “very much under wraps” but assured GoAuto that the i8 would be faithful to the Vision EfficientDynamics concept.

“The glass doors and things like that will remain. 99 per cent of it will remain,” he said.

14 center imageLeft: BMW Australia general manager of marketing Tom Noble. Below: BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept at the Melbourne motor show.

On the subject of practicalities surrounding the use of carbon-fibre, electric and hybrid drivetrains in mass production vehicles like the BMW's i series Mr Noble said new smash repair centres would have to be created, specialising in the replacement or repair of high-tech vehicle chassis and body parts.

He also touched on how car manufacturers and repairers must prepare for a future in which electric propulsion will become a growing trend.

“You have to train the technicians because otherwise you can imagine people getting themselves killed if they don't really know what they're doing. There is a lot of aftersales work to go into.”

Even though it is hard to believe the outlandish-looking Vision EfficientDynamics concept, with intricate folded areas of bodywork that appear to float unsupported – a feat unachievable with metal construction – could become anything but a limited-run special like Jaguar's CX-75, Mr Noble confirmed that the number of cars built would be limited only by how many people who wanted one and could afford it.

He said one of the reasons carbon-fibre construction was a cost-effective proposition for electrified vehicles is that the weight savings lead to fewer expensive batteries being required to provide sufficient propulsion.

“You wouldn't use carbon-fibre if you have a petrol engine because it's so expensive, he said. “Because batteries are so heavy and so costly we save more money by making a lighter car.”

The Vision EfficientDynamics concept is a plug-in hybrid powered by a combination of three-cylinder diesel engine with hybrid drive and, an electric motor on the front axle, providing a combined power output of 241kW and a massive 800Nm of torque.

Aided by a low 1395Kg weight and slippery drag coefficient of 0.22, the concept is claimed to hit 100km/h in 4.8 seconds yet sip just 3.76 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres while emitting only 99 grams of CO2 into the atmosphere per kilometre.

Able to travel 50 kilometres on a 2.5 hour charge (44 minutes with a fast charger), the Vision ED's total range is claimed to be 700 kilometres once the diesel engine kicks in.

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