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BMW boss confirms i8 Spyder

Top stuff: BMW is set to introduce the hot i8 Spyder next year, based on the mechanicals of the current i8 hybrid sportscar.

Topless BMW i8 likely to debut in Geneva in 2016 after a four-year wait

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BMW logo8 Dec 2015

By TIM ROBSON

BMW looks set to debut the i8 Spyder as soon as March 2016, after confirmation of the project from the company’s top brass – but the idea of a range-topping supercar to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary in 2016 appear to have been quashed.

BMW CEO Harald Krueger told German newspaper Handelsblatt that the company will roll out a convertible version of the hybrid i8 in 2016.

The BMW chief, who also put the German government on notice, suggesting that BMW’s target of building one million electric cars by 2020 might be compromised by a lack of action at a political level, also indicated a rebooted version of the i3 and an as-yet unnamed third car (thought to be a four-door ‘i5’) was forthcoming.

First mooted in concept form at the 2012 Shanghai show, the i8’s carbon-fibre reinforced plastic chassis has reportedly undergone a significant rework for conversion to an open-top, swing-door car, with a BMW spokesperson telling British magazine AutoCar last year that “rigidity was hard to find with that particular architecture (of the i8 coupe)”.

The i8 is currently powered by a combination of a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that drives the rear wheels with a 96kW electric motor that powers the front axle for a total of 266kW.

It’s unlikely that the i8 Spyder will see any increase in the capacity of the petrol powerplant due to packaging restrictions, but an incrementally upgraded electrical system – which would be then shared with the hard top – is likely.

While there is a slim chance the car could debut in Detroit in January, the likelihood of a reveal in Geneva – traditionally a show where exotica takes centre stage – is much greater.

Rumours of a high-performance supercar that would launch in conjunction with the brand’s 100th anniversary in 2016 have, meanwhile, been debunked by the company’s head of development, Klaus Frohlich, who told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that “a super sportscar, with traditional heavy V8 or V10 engine, it will not give of BMW”.

A mooted M version of the i8, with a larger 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, has also been quashed, with structural changes to make the engine fit into the i8’s chassis deemed too great to overcome.

BMW Australia has sold 58 i8s so far in 2015, slightly in excess of its own 50-per-year limit indicated at the car’s launch late last year.

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