BMW Isn’t Working On Replacements For The i3 And i8

The revamped and expanded BMW i8 lineup is currently on display at the North American International Auto Show but the stylish sports car could be living on borrowed time.

BMW is in the midst of launching a handful of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles based on conventional platforms and this effort will kick into high gear when the company unveils an electric version of the X3 crossover in 2020. Autocar says BMW i will continue to produce bespoke vehicles such as the i3 and i8 but those models aren’t necessarily guaranteed to have a future.

According to the publication, the i3 served its purpose of showing how the company could create an electric vehicle while the i8 demonstrated how BMW could improve performance with electrification. The report goes on claim “At the end of their lifecycles, their jobs will be considered done, which is why replacements are not formally in development or in BMW’s product plan.”

This sounds rather ominous but BMW i boss Robert Irlinger said the company is still debating the i8’s future. As he explained, “We see a market for new kinds of sports cars. Whatever it’s called, or if it’s a new kind of sports car, is still in discussion.”

BMW i design director Domagoj Dukec was more blunt as he sasid the i8 achieved its goal so why do another one. He went on to suggest the i8 could be like the legendary M1 and simply fade away.

The i3’s future, on the other hand, appears to be tied to sales. Carsalesbase data shows the model dipped in popularity in the United States last year as the company only sold 6,276 units. However, the model remained popular in Europe so only time will tell if the i3 makes it to a second-generation.

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  • Mind Synthetic

    what they are saying is, no one bought our electric cars, we will wait until people are ready for them

  • Six_Tymes

    r&d cant go further?

  • Bo Hanan

    The i8 is a $150K joke. Get a 911 and save $70K..

    • Christian Wimmer

      I’ve had the pleasure of riding in two i8s and I found them most impressive from a performance POV.

      • Bo Hanan

        What is this cars competition? It doesn’t have any. Not a sports car. Not a coupe. $150K puts it in a territory where it can’t compete, i.e. Corvette, 911-GT3, Aston Martin Vantage etc. See TheBelltower’s comments below.

    • Mike Sinyaboot

      Hahahaha. If the i8 is a joke, BMW is laughing all the way to the bank as it sold just under 10,000 i8s from its release through 2016. I suppose it is possible that every single one was purchased by a comedian. The real joke here is that you think a new 911 would save you $70k despite the fact that the cheapest 911 starts at $91k.

      • Bo Hanan

        BMW sold 555, 2265, 1594 and 488 i8’s in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. *For those who can’t add that’s 4902 i8’s sold since the car was introduced.* In addition, the i8 has never been profitable and wasn’t intended to be. BMW built the i8 to showcase their hybrid car capability, which is the only thing they’ve succeeded at with the i8. Additionally, the drop in sales is why the Spyder was built. Now, regarding your Gif- what (adult???) does that? And finally, a 2018 911-GT3 cost $144K…

  • TheBelltower

    Now that they’ve shown that they “can” build an EV, how about building one that doesn’t sell at a loss? That could provide some incentive for BMW to keep making them.

    • Mike Sinyaboot

      While I do not doubt that every i8 was sold at a loss, I was unable to find any sources confirming this. Do you happen to have one? I wouldn’t mind reading through it. I was able to find a couple articles about the i3. In its 2015 analysis of the i3, Munro & Associates which specializes in competitive benchmarking through product tear-down, estimated that BMW only needed to sell around 20,000 units a year to turn a profit.

      I found this surprising as the R&D costs to bring an entirely new model to market are ridiculous. VW has estimated that it costs around $1.2 billion to develop a new generation of the Golf. BMW estimated that the newest 7 series cost around $800 million or so to develop. Both of those represent the low end of development costs. BMW spent $4 billion plus developing the i Brand as everything was created from scratch.

      It is almost guaranteed that BMW will begin implementing this new tech into their other cars. The i8, along with the i3, are testbeds for the future of BMW vehicles. The heavy use of carbon fiber and hybrid drivetrains will begin to trickle into the next generations of M cars and eventually to all models.

      • TheBelltower

        I own an i3. It’s very flawed, but I do love it. What I understand from speaking with other I-owners and people who follow this stuff, the i3 and i8 both sell at a loss. It’s certain that the i3 isn’t profitable, and perhaps it is assumed that the i8 sells at a loss given the R&D behind a car that BMW only sold 1600 units last year. This may be why we hear wavering back-and-forth about the future of the I-brand. I hope they stick around, because the R&D is being passed on to BMW’s mainstream cars… like the CFRP used in newer 7 series sedans. The batteries and battery management technology are incredibly sophisticated. These are important “secret sauce” advantages for BMW that create enthusiasm. Munroe did a lengthy video on the construction and materials used in the i3. There are also manufacturing facility videos that are fascinating. That is what got me interested in the i3 enough to buy one. However, the i3/i8 probably don’t make financial sense as standalone models that use such expensive and unconventional materials. The sales volume has not hit the levels that they need to hit, and I believe it’s because the styling of the i3 is too quirky for most people. Though I love the goofy design. The electric range is very uncompetitive, the tires are absurd, and the regeneration braking is scary AF in snow. And with a car that requires more frequent charges, you’ll discover how frustratingly unreliable the public EV charging network is. The REX engine is a bad solution. It’s crude, sounds like a tractor and uses gas. On the i8, the EV range is feeble and the 3cyl gas engine is not appropriate in a six figure car. If BMW intends to offer any I-car EV, they are going to have to smooth out these flaws so that they appeal to more people besides geeks like me who are fascinated with oddball cars.

  • tkindred

    Maybe a lot of people were turned off by its look?

  • I think BMW is fetching for another automaker to jointly develop it. i3 and i8 is totally new car using novel production methods and like in the case of Smart. Building new one would cost a lot.

  • smartacus

    BMW needs to build a mid-engine car with the same 220HP 1.5 triple…and no other power source

    • SteersUright

      I’ve long been waiting for VW, BMW, Audi, or ANYONE for that matter, to build a proper mid-engine sports car for the masses but with a solid amount of real power. No MR2 or Miata style paltry hp figures. They all already have 4cyl engines with at least 250hp that are already long developed and paid for.

  • SteersUright

    How about an i5? The i3 was too small and priced utterly ridiculously. The i8 was a very cool display of technology though sadly enshrouded in a rather underwhelming sports car design that doesn’t resonate with $100k+ buyers of super cool sports cars. Why doesn’t BMW respond to the NSX, AMG GT, R8 with a properly beautiful machine that incorporates much of what they’ve learned with these two “experiments”? Perhaps something in the vein of the NSX, Porsche 918, etc.

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