The BMW i8 is a stylish, futuristic-looking plug-in hybrid, but a new report is suggesting the second-generation model could go fully electric.
While the current car has a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder internal combustion engine, an electric motor and an 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, Autocar reports that BMW executives are leaning towards making the its successor an all-electric.
Details are limited, but sources told the publication the switch to an electric powertrain would provide a “tangible link” to the company’s effort in Formula E. This is understandable and it would likely help to serve as a halo model for the company’s upcoming slate of electric vehicles.
If the Bavarian automaker eventually decides to make it an EV, the next i8 should have an all-wheel drive system that is heavily based on the one used in the iNext. The model is also slated to use all-new electric motor developed in-house that offer “significantly higher rotational speeds” than the current unit found in the i8.
While BMW is working on solid-state batteries, it appears the technology won’t be ready in time for the i8’s expected launch in late 2023. Instead, the model will reportedly use a lithium-ion battery pack.
However, nothing is set in stone and it’s possible the next-generation i8 could continue to be a plug-in hybrid. There are reportedly a number of advantages to this strategy ,as the car’s existing platform could be upgraded economically and BMW could ramp up performance by swapping out the existing three-cylinder engine for a more powerful four- or six-cylinder unit. If BMW were to go that route, it’s possible the next i8 could have around 600 hp (447 kW / 608 PS).
The decision on which powertrain to use could come later this year, so we might learn more in the coming months.