Earlier this month, we reported on how BMW is putting electric vehicles on the ‘back burner’ to focus ‘i’ brand on self-driving cars. The German automakers announced its plan for electric vehicles and it looks like we shouldn’t expect much until at least the turn of the decade.
But now hope for BMW’s EV programs comes in the form of a new report claiming that the company is currently working on an all-electric version of the BMW i8, which is only offered as a plug-in hybrid with very limited electric range at the moment.
The report comes from Autocar, a car industry publication based in the UK, and it cites sources familiar with the program saying that the all-electric version is being developed on top of the i8 fuel cell program:
“The plan is for the electric-powered i8 — which may be pressed into action as a successor to the current i8-based Formula E safety car next year — to be based around the carbonfibre structure developed for the BMW i division’s fuel cell prototype, revealed last year. In order to house a series of cylindrical tanks used to stow hydrogen, it features a wider centre tunnel than the structure employed by the standard i8.
The idea is to use the space within the widened centre tunnel to house the battery instead of the hydrogen tanks,” an official privy to the proposal currently in front of BMW’s development boss, Klaus Fröhlich, revealed to Autocar.”
Additionally, the report claims that the new i8 prototype will be powered by three brushless electric motors for a new all-wheel-drive unit. The company hopes to maintain the current weight of the car (1,485 kg – 3,274 lb) despite using a much bigger battery pack which could enable up to 249 miles of range according to the publication.
Presumably, it would be an NEDC rating and therefore, real world range should be closer to ~200 miles on a single charge.
There’s no word on when or even if BMW plans to bring the all-electric i8 to production, but independently, a new generation of the vehicle is scheduled for 2018, confirmed by the automaker.