BMW South Africa will have a surprise for those attending the Johannesburg International Motor Show, or Jims, in October.
The German brand will show off its new invention, the BMW i8 Concept plug-in hybrid, which is also one of the stars in the next installment of the Mission Impossible blockbuster franchise.
The i8 is one of two newcomers to the BMW stable.
Unveiled for the first time in July, in Germany, the BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept provide a glimpse of the first electrically powered production cars from the new BMW i sub-brand, due to be launched as the BMW i3 in 2013, and the BMW i8 in 2014.
“We are marking another milestone in the history of the BMW Group. As chairman of the [BMW] board and an engineer myself, I am very proud of this project,” declared Norbert Reithofer in Frankfurt.
With its zero-emission electric drive and a range of around 150 km, the BMW i3 Concept has been developed for use in an urban environment.
It uses a 125 kW electric motor, and features four seats and a 200-litre luggage compartment.
Thanks to what BMW calls LifeDrive architecture, the i3 features a carbon passenger cell, enabling the car to weigh in at 1.25 t.
“This vehicle will mark the launch of the first volume-produced car featuring bodywork largely made of carbon. It’s a revolution in automotive design,” stressed BMW board member responsible for development Klaus Draeger at the launch event.
The application of this new technology allows a weight reduction, compared to a conventional electric car, of between 250 kg and 350 kg, and means more dynamic handling, coupled with a greater range, promises BMW.
The BMW i3 completes the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in less than eight seconds, while a high-speed charger achieves an 80% battery charge in an hour.
The BMW i8 Concept is a bit more impatient, and goes from 0 to 100 km/h in less than five seconds, while boasting fuel consumption of less than three litres per 100 km.
Its plug-in hybrid drive, with a system output of 260 kW, allows for a range of up to 35 km in electric mode.
For more dynamic driving or out-of-town routes, a high-performance three-cylinder petrol engine also comes into play.
The sports car has an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h and space for up to four people.
“The BMW i8 Concept is the sports car for a new generation – pure, emotional and sustainable,” said Draeger.
Both the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 will be built at BMW’s Leipzig plant, in Germany.
Some E400-million are earmarked for investment in new buildings and facilities by 2013, while 800 new jobs are to be created.