BMW increases i8 supply for the United States by 50%

Article by Christian A., on January 20, 2015

For this year, BMW has increased the number of i8 plug-in hybrids produced for the United States by 50 percent or more than 1,000 cars, but that won’t still be enough to cover all orders for the $137,450 vehicle.

According to Ludwig Willisch, chief executive of BMW of North America, the i8 has become the carmaker’s halo car and has been attracting customers to the brand. He called the sports car as “a brand shaper" as it "stands for all of the technology BMW has to offer” and features a 72-mpg mileage.

To hike output of the i8, BMW said it will build fewer i3 electric vehicles this year. Both cars would not be delivered to US customers until October. BMW started selling the i3 last spring and i8 sales in August 2014.

Willisch remarked that sales of the i3 are also topping targets, noting that it won’t be slowed down by dropping gasoline prices. He said the carmaker is expecting to sell around 1,000 i3s monthly this year in the US, after selling 6,092 i3s and 555 i8s in 2014.

On the other hand, Willisch provided an update on BMW's Future Retail 2016 dealership standards, saying that around 150 dealers are either building new stores or refurbishing. He said that the rest of its 339 dealerships must comply with the standards by the end of 2016.

He added that total dealer investment will reach $500 million. Meanwhile, Willisch shut down speculations that the carmaker plans an i9 supercar slotted above the i8.

He, however, remarked that the redesigned 7-series sedan will feature a further jump in BMW technology in manufacturing, connectivity and luxury perception. BMW will unveil the 7 series in September at the Frankfurt auto show and commence sales in the fourth quarter. BMW saw sales of the 7-series drop 11 percent last year to 9,744.

The new BMW i8 is a sports car with high levels of efficiency made possible by its overall vehicle concept and drive system technology. Since plug-in hybrid sports car consumes small amount of fuel, it could offer low emission levels coupled with reduced running costs.

Interestingly, the process for computing the average fuel consumption of plug-in hybrid vehicles in the EU test cycle takes the usage of a fully charged battery’s available energy capacity into consideration. As for the new BMW i8, its test cycle fuel consumption is around 2.1 liters per 100 km (or 134.5 mpg imp).

This number is derived from a driving profile in which the high-voltage battery's capacity is initially used up for all-electric driving, and the vehicle switches to hybrid mode when energy is recuperated to recharge the battery to cover more distance in all-electric mode. This driving profile essentially means the i8 consumes 11.9 kWh of electricity and 2.1 liters (0.5 gallons) of fuel to cover a distance of 100 km (62 miles).

Taking assumptions that electricity costs at EUR0.25 per kWh and a fuel is available at EUR1.50 per liter, the i8 only has energy costs of around EUR6.00 per 100 km, or approximately the price of four liters (0.9 gallons) of premium unleaded petrol.

Thanks to the groundbreaking powertrain technology inside the BMW i8, its owners could benefit from the tax incentives for ultra-low-emission vehicles -- especially electric and hybrid cars -- offered by quite a number of countries. Further, these vehicles, like the i8, require minimal amount of servicing, as made possible by reliable electrical drive system components and their low maintenance needs.

Furthermore, vehicle concept of the new i8 also favors its insurance rating. Damages to the exterior bodyshell – which is usually impacted in around 90 percent of all accidents – could easily be remedied with ease and little expense just by replacing plastic components. In addition, the repair costs of the i8 following a collision are similar to those of conventional BMW models, as reflected in its German insurance group rating (group 30 for fully comprehensive protection).

While a hybrid vehicle, the new BMW i8 offers sports car driving experience thanks to its hybrid-specific all-wheel drive and intelligent energy management. The front wheels of the i8 are driven by the electric motor through a two-stage automatic transmission, while the rear wheels are propelled by a petrol engine via a six-speed automatic gearbox. The petrol engine and the electric motor delivers a total 266 kW (362 hp) of max output, with 250 Nm (184 lb.-ft.) of peak torque at the front wheels and 320 Nm (236 lb.-ft.) at the rear. This helps deliver a dynamic yet efficient all-wheel-drive performance, as coordinated by the i8's intelligent powertrain control system.

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