Toyota’s Prius will be facing some pretty fierce competition as both Porsche and BMW have introduced new sports cars at the Frankfurt Motor Show that are powerful but are also very fuel-efficient. Porsche's 918 Spyder hybrid, which costs $845,000, can make the sprint from zero to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in 2.8 seconds.
According to European fuel-economy data, it offers the equivalent of about 3.9 liters/100km (72 mpg UK/60 mpg U.S.). This easily beats the basic Prius hybrid’s rating of 5.6 liters/100km (50 mpg UK/41 mpg U.S.). Also in Frankfurt, BMW unveiled the i8 -- a plug-in hybrid sports car that’s expected to go on sale in 2014. This supercar has a rating of 2.5 liters/100km (113mpg UK/94 mpg U.S.).
In comparison, the Prius plug-in offers 3 liters/100km (95 mpg UK/79 mpg U.S.). The other competitors in this segment of ultra-efficient supercars include Ferrari's 1 million euro ($1.32 million) LaFerrari and Mercedes' 416,500 euro SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive. These supercars aid in meeting more stringent emissions regulations while maintaining their tremendous power and performance.
These automakers are focused on innovation, allowing them to dodge a six-year decline in the European car market while still being able to charge higher price and raise their profits. At the Frankfurt show, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer talked about the “dawn of a new era,” citing their belief in bringing electromobility to the road. To fund the high cost of developing new technology, automakers like BMW, Mercedes and Audi are planning large-scale expansions of their high-performance units and build faster versions of their cars to increase sales and earnings.
Just like the concept itself, the body design of the new BMW i8 body is also groundbreaking, with the signature BMW dynamics, lightweight design as well as efficiency intently evident on its proportions, lines and surface design.
The unique looks of the new BMW i8 is made possible by the structure of its overlapping and interlocking surfaces, as highlighted by its color scheme. Thanks to this layering principle, BMW was able to make the aerodynamic forms of the i8 as stylish as possible. Likewise, the i8’s dynamically formed wheel arches help draw the eyes to its wide track.
Interestingly, the front and rear sections of the new BMW i8 feature a low-slung design, helping accentuate the car’s dynamically stretched flanks. This is thanks to the fact that the car’s compact construction differentiates the electric motor and combustion engine. Furthermore, the new i8 features doors that open forwards and upwards like wings.
Like other BMW i cars, the new i8 features the signature "black belt" that emerges from the bonnet in a "V" shape and then flows over the roof to the rear end. On the tail, this black belt seemingly frames the center section of the rear apron. On the front, the black belt is bordered by the body-colored apron and side panels, and is overlapped by the "floating" roof pillars on the rear end.
In addition, the new i8 features another BMW i design cue – the "stream flow" contour of the side window styling. On the i8, this stream flow helps define the path where the air moves between the falling roofline and the character line is rising through the rear flanks towards the rear spoiler lip.