BMW Shows i8 Spyder Concept Prior to NY Reveal

Electrified cars may be nearly silent, but that doesn’t mean their makers still don’t want them to create a lot of buzz. As a case in point is the BMW i8 Concept Spyder plug-in hybrid revealed over the weekend ahead of the New York Auto Show.

The regular i8 Concept has been called a supercar by writers, and looks the part, but BMW is calling it a sports car, as also is true of this Spyder version, and its performance numbers are more in line with that genre.

The 3,197 pound vehicle puts out a total of 354 horsepower when one adds up the 131 horses from the electric motor on the front axle and the 223 horsepower fed to the rear wheels from the motorcycle-level-displacement 1.5-liter engine.

Note stowed away electric kickboards in back under glass.

Of course this automobile’s diminutive gasoline engine is turbocharged, unlike production motorcycle practice, but that’s mighty small for a 1.5-ton car. Coupling it with electric assist means it can be a fuel sipper when it wants to be, and a go-fast, look-at-me machine the rest of the time.

Time from zero-to-sixty mph is around 4.9 seconds and top speed is governed to 155 mph for the all-wheel-drive Spyder. Its weight distribution is 50:50, and it about doubles the power output of a Chevy Volt, packs in every conceivable technology BMW can think of, and comes in weighing 550 pounds less. But then, this is about what one would expect from a car that will cost no less than $140,000.

This car is proof that you can have it all, if you want to ante up. When not testing its speed capabilities, early adapters for BMW’s i sub brand can alternately coddle this ultimate among Ultimates up to 19 miles in all-electric mode, and achieve up to 94 mpg on the European test cycle.

Nineteen miles of electric range is a good deal shy of the Chevy Volt’s potential, and not much more than that of a plug-in Prius, but obviously BMW knows that, and this car is about more than mere practicality.

The i8 Spyder is a concept in e-mobility, so we will have to wait and see whether it makes it to production, and if so, in what numbers and at what price. In any event, a pair of e-kickboards as pictured are built in.

Among this styling exercise’s most eye-catching features are the upward-swiveling, windowless doors and a range of purpose-oriented on-board equipment including electric kickboards stowed under a transparent tailgate.

Did we say it was not only about practicality? Those two electric kickboards don’t come with the Volt or Prius, so maybe this concept has some functionality beyond the norm after all.