An important decision about the BMW i8's future will be made this year.
There's a lot of mystery surrounding the BMW i8's future successor. Recently, the Bavarian automaker promised the next i8 will be just as radical as the original, which was the automaker's first-ever hybrid sports car. Of course, the auto industry has changed since the i8 first went on sale back in 2014, as more automakers are gearing up to produce fully electric sports cars that make the original i8 look dated. According to a new report by Autocar, the next i8 could become BMW's answer to the Tesla Roadster and the Audi R8's electric replacement.
Sources have told the publication that BMW bosses are at a "crucial decision-making stage" about the i8's future fate. Originally, the second-generation i8 was expected to adopt a more powerful version of BMW's current hybrid powertrain, but senior officials are reportedly favoring fitting the next i8 with a newly developed pure-electric drivetrain since BMW now competes in Formula E.
One key Munich insider describes the alternative electric plan as a "new high-torque pure-electric driveline". Making the second-generation i8 fully electric would help showcase BMW's technology while allowing it to compete with the Tesla Roadster and the Audi R8's pure electric replacement. Technical specifications are still being kept a secret, but the new electric powertrain reportedly "shares key elements" with the four-wheel-drive system being developed for the production version of the BMW iNext, which is undergoing testing ahead of its planned launch in 2021.
Sources say this new setup will feature a new generation, in-house developed electric motor with "significantly higher rotational speeds" than the existing synchronous units used in the current hybrid i8.
One of the biggest challenges BMW will face is finding a suitable platform since the current i8's aluminum and carbon fiber platform wasn't designed to incorporate battery technology. Alternatively, BMW could base the second-generation i8 on a modified platform from the production version of the iNext SUV.
If, however, BMW sticks with a hybrid setup, expect the new i8 to be nearly twice as powerful as the current model, which has 369 hp in the 2019 facelift model. BMW's head of development indicated the new i8 could replace the current car's three-cylinder gasoline unit with a four- or six-cylinder combustion engine. Time will tell which path BMW decides to take, but a decision will be made this year. Once a decision has been made, the next-generation BMW i8 is expected to launch by the end of 2023.