Up till now, Tesla has had the market for high-end electric cars pretty much to itself. But that first-mover advantage is ending.
BMW has just rolled out the i8, a plug-in supercar that will test just how much big spenders are willing to pay for a racer with a green badge. This real-life Batmobile starts at about $140,000, but availability is limited for now, and some sellers are asking well over $200,000 for the car.BMW says production should ramp up by next year. The i8 isn’t a full electric like the Tesla Model S, but a hybrid that has both an electric motor and a three-cylinder, twin-turbo gasoline engine.
The i8 lets you go about 20 miles on electric power alone, and recharge the battery at home. When the electric power runs low, the gas engine kicks in, while regenerative braking continues to push a small electric boost to the front wheels. Put both systems together and it adds up to a 357-horsepower rocket wrapped in super-lightweight carbon-fiber and aluminum. Fuel economy ranges from 28 MPG to 78 MPG, depending on which mode of driving you’re in.
“The i8 will absolutely pull buyers away from Tesla,” says Karl Brauer of car-research site KBB.com. “It’s got a similar philosophy while being even more overt and distinctive in its exterior design.” There’s also BMW’s novelty: The Tesla Model S has become commonplace on California highways and in other trendy locales, and its cool factor is fading. Few Americans, by contrast, have seen an i8 on the road up until now—but the moment they do, they’re sure to stop and stare.
Thanks to Rick Newman for the information.