Most of us had our jaws drop to the floor when we saw Tom Cruise hooning around Indian roads in one of the last scenes of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. We all raved at how the car looked like it was sent back in time from the future with all its flowing lines, blue lighting and spacecraft-like interiors. This car was the BMW i8 Hybrid and here’s some trivia about its production-spec version.
The i8 is one among BMW’s new i Series cars, the other being the i3. It is a plug-in hybrid vehicle but with sporty characteristics because of its mid engined layout and nearly 50:50 weight distribution. In regular hybrids, the internal combustion engine is primary and most of the vehicle’s power comes from it. The electric motor functions only as the backup, occasionally providing boosts of power when needed. Recharging of the batteries for the electric motor is taken care of by the internal combustion engine and regenerative braking; it does not need to be plugged in to an electric plug socket.
Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, work with the electric motor functioning as the primary. The internal combustion engine kicks in only when the batteries are low. This sort of vehicle does need to be plugged in to wall socket for recharging, hence the term ‘plug-in’.
The BMW i8 can reach a top speed of 121 kph while relying only on the electric motor. Bring in the petrol engine and that number rises all the way to 250 kph! Also, because the car weighs less than 1.5 tons, with both the engines engaged, 0-100 kph is dealt with in just 4.4 seconds. The petrol engine is a 1.5 litre, 3 cylinder motor that generates 228bhp and, together with the electric motor, produces 356bhp in total. The car gets LED headlights and tail lamps, but customers can order the unique laser lights, which emit a beam of pure white light that is 70% stronger than LED headlights. The i8 will be launched sometime next year but BMW fans need to wait only till November 14th for the face-lifted Z4 roadster to hit Indian roads.
With all these futuristic designs and innovations, the i8 is a harbinger of the path the electric car is taking. It shows that cars need not be polluting, smoke-spewing, fuel guzzlers to deliver hair-raising performance. This is indeed a very good thing as cars like the i8 give us hope that as the fossil fuel supplies diminish and the costs soar not just in India, but all across the globe; sports cars will not be driving into the sunset but instead will adapt and continue to give us the undiluted joy that we experience and love by driving them.