It is our collective and individual responsibility… to preserve and care for the environment in which we all live – Dalai Lama

BMW cars have always been about more than cars. They’re kind of like a Swiss army knife; a finely crafted tool with everything you need for whatever the road throws at you. A BMW is a specially designed machine that is used as a Robot Man suit, so technically advanced; you need to be a rocket scientist to understand all its intricacies. To appreciate all that potential and fully understand why BMW builds its cars this way; all you need to do is drive one.

With the world spiraling into the abyss of climate change, and the future of oil as certain as Lindsey Lohan’s next movie role, everyone is turning to greener vehicles. Hybrid and electric cars are no longer fad toys, but have become a necessary and important pillar in the plan to break free from oil. Once limited by bad technology and microscopic scope, the electric car is being reborn as a viable alternative to the beloved internal combustion engine. BMW has joined the fray with not just a new car, but an entirely new line of cars. The BMW i8 Concept is one of the first of a group of cars produced by BMW i, a new sub-brand for marketing low-emission (green) vehicles.

Along with the i8, BMW plans to introduce an open-top roadster version called the i8 Spyder, as well as a small electric hatchback called the i3. i8 hybrid electric vehicles are designed to combine the sportiness of regular BMW cars with the fuel economy of a small car. The design features a new BMW Vision Efficient Dynamic Concept, which is an innovative plug-in hybrid combining the modified electric drive system of the i3 Concept. The electric motor is mounted on the front axle with a high-performance three-cylinder combustion engine mounted at the rear to extend the range. The engine will act as an onboard generator and BMW promises acceleration from 0-62MPH in less than 5 seconds, along with an estimated 86MPG.

The key to this setup is torque, which is available from a starting point and will provide non-stop acceleration. The battery technology is based on ultra-powerful lithium-ion cells with an integrated liquid cooling system for ideal operating temperatures. The car can be charged from a home power supply system and can drive more than 20 miles on battery power alone. The architecture is known as LifeDrive, and it’s basically a weight-efficient layered approach to car design. The bottom layer is the Drive section, which encompasses the chassis, battery pack, powertrain, suspension, steering, and brakes. The top layer is the Life section, which is a carbon fiber reinforced plastic cabin. This is the first time carbon fiber has been used in a mass market vehicle and it was developed right here in the United States. The two sections are joined by just four bolts and industrial grade adhesive. Using this setup, BMW promises a low center of gravity, perfect 50/50 weight distribution, and amazing handling.

The i8 is stunningly beautiful, with clean lines and a flat silhouette. It features a large transparent greenhouse (although I doubt the production version will remain unchanged) with doors that open upwards like wings. The car is statuesque and organic, with a distinctive kinetic wedge shape and forward-thinking stance. From the front, the car bears the typical BMW design cues that are complemented by two U-shaped full LED light configurations. There is also a semi-transparent black V that rises from the bonnet, giving a glimpse of the electric motor and fuel cell. Carbon fiber life. At the rear are three-dimensional air vents, a massive rear diffuser and “floating” taillights that match the U-shaped headlights. Both the headlights and taillights pulsate like the heart of a futuristic monster and the effect is amazing.

Inside the i8 are large transparent surfaces on the doors and roof that give each section of the car the appearance of merging together. The interior is finished in a layered design with a Porcelain White support structure, a black technical level and a comfort section finished in Mocha Brown. The effect is modern and comforting at the same time, and the dash and center console are free of excessive buttons and switches. The instrument cluster consists of a large screen with information delivered in a high-resolution three-dimensional format. There is also a free-standing information display mounted in the center. The i8 is expected to be priced around $122,000 USD. Production is expected to begin sometime in 2014.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

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