BMW Debuts Its i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car As A Roadster At The LA Auto Show

BMW has improved upon its i8 plug-in hybrid coupe and revealed the sports car in roadster form for 2019.

“We are going for the pole position in this segment,” Klaus Frohlich, member of the board of management of BMW AG, said at the reveal of the 2019 BMW i8 Coupe and 2019 BMW i8 Roadster at the Los Angeles Auto Show today. “For us, electric mobility is the new normal.”

Both models benefit from a new high-voltage battery with more capacity and about 30% more range than the outgoing version. Each will be able to travel up to 18 miles on battery power before switching to its gasoline engine. The hybrid powertrain improves upon BMW’s previous eDrive technology to deliver 369 horsepower, a dozen more ponies than the outgoing model.

Launched in 2014 as BMW’s vision for the sports car of the future, the two-seater has served as a prototype for combining the performance of a sports car with the environmental appeal of a hybrid. “Tesla proved there was a market for high-performance cars with an earth-friendly twist,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book. “BMW responded with the i8. It doesn’t sell in huge numbers, but it does give Tesla buyers an alternative from a more established brand.”

The roadster’s electrically-operated soft-top roof opens in less than 16 seconds when the car is moving slower than 31 mph. Its body features a flat hood, long wheelbase, and short overhangs beneath an elongated roofline.

The pair of next-generation i8 cars, which go on sale in the spring (pricing TBA), achieves a top speed of 155 mph. The coupe can hit 60 mph from a standstill in 4.2 seconds. The roadster takes a little longer – 4.4 seconds.

CarsRochelle GrenierForbes