By on July 29, 2011

When you talk to industry insiders about BMW, they most typically identify the brand’s great strength as it’s deep institutional knowledge about how to create satisfying road cars, an attribute that explains a lot of the brand’s previous conservatism about its product line. But expanding to include SUVs, hybrids and front-drive MINIs is one thing… starting a new brand as a completely clean sheet of paper, with hardly a trace of previous BMW technology, is quite another. And yet here they are: the i3 and the i8, the former of which launches in about two years. For a projected price of around €40k (BMW is also talking about car-sharing schemes), the i3 offers a 170 HP and 184 lb-ft of rear-drive electric power, wrapped up in an innovative construction concept that’s almost a throwback to body-on-frame (more like body-on-drivetrain) and is unique to the i brand. The whole thing is executed in carbon fiber reinforced plastic, hits 60 MPH in under 8 seconds, can reach 93 MPH and offers 80-100 miles of range. The i8 is further off, and is intended to be a four-door plug-in hybrid halo car, with a 5 second 0-60 time and front, rear or all-wheel-drive, depending on driving mode.

It’s all very Buck Rogers, like a set of Motorama cars of the future, and though the versions being shown now are called concepts, they’re supposed to be very, very close to the real thing. All we have to do now is wait, save our pennies and wait for the future to catch up.

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