By on January 2, 2019

Despite the mainstream automotive market taking a wrench to the face, supercars continue doing exceedingly well. In fact, in 2017 the United Kingdom claimed “specialty car” registrations were up 40 percent over 2012, despite the broader market seeing a decline of nearly 10 percent. Meanwhile, vehicle prices the world over show a larger gap between mainstream automobiles and their high-end counterparts.

As it looks for a replacement for the i8, it seems BMW wants something more ambitions from a performance perspective. While the i8 was a supercar in name and exterior design, the hybrid two-seater lacked the kind of earth-shattering acceleration and handling to truly qualify. Bimmer’s next project is rumored to remedy that while keeping the i-brand’s electrified mentality alive. 

According to Autocar, Klaus Fröhlich, the BMW board member responsible for product development, teased that a super-sports car is likely in development. “If you are an engineer, once in your life, you want to make a super-sports car,” Fröhlich told the outlet in a recent interview. “I think partial electrification will enable that.”

Whatever BMW is working on, it likely won’t be a direct successor to the i8. Inside sources claim it will be used as a template for the new design, and Fröhlich indicated the same.

“If we have these very compact and very powerful electric driving units, if we have a carbon-fiber chassis — for example, the i8’s — and if we still have high-performance engines, then, if you do it cleverly, you can combine them into a real performance package,” he said. “If you look at the supercars — the McLarens, the Ferraris — beyond 2020, they will be all partially electric. And if you look at power plug-in hybrids we are planning for today, an electric motor in our PHEVs has a little bit more than 99 bhp and 184 lb ft of torque.”

Believed to reach assembly by 2023, the model would assuredly use a hybrid powertrain joining a gasoline engine with electric motors and a chassis heavily based on the existing lightweight, carbon-focused architecture currently used in the i8. Autocar noted that, if the vehicle is truly destined to outclass the rest of BMW’s fleet, it would need to outperform next year’s 620 bhp M8.

“So if you see this e-motor in a car which can give you in milliseconds the push formerly found in a V8 engine, then you can have a very sporty feel from this power PHEV — and it fits perfectly to the M brand,” Fröhlich said, adding that the company’s e-motors (for hybrid use) will offer more than 197 hp and up to 378 lb-ft in just a few years’ time.

By 2021, every vehicle BMW manufactures will have the ability to accommodate hybridization or full electrification. The brand has yet to confirm what percentage will qualify as EVs, though most are of the mind that the majority of its stable will implement at least mild hybridization in the years to come — especially for its sporting arm.

“M will also be electric in the future, but we will work very heavily on partial electrification on M cars. This is because they do not only need acceleration on the straight. They have to drive around corners and race tracks, so weight is an issue and electric vehicles still have a weight penalty for range,” Fröhlich explained.

“The M cars are derived from that [flexible] architecture, the electric i cars will be derived from that architecture and I think flexibility to react to different demands all over the world is key,” he continued. “For example, we can’t afford to have a 7 Series on an electric platform and a conventional platform, so the 7 Series for China will be a lot of EVs and, in America, perhaps we will have power PHEVs or perhaps there will be M Performance derivatives.”

As for the supercar, BMW confirms nothing. Autocar said the company was “actively considering” the vehicle’s development and may even be in the early stages of pre-production. It’s doubtful this will be the last time you hear of it. Until the proletariat makes its big play, there’s just too much money at the top of the market for BMW to ignore.

[Image: BMW]

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