RIP, I8: Green Supercar Slowly Runs Out of Charge

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Ah, the BMW i8. First foisted upon us back in 2014, drooled over by auto and tech aficionados alike, featured in big-budget films in exotic, big-budget locales, and finally put out to pasture.

The plug-in hybrid with the fancy doors will soon depart the automotive landscape to make way for a range of (much) more conventional BMW electrics, Autocar reports.

BMW has confirmed that the i8 will cease production at its Leipzig assembly plant in April. While the exact date to be etched on the i8’s tombstone is unknown, a brand spokesman told the publication that UK dealers will need to have their final orders in by February.

The i8 was a technological — and design — marvel when it bowed over half a decade ago, yet its performance never seemed to match its stratospheric price tag. Plug-in hybrids were still a new thing at the time, and the slinky i8 was undoubtedly the most complex one on offer. Three electric motors and a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder combined to create 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, though its EPA-rated electric range was only 15 miles. After that, the car operated as a conventional hybrid.

When pushed hard, some reviewers noted performance loss as the car attempted to replenish its electric reserves on the fly.

BMW sought to eliminate such gripes for the 2018 model year, boosting battery size, increasing power, and giving buyers the option of motoring al fresco. But a six-figure supercar, while splashy and undoubtedly the best way to make the public aware of a company’s technological prowess, is not how you get the world on environmentally sustainable wheels. The i8’s best sales year, both in the U.S. and in Europe, was 2015. Deliveries totalled just over 2,000 vehicles in both markets that year.

As the i8 prepares for its dirt nap alongside the equally odd but far more attainable i3, the automaker has a range of staid, “safe” electric automobiles preparing to fill the EV void. They include an EV version of the long-running X3 compact crossover (dubbed the iX3), the i4 sedan, and an iNext SUV, just for starters.

Time’s running out if you’ve always longed to own an i8. Starting price on a new coupe, by the way, is $147,500.

[Images: BMW Group]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • John R John R on Jan 15, 2020

    Good riddance. Hybrid supercars tend to be cynical exercises with the exception of the NSX. The current NSX is about 3x the better car at doing the hybrid-supercar thing for only about ~$10k more. Why BMW made that thing without some kind of turbo straight-six is beyond me.

  • Harwester Harwester on Aug 24, 2021

    this is an excellent new generation sport car. I really want to experience for driving it.

  • EBFlex No they shouldn’t. It would be signing their death warrant. The UAW is steadfast in moving as much production out of this country as possible
  • Groza George The South is one of the few places in the U.S. where we still build cars. Unionizing Southern factories will speed up the move to Mexico.
  • FreedMike I'd say that question is up to the southern auto workers. If I were in their shoes, I probably wouldn't if the wages/benefits were at at some kind of parity with unionized shops. But let's be clear here: the only thing keeping those wages/benefits at par IS the threat of unionization.
  • 1995 SC So if they vote it down, the UAW gets to keep trying. Is there a means for a UAW factory to decide they no longer wish to be represented and vote the union out?
  • Lorenzo The Longshoreman/philosopher Eri Hoffer postulated "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and ends up as a racket." That pretty much describes the progression of the United Auto Workers since World War II, so if THEY are the union, the answer is 'no'.