By on January 14, 2020

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]

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18 Comments on “RIP, i8: Green Supercar Slowly Runs Out of Charge...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Beautiful car, IMO. There is an impressive “how it’s made” video out there about this vehicle.

    Funny story: At the Pittsburgh Auto Show a few years ago, my son got trapped in the i8 because he couldn’t figure out how to open the wacky doors. I was surprised the car was available to sit in; most cars of that caliber are locked. My only gripe about it was the really wide door sills.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Hmm, I don’t know about you but I don’t have one sitting in my driveway, so I don’t feel “foisted upon”.

    I remember when this came out, Road and Track wanted to include it in a combination street driving and track test. BMW asked them not to drive it on the race track. What good is a car like this if you can’t track it? Its technology wasn’t up to its usage. Sure looks nice, though.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Suburban Maryland has pretty well all of the expensive cars but I’ve only ever seen one of these. If they couldn’t move these here then where?

    I’m not the super car demographic but for the sake of discussion if someone gave me one of these I’d give it right back. Three cylinders is an even worse joke than four.

    • 0 avatar
      The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

      Move up a tax bracket, chief. I’ve got 6 of them near me. Neat cars.

      Original sales allocation was 1000 cars for North America, and 1000 for the EU/UK. Based on demand, they doubled the build quantities. So 2k/year per market is literally every one they intended to make.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I ran into an owner of one of these while out in my E90 M3, and he said he had gone from an E92 M3 into the i8. I found that very interesting, since the mission of the two cars differs so much. I got the impression that he wanted something special, so in that context it would make sense. The car is beautiful in person. Sadly, there are so many more compelling options in that price range.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Pricing was silly for this car out of the chute and the resale market verifies that.

    • 0 avatar
      The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

      ~130k MSRP, cheapest ones floating around on the used market are higher mile 2014 models with the smaller battery for $65-70k. 2 year old examples are still $110k.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The very best example of how d!ck-waving numbers culture has taken over the sports car market, at the expense of anyone ever selling an interesting sports car.

    This thing is flat amazing. Singularly beautiful styling, something approaching old-BMW handling from everything I’ve ever read, 0-60 in the low 4s, and 30 mpg even before you charge it from the wall. But because it’s slower than the competition, even though the difference is totally meaningless on the street, it got trashed in every publication anywhere and buyers mostly ignored it.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      I love the i8, but it retails at $150k starting. At that price point there are a lot of beautifully styled, great handling competition that also has low 0-60 numbers. Buyers at that price point can afford the gas for inefficient cars, and likely have a Tesla for their green cred for those who care (this would be their weekend toy).

      The only thing it has to stand out is “it’s a hybrid!!!” But that is not a great selling point at this MSRP.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    While I have never “seriously” considered one of these, visually it is the BMW I would most like to see sitting in my driveway. If the price of a used one has dropped significantly when I am next in the market for a car, I would at least consider it. I have read that storage space is next to nonexistent, though.

  • avatar

    Shoot, I just wanted to put deposit on one. Is it too late?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I’d rather have an NSX. Yearly maintenance would be around $160.00.

  • avatar
    John R

    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.

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