We've just touched down in Frankfurt to get all the details on BMW's new electric cars, but before we get into the nitty-gritty of BMW i, its philosophy and the engineering behind it, here's a brief introduction to the first two models, the i3 and i8. Officially, the two artfully greenhoused cars seen above are 'concepts,' but they're actually anything but. Click through to the jump to read all about them.

UPDATE: Added a few live images, along with the first promo vid. More to come.

BMW i3BMW i3

i3

Originally teased as the MegaCity concept, the BMW i3 will be the first vehicle produced under the i brand when it arrives next year. Two structures make up both the i3 and i8's LifeDrive architecture – predictably, the Life and Drive modules.

As its name would suggest, the Life part of the equation is what contains the driver and passengers, and the platforms have been individually developed for each model. In the case of the i3, a lightweight body structure is made up of a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, with the Drive module mounted underneath, obviating the need for a transmission tunnel and allowing BMW to install two bench seats for four occupants in the front and back while providing 200 liters (7.06 cubic-feet) of storage.

BMW i3

Underneath that lightweight body lies the Drive system, comprised of the suspension, battery and drivetrain, along with structural and safety components. A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery back spans the undercarriage and supplies juice to an electric motor mounted directly above the rear-drive axle. Yup, this a rear-wheel-drive EV hatchback, with the motor putting out 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque through a single-speed gearbox. BMW claims the i3 can reach an electronically limited top speed of 93 miles per hour and make the run from 0-60 in under eight seconds.

An available PRO ECO mode tweaks the throttle and electronics to boost efficiency, and braking regeneration feeds kinetic energy back into the battery pack. Remarkably, BMW also claims that you can charge the battery back to full in six hours using a standard power socket and the i3's batteries can get to 80 percent in one hour using a high-speed charger (we'll be getting more details on both very soon).

If battery power isn't enough for you, the i3 will be available with a range-extending internal combustion engine (dubbed REx) further down the road, although BMW hasn't divulged the exact displacement or how much additional range it will include beyond the projected 80-100 miles on electric power alone.

BMW i8

i8

If a rear-drive, EV hatchback doesn't stoke your enthusiast flames, then the i8 might be more to your tastes.

Unlike the standard i3, the i8 will be a plug-in hybrid, with a turbocharged, 1.5-liter three-cylinder powerplant mounted up front and putting out 220 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the electric motor, the run from 0-60 mph is claimed to blow by in under five seconds, with fuel consumption estimated at three liters per 100 kilometers and seven liters per 100 clicks when driven like... well, a BMW.

The three-pot works in tandem with a lithium-ion battery pack and front-mounted electric motor pulled from the i3 and driving the front wheels, allowing an electric-only range of up to 20 miles on a charge. Put both systems together and you've got a front-wheel-drive vehicle for maximum efficiency, a rear-driver for maximum fun and all-wheel drive for maximum grip. And if that isn't enticing enough, the i8 has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

We'll have more about both models and the i brand as a whole in the coming days, but in the meantime, check out the gallery below for the first official eyeful.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 101 Comments
      Easy_Eight
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah, 1980s futurists finally proved right. Now, where's my hoverboard?
      Dvanos
      • 3 Years Ago
      These look like prop cars from next Transformer movie.
      Benny90
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have a 'small' felling that even the i3 is going to have one astronomically expensive price tag... It would have been nice to have it at a compelling price point as it is one very cool and interesting ride. But once the words carbon fiber and BMW are put together, you know you are definitely going to be paying massive for that combo. There might still be hope though that it is at least somewhat attainable, however small that chance might actually be, at least until they announce pricing,
        Ak74
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Benny90
        rumor says that i3 will begin at 30K
      Mike J
      • 3 Years Ago
      "the i3 will be available with a range-extending internal combustion engine" Where have I heard this Idea before?
      You guy
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think the i8 is gorgeous. Maybe I'm nuts.
      Shiftright
      • 3 Years Ago
      Kudos for daring, but they look too much like over the top movie props.
      Ricky
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wait, 220hp/221lbft from a 1.5L 3cyl turbo? or is that total power combined with the electric motor? If the former, can I just have that in a 2200 lb rwd coupe? thx.
        You guy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ricky
        I think that's JUST the gas motor (At least that's the way the article makes it sound). Did anyone notice the gas plant is essentially the 3.0L 6 cut in half?
      Jsherid1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I really like the i8, I could see adding one to the stable.
      KJMX-5
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hate to say this, but who else thinks these is a chance these concepts will get watered down to a 1 series and 6 series hybrid before they are released?
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @KJMX-5
        Uh these aren't concepts. These are the production cars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        cashsixeight
        • 3 Years Ago
        They look f*cking awesome. Please go change your colostomy bag, geezer.
          soundbargaming
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          I like the look of the i8 but not the i3. Hate the names of course. Just because he may be old("geezer"), doesn't mean he had colon cancer which resulted in a colostomy bag. Kind of stretching it there.
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        So they designed you?
      Temple
      • 3 Years Ago
      WTF happened to BMW design? First the new 1-series, now this "Hey look! I'm a EV hybrid" TRON mess. The original sketches of the i3 without the busy tri-color deal looked like it had a lot of potentional: http://www.bmw-i-usa.com/en_us/bmw-i3/ Never thought I would say this, but I miss Bangle.
        G Prodigy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Temple
        Im sure there will be a configurator where you can customize it to be whatever basic color scheme you'd like
        ACSRHS
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Temple
        I agree. I have a feeling it'll look bloated (the i3)on the production model.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Ak74
        • 3 Years Ago
        typical vwfailsagain comment.
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        He's just saying that the Leaf looks better than him, since he's garbage.
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