BMW’s i division is currently working on a pure electric i8 prototype. The brand-new vehicle will ‘see’ plenty of changes like significantly larger battery and a trio of new high-revving electric motors in the place of the hybrid system it uses today.
7/12/16 5:00 am chumakdenis 1
Legendary Bavarian automaker decided that it’s high time to make plenty of its hybrids completely electric and started modifying them.
One of the very first vehicles in this list was BMW i8 – I hope that there is no need to explain why: futuristic looks of the car speaks for itself.
So, on what program is BMW currently working on?
And what changes will be made to BMW i8?
Well, let’s figure it out.
Electric BMW i8
The move comes as BMW i division seeks to ramp up its research operations ahead of a confirmed expansion of its existing two-model line-up around the turn of the decade.
The plan is for the electric-powered i8 — which may be pressed into action as a successor to the current i8-based Formula E-safety car next year — to be based on the carbon-fiber structure developed for the BMW i division's fuel cell prototype ,revealed last year.
In order to house a series of cylindrical tanks used to stow hydrogen, it features a wider center tunnel than the structure employed by the standard i8.
“The idea is to use the space within the widened center tunnel to house the battery instead of the hydrogen tanks,” an official privy to the proposal currently in front of BMW’s development boss, Klaus Fröhlich, revealed to us.
The same weight
Despite the inclusion of a larger battery, the electric i8 will not weigh more than the hybrid version of the current i8, which tips the scales at 1485kg and possesses a range of more than 249 miles (400 kilometers).
A few more words about juice
Power for the new four-wheel-drive (4WD) i8 prototype will come from three new brushless electric motors.
One will be mounted up front and two at the rear, in the space usually taken up by the existing i8’s turbocharged 1.5-liter- three-cylinder gasoline engine.
Better electric motors
Developed by BMW, the motors are claimed to operate at a much higher internal speed than the production units used by the production i8.
“We’re looking to take this tradition into the electric car arena with electric motors that rev far higher than those seen in production today.”
“As well as providing greater power, the high-revving nature of the prototype electric motors allows them to be made in a more compact form than those in use today.”
"Revs are the route to making electric motors smaller,” said engineers from BMW I division.
In a standard guise, the i8 has an overall system output of 357 HP.
BMW remains tightlipped on the proposed output of the all-electric prototype, but insiders say that the new motors are capable of delivering up to amazing 268HP each.
The hydrogen fuel cell prototype, upon which BMW proposes to base the all-electric i8, delivers 242HP — 115 HP less than the gasoline-electric hybrid system used today by the production i8.
Before the all-electric model arrives, the current hybrid i8 is due a facelift.
BMW has already begun testing a more powerful version of today's i8 ahead of this planned facelift's arrival next year.
The heavily modified car, which can be seen in video below, incorporates many of the developments used by the company’s i8-based Formula E-safety car.
These include a modified air extractor unit with an additional Gurney flap along its leading edge for the front-mounted electric motor within the hood.
The car’s rear has also been reworked, with a carbon –fiber -reinforced plastic tailgate incorporating eight individual air vents that replace the glass window used by the standard i8.
The revised tailgate hides two heat-extracting fans, which are fitted to the i8 Formula E-safety car. These are intended to improve the cooling efficiency of the rear-mounted turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine, which is used in combination with two electric motors to provide drive to both axles.
At the heart of the modified i8 is a new lithium ion battery. Borrowed from the X5 xDrive40e, it has a capacity of 26Ah — up from the 20Ah of the standard i8 battery.
Another new feature is an inductive charging system from Qualcomm that operates at 7.2kW instead of the 3.6kW of the existing plug-in system.
BMW is refusing to comment on any performance enhancements for the combustion engine and electric motors, although the added energy density of the battery clearly provides scope for a boost in power for the front-mounted electric motor, which is rated at 129 HP and 184lb ft on the standard i8.
BMW engineers speak of a 10% rise in power, which hints at a combined output of more than 390 HP.
Some other changes
To harness the added performance potential, BMW has reworked the i8’s suspension, lowered the ride height by 10mm and fitted the prototype with 245/35-profile front and 285/30-profile rear tires on 20in wheels.
Well, seems that a real ‘monster’ awaits us.
Let’s wish BMW engineers good luck with making i8 completely electric and wait more news from them.