• Plug-in hybrid
  • Car can reach 20 miles on electricity alone
  • Over 78 mpg rating


As the world runs short on fossil fuels, car manufacturers are feeling pressure to embrace more alternative energy, BMW included. Billed as the makers of "the ultimate driving machine," BMW has to balance the additional weight of some alternative energy materials like battery packs while still maintaining its mantra. It thinks it has the solution with the i8, seen this week at the LA Auto Show. 

In contrast to the i3, which is meant to stay in urban areas, the i8 can make long journeys while still sipping fuel. This is thanks to its hybrid drivetrain, which uses the electric motor from the i3 to power the front wheels, while a 220 horsepower three-cylinder gasoline motor powers the rear wheels. BMW says the car is good for a sub-five-second run to 60 mph but will still get 78 mpg.

In order to preserve the entertaining driving characteristics that BMW is known for, the hybrid motor and its batteries, as well as the aft-mounted gasoline engine, are mounted low in the car. Also, the fact that both motors are mounted directly over the axle they power means that interior space is maximized. As a 2+2, this means four adults can fit inside the i8, making this more than just a track-day toy.

The i8 isn?t slated to go on sale until 2014, and prices haven't been announced yet, as they could change in this car?s road to production.

What it means to you: BMW thinks it has figured out the formula for dealing with the added weight of battery packs and electric motors while still staying true to its roots.

See more LA Auto Show news.

author photo

Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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