After releasing in March the i8 concept, the production model is ready to be unveiled at IAA 2013 and then tackle the world in early 2014. In U.S. its main competitor will be the highly popular Tesla Model S.
Alongside BMW, Volkswagen AG’s Porsche and General Motors’ Cadillac brand are all readying plug-in premium cars that could pull sales from the Tesla model. Also, Honda’s new Acura NSX will be a made-in-America hybrid.
In a recent interview in Pebble Beach, California, Ludwig Willisch, BMW’s North American chief executive officer said the i8 “a whole different animal – it competes with different concepts,” and that “this is the supercar of the future: It has the driving performance of an M3, but gets more than 80 miles per gallon.”
While the Model S is propelled solely by lithium ion battery power, BMW’s carbon fiber and aluminum i8 uses electric power for the front wheels and a three-cylinder gasoline engine for the rear tires. Also, while Tesla Model S pricing starts at about $70,000, Willisch said pricing for the i8, also to be announced next month in Frankfurt, will be less than $150,000.
Willisch declined to provide a U.S. sales target for the i8 or the lower-priced i3 electric car that also goes on sale early next year but reporters were treated to a sneak peek at the i8 on Thursday in California, with cameras and phones not allowed.