Remember all those space-age looking cars that are always portrayed in dystopian futuristic-type movies?
Well the future has finally arrived.
BMW’s progressive concept sports car, the i8, recently graduated into production and will be available everywhere in North America in early 2014, according to Jacob Harb, BMW’s head of electric vehicle operations.
“We’ve stated that the i8 will be available in early 2014,” said Harb.
But Harb was coy about the availability of the i8 in Calgary’s BMW dealerships.
“For specific markets and cities I can’t speak to yet, but our plan is full series production and full availability of the i8,” he said in an interview.
This 2012 concept-of-the-year award recipient was first unleashed in movie theatres via 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol flick, where movie-goers saw this ultra-cool machine for the first time.
Even superstar Tom Cruise was gushing about the car to Bloomberg Businessweek.
“Wait until you see the car,” said a smiling Cruise.
The most striking feature about the i8 are the polycarbonate glass doors which open upward, gull-wing style.
But Harb confirmed that the glass door feature may not make it into production for safety reasons.
Despite that fact he said the final result will be worth the wait.
“The final material for the doors will be traditional metal for safety reasons, but still gull-wing style and I can promise you that the production car will be much more compelling that any of the i8 concepts you’ve seen.”
Another major factor with the i8 is the hybrid system that BMW has bravely pioneered into this sportscar.
It has a plug-in hybrid design, a modified electric drive system from the i3 Concept fitted over the front axle and a turbocharged 1.5-litre, three-cylinder combustion engine producing 164 KW or 220 hp at the rear.
Not many car companies would have the guts to marry high performance with green technology for fear of orthodox super car enthusiasts crying betrayal.
But with the i8’s highly sophisticated eDrive system, BMW has done just that and promises not to trample upon Mother Nature in the process.
“With this car you’ll get incredible performance and even more astounding efficiency,” said Harb.
“This is the most progressive sports car out there, so you’ll get 0 to 100 in 4.6 seconds and the fuel efficiency has been rated at 87 miles per gallon or 2.9 kilometers per litre.”
Not everyone is sold on the i8 and questions about the market viability of a hybrid car in Calgary have arisen particularly because of the ever-present oil-culture-mindset in cowtown.
And when it comes down to it, the i8 is not seen as a sports car within BMW’s ranks, but rather, as just a hybrid vehicle.
Scott Morrison, New Vehicle Sales Manager at Heritage Meadows BMW said, “Hybrids in Calgary? This is oiltown.”
“We do have other models that are hybrids here, but realistically, we would sell maybe one or two in three months,” said Morrison.
Morrison lamented that Calgary just doesn’t have the acceptance of hybrids because of the fact that oil rules here.
Vancouver is simply better suited for hybrids.
“Vancouver is a much larger market for hybrids and it seems to be much more socially acceptable to purchase a hybrid there than Calgary,” he said.
Despite his reservations about hybrids, Morrsion said that he admires BMW’s commitment to the green movement and expressed his awe for BMW’s brains behind the brawn.
“I think it’s good to see them (BMW engineers) going that way with that (hybrid) technology. It seems like that’s the direction that everyone is going. BMW is all about the engineering – this company is an engineer’s dream.”