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Car and Driver: i of the Beholder: BMW Looks to Amp Up Its Electrified i Lineup


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2015 BMW i8

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BMW was among the first major automakers to dive headlong into e-mobility—and it has seen why other have perhaps been more cautious: Sales of the i3 hatchback have never really been great, and thus production has remained vastly below internal projections. The quirky electric remains a rare sight outside of Munich. The fascinating i8 sports car, a plug-in hybrid, has fared better, with long initial waiting times for customers. It still garners considerable attention when spotted in the wild.

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Our Munich sources tell us that BMW is working on significant updates for both models not for this year, but for the not-to-distant future. The i3, which will be available with a 33-kWh battery pack shortly, is set to receive a facelift in 2017 for the 2018 model year. There will be slight visual changes to the interior and exterior, but the best news is that the car will provide more performance. With the new, larger battery pack, tapping into the i3’s power is already easier than before. Clearly, BMW wants to start dominating stoplight races with its i3.

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Meanwhile, the i8 is confirmed to get a roadster derivative in 2018. Teased by a concept car at the CES show earlier this year, it will sustain the buzz around BMW’s three-cylinder supercar. Conceivably, BMW also could squeeze more power out of the hybrid powertrain. Both the internal-combustion engine and the electric motors have potential for more power, and a performance upgrade, accompanied by a chassis retuning to enhance agility and dial out understeer, would be a very welcome enhancement of this incredible-looking sports car. Meanwhile, the current i8 Protonic Red Edition, initially launched for the U.K. market, is now available globally, including in the U.S.

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