When the idea of the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car was first unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009, the industry saw it as merely a concept — until four years later, when BMW followed with a production version.
At the time, the i8, which used a lithium-ion battery alongside a 3-cylinder engine and could reach 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, was really a pioneer in new territory. It ultimately sold 20,000 units, and BMW called it the world’s most successful sports car with an electrified system.
Despite this, BMW announced that it will permanently end the i8's production run next month, and it looks like this will pave the way for a different, more competitive electric car.
BMW needs to keep pace with the kind of full EV luxury development seen from the likes of Tesla and Audi, which is why the automaker announced in 2017 plans for the i4, a fully electric fastback sedan.
The i4 will reportedly utilize an 80kWh lithium-ion battery, allowing for a range of about 350 miles. It also features a quick charge of up to 80% capacity in just 35 minutes. The i4 is set for commercial release in 2021, and hopefully finds a wider audience, since the void left by the i8 is a $150,000 one … whereas Car & Driver expects the i4 to start around $50K.