According to the US’s Automobile Magazine, the company is planning a big push for all-electric vehicles (EVs) and plans to roll out extensive upgrades to its current line-up that includes the the i3 and the i8. It is also said to be adding a more conventional and long anticipated passenger car, dubbed ‘Project i20’ (not to be confused with Hyundai’s light car).
The next i8 will be in for a massive power boost, with reports claiming the current three-cylinder turbo petrol and electric motor layout to be dropped in favour of three high-performance electric motors producing a combined output of around 750hp (559kW) - which is in line with reports earlier this year that a fully electric i8 is under development.
In addition to the power boost and all-electric powertrain, Automotive Magazine says the next-generation i8 will have four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, torque vectoring and an active suspension system that scans the road ahead for imperfections.
Meanwhile, Project i20 is said to be based on an evolution of the company’s new Carbon Core platform, which has already debuted in the 7 Series limousine, and uses a combination of high-strength lightweight materials, including carbon-fibre, steel and aluminium - as the full carbon-fibre construction seen in the i3 and i8 is quite expensive.
According to the report, the production model is likely to be called i5 or i6, and will be a bigger, prettier, more aerodynamic version of the current i3 - although previous reports have pointed to an SUV design. The production version of Project i20 is also expected to feature BMW’s most advanced autonomous technology systems yet.
Both the i8 and the i3 are expected to be replaced around 2022, making the current models nearly 10 years old by that time.
The company is said to be looking at three directions for the next-generation i3. The first being a carbon-fibre construction similar to the current car, which will be yet more expensive than the already pricey current model. Second is an all-aluminium body, while the third is a blend of several different materials.
These next-generation electric BMW’s are still some time away, however, and many things can change between now and 2021.
In the meantime, an updated BMW i3 is on its way, due in Australia by the end of the year. The updated EV will feature a greater driving range and a higher-density battery pack.
With the new tech, the new all-electric i3 is claimed to have almost the same driving range as the current range-extended variant - around 300 kilometres.
Meanwhile, the i8 is set to get a significant update sometime next year, with a power boost, and a refreshed look for BMW’s flagship supercar.
A drop-top roadster body is expected to make a debut, along with a more powerful battery pack to bring a combined output of around 313kW - which is a significant improvement over the current model’s 266kW - and should help the i8 to crack the 4.0-second barrier in the 0-100km/h benchmark sprint (which currently stands at 4.4 seconds).
Above: 2012 i8 Spyder concept
Rumours suggest a wireless charging system could also be part of the upgrade, along with new front and rear suspension.
The updated i8 is expected to debut by the year’s end - possibly at the Paris motor show in October - which should coincide with the roadster's reveal.
Despite the 2016 reveal, it’s unlikely the new i8 will be hitting local showrooms until at least late 2017 or early 2018.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for more updates as new information comes to hand.
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