Battery BMW i8 could give Tesla a sleek new rival

23 June 2016

BMW i8 fuel cell prototype

BMW is reportedly working on a pure battery version of its swoopy i8 sports car, to be sold alongside the current petrol-electric plug-in hybrid edition.

It’s not the first time an alternative i8 powertrain has been mooted – the BMW concept car that previewed the i8 was a diesel hybrid, petrolhead rumours have suggested that the i8’s batteries might be ditched entirely to make way for a V6 or V8, while BMW itself has chopped and stretched the i8 to squeeze in an experimental hydrogen fuel-cell system (pictured).

FCEV BMW i8 rear view

According to reports, which first seemed to surface in Australia, BMW plans to exploit its fuel-cell i8 design to build a BEV edition.

As well as altered exterior bodywork the hydrogen i8 featured a wider centre tunnel and other modifications to make room for the large tanks required to carry around 4kg of hydrogen gas compressed to 700 bar, plus a rear-mounted fuel cell stack.

FCEV i8 front view

The experimental i8 was built five years ago and tested for three years but was never intended to become a roadgoing product.

Now the hydrogen car’s more spacious chassis might play host to the equivalent of two battery packs from BMW’s i3 electric car – the recently upgraded 33kWh variety to boot. And perhaps even a little more. That would give the i8 sufficient reserves to cover about 250 miles and of course to challenge Tesla, which offers battery packs rated at between 60kWh and 90kWh.

BMW i8 rear view

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