The i8 weighs only 3,285 pounds, a veritable feather among modern cars. That low weight comes from aluminum suspension elements and a carbon fiber body structure. As with the i3 model, BMW went to great lengths developing and sourcing the carbon fiber for this car. In a worldwide supply chain, the base material comes from Asia, undergoes processing into carbon fibers at a new plant in Washington state that benefits from abundant hydropower, then gets formed into body panels in Germany.
Using this material, BMW will get an early advantage working with carbon fiber in mass-production cars.
The hybrid drivetrain, called eDrive, shows BMW has bent its engineering expertise to the technology. A turbocharged direct-injection 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine drives the rear wheels, and BMW has managed to draw 231 horsepower from this tiny mill. Accentuating the power is a 96-kilowatt electric motor turning the front wheels. BMW writes that total drive system output comes out as 362 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.