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BMW shuns all-electric sports car

By Daniel DeGasperi, 02 May 2018 News


Battery technology can provide performance, not dynamics, according to BMW

Headlines around the world may have proclaimed Tesla as the star of electric vehicle (EV) performance, but an executive from its rival BMW i Division has pertinently pointed out that there is a world of difference between straight-line acceleration and handling.

Answering questions about why BMW i – which for the last five years has only sold the i3 EV and hybrid i8 Coupe –  has not yet produced a challenger to Tesla, BMW i8 project manager Markus Pluntke states that batteries are not good enough to deliver sports-car handling.

Indeed while the company’s i8 Coupe delivers a 4.4-second 0-100km/h claim, versus 2.9sec for a Model S P100D, he claims that “for a sports car it’s more than 0-100km/h acceleration … it's really about cornering.”

“You do not want to put an 800-to-900 kilogram battery pack into a sports car to get the power, and we don’t want a sports car that would be like limited to where the customer lives and maybe just to take it out of the garage, show it off a little and then bring it back,” he tells MOTOR at a recent BMW i event in Europe.

“I think the battery technology one day could be good to do a really proper sports car. But … it’s about weight, weight distribution, and the very stiff body [of i8].”

Where a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder/electric motor i8 Coupe weighs 1535kg, for example, the battery pack in the Model S P100D contributes to a hefty 2241kg kerb weight.


The upshot is that while battery technology has now become good enough to potentially allow for a longer range in some vehicles, there is still a lose-lose situation for a sports car buyer – the batteries are still heavy, yet a powerful electric motor will drain them quickly.

Worthy Watch: Model S P100D v Aventador SV drag race

Plunkte promises, however, that “there will always be an electrified sports car by BMW” but that plug-in petrol-electric technology will still evolve for a long period of time from within the engineering halls of its Munich headquarters.

The ultimate goal, he reiterates, would have to be fast performance, long range and also a kerb weight figure that does not start with a ‘2’.

“We [will continue to] do a sports car that needs to be a proper usable sports car as the i8 is,” he says.

“Battery technology is evolving fast [and] I’m confident that there will be a day when you can do a pure electric sports car with enough range, with enough power and without having exceeded a two-tonne weight overall.

“[But] we will see when this technology moves to that point.”

BMW i Vision Dynamics medium liftback concept shown.

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