BMW confirms i8 Roadster hybrid debut for LA auto show

The convertible version of the BMW i8 hybrid sports car makes its debut in Los Angeles, three years after the original.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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BMW i8 Roadster manufacturing

Three years after the launch of the i8 coupe, BMW will debut a Roadster version of the hybrid sports car.


BMW released images today showing its i8 Roadster model under construction, with a promise that the new model will debut at the Los Angeles auto show, right after Thanksgiving weekend. Given the two-seater sports car format of the original i8, an open-top version seemed inevitable.

The i8's 2014 launch puts the Roadster model three years behind, although for a low volume, high cost sports car, the timing isn't a surprise.

BMW i8 Roadster manufacturing
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BMW i8 Roadster manufacturing

From this photo, it appears the i8 Roadster uses a retractable hard top, with a single panel over the cabin.


The original i8 model helped launched BMW's i sub-brand, which includes the electric i3, and serves as a production testing ground for advanced technologies. The i8 relies heavily on carbon fiber for its structure and body, technology which also found its way into the latest 7-Series. The i8 also makes use of a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain, with a small gasoline motor powering the rear wheels and an electric motor for the front wheels. 

BMW released little information beyond a few photos of the i8 Roadster. The company does not say whether the new model will have a revised drivetrain, or if BMW updated its iDrive cabin electronics to the latest version.

From the photos, however, it looks like it uses a power-retractable hard top, with a panel over the cabin that lifts up and stows away in back. A carbon fiber roof panel would be particularly light, making for little weight shift in the car when stowed. 

It is difficult to tell from the photos if the i8 Roadster retains the tiny rear seats of the i8 coupe.

The i8 Roadster will debut during the Los Angeles auto show preview days, running from Nov. 27 to Nov. 30.

BMW i8 is still absolutely gorgeous

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