BMW's i8 hybrid supercar may gain tech from Formula E safety car cousin

Plug-in super coupe could receive performance upgrades being tested on a race series pace car.

Steven Tee

BMW's i8 coupe still looks like it's from a few years into the future, even though it's actually been in production since 2014. But that doesn't mean the plug-in hybrid sports coupe is immune to the ravages of time -- especially where its electrified powertrain is concerned. Fortunately, BMW is reportedly readying an updated mid-cycle model with more power and an improved battery pack.

That's according to enthusiast site BMWBlog, which claims the freshened butterfly-door'd sports car will reach dealers next year with 372 horsepower (today's model churns out 357 ponies from its 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and eDrive motor). In addition, the report indicates the car's current 7.1-kWh lithium-ion battery is likely to give way a more-capacious pack, perhaps the 10.0-kWh array currently being used in BMW's official i8 Formula E safety cars. Today's i8 only has a modest 15-mile electric range, so a larger battery would be a very welcome improvement.

It isn't immediately clear what -- if any -- visual modifications can be expected for the upgraded i8, but BMWBlog thinks it's safe to assume that some running gear changes will figure into the equation, potentially also drawn from BMW's Formula E safety car learnings.

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BMW's i8 safety car at the FIA Marrakesh ePrix.

BMW

BMW did not immediately respond to request for comment on the future of the model range.

With a starting price of $140,700, today's i8 was never designed to be a high-volume car, but even still, it's been something of a slow seller for the Bavarian automaker. According to industry sales watchdog GoodCarBadCar, just 1,461 i8s have been sold in the US through November of this year.

Despite its modest showroom traction thus far, BMW is undoubtedly hoping to further burnish the halo of its technological flagship. Not only is an updated coupe waiting in the wings, a long-awaited topless variant is also expected to bow soon.

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