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BMW i8 electric car is lean, green and meaner than ten Simon Cowells

Electric cars are criticised for their limited range and slow recharge times, but we're willing to forgive those foibles when they come in a package that looks as good as the BMW i8.

Rory Reid

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Electric cars are often criticised for their limited range, questionable eco-friendliness and lengthy recharging times. But we're willing to forgive those foibles when they come in a package that looks as awesome as the BMW i8.

The i8, part of the company's new planet-friendly 'i' sub-brand, is based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept unveiled last year. Whereas that car looked like a giant, automotive-inspired training shoe, the i8 looks like Bruce Wayne's weekend runabout. It's long, low-slung and meaner than Simon Cowell at a Milli Vanilli concert.

The i8 only provides enough room for a driver and one passenger. Those who are fortunate enough to travel in this machine will be able to enjoy a plethora of space-age tech. On the passenger side, BMW's installed a large, wide-screen display, whose image appears to be projected from within the dashboard onto its surface.

From what we saw, the display is of a very good standard, offering a high enough resolution for passengers to enjoy movie playback. How much energy this saps from the on-board batteries remains to be seen.

The instrument binnacle on the driver's side is devoid of mechanical needles. Instead, it uses a large virtual display to indicate the vehicle's speed, navigation information and other pertinent driving data.

The i8 is powered by an electric motor that should deliver in the region of 150-170bhp. That's significantly lower than the Tesla Roadster's whopping 248bhp. The i8 should be relatively quick, though. BMW's used lashings of carbon fibre in its construction to offset the weight of the battery, and promises it will deliver the "sporting ability of a high-performance machine". Let's just hope the machine BMW's referring to isn't a hairdryer.

BMW says the car's range will be in the region of 100 miles, which is about the norm for a city-dwelling electric car. This is, in a sense, quite reassuring, as it indicates that the battery pack in the i8 is relatively small and won't contribute too massively to the car's overall price -- whatever that ends up being.

Pictures, as ever, are located in our photo gallery above.

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