BMW i8 Spyder Concept: Up Close With An Eco-Friendly Supercar

Eco-friendly cars get a bad reputation as trading fun for efficiency, but BMW is looking to change that with its i8 Spyder concept. The car, which saw its North American unveiling last night, is set to take to the road sometime in 2014 and will pack enough eco-friendly technology and power to satisfy green and speed freaks, alike.

We got up close and personal with the i8 Spyder and were impressed with the amount of tech BMW says they will include in the vehicle. The i8 Spyder marries a 96 kW (131 hp) electric motor with a 223 hp turbo charged three-cylinder for a car that gets a total of 354 hp and an estimated 87 miles per gallon fuel economy rating (on the European test cycle).

Charging the i8 Sypder's lithium-ion battery is expected to take just 1.45 hours and can give you up to 19 miles of electric-only driving.

A Teched-Out Interior

Inside, the i8 Spyder is just as teched-out as its powertrain. Two displays, a digital instrument cluster and an 8.8-inch Central Information Display, provide users with all pertinent information they need while behind the wheel. The instrument cluster offers drivers an in-depth look at how much energy they are using or regenerating while driving.

The display also provides information ranging from remaining driving range, to navigation details and whether the gas engine or electric motor is powering the car. BMW says the display will also switch colors from blue when the driver is operating the vehicle in ECO PRO mode to orange when in Sport mode.

The Spyder's Central Information Display, meanwhile, serves as a main telemetics and infotainment system and gives users a way to control the vehicle's various navigation and routing functions. A third display is used to control the climate control system.

Smartphone Connectivity

Building on the i8 Spyder's tech pedigree is its smartphone integration functionality. Using BMW's i App, users can remotely locate their vehicle from their iPhone or Android device, search for nearby charging stations, set predetermined times for when the i8's battery should charge and precondition the battery to warm up or cool down based on weather conditions.

Users will also be able to search for driving directions using the BMW i App and transfer the directions directly to the i8 Spyder's on-board navigation system.

One of the more interesting solutions BMW is working on is its automatic diary synchronization. Using this feature, drivers will be able to set an appointment on their smartphone, which the car will be able to "read" and, when plugged in, ensure that the battery is fully charge.

The Road Ahead

BMW says that the i8 Spyder concept will be headed to market in 2014. Company representatives further indicated that the concept on display will hit the road with roughly 90 percent of its current design intact. The biggest change will be the addition of two extra back seats. From what we saw, the i8 is shaping up to be a supercar that will impress both hardcore drivers and geeks alike.