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2015 BMW i8 Production Starts, Final Specs Released For Plug-In Hybrid Supercar

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The 2015 BMW i8 is one of this year's most eagerly-anticipated cars, but there's not long to wait now as the first examples begin to roll from the production line.

The German automaker has also confirmed final specification details for the European market, including its official performance and economy figures.

Mounted behind the driver and passenger is a 1.5-liter TwinPower turbocharged gasoline engine producing 231 horsepower.

There's also a 96 kilowatt, or 131-horsepower, 184 lb-ft hybrid synchronous electric motor, for a combined 362-horse, 420 lb-ft output.

With a 5.2 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack, BMW claims a 23-mile all-electric range on the European test cycle, with a zero-emission top speed of 75 mph.

Beyond that the gasoline engine can take over boosting the top-end to a limited 155 mph. On the way, the i8 will have dispatched the 0-62 mph sprint in 4.4 seconds, with strong mid-range acceleration--50 to 75 mph takes 2.6 seconds.

MORE: Five Green Cars We Can't Wait To Drive

Other figures in the i8's armory are also low--the coupe's drag coefficient is 0.26, while carbon-fiber reinforced plastic construction keeps curb weight down to 3,273 pounds. For reference, that's lighter than a Nissan Leaf.

Combined, the light weight, slick aerodynamics and efficient drivetrain contribute to a 112 mpg combined economy figure and CO2 emissions of 49 g/km.

Of course, the i8's eventual EPA numbers will differ from these figures, thanks to differences in EPA and European testing procedures. Electric range too will be lower on the EPA cycle than it is in European testing.

For many though, the i8's stunning styling will sell the car, regardless of economy. And technology--the i8 will be the first production car available with laser headlights, more powerful and more efficient than current industry-leading LED units.

BMW says demand for the car is already exceeding planned production volume during ramp-up--just as the smaller i3 electric car has done in its early months.

The first European deliveries begin in June, with U.S. delivery details to follow.

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