2016 BMW i8Enlarge Photo
BMW's next all-electric car could be a variant of the i8 plug-in hybrid coupe.
The German carmaker currently offers only one all-electric model—the i3 hatchback—and there have been rumors of a second, likely called i5.
But BMW is apparently considering an all-electric i8 in addition to a completely new electric model.
It plans to build a prototype all-electric i8, although it has not committed to any further steps toward production, reports Britain's Autocar magazine.
This prototype would use three electric motors for propulsion in place of the standard i8 powertrain—which includes a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine and a single electric drive motor.
As in the standard i8, one electric motor will power the front wheels, while two motors will take over the job of gasoline engine, driving the rear wheels.
BMW i8 hydrogen fuel cell conceptEnlarge Photo
While the standard i8 has a total-system output of 357 horsepower in hybrid mode, Autocar reports that the prototype's electric motors will make 268 hp each.
These motors will reportedly be more compact than the current i8 motor.
The prototype will also reportedly get similar chassis modifications to the i8-based hydrogen fuel-cell prototype BMW unveiled last year.
ALSO SEE: BMW Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Prototypes Now Testing, Production "Sometime After 2020" (Jul 2015)
There is no official word from BMW on the production prospects of an all-electric i8, but the existing plug-in hybrid model is expected to get a significant update soon.
That will likely include greater electric range, courtesy of a larger battery pack.
Autocar believes BMW may swap in the 9.0-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion pack from the X5 xDrive40e SUV to replace the current i8's 7.1-kWh pack.
BMW i8 Formula E pace carEnlarge Photo
BMW could also add the Qualcomm wireless charging installed on the current i8 Formula E pace car to production models.
Aside from those changes, some suspension tweaks and the possible addition of carbon-fiber wheels are also rumored.
This refreshed version of the i8 may appear sometime in 2017, with any production all-electric version arriving sometime after that.
[hat tip: Max Looker]