BMW is pressing forward with its plans to build a production version of the striking plug-in hybrid concept car it called Vision Efficient Dynamics, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2009.
According to reports filtering out of Germany, the model that goes on sale in October 2013 may be called the i8 and cost roughly $200,000.
BMW's "i" sub-brand, for which a logo was leaked a couple of weeks ago, stems from its uber-green "Project i" research program. The "i" name will also be applied to the radical "MegaCity" carbon-fiber all-electric car that's scheduled to launch in 2013. You could consider the "i" label the green counterpart to its "M" series of performance editions.
The company hasn't announced which "i" number the MegaCity Vehicle will carry, though betting is on either zero or one. But if the i8 label is confirmed for the Vision Efficient Dynamics, it would clearly position the production plug-in hybrid as a counterpart to BMW's 8-Series sports coupe.
When it was revealed, BMW said the Vision Efficient Dynamics would offer "the performance of an M vehicle" using a very different type of powertrain: a rear-mounted, 1.5-liter three-cylinder diesel engine, mated to a plug-in hybrid electric system that offered up to 31 miles of all-electric range.
Those performance stats include a 0-to-62-mph time of 4.8 seconds, and a top speed of 155 mph. But unlike any "M" model sold to date, the concept was said to return more than 62 miles per gallon.
The turbocharged diesel produces an output of 163 horsepower, and powers the rear wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, in combination with an electric motor. A second motor drives the front wheels as well, for an overall total power of 356 hp and a stunning 590 foot-pounds of torque.
The all-electric range gives the upcoming performance car the ability to operate within city cores where carbon-emitting vehicles are banned. Some European cities are already experimenting with such limits, including Paris, which will test its first emission-based bans next fall.
Both the i8 and the MegaCity will be previewed at the 2012 London Olympics, which BMW is sponsoring.