BMW has produced more than 3 million engines at its Hams Hall, England, manufacturing plant. But none of those engines may be as important as its next one.
The German automaker recently confirmed a new turbocharged three-cylinder engine for use in its upcoming BMW i8 extended-range electric sports car. Expected to displace 1.5 liters, or exactly half as much as the 3.0-liter inline-6 used in BMW’s more mainstream offerings, BMW plans for the engine to make approximately 220 horsepower by itself or 349 horsepower when combined with the electric motor in the upcoming BMW i8. It BMW says that the combined powerplant should be able to deliver as much as 78 mpg; in the 3,600-pound BMW i8, it should be enough to power the car to 62 mph in right around five seconds flat.
Opened in 2001, the Hams Hall plant currently produces small-displacement gasoline engines for Mini’s lineup as well as for the BMW X1, 1 Series, and 3 Series. Rumor has had it the next-generation Mini Cooper would utilize a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, as well as future BMW 1 Series. The BMW i3 and several other cars are also expected to get the same engine in a few years.
What’s most important to note, however, is that the BMW i8 is, in fact, coming soon. Expected to cost upwards of $100,000, the all-carbon fiber sports car will usher in a host of new technologies for the German automaker. With it, BMW plans to make its “i” cars into something of an upscale green line akin to what Toyota has been able to pull off with its Prius family of vehicles. Debuting first in 2009 as the Concept Vision Efficient Dynamics, the BMW i8 reappeared in 2011 as a more production-viable car alongside the i3 city car. Earlier this year, its latest version, the BMW i8 Concept Concept Spyder, debuted in Beijing.
BMW has routinely teased with a 2013 or 2014 launch date, but no deadlines had been confirmed prior to this announcement of its engine going into production. Now, it finally seems the cogs at BMW are turning to get the i8 built.