BMW i8 Concept. Harald Krueger. Electric Hybrid. The Future?


So, other than decent performance and brand new technology, what do customers worldwide expect from the i8? “There is plenty of interest but I don’t underestimate the concerns that customers have, whether range or battery anxiety or new technology anxiety,” said Dr Robertson. “Governments will play a fundamental role in the initial stages. In several European countries there are incentives and therefore you’ll see a bigger take up. The electric car market has grown from 10,000 to 90,000 but it’s in its infancy. However, by 2020 zero emission vehicles will be part of most car fleets, either through electricity, or hydrogen, or plug-in hybrids attached to a combustion engine.”


There’s unlikely to be the same rush towards an electric power infrastructure in the Middle East as is being seen in the West, but that doesn’t mean that regional users can’t be accommodated.

“There are some challenges in Asia particularly when it comes to infrastructure,” Dr Robertson admitted. “But it’s a little bit of a red herring. Electricity is on every street corner in every city, it’s an understood technology, so some kind of junction to connect it to your car isn’t difficult.

“Some customers have said they need extra range for going on holiday. No problem, we’ll lend you an X5 for a couple of weeks as part of the leasing contract. We’ve started to think through all the potential questions people have and have solutions ready for launch.”


BMW expects competition in this new segment from its current rivals, but Dr Robertson was bullish about its current position. He believes the firm’s significant investment in the new technology – including a new carbon fibre plant in the USA – puts it ahead of its rivals, both in terms of current and future i cars and the development of more traditional vehicles as the cost of carbon development and battery technology comes down. “We are pioneering a new concept and new technology here, high volume carbon fibre that’s never been done before. That gives us a competitive advantage. Some of our rivals have talked long and hard about what they’re going to do and then haven’t done it.

“We are almost at the point of launch and we now have lightweight and electrical technologies that will wash back onto conventional mainstream cars in the near term.”


Can electric power make an impression here in the Middle East? Without a concerted desire from the public to reduce fuel bills it won’t be an easy task. But BMW has invested heavily and is very confident in its new products. It took some 25 years for the combustion engine to become popular, so these are as of yet early days for the electric car.

Perhaps you think differently though:

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– Shots courtesy of BMW

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