January 7, 2016
As a relative lone wolf, BMW is going to have to be flexible enough to fulfill the upcoming expectations of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) Standards. By 2021, companies will need to average 40-41 miles per gallon lest they face fierce fines. This should be easier for diverse companies like GM, Volkswagen, and Toyota who have a large spectrum of vehicles to balance out (i.e. the Bolt compensating for the Corvette, the VW eGolf for the Bugatti Veyron, and the Prius for the Supra (respectively)). That feat is much harder for mavericks lone rangers like Aston Martin; whose smallest engine is a V8 (which explains the Cygnet). To comply Aston Martin will release an electric Rapide. BMW on the other hand, relies on their new electric i division; to indemnify their M Power brethren; and cater to a different demographic. BMW’s M division is legendary, more so than any other in house performance company. Hennessy might make the Venom GT, which is the fastest (not) production car you can buy, but that has been around for years, yet no one has had the glaring lack of self-preservation instinct that it would require to drive a million dollar elongated Lotus Elise around Nüburgring Nordschleife. It seemed BMW’s M Powered play/proving ground a was going to close its doors to automakers. But the so called Green Hell has not closed indefinitely (as the owners had announced they would) following the widowing of an amateur’s wife. Thus, M4 GTS was able to set a lap time of 7:28 and further carve M Power accolades into Nordschleife. But that is old news for M division, it’s their bread and butter. They know if all else fails, they can always leave the adrenaline-addicted-track-junkies satisfied, but if BMW is to conform to the new CAFE regulations; they will need more than M power, they need electric Power. They started off rather strong with the i8, whose eclectic electric appearance commands attention if nothing else. The shape of the i8 is reminiscent of the old M1, and in many regards they are similar. In 1978, the M1 was designed to show what BMW could do with their take on a mid engined supercar. It may not have been the best supercar of the era, but it did debut important technology, and it was the best looking rarified Bimmer until the i8 was introduced almost 35 years later (unless you are a fan of the Z8). The i8 is also a supercar primogeniture of impending BMW technology. It could put a smile on any driver’s face; and leave impressive track times, but unfortunately it is not as gas efficient as some would have hoped. That is irrelevant, because the wait for one is no less flabbergasting, and the car’s technology is technically impressive. More importantly, the duty of actually being gas efficient was delegated to the i3. The i3 has more in common with the Cygnet, appearance-wise, but quality and efficiency-wise: no contest. The i3 is BMW’s actual answer to M Power; the hybrid electric town car was purposed designed for utter efficiency. Beyond mileage, the car’s weight is remarkable, while the interior space strains belief. The i3 is the size of a one series with the space of a three series. If the rumors are anything to be taken seriously; the i3 and i8 are only the first to join the incipient family. Both the i5 and i6 are slated to join in 2018 and 2020 sequentially. If that is true; the hybrid electric i family would serve BMW well as an atoner for M Power’s beautifully inefficient sins.