If you just heard a collective groan between your ears, chances are you’re part of the collective masses that just heard about BMW’s plan to offer less than 500 i8 sports cars in North America. We already knew from the start that BMW had no plans of mass-producing the i8, but just 500 earmarked for North America?
But no matter how disappointing that is, it probably won’t dissuade BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch from adding more models in the NA inventory in the near future. That could change if the hybrid supercar sells like hot pancakes, but for now, it’s only sending 500 to North America.
So what’s the rationale behind it? Willisch didn’t elaborate on that so we’re assuming that BMW wants to test the North
American market first on how it receives the i8 when it arrives. It might be ridiculous to imagine why a car so lauded as the i8 needs to "test a market" but remember, BMW is essentially venturing into uncharted territory with this model, developing it as a hybrid that promises the best in performance and efficiency.
On top of that, the i8 isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Starting price is at $136,625, including shipping, so it’s not like people will just line up to buy the car when sales begin in August 2014.
Or maybe they will, which explains why it’s weird for BMW to limit the allotment of i8s to just 500 in North America.
Click past the jump to read more about the BMW i8.
Why It Matters
In the bigger scheme of things, this initial allotment of 500 units probably won’t mean a lot if sales of the i8 are hot. BMW could just say it’s sending more models in the US and Canada. But the first wave of i8 models, if you can call it that, does give an indication that BMW’s expectations are iffy for the hybrid sports car in this region.
The production-version BMW i8 made its world debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show after a series of concept cars were revealed in the previous years.
The i8 is powered by a hybrid powertrain that combines a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine that delivers 231 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels while an electric motor that produces 131 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque drives the front ones.
With a combined output of 362 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, the i8 goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and sprints to a top speed of 155 mph.
On the U.S. market the i8 is priced from $135,925.