BMW’s i8 convertible will finally go into production, but not until 2018

BMW i8 Spyder concept
BMW has been teasing a convertible version of its i8 plug-in hybrid since before the current coupe model went into production, starting with the i8 Spyder concept (pictured above) all the way back in 2012. Now, BMW may finally be ready to pull the trigger on a drop-top i8.

During a press conference in Santa Monica, California, last week, BMW CEO Harald Krueger said the i8 convertible would arrive in 2018, reports Reuters. Krueger didn’t give any other details, but the convertible will likely arrive as part of a comprehensive update of the i8. While it still looks like it drove out of the future, the i8 has been in production since 2014 without significant changes, so a refresh within the next couple of years seems likely.

This isn’t the first time an i8 convertible has been mentioned in recent months. BMW unveiled a second i8 convertible concept at CES earlier this year, triggering more speculation that it was considering a production version. Called the i Future Interaction concept, that car was built primarily to show off BMW’s infotainment tech.

Read more: Mini teases first plug-in hybrid model

Mechanically, the i8 convertible shouldn’t be too different from the current i8 coupe. It will likely feature the same powertrain, including a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, electric motor, and lithium-ion battery pack. Some rearranging of the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body shell will be required, along with structural bracing to account for the loss of a fixed roof.

The i8 convertible could also benefit from upgrades reportedly planned for the current i8 coupe. The revised i8 could get a boost in both power and electric-only driving range, British car magazine Autocar reported earlier this year. Power output could rise from 357 horsepower to 420 hp. The production i8 could also adapt the 10-kilowatt-hour battery pack (replacing a 7.1-kWh pack) and wireless charging system from the current i8 Formula E pace car.

The refreshed i8 is expected to appear sometime next year, meaning BMW will able to incorporate any changes into the convertible in time for its 2018 arrival. In addition to the i8 and i3 electric car, BMW is expected to expand its “i” lineup with a new model called the i5 and a flagship model codenamed “iNext” in the near future.

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