BMW’s convertible i8 Spyder may return for CES 2016

BMW i8 Spyder concept front angle

The BMW i8 Spyder may finally make the transition from concept car to production model. BMW showed an i8 Spyder concept (pictured above) way back in 2012 at the Beijing Motor Show, but so far only the plug-in hybrid coupe has gone into production.

The convertible i8 may get another chance, though. BMW CEO Harald Krüger has been discussing the debut of another i8 Spyder concept at CES in January, according to Autocar. This concept could incorporate changes needed to make the i8 Spyder production feasible, something the original concept apparently wasn’t.

In 2013, BMW reportedly said the i8 Spyder was presenting “major challenges” to engineers. Apparently, slicing the roof off the i8’s carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body was easier said than done. The i8 has a somewhat unusual design, combining a CFRP body with a separate aluminum frame that holds the powertrain and suspension components. While the i8 coupe went on sale in the U.S. as a 2015 model, BMW quickly let the i8 Spyder slip down its list of priorities.

If it does go into production, the i8 Spyder should be mechanically identical to the coupe. That means a plug-in hybrid powertrain built around a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, with a combined 375 horsepower. The i8 coupe can do 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph, but the Spyder will probably be a little slower. Convertibles are generally heavier due to the need for extra structural bracing needed to account for the missing roof.

CES 2016 is looking to be one of the most car-centric ever. In addition to the rumored i8 Spyder concept, Faraday Future will unveil a concept version of the Tesla-rivaling electric car it plans to launch in 2017. General Motors is expected to bring the production version of the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and Audi will unveil its own concept car.