BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid coupe will get the equivalent of 80 mpg but will be marketed as a fire-breathing Porsche- and Ferrari-fighter, not a rival of the Tesla Model S electric car, says BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch.
"We aren't talking supertanks," Willisch said, referring to the Tesla's curb weight of 4,647 pounds. "We are talking supercars."
Specifications for the carbon-fiber i8, which debuts at the Frankfurt auto show next month, haven't been released but the concept version weighs about 3,200 pounds.
The i8, a 2+2 seater with gull-wing doors, goes on sale in the United States in the second quarter of 2014. The car has been seen only as a concept.
Despite the i8's fuel efficiency, Willisch said it "will compete with supercars with its looks and driving performance."
The i8 will be powered by a 131-hp electric motor and a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine that generates about 220 hp. BMW said the concept could reach a top speed of 155 mph and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.
Willisch would not disclose a price but BMW executives have said the i8 will be priced at more than $110,000 and go as high as $150,000.
BMW has shown a concept i8 Spyder but decided against producing the open-top model.