Yet for all its greenness, the i8 handles like a sports car and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, Willisch said.
The all-wheel-drive i8 has an electric motor that powers the front wheels and puts out 129 hp. It also has a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine that powers the rear wheels and has an additional 228 hp. The combination of engines can deliver 357 hp.
Final EPA numbers aren't available, but BMW estimates the i8 can go 22 miles on just electric power from its lithium ion battery. It has an estimated combined fuel economy rating of 94 mpg. The lightweight sports car weighs 3,285 pounds.
Most of the aluminum used in the i8 is recycled or produced using renewable energy. The doors weigh 50 percent less than those of a conventional car because they use aluminum and carbon fiber. The instrument panel is made of magnesium and weighs 30 percent less than one in the 6-series coupe, convertible and sedan.
BMW says the i8 is the first volume-produced car to have chemically hardened thin glass -- which is primarily used in smartphones because of its strength. This glass is used between the passenger compartment and the trunk and is just 0.7 millimeters thick. The glass weighs half as much as traditional laminated glass.