A dark, semi-transparent V shape rises out of the bonnet, guiding the eye to the electric motor.
The BMW i8 Concept Spyder's rippling bodywork forms a voluptuous cloak over the ultra-light structure. A dark, semi-transparent V shape rises out of the bonnet, guiding the eye to the electric motor below, and extends towards the rear to provide a visual connection between the car's different sections
(Image credit: Press)

The BMW i8 Concept Spyder makes a dramatic first impression. From the doors that swing upwards like wings to reveal the elegant carbon-fibre cabin, through to the curvaceous, sinew-like bodywork, every element showcases innovation and change.

BMW is at the forefront of this new wave of automotive technology, having spent years developing what will stand alone as an all-new sub-brand, BMW i, to launch worldwide in 2013. BMW's i cars represent a massive technological advance, but they also retain BMW’s core values at their heart, ensuring that desire remains an integral element of the next generation of cars.

The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is the third vehicle to debut under the BMW i name, alongside the original BMW i8 and smaller BMW i3. The open-topped two-seater combines supercar performance with supermini frugality - it's next-generation technology swathed in a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic body shell, nipping and tucking its way around the structure to form a voluptuous cloak.

BMW has drawn on the aesthetic language of auto, aero and architectural design to create these new cars, exploiting the potential unwrapped by CAD modelling, prototyping and parametric design. The elegance of the form demonstrates the flexibility of BMW’s newly engineered eDrive architecture, the drivetrain at the heart of all BMW i models, coupled with ultra-light bodywork and chassis.

Lightness is the only sensible strategy for electric and hybrid mobility, given the weight penalty incurred by modern battery technology: make a car light and strong, and you make it efficient. The battery pack's low centre of gravity and eDrive's instant delivery of power create a dynamic, sporting experience, two qualities that are an integral part of BMW’s brand DNA.

‘This car is about the experience of driving an electric car with an open roof without engine noise,’ says BMW i’s head of design, Benoit Jacob. The i8 Concept Spyder offers highly competitive performance, with a top speed of 155 mph and the ability to reach 62mph from rest in just five seconds. Yet fuel consumption is 94 mpg and the car can travel 19 miles on electric power alone.

Hardware and software are coming together to shape the way we use our cars. BMW i is at the forefront of this new era of digitally-driven mobility, making our pathways through cities more efficient and pleasurable. The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is modernism defined, a synthesis of design and technology that will soon be taking to the roads.

The BMW i8 Concept Spyder's doors swing upwards like wings, revealing the elegant carbon-fibre cabin

Their shape accentuated by a blue flourish, The BMW i8 Concept Spyder's doors swing upwards like wings, revealing the elegant carbon-fibre cabin. Occupants sit in a highly integral position, low in the car, and are separated by the battery, which runs lengthways through the interior

(Image credit: Press)

Backside of a BMW i8

'The concept's rear fender goes in every direction; its a complex design that uses only a single piece of thermoplastic. It would be impossible to achieve using conventional construction processes,' says Benoit Jacob, BMW i's head of design

(Image credit: Press)

Full View of BMW i8

The use of LifeDrive technology leaves plenty of space in the package for two kickboard electric scooters designed 'to get you the last extra mile in a clever, efficient manner'

(Image credit: Press)

The BMW i8 Concept Spyder.

The BMW i8 Concept Spyder carries a full suite of next-generation in-car connectivity technology, including a collision warning system, automated parking assistant and even a traffic jam assistant

(Image credit: Press)

Silver colour BMW car.

'The BMW i3 and i8 have a shape language that's different from BMW cars, because the materials and technologies are different. LifeDrive, carbon fibre, composites - they all save weight and give us totally new options and ways of building a car' says Jacob

(Image credit: Press)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.