Following on the heels of the BMW i3 and BMW i8 Coupe, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder is set to make its public debut at the Beijing Motor Show later this month. Newest offering to emerge from the automaker's ambitious i sub-brand operation, this kicky exercise in plug-in hybrid mobility puts an open-air, two-seat spin on the basic design elements of the i8 Coupe while adding a few nifty unique touches of its own.

Based on the same lightweight Modular LifeDrive architecture as the i8 Coupe, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder has a slightly shorter wheelbase and overall length. However, it embodies the same kind of dramatic and dynamic interlocking exterior contours to make an even lower-slung but higher-profile styling statement. Like its closed counterpart, the i8 Concept Spyder also features a full complement of contact surfaces, spoiler lips, AirCurtains and aeroflaps to help reduce drag and extend range. The windowless doors on this distinctive one-off pivot off its A-pillar and swivel up to open while the rear deck area features a transparent cover that shows off a pair of electric kickboards that BMW deems "perfect for relaxed cruising along promenades and paths or around city squares."

Inside, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder reprises many of the design cues introduced in the i8 Coupe, including the "tri-level" execution that contains the supporting structure, seating and the instrumentation/controls, respectively. Here, the cabin is rendered in a mix of plastic, carbon fiber and leather, and gets a new feel by matching off-white with the natural tone orange/brown leather.

Motivation for the BMW i8 Concept Spyder comes from the same gasoline/electric combination used in the i8 Coupe. A 131-horsepower electric motor energized by a lithium-ion battery pack in the car's central "energy tunnel" sits underhood and drives the front wheels while a TwinTurbo Power three-cylinder engine that makes 223 horses sends that force to the rear wheels. The car's intelligent control electronics package allows that mix to be used independently or in concert to optimize overall performance under all driving conditions. Total system output is rated at 354 horsepower, allowing the 3,594-pound i8 Concept Spyder to sprint from 0-60 mph in less than 5.0 seconds and hit an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. With its battery topped off, the Concept Spyder can travel 19 miles using just electric power, and plug-in refills take just two hours on a 240V line. One-the-fly replenishment also is available using the car's extremely efficient regenerative braking system and/or by having the engine serve as a high-voltage alternator.

No word yet as to if or when the BMW i8 Concept Spyder will see production.

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