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by Jay Traugott
Despite a huge investment in plug-in hybrid technology, BMW is still interested in building a more conventional supercar to celebrate its centenary in 2016.
It's no secret that BMW's i8 supercar will be reaching production soon. The thing is, the i8 is not your typical supercar. It's a plug-in hybrid utilizing lithium-ion batteries as its main power source. Yes, there will be a small 1.5-liter turbo five-pot there as well, but the powertrain is quite different from the V8, V10 or V12 engines you'd typically find in a supercar. Does this mean BMW is going soft on outright performance? Not in the least, according to a new report from Automobile magazine.
They're claiming that the German automaker is currently working on an M8 supercar, a new halo model that's due to arrive in time for its centenary in 2016. Details remain sketchy, but sources claim that BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer isn't wild about the idea given the high costs associated with developing a supercar. Dr. Friedrich Nitschke, who heads up the M division, apparently wants the project to go forward by finding ways to save money. By utilizing the i8's carbon/aluminum platform, the M8 could keep both cost and weight down, while a 600-horsepower V8 could translate to some rather rapid pace indeed.
In related BMW sports car news, CEO Reithofer has also killed off for good any hopes of a rear-drive Z2 roadster. Such a model has been rumored in the past, but the margins were apparently too narrow for Bimmer's bean-counters to consider approving a new small, rear-drive platform. The prospect of building a front-drive roadster, however, on its new small-car platform, does remain a possibility.