It was early September 2019 when BMW quietly announced the scheduled demise of its plug-in hybrid sports car with the unveiling of the i8 Ultimate Sophisto special edition pictured below. The Bavarians never actually revealed a specific date, but a report published at the beginning of this year by Autocar said the electrified machine would bow out in April. Fast-forward to the present day, BMW is making the official announcement – assembly of the i8 will come to an end by the middle of April.
Launched about six years ago, the i8 reached an important production milestone in December 2019 when the 20,000th car rolled off the assembly line at the factory in Leipzig, Germany. That number is prompting BMW to say the i8 is effectively the best-selling electrified sports car of all time once you factor in sales of both the coupe and roadster.
These two are some of the most expensive models in BMW's portfolio, with the i8 Coupe kicking off at $147,500 and the i8 Roadster at $163,300. The other car in the lineup to have a similar price tag is the M760i xDrive, a $157,700 fullsize luxury sports sedan with nine more cylinders from its massive V12 engine compared to the small 1.5-liter of the i8.
Speaking of engines, the BMW i8 initially had a diesel when you take into account the original Vision EfficientDynamics concept from 2009 had a three-cylinder turbodiesel engine working with an electric motor for each axle. The hybrid arrangement offered a combined output of 351 horsepower and 590 pound-feet (800 Newton-meters) of torque.
The production version that followed in 2014 offered 357 hp and 420 lb-ft (570 Nm) by combining the gasoline-fueled three-pot with an electric motor. An updated i8 with 369 hp and the same amount of torque came out in 2018 when the battery pack's capacity grew from 7.1 kWh to 11.6 kWh. The car's last hurrah is the aforementioned Ultimate Sophisto available in both body styles and limited to 200 cars featuring an assortment of styling tweaks.