BMW i8 Spyder: An Engineering Nightmare

There have been mixed reports in regards to the market launch of the BMW i8 Spyder. The Spyder, a roofless two seat sibling of the soon to launch i8 has reportedly been keeping engineers up late at night and may not be as cut an dry of a production vehicle as some outlets are pushing. On some levels we wonder if the recent “leak” that the i8 is being green lit for production was a feeler for interest as BMW internally debates if the necessary reengineering will yield enough buyers to warrant the increased R&D budget. The car is sure a looker but there may be complications under the skin.

This latest information comes via Autocar quoting BMW officials familiar with the development of the i8 Spyder that the car is presenting “major challenges” and in regards to the CFRP, “The last architecture presented some fairly major challenges, to be able to produce a convertible in that format. The rigidity was hard to find with that particular architecture.”

The BMW official also confrmed there is “no set time frame” for the market introduction of the i8 Spyder. At the concept’s debut in 2012 , BMW announced the i8 Spyder would make production in 2015. It would appear that may not happen.

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  • I assume the rigidity has to do with the components used to make the car so light weight in which turn doesn’t yield good enough results for a convertible that needs to be tested in case it flips and lands on its top?

    • Dr Obnxs

      Probably not…. Take the roof off the car and the “box” is destroyed. All the flex has to be done through the floor pan and the carbon fiber tub that they’ve made for the hardtop appears not to be stiff enough against twist when the top is removed. Only way to fix this is to really beef up the strength of the floor pan area, and that takes weight and strength. I’d guess that they are pulling their hair out deciding if they can make a new CF tub ($$$$$) or if they can graft on some high strength steel bits to get the rigidity back without having to make a whole new carbon chassis. Either decision sucks, and I can see why there is internal friction about what to do. And it’s too late to do it right. That would have been to design the tub to be a convertible first, and then put the roof onto an already rigid car to make it even more-so. Seems like BMW make it a minimalist chassis for the hard-top, and now they are screwed.

  • Herr26

    The car will launch in late 2015 but not arrive on the market till the 2nd half of 2016. As far as I know structural issues have been resolved but they have an extensive window for evaluation purposes.

  • Caracs

    I’m buying a coupe, no interest in a convertible. Deposit down, just waiting to hear about options.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      Couldn’t agree more. Convertibles just seem like after thoughts. Options in the US will be limited from all sources; Basically colors, trims and wheels. Everything else should be standard. The i3 has few options and packages and the with the target market and allocations for the i8 I would expect that BMW will max them out.

      I wish I was in the market for such as car- it truly is ground breaking and amazing. Congrats to you!

      • The i8 clearly is meant to be a halo car and not an every day used car so surely BMW doesn’t expect to do volumes with it. However, they equally I believe have to have a cabrio version because look how much good will Audi received with the R8 which has a cabrio version. So BMW also HAS to have one at some point as well.

        • BimmerFile_Michael

          I am not sure how “eco” a cabrio truly is- they are always heavier, aero is always worse. Not sure if it fits the i brands marketing push.

          • Dr Obnxs

            Then “i” needs to tune into the buying demographic more. Those that buy an i8 aren’t looking for the ultimate in efficiency, they are looking for an efficient luxury sports cruiser. They won’t care if the cabrio loses 5%-10% in range, because they want what they want and expect to get it. Build it, price it absurdly high, and sell a few. Everyone will be happy! But to not even offer it means that those that have the resources to get a sports toy like this will mean that those that want a great high tech topless GT driving experience will just go elsewhere. “Well, I can’t get the i8 topless, so maybe well get a Tesla to get the extra interior room”. or “I really wanted a topless toy, I guess I’ll just go buy an R8, or an SL, or a 6 series or a……..” Really, I live in an area where new tech is the food of life. The Tesla model S has taken root so firmly that I’ve only seen one new large BMW sedan in the area in a couple of years. And the Model S sold one of 6 cars in Atherton (home of the multi-million and billionaires).. Sure there aren’t enough fast chargers, but the affluent don’t care because they have more cars and they wanted the S. They bought it. If they want a convertible i8, and it’s available, they will buy it no matter the range. If BMW is choosing how to build cars based on anything other than what the affluent want ( at least on the high end offerings), they are drinking their own Kool-aid and will suffer the consequences.

          • I have to completely agree with this. Like the R8, the i8 is not mean’t to be practical. That’s why the i3 exists, for those who want an affordable car. The i8 instead is meant to be a driven marketing campaign for BMW by those who can afford and hopefully movie deals (hello, Audi has been in every blockbuster tim this past decade. Do we really not think that’s helped?) And a car like the i8 certainly fits that bill. Equally, on a car like the i8, the milage truly does not matter. If it did, nobody would buy a Ferrari, Lambo, or Hummer either and yet they do. Anybody who owns a $150k+ car owns more than one car and their least driven car will be the sports one, or even better, Cabrio so a hit in gas milage I don’t believe is a big deal at all.