Making their world premiere at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the BMW i3 and i8 may just be concepts, but point to a major push by the German automaker into the realm of electrified vehicles. In fact, BMW is so serious that its working towards an entire range of "i" branded alternative vehicles, sporting both electric and hybrid-electric powertrains.
As a full-electric car, BMW obviously has high hopes for the i3, naming it in line with its much-loved and best-selling 3 Series. Making 170-hp and 184 lb-ft of torque it can hit 60 mph in roughly 8 seconds and on to a top speed of 100 mph, making it functional for more than just city driving. With a unique regeneration system similar to that found on the MINI-E, even just laying off the throttle acts as a brake. Recharging the car's batteries takes just one hour for an 80 percent charge.
The i3 is also BMW's fist foray into the world of carbon fiber platforms, using a carbon fiber reinforced plastic chassis to keep weight to a somewhat reasonable 2,755 lbs.
More exciting, both to look at and to drive (we imagine) is the i8. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, it makes use of a modified version of the i3′s electric motor mated to the front wheels, while a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine delivers 223-hp to the rear axle. While that might not sound like a lot for a car that looks this impressive, BMW claims a 0-60 time of roughly 5 seconds.
With an onboard battery pack, the i8 has a zero-emissions range of 22 miles and BMW claims a 78-mpg rating.
Headed to production, look for the biggest changes to happen not with the powertrains, but with the interior and exterior styling. Those looking to park an electric BMW in their driveway won't have to wait too long either, with the i3 set to go on sale in 2013, while the i8 will arrive a year later.
Watch video of the i3 and i8 concepts from their Frankfurt debut after the jump:
More: BMW i3, i8 Headed to Dealers Starting in 2013: 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show [Video]