LOS ANGELES — BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid sports cars will boast a big boost in battery capacity and range when they go on sale in the spring.
The i8 family now includes the 2019 i8 roadster, unveiled last week at the auto show here. The open-top two-seater joins a freshened version of the i8 coupe.
"This generation of plug-ins are far more usable than the previous generations," BMW global sales chief Ian Robertson told Automotive News.
BMW updated its eDrive technology for the 2019 i8 lineup, increasing horsepower to 369. Capacity and battery range are up, with both the roadster and coupe able to drive their first 18 miles in electric-only mode, nearly 30 percent farther than the outgoing coupe. Battery-cell capacity jumps to 34 ampere hours from 20, while gross energy capacity rose to 11.6 kilowatt-hours from 7.1.
The roadster is expected to dominate the sales mix in the i8 family.
"The higher percentage [of sales] will be in the roadster, definitely," said Robert Irlinger, head of BMW i. "If you're playing in that segment with the very expensive cars, it's always [that] you have to have the newest one."
Irlinger wouldn't reveal how BMW expects the mix to break down, but it is counting on the new roadster and face-lifted coupe to lift overall i8 sales significantly. In the U.S., i8 sales are down 72 percent through the first 10 months of 2017, with just 364 sold. BMW sold 2,265 i8s in the U.S. in 2015, the first full year the car was available.
Pricing will be announced closer to launch, but BMW says to expect the roadster to start at more than $150,000. The current i8 coupe starts at $144,395, including shipping.