The presumed successor of the now extinct i8 has been the talk of the town for some time now. It’s arguably been one of the most secretive concepts of its time too, with declarations of production fluid and ever-changing.

When the Vision M Next first debuted in June of last year, the community was quick to flag it as a possible successor to BMW’s first-ever plug-in supercar, the i8. The volume of speculation has only continued to propagate online since then, with enthusiasts pining for more details regarding the scope of the project, including more performance figures and technical specifics.

The Vision M Next on the drawing board.

BMW satiated our thirst for details when they revealed that the Vision M Next concept would have a 600-horsepower turbocharged inline-four, dual-electric eDrive motor setup, giving it the proper supercar status that the i8 arguably had lacked with its 369 horsepower. We were briefed on the concept’s three-second zero-to-60 time, 62-mile electric range, lightweight recycled-composite construction, and a beautifully-futuristic yet retro M1-inspired visage—but that was seemingly where the conversation had left off, until now.

As if the uncertainty of a 2023 production date and $160,000 price-tag wasn’t already enough, it now appears that the Vision M Next’s future isn’t as set in stone as the Munich-based offices had initially led us to believe. Granted, while the future production plans we have received over the past few months haven’t been as forthcoming as we would have liked them to be, the current state of the automotive industry during the coronavirus pandemic certainly isn’t doing the Vision M Next’s project trajectory any favors.

The i8 alongside the M1.

While the rumors remain unconfirmed, they are logical. The louver-adorned, supercar-competitor’s future was never a given. BMW has been struggling for some time now with the risk inherent to pushing the development of a low-volume, highly-specialized vehicle into a niche consumer market. Though all-electric automakers like Tesla are always an expected entrance to the luxury electric sports-car segment, the electric-supercar arena is not BMW’s forte—it’s simply a niche. The hesitation was there even before the quarantine wreaked havoc on automotive industries globally, and the current state of the world and the economy makes it likely that these rumors have some weight to them.

True or not, the community still remains divided as to whether or not the avant-garde plug-in supercar should be welcomed back to the BMW drawing board in the future. Perhaps an increase in consumer excitement for electric technology and autonomous driving features in the next few years will provide the German automaker with the assurance it needs to take the plunge. Until then, it looks like we may have to put our i8 M dreams on hold.—Malia Murphy

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]



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