The new generation of high-tech, 3-cylinder petrol engines for the forthcoming BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car will be produced exclusively at the BMW engine plant at Hams Hall, near Birmingham.

The Hams Hall plant, which was opened in February 2001, celebrated production of its three-millionth engine last week. Engines have been supplied to a range of BMW and MINI vehicles including the BMW X1, BMW 1 Series, the new BMW 3 Series as well as all MINI petrol engines.

The BMW i8 Concept, first shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, combines a 127bhp electric drive system – located in the front axle powering the front wheels, with a high performance 217bhp/220lb-ft 1.5-litre three cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine, to produce a total output of 344bhp and 300Nm of torque. Contrary to the initial announcement at last year’s Frankfurt show, the i8’s 3-cylinder engine is a petrol rather than diesel fueled.

The petrol/electric powerplant enables the i8 to accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 160 mph.

According to BMW, the average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle is approximately 78mpg, with a carbon dioxide emission rating of 99 g/km. Whilst its 7.2 kWh (26 MJ) lithium-ion battery pack enables the i8 to travel in zero-emission all-electric mode with a range of approximately 20 miles.

The i8 is part of BMW’s “Project i” and will be marketed as a new brand, BMW i, sold separately from the main BMW and MINI range. Due to enter production in late 2013, the 2+2 seat i8 sports car will be priced above £100,000.