BMW vs. Tesla – A Future Rivalry? Tesla CEO Laughs at BMW i3

BMW i, Featured Posts | August 12th, 2013 by 29
Tesla-Model-S-vs-BMW-M5

With the launch of the new BMW i3, the Munich-based automaker has officially entered a new premium segment, this time the challenging one of electric …

With the launch of the new BMW i3, the Munich-based automaker has officially entered a new premium segment, this time the challenging one of electric vehicles. While the other premium automakers are working on their own mass production electric vehicles, BMW is finding itself in a position where it could crash course with the California-based Tesla Motors.

While the new BMW i3 electric car is not competing for the same customer as the Tesla Model S, future German-engineered models may create a BMW – Tesla rivalry. A BMW i5 electric model is said to be in works and other future i models could follow, as indicated by the BMW trademarks for the i1 through i9 naming conventions.

BMW vs. Tesla   A Future Rivalry? Tesla CEO Laughs at BMW i3

A future i7 sedan (or whichever badge will be sold under) is most likely on the drawing boards at BMW and with their extensive knowledge in CFRP and now hybrid and electric drivetrains, will eventually be used to build Tesla competitors.

One of those vehicle, even though in hybrid form, is the BMW i8, a vehicle that position itself at the high-end of the electric premium segment and one that will have similar customers to the Tesla Model S: early adopters, tech-driven 30+ old entrepreneurs and those that embrace the latest and greatest in non-conventional drivetrains. Both Model S and i8 come with a premium price and options, and both offer the performance of a sports car with the highest efficiency possible.

TEST DRIVE: Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S is already a star. Among other awards, the Model S won the 2013 “Motor Trend Car of the Year”, the 2013 “World Green Car”, Automobile Magazine’s 2013 “Car of the Year”, and Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award. About 2,650 Model S cars were sold in the U.S. during 2012, and 4,900 units during the first quarter of 2013, allowing the Model S to become the top selling plug-in electric car in North America during the first quarter of 2013, ahead of the Chevrolet Volt with 4,421 units, and the Nissan Leaf with 3,695.

But despite all these accomplishments, BMW should actually feel happy with Tesla’s success. The California-based automaker is doing most of the marketing legwork for now and is proving that the electric vehicle market can and it will be successful. It also validates the fact that consumers are willing to trade the driving range anxiety for the enhanced and futuristic driving experience.

Now back to the BMW i3 topic. Without a doubt, the BMW i3 does not have a rival in the current Tesla lineup. The small EV caters to large metropolitan areas and it is BNW’s first serious attempt at a fully electric vehicle. But that hasn’t stopped Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, to giggle at the BMW i3 topic when asked by an analyst during the quarterly earnings conference call.

Musk was asked to give his opinion on the i3 and after a fairly long chuckle, Musk said the i3 has ways to go.

“I’m glad to see did BMW is bringing in electric car to market. That’s cool. There’s room to improve on the i3 and I hope that they will.”

According to Business Insider , Musk was followed by laughter inside his room which caused more giggling from the Tesla CEO. It lasted about 10 seconds. He then eventually finished his speech:

“I really do Encourage other manufacturers to bring electric cars to market. It’s a good thing, and they need to bring it to market and keep on iterating and Improving and make better and better electric cars, and that’s what going to result in Humanity Achieving a sustainable transportation future. I wish it was growing faster than it is. ”

So there you have it. Even Musk knows that one day, sooner or later, the two companies will compete for the same market so it remains to be seen which one can innovate faster and deliver on their promises.

In the comments section below, share with us your thoughts.

  • Giorgi Gogua

    at this moment tesla model s is beter car then i8 or i3

    • Faust

      How is Model S better than i8, a car that hasn’t even been introduced let alone put in production.

    • sranger

      And it is at least $28,000 more expensive….

      The Models S is a great car, but so is this i3…

      It will appeal to many people for what it is. A good luxury city EV…

  • digivue

    At this stage of EV technology, I would really pass on any of them including Tesla.

  • Rob

    The Tesla is awesome to drive, but still not a viable option until they can charge it in 5 minutes and have charging stations at every gas station. It is still a very niche market and that is what BMW is catering to, the i8 will be a usable car that you can dry anywhere and not be stranded waiting for a charge all day. The i3 is a city car, more competitive with something like the Volt and much cheaper than the Tesla for a plug in car.

    Either way, the i3 and i8 and Tesla are much different cars. As good as the Tesla is, if BMW decided to build an all electric 5 series, they probably could build a better car.

    • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

      But the question is: will they compete in a few years?

    • bfd

      Rob wrote:

      I disagree. Tesla is building their supercharger infrastructure (hyperloop?) using DC instead of AC and supposedly can charge a car in 20 minutes. Basically, go somewhere, get a cup of coffee/drink and by the time you’re finish, the car is charged. Further, if that is too slow, Tesla allows you to exchange the battery pack for a fresh one and is designed to swap the battery in something like 90 seconds! Now these battery pack exchanges will cost more money, versus a DC supercharge, but if you’re in a hurry…

      Agree, i3 and Tesla S are apples and oranges. No comparison should be done.

      The Tesla is the leader in high end sport sedans. If you get the performance package, 0-60 is like 4-4.5 seconds. I haven’t driven one, but if they can get it to handle like a BMW, then they got something….Good Luck!

    • sranger

      And if they got it to recharge in 5 minutes you would have it has to be 1 minute. The Model S and i3 can hit 90% charge in 20-30 minutes with the right charger…

  • Kommodore

    It seems like Tesla is putting all its eggs in one basket with battery technology. Nobody seems to understand that batteries are a fad. An intermediate solution.

    Along comes the BMW i-lineup and here we have cars that you can fill up with fuel, OR charge. It’s infinitely more practical, and it makes more sense because electrical infrastructures don’t exist. You can charge it at home, if you want, and in case you need the gasoline power, it’s available! How far apart are the furthest gas stations on average? Maybe 75-100 miles at the most?

    You might think well, they’re going to do this thing that allows you to drive across the country. How often do you do that? If you can make a car that runs on batteries alone go for 8-900 miles, and you have a charging system in every single major city, then yes, I can see that happening, maybe. What about dealing with life when it rears it’s ugly head and your route is sidetracked?

    You have to hand it to Tesla for their charisma. They are an emerging success, it will be due in no small part to what apple did by acquiring a unique identity that’s “cool.” It’s kind of what Prius did, when they jumped on the ball early by pushing the word “Hybrid” and giving you a nice green leaf to show everyone that you were special. The fact of the matter is that Priuses aren’t all that great for the environment, but you have the practicality of being able to use gasoline. Which meant that your normal life was never really interrupted.

    So, what is Tesla’s target market? They want to show everyone what they can do that’s incredibly ingenious and unique, but the only kinds of people that will actually commit to an electric cars are those with something to prove, adopters of the fad or someone else?

    If Tesla is developing its hydrogen tech right now, behind the scenes, then I can see them sustaining themselves after the battery fad is defunct. This hydrogen tech that has already been developed by Honda, BMW, Mercedes, GM, etc, are all footnotes for what’s really coming, which is a practical replacement for gasoline.

    I don’t want to come off too harsh on Tesla because their CEO is a great guy, always pushing the boundaries, and has a vested interest in the progress of humanity. But, is this forcing a square peg into a round hole? Or is this the genius business ploy that puts Tesla on the map, poised to take the entire industry by storm by becoming the next American iPod? If so, then BMW will have a tough battle ahead of them, but then there’s always China. And they’re still using freon.

    Marketing and hype will tell, I think it would be great if they hire Fisker to do the styling!

    • sranger

      Batteries are a fad????

      All I can say is if you are so sure you are right just short the tesla Stock and make a killing….

    • Touche

      I agree with you mostly except Tesla showing they’ve done something “ingeneous and unique”… they’ve definitely marketed that they’ve done something “ingeneous and unique”… but in reality all they did was put 4x more battery in the car than anyone else.. to justify the cost you turn it into a luxury vehicle. Anyone could have done that, but others are focusing on the general population, not a niche group of people in an already niche product segment.

  • Giom

    Giggling like a school boy when asked about the i3, sounds to me like putting up a spectacle. I don’t like his attitude and it gives me every reason to think he knows that BMW will be kicking his company in the nuts, once their lineup expands. He reminds me of John Leahy of airbus. Always ridiculing Boeing – because he’s afraid. Just saying…

    • Amen T. Jones

      Exactly. Elon Musk is the Kanye West of the automotive world. He has a long history of acting like a superior prick. Nothing new here.

      • M

        that is the most awesome thing i’ve read today.

  • Faust

    I would be very careful with my words if I was the CEO of Tesla. Especially talking about BMW. BMW has the resources to make Tesla irrelevant in the future. And, we saw what happened to Fisker. Tesla has barely one(two if we add the roadster?) models in their line up and could easily go bankrupt next year for all we know.

    So, less arrogance is advised.

    • Faust

      Another thing, the Model S is one VERY HEAVY car. 2,108kg vs 1450kg for the i8 and 1250kg for the i3. Still apples and oranges but that’s not very impressive. It might be good for cruising but if you expect an 2,000+ kg all electric car to drive like a BMW, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Physics aren’t in your side..

      • sranger

        Exactly, Different cars for different needs…

      • Damn_Marketing

        Exactly. Tesla has a long way to go. It’s a standard car design made of standard materials in a standard facility. It gets 4x the range because it has 4x the battery.. which also means 4x the toxic waste disposal. Nothing advanced or revolutionary.

        The i-series is a modern marvel of material and manufacturing technology to create a green car from beginning to end. Bigger motor than the Leaf, smaller battery, yet faster, lighter, and more range.

      • A. Nony Mous

        For all its weight, the 2013 Tesla Model S is roughly as fast 0-60 as a ’13 BMW M5. Google the video, see for yourself. Electric motors provide near-instant torque.

        True story… A few weeks ago a Model S and I were both merging onto the freeway in tandem and I noticed the Model S was easily out-accelerating my ’06 650i (which had the pedal to the floor). That was frustrating.

        Perhaps around a twisty track the heavy Model S would be defeated, but in real-world on-road driving I’d bet the Model S is faster than my 6er most of the time. And the Model S has two more doors and roughly the same retail price.

        • Faust

          Of course it’s gonna be fast in straight line acceleration. It has maximum torque available at 0 rpm. But that’s the only thing it can claim for now, out-accelerate cars in a straight line. With its current curb weight and weight distribution I doubt it can do much else better than an equivalent BMW.

          And mind you, the interior is quite terrible (I don’t know about materials and build quality I’m talking design-wise).

        • Tyler

          Have you watched the video in comparison to any other clip of an M5 accelerating as if there was any “attempt” at setting a good time?…Same with that completely horse crap “Tesla Vs Viper” video where the viper not only started late but bogged…..

          • A. Nony Mous

            Ya, IIRC there were 3 runs, one of which is on YouTube. It seems like the M5 driver messed up his Launch Control. He only needed to do this: Move gear lever from “D” to “S”, press Gear Select button, press Power button to switch to 500hp, tap to disable DSC, press “up” side of Gear Selector to select “6″, then wait for the “countdown”. Accelerate fast.

            On the Tesla, the steps for roughly equivalent acceleration are: Press the gas pedal.

            I’m not saying the Tesla is as good a driver’s car as BMW, but it does seem to empower average drivers to a degree.

      • Speedy99

        Physics on the S work well. All the weight is in the battery at the bottom. I’d encourage you to drive one, then come back and post. I’ve had several M cars, and the Tesla is amazing.

  • Seriously?

    What a douche. I heard him talk at the Caltech commencement, all he did was brag about himself. All the students were like WTF? Actually, everyone was like WTF? If there is such a thing as a motivational speech, this was not it. His charisma and marketing may fool the average Joe, but when you’re blowing smoke in front of an audience that’s 90% filled with people smarter than you (10% being the parents, siblings, friends of graduates)… you end up looking like a tool.

  • JoãoS
  • JoãoS
  • Nero

    He can keep on giggling… but the joke is on him. The i3′s battery set up is infinitely more advanced, lighter and is predicted to last a lot longer then the appliance-based things in Musk’s offerings. The i3 is lighter and has a more advanced body/chassis structure too.
    Let’s see if he is still laughing when BMW applies all this cutting-edge tech into a 5-series body… he had better sell that Model S while he still can.

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