For years to come, BMW will not only compete in the premium segment with the likes such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Infiniti or Cadillac, but also with new companies that aim to take on and conquer the electric vehicles premium segment. A fairly new player, Tesla, is the talk of the block.
With a charismatic, intelligent and risk-taker CEO, Elon Musk, the California-based automaker is already providing to electric customers an impressive vehicle: Tesla Models S. The same very car scored the highest score in Consumer Reports and it is often regarded as one of the best cars on the market, electric or conventional.
Yet at the same time, BMW is betting on the same market as well. With the largest investment in the company’s history, the i sub-brand is BMW’s biggest bet and one that can take the historical premium automaker to the next level. The new BMW i3 and i8 are also regarded as two of the most technologically advanced electric or plug-in hybrid cars on the market and initial stats show the bet on “green cars” will pay off.
Furthermore, the two companies share a mutual respect for each other. Despite initial jokes aimed at BMW’s i3 design, representatives from the two automakers have recently met to discuss the future of supercharging, among other topics.
In a recent conversation with Harald Krüger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Production, we learned that BMW is looking at Tesla as enabled of the electric vehicles market and a great company that not only helps promote the EV market but also paves the road for BMW and other automakers.
But the following question arises: which company is a bigger innovator?
Peter Yared, CTO/CIO at CBS Interactive, tries to shed some light on this topic from a technology, brand recognition and market size perspective.
Here is an excerpt from an article published on TechCrunch:
BMW invested tremendous resources in its electric car platform to develop an all-electric vehicle platform, and it is willing to integrate legacy technology in order to deliver immediate value to its customers. Conversely, Mercedes chose a partnership route and is buying the drivetrain and battery technology for its upcoming electric car from Tesla. Both BMW and Mercedes are well ahead of Tesla in advanced vehicle technology like self-parking and cruise control that can automatically follow highway lanes and maintain distance from other vehicles.
Rather than waiting for battery technology to evolve to make an all-electric car with a 200-mile range at a mid-range price point, BMW is selling an optional “range extender” consisting of a two cylinder motorcycle engine that maintains the batteries at a 5 percent power level and extends the car’s range an additional 80 miles. Since the range extender powers the batteries rather than a gas engine, the i3 is not a hybrid, but the range extender can be continually refilled so that the car is never stuck without power. It’s a total hack, but is well thought out and competitive. BMW’s engineers must have been giggling when they came up with this one.
With the i3, BMW has delivered a “good enough” luxury electric car for the urban driver and average commuter, who can also optionally use the car for longer trips without having to plan for supercharger stations.