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BMW electric cars aim to overtake Tesla as the Silicon Valley’s prefered luxury vehicles

BMW i | August 30th, 2014 by 8
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Tesla Model S has been Silicon Valley’s preferred choice when it came to luxury vehicles and “green car tech”. But BMW’s i8 hybrid sporstcar might …

Tesla Model S has been Silicon Valley’s preferred choice when it came to luxury vehicles and “green car tech”. But BMW’s i8 hybrid sporstcar might steal the spotlight from the innovative Tesla electric car.

Earlier this month, Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest, former Apple exec and the father of iPod, has given BMW a PR boost when he picked up one of the first i8 models delivered in the United States. Fadell is currently heading the revolution on Internet of Things by creating and connecting smart devices to each other. The Nest thermostat is highly acclaimed for its design and utility.

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In the Valley, over the last few years, several high profile tech figures, like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak or Google co-founder Sergey Brin, were known to not only drive the Tesla Model S, but often praise or advertise their cars to the world. The Model S was the best-selling vehicle in 2013 in the wealthy Bay Area towns of Atherton and Los Altos Hills, according to Edmunds.com, which tracks auto sales.

The i8 not only impresses everyone with its exotic looks and a supercar appeal, but it also speaks to geeky culture in the Valley, thanks to the innovative hybrid technology, carbon fiber construction and high-tech, like the laser lights.

READ ALSO: How This BMW i8 Sold For $825,000

But the i8 is not the only premium electric vehicle promoted by BMW in the Bay area. Their megacity car, BMW i3, has recently went on sale and it will soon join the DriveNow car sharing program.

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“We’ve put thousands and thousands of people behind the wheel of an electric BMW,” Richard Steinberg, chief executive of the program, called DriveNow USA, said in an interview for Bloomberg. “It gets people behind the wheel of a BMW-developed and – manufactured vehicle that they probably wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance to sample.”

Both companies are on track to deliver more premium electric vehicles in the future, starting with an SUV and compact cars from Tesla, and a midsize electric sedan from BMW. Despite heading towards inevitable competition, the two companies believe they currently help each other in the quest to turn electric vehicles into mainstream automobiles. They even hold talks around sharing technologies.

Which one will come on top? Both have their strengths. BMW, on one hand controls the carbon fiber market, important in the build of lightweight electric vehicles, while Tesla aims to deliver the best batteries on the market, another important elements in the drive range of an electric vehicle.

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  • CDspeed

    I really don’t see the i8 as a threat to the Model S, the i8 has an amazingly poor trunk, and two super tiny back seats. Whereas the Tesla seats up to 7 people, and has two trunks, and is greener being that it is only powered by electricity. I think the i8 will still be a hit, but it isn’t the car that will truly challenge Tesla.

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

      It’s only a threat as a halo car for the elite tech community.

      • CDspeed

        Most of them can afford both, but I don’t think the i8 can completely win over the elite tech community. They are going to still need a big four door car that can seat at least four people, and cargo.

  • Jack

    Also, i8 production seems very limited.

  • Robert Stelling

    BMW is not yet competing. Maybe against the Volt, but not against Tesla. If they don’t start doing something truly electric, soon, they will lose out to Tesla, and they know it. This mediocre electric range paired with hundred year old technology does not cut it any more.

  • divivio

    Seems like a Phase 2 Fisker Karma. Cramped two door way overpriced hybrid with almost no storage space. But very sexy sheet metal. What is embarrasing is that despite it weighing probably a ton less than the Model S it does not have acceleration of the four door much larger Tesla. But doors are cool.

  • You gotta be kidding me.

    A little sad to see BMW take a small step backwards from its dominance of Tesla Model S in the form of the i3. Spanking the Model S by a wide margin in every possible metric other than straight line acceleration (and electric range that the vast majority of us will seldom tap, but not total range (which, in the BMW i3 REx form is unlimited)), the i3 rules in driver comfort, visibility, interior space, general handling, control and safety electronics, driver interface, looks, cost, efficiency, cost, efficiency, cost, and efficiency.

    The i8 is marginally better than my Plug-In Prius (PiP) only in that it it gets a couple more miles per charge, but I would not trade it one for one, as it could not possibly fit the large bulky items in the rear seat/hatch area that my PiP can.

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