BMW i3 vs Tesla Model S - Electric car market heats up

by Tim Jones on July 25, 2013, 12:56 pm
BMW i3 vs Tesla Model S

Fortune magazine stacks up BMW's soon to be released i3 electric vehicle with the much lauded Tesla Model S. The BMW i3 is the first car released from BMW's new sub brand, BMW i, you can think of BMW i as an M Division for electric cars. The i3 comes with an aluminum frame that holds the batteries and motor and a carbon fiber passenger compartment that holds you and your friends. BMW boasts that the i3 is the worlds first mass produced carbon fiber vehicle and has invested more then 100 million into the technology.

This investment and the extensive R&D have paid off with the first driving reviews being extremely positive. Good news for the BMW i3 but can its driving dynamics trump Tesla's good looks and equally good driving reviews?

In the comparison article BMW and Tesla are stacked head to head in 8 categories -
  • History
  • Products
  • Range
  • Range anxiety reduction
  • Technology
  • Distribution
  • Future products
  • Buzz

First BMW i3 Test Drives

Telsa captures the win in 4 categories, BMW takes home two wins, and they tie in two. Read the complete article to see which categories go to each manufacture. Overall the break down shows how much of a lead Tesla has in the EV market. BMW is no slouch selling premium cars but can it complete against Tesla when it has brought an i3 to a EV fight?

Read the full article on CNN Money
BMW-i 1BMW-i 2BMW-i 3BMW-i 4BMW-i 5BMW-i 6BMW-i 7BMW-i 8BMW-i 9BMW-i 10BMW-i 11BMW-i 12


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11 responses to BMW i3 vs Tesla Model S - Electric car market heats up

Andrew*Debbie commented:
July 26, 2013, 1:34 am

Comparing an i3 to a Model S is like comparing a MINI to a 7 series.

The article itself is plain silly. Saying the i3 and the Model S tie on range because a single journalist ate up range by driving like an idiot? Do the same to an i3 and I doubt it would go 50 miles.


Ted Turner should never have sold CNN.
namelessman commented:
July 26, 2013, 11:16 am

i3 can be a big headache for Tesla. If i3 fails, Tesla's dream of selling 30k electric car will be smashed; if i3 succeeds, Tesla's will be 3 years behind BMW in a market segment Tesla absolutely needs to justify its valuation. Either way Tesla is in a tight spot IMO.
Jake C commented:
July 26, 2013, 2:25 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew*debbie View Post
comparing an i3 to a model s is like comparing a mini to a 7 series.
+1

- j
Wolfman64 commented:
July 31, 2013, 6:46 pm

The i3 won't be a headache for the Tesla. I doubt that it will have many takers in the US (or in Europe for that matter). A small and IMO not premium looking car for $40k plus with mediocre range and small car performance doesn't sound like a winner.

The Tesla is fast and at the high-end has decent range.

While I haven't looked at the specifics for the Euro vs US version, this is the first time I am seeing a BMW sell for a visibly higher price in the US.
What I mean by that is that our 7series costs $100k here and 125k Euro in Germany. That includes 19% VAT, but the car still has a lower price in the US even without considering exchange rates.
The i3 costs $43k in the US and 35k Euro incl.VAT.
GeoX750Li commented:
July 31, 2013, 6:54 pm

I don't think Tesla has anything to worry about. If the i3 is going to be a headache for anyone, it's probably going to be for BMW (or anyone who has to look at it).

Hopefully, it will be so ugly its cute and can find a nice European market.
E36 Phantom commented:
July 31, 2013, 7:02 pm

Agree that the i3 and Tesla aren't even remotely competitors. The i3 is a more upscale Leaf.

In fact, I don't actually get the business case in America:

If I didn't care about looks and needed a budget electric car, I'd get the Leaf.

If I was shopping in the 40k range, I'd expect better range than the i3 provides and buy a Volt which looks much better and is more functional

If I had the dough to get a Tesla, I'd get the Tesla without a second thought as it's a thoroughly better vehicle.

Which leaves the i3 rather out in the cold. They should've just gone full tilt on the ActiveE, which most people likely preferred to a Volt. Not this crap...

C:\>Sent from my 386 using MS-DOS__
xx commented:
September 4, 2013, 12:04 am

wished they made it look like a normal car/vehicle (not a weird styling exercise)
Nu2Ecar commented:
September 26, 2013, 11:58 pm

I'm considering both the I3 and the Tesla as my next car. I very rarely drive more than 100 miles from home, so either is viable. The i3 would be the sensible choice: it's a city car, easy to park and tight turning circle, peppy enough for me. It's ugly, but it's growing on me. The Tesla is of course much quicker, probably much more comfortable to drive. It's green credentials would give an excuse to indulge myself - if the I3 didn't exist. I have not considered any other Ecar - their accelerations are inadequate for me.

The Tesla is a great cruiser. Well it would be if it were not for the recharging issue. That has not been solved by the super-chargers. One every 2-300 miles, where one can spend 30 minutes does not substitute for the convenience of petrol/gas stations every few miles, where on spends 3 minutes. Most people buying a Tesla have access to a fossil-fuel burner. The Tesla is ideal for someone who drives many miles but sleeps at home each night.

Tesla has managed to annoy me. In practice, they don't allow test-drives of anything but their premium, most powerful, models. The show room near me has two high-performance cars for demonstration, both have more powerful motors, air-suspension and low-profile tyres. I'm interested in driving the less powerful model that sits in the showroom. This might swing the deal for BMW.
German Expat commented:
October 6, 2013, 10:40 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfman64 View Post
The i3 won't be a headache for the Tesla. I doubt that it will have many takers in the US (or in Europe for that matter). A small and IMO not premium looking car for $40k plus with mediocre range and small car performance doesn't sound like a winner.

The Tesla is fast and at the high-end has decent range.

While I haven't looked at the specifics for the Euro vs US version, this is the first time I am seeing a BMW sell for a visibly higher price in the US.
What I mean by that is that our 7series costs $100k here and 125k Euro in Germany. That includes 19% VAT, but the car still has a lower price in the US even without considering exchange rates.
The i3 costs $43k in the US and 35k Euro incl.VAT.
Fully agree you on the price issue you brought up. I was quite interested when I first heard the price for Europe and figure it could be in the low 30k range but now after seeing 43k it is just too high priced.
German Expat commented:
October 7, 2013, 12:08 am

Also another deal killer for me are the rear doors. When dropping off our son at school I would not want to open a front door just to let him out also considering he gets out on the passenger side. Not exactly family friendly.
I know school drop offs and pick ups are not big in Europe but in the US its pretty common so not sure how that is supposed to work.
Tirpitz commented:
October 12, 2013, 7:57 pm

I'm sure that the car is priced where it is in the US market so that BMW can capture the Federal tax subsidies. If you look at how Volts and Leafs are advertised the MSRP is always in very small print somewhere and the big numbers are the price after tax rebates. BMW will be marketing this as a $30K range car.