Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk probably isn't losing a ton of sleep over the new plug-in efforts by the makers of the "Ultimate Driving Machine," but maybe he should. That's what the Motley Fool is saying, presenting the case that the California company's real competition will come from BMW. What about the plug-in efforts of General Motors or Ford? Musk can hit the snooze, Motley Fool says.

Unlike automakers that are "jamming battery packs into the existing vehicle design," BMW has built its i3 battery-electric and i8 plug-in hybrid supercar from the ground up. Like Tesla, BMW puts its battery packs into the floor of its vehicles. Most importantly, the i3 - and especially the i8 - are real performers. While the i8 is about 40-percent more expensive than the Tesla, it matches the Model S's 0-60 mile per hour acceleration times and handily beats its top speed figures.

Tesla sold about 6,900 vehicles during the last three months of 2013 and BMW had more than 10,000 i3 orders on the books by late November and the first year's allotment of i8s is already sold out. The German automaker has what the Fool calls an "outside chance" of selling more plug-in vehicles than Tesla by next year, but Tesla is gearing up its gigafactory to get ready to sell a half-million EVs in 2020, so the race is most certainly on. You can read more over on the Fool.


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  • 87 Comments
      hcwhy
      • 9 Months Ago
      Is it possible that BMW made the i3 ugly because they want it to fail?
      Joeviocoe
      • 9 Months Ago
      --"the i8 is about 40-percent more expensive than the Tesla" The i8 starts at $136k While the Model S starts at $70k That is NOT the i8 being 40% more than the S. That is 94% more expensive. Maybe you meant to say, the Model S is only 40% of the cost of the i8. Which would still be wrong. But closer. 51% -------------------- And you cannot choose an arbitrary price for a well equipped Model S vs. the stock i8. Because the performance of the i8 is still beaten by a stock 60 kwh Model S.
        Joeviocoe
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        retraction: I was going by old 0-60 times. BMW now claims the i8 will have 4.5 seconds. So only the P85 could beat that.
        Spec
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        The i8 is nothing but a tiny volume halo car. The model S has managed to sell tens of thousands this year.
      Robert Fahey
      • 9 Months Ago
      Tesla has always said it welcomes competition because it will broaden acceptance of EVs.
      Jim1961
      • 9 Months Ago
      Every Motley Fool article I've ever read ends like this: "If you want to know about another stock similar to the company we just talked about sign up for our newsletter" In other words, every Motley Fool article is an advertisement for the Motley Fool newsletter. There is NEVER any investigative reporting. Every Motley Fool article about the automotive industry is always a rehash of some other article carefully researched by some real auto journalist at Detroit Free Press.
      Jim1961
      • 9 Months Ago
      The best thing about the i3 is that it's not a compliance car. BMW is clearly trying to build compelling plugin cars that will be sold globally.
        m_2012
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Jim1961
        Absolutely a compliance car. I can't buy one unless I move 2,000 miles, limited production, and expensive. Definition of compliance car - they are only building it because they have to
          Joeviocoe
          • 9 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          Selling in two dealerships, one in LA and one in NY.... I guess makes it "nationwide" too. The i3 will launch in "Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Austin and New York City, plus the suburban areas of New Jersey and Connecticut." Yes, it is currently a compliance car, because BMW can decide not to expand. If and when they do expand to truly cover a reasonable portion of the US... then, and only then can the i3 no longer be considered compliance.
          Rotation
          • 9 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          The i3 will be sold nationwide. That makes it not a compliance car doesn't it? Production is limited, but not very. They'll sell almost as many as they do 7 series. Same number approximately as 6 series and more than 1 series and Z4 put together. It'll be tied for their 3rd best selling car (not counting SUVs as cars).
        Joeviocoe
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Jim1961
        "Deliveries of the i3 are scheduled to begin in May 2014.[40] The American market launch will include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Austin and New York City, plus the suburban areas of New Jersey and Connecticut.[43][44] Pricing in the U.S. will start at US$42,275 before any applicable government incentives, and the range extender option will cost an additional US$3,850.[6][16]" Until they "launch" beyond a few cities... and allow most BMW dealerships to order them... it will be a "compliance car". I am confident they will eventually. But lets' not count chickens before they hatch.
      gslippy
      • 9 Months Ago
      Umm, the Leaf has sold over 100,000 cars. BMW will never get much traction with the tiny i3.
        skierpage
        • 9 Months Ago
        @gslippy
        The i3 is shorter than the Leaf and is only a 4-seater, but it's really spacious in the front. It's a very different car: much quicker, drives better (but not like a 335), advanced construction, a lot more money, and it has an optional range extender. I hope it does well, BMW invested over $3bn in the i cars. Over on the Leaf forum someone pointed out Leaf is 2% of Nissan USA sales, 2% of BMW USA sales would be 6,500 i3s a year. We'll see.
      El Angel
      • 9 Months Ago
      Tesla has nothing to worry about in my humble opinion(for the time being). The rest of the auto manufacture that sell EV's between $30,000-$50,000 should be worried or running scared.
      bluepongo1
      • 9 Months Ago
      LOL !!! They. wish . :-P
      Electron
      • 9 Months Ago
      So far BMW 1 series hasn't wiped out demand for Mercedes S class/Audi A7, A8/Jaguar XF etc. despite a far larger price difference than that between i3 and Model S. That's just not how competition works in the car business. even a motley fool usually knows that. It's BMW that can't afford to hit the snooze button lest Model E will kick its rather questionably shaped but in the marketplace.
      Koenigsegg
      • 9 Months Ago
      BMW made half ass EV's. They compete with the leaf and spark and plug in panamera LOL. No one competes with Tesla as they are in a league of their own and will continue to be.
        Rotation
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        They're different vehicles. In many ways, the i3 is better than the Model S. In others, the Model S is better. It's ridiculous to dismiss a vehicle which is that good and half the price of of a Model S.
          Aaron
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          @Rotation: By that logic, my i-MiEV is just as good as the i3. It's just as easy to get in and out of. Both cars have rear motor/rear-wheel drive. The i-MiEV actually has more cargo space. So, by that logic, should I buy an i-MiEV for $13K after subsidies or an i3 for $40K after subsidies?
          Rotation
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          stevejust: Lighter. It's an actual luxury car with luxury features. It has a tech pack available unlike the Tesla (self-parking, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning & blind spot warning). It has a better NAV system and infotainment system. It's easier to park because it isn't enormous. Easier to get in and out of. It's also half the price. Somehow, large numbers of ABG readers fail to notice that even though an S class is better than a Toyota Corolla, the Corolla still sells and in fact sells more. The cars hardly compete with each other. A Model S cannot fill the shoes of an i3 for a lot of things. And vice-versa.
          Rotation
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          Aaron: In some ways your i-MIEV is better than an i3. As to which you should buy, well, which matters more to you, value or comfort/utility? There are many axis cars are measured on, the best car for one person isn't the best for all.
          stevejust
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          Having driven both the Model S and i3, I'd love to hear about these ways the i3 is better. I own a Tesla and wouldn't even replace my *Leaf* with an i3.
          Sasha
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          Yes, and in some ways, a Cruze is better than a Veyron. In other ways, a Veyron is better. But the comparison is just silly.
      NestT
      • 9 Months Ago
      Tesla has no direct competition but many indirect competitors. Tesla's sports sedan, in Performance Plus trim, will smoke an i8 to 60. An i8 gets 22 miles of electric range LOL. Top speed is only relevant for Germany. Musk said German bound Model S will get autobahn tuning with higher top speed.
        Joeviocoe
        • 9 Months Ago
        @NestT
        Elon and JB said the Autobaun package will be about "handling" not a top speed. http://youtu.be/n7X4TRBazvo?t=31m13s
      Weapon
      • 9 Months Ago
      To make a proper EV, you need to build it from the ground up. But the path BMW chose pretty much insures that they won't be a competitor for a long long time.
        skierpage
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Weapon
        The i3 is built from the ground up as an EV, the i8 from the ground up as a plug-in hybrid. The current cars aren't competitors, but the i3 will compete with the Model E. Both BMW and Tesla face huge investments to increase production of their plug-in cars to the 100,000/year level; Tesla has signaled it will spend the $$$, BMW is more opaque. I don't know what it will take for BMW to produce 10x more CFRP passenger cells.
          Aaron
          • 9 Months Ago
          @skierpage
          No, the i3 was designed from the ground up as a range-extended electric vehicle. There is an important distinction. The pure electric version of the i3 just has empty space where the REx would be installed. The Tesla was designed as a pure electric vehicle. No REx could even be retrofitted into the car in a sane manner.
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