Is BMW Catching Up To Tesla?

DEC 2 2014 BY STAFF 28

It is very rare when one can say BMW needs to catch up to someone in the automotive segment, but when it comes to the electric vehicles market, that statement might be valid. BMW is new at the EV game where other companies like Tesla Motors have been at the forefront of this for years and opened the doors for other automakers as well. Often seen  as competitors, truth is that Tesla is not only helping BMW, but the entire industry of electric vehicles.

Tesla has been providing the upper-mid class of car owners the green solution they need with the Model S which was launched back in 2012. Only a handful of Model S units were sold that year, but that was followed by 22,000 deliveries in 2013. This year, Tesla Motors are now looking into delivering more than 33,000 cars.

2014 bmw i8 tesla model s front end in motion 750x498 Has BMW Been Catching Up To Tesla In The EV Sector?

Tesla Model S & BMW i8

On the other hand, BMW has not yet ventured in developing a luxury sedan powered only by electric motors, but it has still managed to put out the high-performer BMW i8, and the great, small and nimble BMW i3. Especially the latter one is selling in respectable numbers.

According to green energy website CleanTechnica, it seems that over the past three months sales for BMW’s fully electric i3 accounted for 4.9% of its total US sales – which is the highest share of total sales among all the car manufacturers that don’t strictly sell electric cars. What’s more important, the high share means an overall shift to the electric car technology as well.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on BMWBLOG.  Check it out here.

For the first three months after its launch, the mid-range electric city car only made up 2.3% of BMW’s total U.S. sales, so the latest sales report show a healthy increase in overall sales and demand.

It was also reported earlier that the BMW i3 had outsold Tesla’s Model S in August. Sales for BMW i3 in the month totaled 1,025 units, a nice increase of 182% sequentially, while Tesla Model S sales came at 600 units, which is  54% lower over the same period last year.

Editor’s Note: However, looking at September, Tesla was up 65% over the year prior with an estimated 2,500 electric sedans sold while BMW sold another consistent 1,022 units.

While not competing directly now, the two automakers are on a collision path within the next 2-3 years. While BMW has their own share of sedan hybrid vehicles, a fully electric powered mid-range sedan has yet to arrive. The BMW i5 might be the solution.

bmw i5 photoshop 750x356 Has BMW Been Catching Up To Tesla In The EV Sector?

BMW i5 Rendering

On the other hand, Tesla Motors has yet to venture into the small city car electric vehicle product range, meaning the American automaker still relies mostly on the Model S for the time being. A 3 Series electric competitor is in works though and will arrive in 2017.

During a shareholder meeting in April, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk said, “We can produce something like the i3 or better than i3 right now, but it wouldn’t be great. It wouldn’t be amazing.”

While BMW has been catching up to the Tesla Motors in terms of electric vehicles, overall sales of vehicles in general is still very much on BMW’s side of the fence.


Tesla Model S & BMW i8

Both automakers need a subtle transition into different market; Tesla, on one hand, needs to expand its product range accordingly, while BMW needs to improve the i3 in the next iteration and also deliver new electric vehicles to the masses.

Sales and demand for the BMW i3 and BMW i8, and the Tesla Model S show that the electric vehicles market is ready and future, diversified products will cater to new demographics therefore increasing their market share.

The two companies are certainly at the forefront of the electric vehicles revolution, and both are also disrupting other industries as well. BMW is heavily invested in the production of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), while Tesla is building their own battery factory.

[Source: Bindnessetc]

Categories: BMW, Tesla

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28 Comments on "Is BMW Catching Up To Tesla?"

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Catching up? In terms of butts in seats, Nissan/Renault lead the world in EV. Leaf alone outsells Tesla on a two to one basis, worldwide.

three times more expensive Tesla will surpass heavily subsidized Nissan Leaf by the end of 2015.

In terms of economic demand, in dollars and euros, Tesla outsells Nissan 5 to 3.

Because consumers are willing to spend three times as much on a Tesla as Nissan’s crippled city car.

A majority of i3s are not fully electric.

And i3 outsold/delivered Tesla after Tesla’s one and only plant was shutdown for several weeks for upgrades.

That’s a good point, what it is it like 50% or more are Rev? So, not a fair comparison.

“Sales for BMW i3 in the month totaled 1,025 units, a nice increase of 182% sequentially, while Tesla Model S sales came at 600 units, which is 54% lower over the same period last year.”

This kind of ridiculous calculations is exactly the reason why Tesla does not give us monthly sales figures.

Can the author of this article point out what is wrong with these monthly percentage changes?

Overall I applaud BMW’s efforts. That have taken electrification seriously, Although they will focus more on the PHEV and Rex market. They have made a few serious unforced errors though. Most serious was crippling the US i3. Makes little sense especially since their motto is “ultimate driving machine” a crippled ultimate driving machine? Also very serious is their insistence on using RWD. Their sales of their ICE models exploded when they introduced AWD. Tesla made huge PR waves by releasing the Dual motors. And showed that dual motors increased performance while improving efficiency. And yet they act surprised when their i3 sells poorly in areas with winter and then announce a bunch of future RWD only models? Hmm… they won’t overtake Tesla if they dont respond to customer desires. We’re not paying big dollars for a car that gets stuck in the snow. Anyway, in my opinion it doesn’t matter who wins between BMW and Tesla. They both are forcing the other to improve. Musk and the EV world win either way. It’s still an open question whether or not Tesla can survive as an independent entity. But if they can’t a pairing with BMW would be ideal. (VW group… Read more »

Following Tesla’s delivery of SC hardware (being the first sign of certain build-out), it’s becoming clear that northeast super-charging infrastructure will be almost precisely timed to the delivery of AWD. On this score, MA, VT, RI, ME + NH went from 0, to 4, with other adds in CT, and even more in the permit process.

I don’t think its lost on Tesla, or BMW, the meaning of AWD sales. Going the other way, there had to be a number they put on how their maneuvers would “ultimately” restrict i3 sales.


You can’t have an ultimate driving machine with FWD. Period.

The i3 is far less costly than the model S so it’s not that surprising that BMW are selling more of them.

Having said that, I don’t think Tesla is very far ahead of any competition. Tesla’s big contribution is taking the risk of creating an expensive long range car from commodity parts. Especially now that Tesla has opened up its patents I don’t think any other established car manufacturer would have much trouble creating a similar car to the MS, but there is a limited market for them and chances are that you wouldn’t recoup the development costs.

The big threat to Tesla is Tesla itself. It needs to start delivering product and not just make promises and delay delay delay. Get the model X out already and start working on model 3!

I’m not sure I totally agree with you. There is more to the model S than simple patents. For instance, look at how much difficulty Tesla has making the Model X, and they have basically already done this before with the dual motor Tesla Model S.

the other car manufacturers are definitely fairly far behind Tesla at this point. However they can catch up probably within two or three years. It is clearly not insurmountable. But I agree, Tesla needs to get out a new model as soon as possible, and the three is critical. The Model S is already getting a little bit long in the tooth.

“look at how much difficulty Tesla has making the Model X”
And how can you know that? From what I know, Telsa was counting on Model X to have enough revenues, but with the overwhelming success of Model S gives them time to perfect the product.

Musk said :

“We recently decided to build in significantly more validation testing time to achieve the best Model X possible.”

and never mind that B.S. about falcon doors.

“The doors weren’t the challenge, they are relatively easy to execute compared to other technical accomplishments at the company. Tesla has customers that want Falcon Wing doors. There has been no parallel development of conventional doors at Tesla.”

threat=self. I kind of agree. They’ve shown how to chase what’s possible, and really cool, and that makes it easier to question if delivering value in a lower priced segment has fallen victim to mission creep. Without competition, the game is theirs to lose. Too many de Nysschen’s putting lipstick on poorly balanced, rattling pigs.

According to the author, Upper-Middle-Class people are buying Teslas? What income range does a person have to be to be considered upper-middle class? I’ve always thought of myself as middle class, possibly upper-middle class considering how the middle class has been disappearing lately. And I can’t even begin to afford a Tesla. I could probably buy a used Model-S60 base model and the payment would be very difficult to make. I’d have to sacrifice a lot to make it.

You would prefer a Bentley at 350 000 $
or a Mercedes S class starting at 100 000 $ ?
or a Panamera Turbo S Executive at 180 000 $ ?

BTW none of them gives you the performances and high tech advancements of the Tesla.

I agree, definitions vary quite a lot, but typical income level for upper middle class is around 100k. Doctors E. G. Are upper middle class citizens. I personally define top 10% into upper middle class, but it goes up to 99th percentile. therefore top 4% are still in the upper middle class and they should afford to buy Tesla, especially if they are enthusiasts and are ready to stretch their budget for a car. Top 1% are the rich and for them Tesla is just cheap.

The BMW i3 is a kind of rough prototype that at least it is a true electric, but that i8 thing is just FUD and should not be compared to a Model S anymore then a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. It is just not an ev and has nothing to do with it.


i8 is an EV.

It is NOT a BEV.

BEV purist/supporters choose the “narrowest” definition of EV as BEV where others chooses the “widest” definition as anything with Electric motors powering the car.

I prefer somewhere in the middle.

Calling it “hybrid” is also imprecise b/c there are NON-Electric hybrids (inertia, hydraulic, compressed air).

IMHO, i8 is Not an EV.

First requirement of an -EV- is that you can, in easy to reproduce Theory, Stop using 90% of the oil that you presently consume.

i8 = ICE supercharged and improved by electric. It Can go full EV but is really doesn’t want to. Conceivably, you Can complete your 3 mile commute if you force it into EV mode and don’t press the gas too hard. If you use the car as it is Obviously intended, you Are gonna burn gas.

i3 = EV supercharged by ICE (when not destroyed by green-sticker compliance) It Can go ICE but it really doesn’t want to.
You complete every trip you want to make in EV unless there are steep hills or you drive Too far, when it will be Forced to burn gas.

Hope this conveys the angst felt by EV fans when the PiP, i8, P1, etc., etc., are called EVs, as the -original- desire (see also, EV-1) was the elimination of dependence upon petroleum.

FWIW, it is miraculous to me that EV supercharging wasn’t pursued all the way back to the 70s and the First Oil Crisis. Instead we Massively computerized and turbocharged, etc., etc., the pure ICE.

“BMW is new at the EV game where other companies like Tesla Motors have been at the forefront of this for years”

Tesla built the Roadster in 2008.

BMW built the Mini E in 2009.

BMW is hardly new at the EV game. They are just taking their sweet time bringing products to market. However, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience building EVs.

The roadster was at the forefront. The Mini-E was not.

High performance is what makes Tesla so successful in competing with ICE cars. The i3 was the first BMW EV with decent performance, and while better than all other non-Tesla EVs, it’s a big step behind behind Tesla and not quite up to par with its own ICE offerings.

It’s longitude and latitude.The X and Y axis, the old height and breadth. Tesla has one a hard focus on small stable of products, Bmw has the other wide range of products and great depth in the automotive industry.
Both have advantages and disadvantages.

FUD’S Law: “If you push some hard enough it will fall over”.
How can we best explain the stubborn consistency of this eternal principal?
(Firesign Theatre)

Firesign Theater!

Thanks for making my day. I’d give a boatload of Teslas and BMWs to be that young again.

BMW doesn’t make direct Tesla competitors now, nor does it have any in the works.

Once BMW starts to do supercharger supported long range EVs of its own, that’s when Tesla will have some serious direct competition on its hands.

Tesla just makes pure EV.

If BMW just made battery electric cars, then they would be a true competitor to Tesla.

So far, no one is competing head to head with Tesla in the luxury sedan class with an “All ELECTRIC ” offering.

You need to ask this question again *next* year. Then there’ll be a real answer for you.

Kind of like how the Leaf is now selling 40% more units than the Volt this year in the US, proving that your household’s second car doesn’t have to have a gas backup.