Can BMW Fend Off The Charge of the Tesla Model 3? Part 2


My concept 2020 BMW i5. BMW's answer to Tesla's Model 3 (Shown in Moloughney Red)

My concept 2020 BMW i5. BMW’s answer to Tesla’s Model 3 (Shown in Moloughney Red)

*Editor’s Note: If you missed Part 1 in this two-part series, then be sure to check it out here.

In last week’s post, we looked at the impact that Tesla’s Model S has had on the sales of competing vehicles in the large luxury segment in the US. That set the table for the question of whether or not the Model 3 can have equal or perhaps even greater success in the entry level, premium segment when it hits the streets sometime in the end of 2017 or early 2018. That segment has been owned by BMW’s 3-Series for decades, and BMW isn’t going to just give it up without a fight.

But what exactly can they do? The Model 3 has captured the imagination of the public and Tesla has received over 400,000 reservations in the first three weeks since the reservation process has opened. That staggering number has undoubtedly caused a few sleepless nights for product planners of various OEMs. In fact, if we look at theory of Diffusion of Innovations, the interest in the Model 3 would absolutely prove that the electric vehicle market has now moved beyond the innovators and early adopters, and we are now well into the early majority phase. That’s good news for Tesla, but can BMW also capitalize on the inevitable market shift we are witnessing?

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

The short answer is yes, they absolutely can. In fact they are probably positioned better than any other OEM to do so because of the tremendous investment that they have made in BMW i. However, the remarkable Model 3 reservation list probably indicates that they need to accelerate their EV programs and bring some vehicles to market a little sooner than they had planned if they want to minimize defection from the brand. The good news for BMW is that Tesla can have a million reservations, and that won’t mean they can actually make the cars fast enough to satisfy demand. In fact, every car Tesla has released so far has has been delayed, and even when they initially “launch” the vehicle, it takes them 4 to 6 months before they are making them in serious volume and the first few months of production are usually plagued with quality issues.

Tesla Model 3 Is Expected To Launch In Late 2017

Tesla Model 3 Is Expected To Launch In Late 2017

So even if Tesla does manage to have a few ceremonial Model 3 deliveries in late 2017 as promised, they probably won’t be making them in volume much before the summer of 2018 and I highly doubt they will deliver more than 30,000 to 40,000 Model 3s before the end of 2018. Hopefully by the time 2019 rolls around, Tesla will have any initial quality issues worked out and will be able to begin really producing the vehicle in high volume. So BMW has about three years to produce a vehicle to compete in this segment which will curb mass defection from the loyal 3-Series following, as well as keep the BMW name synonymous with innovation, performance and sustainability.

Does BMW have a vehicle in development that can compete in this class that has already been green-lighted for production? Yes they do, the 2020 i5. We’ve all read an assortment of i5 predictions from various “BMW insiders” ranging from it being a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, to an EV with a range extender. If BMW is serious about competing in this space then it shouldn’t be either. The i5 needs to be a long range electric vehicle, there’s no need to mess around with range extenders or fuel cells. The remainder of this post is purely my thoughts and predictions on what BMW should and could do to remain a leader in the industry. I have nothing concrete to base these opinions on, and everything you read below is purely speculative.

The cornerstone of the BMW i will be the 2020 i5 which will launch in mid 2019 with the following specs:

Meet the 2020 BMW i5

Meet the 2020 BMW i5

So why doesn’t BMW bring the i5 to market sooner and beat Tesla to the punch? Is it because they don’t think the market is ready, or they just don’t believe in long range electric cars just yet? The answer to both of those questions is no. It’s all about the batteries. Tesla knows this, and refused to wait for the market to bring cutting edge battery cells to them. Instead they are building what will be the largest battery factory in the world, to supply their cars with the best batteries as soon as they are available. BMW, along with the rest of the OEMs, will rely on third party suppliers for their battery cells. It’s too early to tell which strategy is best, but once the Gigafactory is operational, it should provide Tesla with the advantage of having the best cells available and at a lower cost, but that has not yet been proven.

-Five door hatchback w/seating for five
-Aluminum frame, CFRP body same as i3 & i8
-78.75 kWh battery pack, with 70kWh is usable
-EPA rated range of 245 MPC
-Capable of charging at 150kW.
-345 hp and 375 lb-ft torque. 0-62 mph in 5.0 seconds
-All wheel drive option
-Options include HUD, panoramic roof, various “BMW Driver Assistant” autonomous driving features.

Why 2019? That’s because Samsung SDI, BMW’s battery partner is scheduled to bring to market their next generation lithium ion battery cell sometime in 2019. These new cells have been described by Samsung as the “Low Height Pack” cell generation because they aren’t nearly as tall as the batteries currently used in the i3 which will allow for a lower seating position. However, the real progress is in the specific energy of the cells and the cost.

The current i3 uses 60Ah cells that are believed to have a specific energy of 130 Wh/kg. The 2017 i3 is rumored to be using the latest Samsung SDI cells that are the same physical size as the 60Ah cells, but are 94Ah with a specific energy of about 190 Wh/kg. These new cells are going to increase the i3’s range from 81 miles per charge to about 120 MPC. However that still isn’t good enough for the long range Model 3 competitor that the i5 needs to be. The 2020 i5 will use Samsung’s Low Height Pack cells that are estimated to be about 125Ah with a specific energy of about 250Wh/kg, nearly double the energy density of what the current i3 batteries have and cost less than the current 60Ah cells do. These cells will allow BMW to stuff a 78.75kWh battery pack in the i5 and still keep the weight at about 4,000lbs.

A Samsung SDI rep holding their new "Low Height Pack" cells which won't be available until 2019. Notice the energy rating is not listed on the cell as it is on the other batteries on display. Also note the low height as compared to the 94Ah cell on the left. That 94Ah cell is rumored to be in the 2017 BMW i3, and is the same physical size as the 60Ah cell used in current i3s.

A Samsung SDI rep holding their new “Low Height Pack” cells which won’t be available until 2019. Notice the energy rating is not listed on the cell as it is on the other batteries on display. Also note the low height as compared to the 94Ah cell on the left. That 94Ah cell is rumored to be in the 2017 BMW i3, and is the same physical size as the 60Ah cell used in current i3s.

The i5’s battery pack I’m designing would consist of 14 modules, each containing 12 battery cells for a total of 168 cells. If BMW allows 90% of the pack to be available, that means 70kWh of usable energy and an EPA range of about 245 miles per charge. It will also accept up to 150kW of DC power and utilize the emerging network of 150kW DC fast chargers that, by then, will begin being funded by members of the CharIn EV association. The network will be minuscule compared to Tesla’s Supercharger network, and Tesla still has a huge advantage there, but at least customers will see a path to what someday could rival the Supercharger network, which currently doesn’t exist.

I’m not even ruling out a partnership with Tesla, where the other OEMs pay Tesla to install 150kW CCS stations at every Supercharger location. After all, at Audi’s 2014 LA Auto Show press conference, the automaker promised they would have a network of 150kW DC Fast charge stations installed and operational before they launch the 2019 e-tron Quattro. How else could they accomplish that?

The i3's battery tray

The i3’s battery tray

Granted, even if BMW hits the mark with the i5, the Model 3 is going to be a widely popular vehicle as long as Tesla can manage to deliver what they have promised. However, a strong competitor from BMW like what the i5 has the potential to be, can limit the number of sales the Model 3 takes from BMW in this segment. The i5 will cost more than the Model 3, starting at $49,990. However the standard i5 will be better optioned than the standard Model 3, and I believe a loaded Model 3 will end up costing around $60K anyway. Therefore the average purchase price of the two cars may only be $6,000 to $8,000 apart.

That said, the i5 isn’t the only plug they’ll have in 2020. By then BMW’s entire array of models will offer PHEV options. They already sell the X5 40e plus the 330e, and by the end of the year will have the 740e in showrooms. Sometime in 2017 the 540e will be added to the iPerformance PHEV line. These are all very competent PHEVs, and the reviews have been very positive with regards to the driving experience they offer. The only problem I have with these cars is the AER. None of these vehicles boast an EPA range of even fifteen miles per charge, and I just don’t find that acceptable in 2016. If BMW wants customers to see the value in paying more for the plug in version of any car in their line, it has to deliver an electric range that can save them a reasonable amount in fuel to offset the couple thousand dollars extra the vehicle costs, and 13 miles of electric then range doesn’t do it.

BMW now calls the PHEV line that comes from their conventionally powered vehicles "iPerformance"

BMW now calls the PHEV line that comes from their conventionally powered vehicles “iPerformance”

The final piece of the puzzle is the 2nd generation i3. Using Samsung’s Low Height pack 125Ah cells means BMW can offer a 48kWh i3 which would most likely have about a 180 mile electric range. I expect BMW to stick with the range extender option when the 2nd generation i3 is released so the choices will be the 180 mile BEV and a REx that has about 325 miles of combined range, and both versions will charge at 150kW like the i5. I also expect it to have the functionality to turn the REx on manually when the operator wishes, because BMW will have worked out the issues with CARB and the BEVx designation which is why the current i3’s range extender is restricted from using the built in Hold SOC Mode that European i3 owners get to use.

Expect the gen 2 i3 to be slightly larger than the current model, and I’m betting BMW will replace the rear coach doors with conventionally opening ones. They will also figure out how to add a third seat in the back. BMW will improve the drivetrain efficiency as well as add about 20 hp and 25 left of torque. 0 to 60 times for the BEV will be in the mid 6 second range.BMW needs to upgrade the batteries in their PHEVs to the higher density cells coming to market now, and then again in 2019. If BMW were to use the higher energy cells available later this year, the AER of their iPerformance PHEVs would jump up to about 20 miles per charge without increasing the battery’s physical size or weight.

Then, in 2019 when the 125Ah cells are available, they can bring the 2nd generation PHEVs to market with a boost to 30 – 40 miles of electric range. This won’t satisfy the hardcore EV aficionado, but there will be plenty of people looking to buy their first plug in. These people aren’t ready for a 100% electric car, and a PHEV with a respectable AER will bring them (or keep them loyal) to the brand.

BMW will bring the MINI Rocketman BEV to market in 2018

BMW will bring the MINI Rocketman BEV to market in 2018

While BMW’s i5 will be the Model 3’s direct competitor, I believe it’s going to take an entire portfolio of plug-ins for BMW to remain competitive in the ever expanding plug-in market. While BMW absolutely needs a flagship long distance pure EV, there is no one size fits all in the automobile industry, and the plug-in market is no exception. This is one area where BMW has a clear advantage over Tesla. By 2020, BMW will have no less than seven models with plugs in their showrooms, and most likely that number may actually be closer to ten models. If the incredible amount of reservations the Model 3 has amassed has proven anything, it’s that the public is absolutely ready for compelling electric vehicle options.

Tesla has captured the imagination of the world. They’ve proven that it can indeed be done and people want to support them for doing so. Your move BMW.One last prediction. In 2018 BMW will introduce the MINI Rocketman and it will be available in pure BEV and use many of the i3’s components. It will have about a 100 mile range and at launch be available only as a hardtop. However, the following model year it will also be offered in convertible trim, finally giving the EV faithful an attractive and sporty electric ragtop offering.

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75 Comments on "Can BMW Fend Off The Charge of the Tesla Model 3? Part 2"

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You describe a nice car, but if it starts at $50k as you suggest, then it will remain for others to capture the mid-range EV market.

I wouldn’t buy it even if it is price-competitive with a high-end Model 3, because I don’t want a $50k car.

“In fact they are probably positioned better than any other OEM to do so because of the tremendous investment that they have made in BMW i.”

The CFRP stuff is certainly nice. But the i3 design . . . meh.

Everyone knows the biggest problem is the batteries. Specifically, the cost of the batteries. And BMW has not invested in that area but is instead relying on Samsung. That seems to be an area where BMW has not worked hard enough.

GM leaned hard on LG Chem and worked out a deal to get cheap batteries from LG Chem by also using LG Chem as a supplier for many other parts in the EV. (I suspect the battery is being used as a loss leader.)

Tesla has stepped up by deciding to build the Gigafactory to push down battery prices. Hopefully they’ll succeed since they might crash & burn if they don’t.

If BMW doesn’t get a cheap source of batteries, they are gonna have a hard time competing.

You do undertsand Tesla relies on Panasonic and Elon even said he was open to other vendors as long as they can proof they can be better.

Samsung SDI has a clear path/timeline to High Density battery (as decribe by Tom) and is investing massively (they just annouced new investments). BMW partnered with Samsung for different reasons and I’m sure a competitive pricig is part of the deal. Reducing the size and wait is also part of it. As with Tesla and Panasonic. BMW build the pack, having control on this aspect enable them change down the road.

Tesla relies on Panasonic as a cell supplier right now. But with the gigafactory, Panasonic will be more of a partner or equipment vendor & consultant. They will be building actual Li-Ion cells in the Gigafactory.

Perhaps Samsung can match. I hope they do. But I don’t think anyone has been as aggressive as Tesla/Panasonic and the GM/LGChem combo.

Who ever pulls off $100/KWH cells is going to have a LOT of business.

“Who ever pulls off $100/KWH cells is going to have a LOT of business.”

GM already stated that price for 2020.

So has Tesla. Let’s hope someone pulls it off.

$100/KWH should be the death of light-duty vehicle ICE.

Well, that is only half of the equation. The other half is infrastructure.

Tesla is doing something about it. GM is, well waiting for better standards and others to do it for them…

That difference is going to create distance in leadership and brand recognition/loyalty.

It’s not that expensive to put up chargers, so I really don’t worry about the infrastructure. Granted, it may still be inconvenient at times, but very infrequently, to be an EV driver for the first few years. But once it’s clear that there’s going to be millions of EVs in a few years, it seems to me pretty unthinkable that charging wouldn’t take care of itself. It’s no wonder the infrastructure isn’t profitable until EV sales become significant. We’ll charge at home 98% of the time even if fast chargers are everywhere, so I think it’s perfectly natural for things to be as they are. Here in Norway the pioneers started driving electric cars more than fifteen years ago. The incentives are as old. But for the first decade there was little in the way of fast chargers. Buddy, Reva and Think owners basically only charged at ordinary sockets. After the triplets (i-Miev, C-zero and Ion) and then the LEAF arrived, EVs began going mainstream. But it’s still many years until EVs make up 10% of the national fleet, regardless how high a market share EVs can manage. We simply need some patience and willingness to either adapt our plans… Read more »

Tesla is a disruptor company and rules of profits don’t apply as do the legacy companies–that is why it has the luxury of spending billions on the biggest building in the country and unproven long term demand where simply completing said building will represent 100% of current production.

That’s just nuts and no responsible 500 company board would approve such a bet. Even movie companies don’t go so bold.

Tesla has a one time chance to make it big with G1. I’m hopeful it will transform the landscape. One can’t blame the legacy companies in playing at the fringes until then. There’s plenty of sand in the playground for all to share in the US.

Ironically, the likes of GM/Ford are all happy to have a US company crush the foreign companies in the lux sport division that Tesla has been doing for the past 2 years.

but based on GM’s past performance they will find a way of only building 30-40K packs at that price so they can continue to use the excuse that nobody want them

GM also stated they would sell 60,000/year Volts back in 2011, and we all know how well that works d out for them.

i5 with this specs would be awesome! Looks also very practical.

Looks to be more a base model S competitor….

Model 3 is alone right now…. (Bolt is nowhere near a Model 3)

The Model 3’s biggest competitor is the reality of producing the Model 3 on budget. If they can pull that off, they probably will be able to sell 500,000 cars a year.

I don’t see anyone coming close to it. And that is frankly a bit worrying. Sergio may have a point.

The BMW 3, 4, and 5 series are all competitors to the Tesla.

It will be cheaper then a Model S and as Tom stated in the same price range of a Model 3 with the same options.

Model 3 isn’t available, it won’t be before the Bolt is out. Tom is very optimistic by predicting 30K-40K for the first year (New platform, new component, new pack, new electrique engine, 100% new, shit will hit the fan).

The LeafV2 is coming, the i3v2 will be refreshed before 2020.

I think it is exiting time…

Not really – the Model 3, so far, does not have any sort of design feature that is over and above anything they have not already developed and implemented in the S (or the X). Except for the rumored HUD, Tesla already knows how to do everything that the Model 3 has. They did that on purpose for manufacturing efficiency.

Ok… they were 3 years late with the X, the X use the exact same plateform, same electronics except for the crazy filter… And they can still barely push them out of the line. And that recall will bring everything to a stop.

So ya, it’s new from scratch, new platform, new electronics, new engine, new crazy roof (as if he didn’t learn anything for the crazy doors),new battery pack, new UI for the console, the HUD, and on, and on. Even Elon said so.

Uh, no, the X makes my point for me – the Falcon doors, the 2nd-row seats that slide forward and held up production, the automatic motorized headrests…the Model X is the exact opposite of the design goals for the Model 3.

And, they have been producing all-glass roofs since day 1 in the Model S.

There is nothing conceptually new in the Model 3, so far.

franky — Actually, the AWD system was new too. It wasn’t in the original Model S, it had to be developed before the X could be built.

It just happens to be that Tesla also managed to put that into the S in the middle of the X design cycle (likely part of why the X was delayed, while the AWD team was retrofitting the S with AWD).

I find this highly optimistic if we look at what BMW has thus far announced or intimated. A 180 range on the new i3, if true would not be compelling when compared to a Model 3 with the Tesla Supercharger network. And, the i5 might suffer when compared to a Model S 70D with that Supercharger network. Typically I see competition when there is an offering with an aggressive price or better features. And, I am not seeing either here – yet. I get the sense that BMW will rely too heavily on their brand recognition. This strategy has not served them well against the Model S.
However, I also expect a variety of new 200+ mile EVs to be announced from many manufacturers after the Model 3’s dramatic introduction and the surprising (to some) reaction by the public. So, I do agree that there will be faster movement from BMW on the BEV front. But, I see no future at all for these pathetic plug-in hybrids.

I hope we see a lot of new nice EVs. But it takes a long time to design a car and many of these competitors clearly haven’t been interested (Fiat, Subaru, Toyota, etc.).

BMW will have something. And we already know about Tesla and GM. Ford announced $4.3 billion investment in EVs. Nissan certainly needs to upgrade. But others . . . probably more foot dragging.

I would count BMW as a foot dragging, otherwise the i5 would have been present already in the form of an i3 system but in the size and seating five as you describe. The only reason BMW produced the i3 and the i8 is because that would be two cars that would not interfer with their core 3 series and 5 series ICE vehicles. So in essence, that is foot dragging. Now that the Model 3 is announced and backed with 400000 reservations, they are trapped between realizing their dream of longer protecting the core 3 series and 5 series is gone and acknowledging that the i3 should have been the i5 straight away. For BMW it is scramble time and they can either drop the ev case and concentrate on their existing products or produce the i5 late, perhaps in a pure BEV version although their i3 system still make a specific advantage in the absence of 500 KW chargers and even more in the absence of BMW access to the supercharger network. A last possibility but that one is likely not in the cartons is a blitzkrieg in the form of rapid CCS deployment at 300 KW and… Read more »

I agree. The size of the i3 doesn’t compete with the BMW 3 series, and it’s too small and it’s performance envelope doesn’t give the 3 series any competition.

This is a BMW BLUNDER.
Attempting to maintain market share for an existing model means they produced a product that can be beaten in the market by the TESLA M-3 that will compete with the 3 series and beat the 3 series.

Chevy made the same mistake with the Volt.
Protecting the Malibu market segment, with a no-headroom and limited leg space made the Volt vulnerable to competition.

And GM used to own SAAB. So, they should have known how to build a car that fits four adults.

All to Tesla’s advantage. The model 3, comfortable in the city and highway.

That’s funny, there are plenty of previous 3 series owner in the Facebook group, some had BMW M3, and that’s not what they say.

I had a sport car (370Z) before my i3 and my i3 smokes it.

Have you ever drive and sit in an i3 before?

I’m not sure exactly if this is a BMW BLUNDER per say(only time will tell), but it’s definitly not good. I think BMW tried to validate that they can do what Tesla does, and in some respect they can, but the weirdo EV styling, poor choice of battery size and their hesitation to one up their 3series range could prove to problematic if not damaging in the next few years.

The model 3 will have plenty of compitiors in 2018/2019…

The Leaf, Bolt, Ford Model E, Hyuandi Iconic and their SUV, Honda Clarity will all certianly have 200 plus miles range by that time frame…

Plus Toyota will certinaly be in the game by then after seeing Teslas reservation count and their pathetic fuel cell car sales…

The Model 3 isn’t going to be competing against the vehicles you mentioned. Model 3 is going to be a step above those cars, as it has much bigger fish to catch. It’s attempting to storm the ICE castle, with the intent to weaken the foundation using features, performance and infrastructure.
The idea being to force other manufacturers to go electric sooner.

Yep, even if, somehow, competition and/or execution snafus do ultimately put Tesla under in the mid-2020s, they will have accomplished that much. EVs are here to stay.

Sorry, but Tesla will be competing against any manufacture in that price range…

And Tesla has already sucedded in getting ICE manufactures to produce more EVs…

If Tesla managesmto produce a million cars in 2020 it would only be about 1 percent of the cars manufactured in the world…

The legacy auto makers can drop 10 billion on factories with out batting an eye…

Tesla may lead the electric car revolution but the revolution is Ford, VW, Toyota and everone else…

It’s all good. We’ll all breathe easier no matter who Build’s the car’s

if they produce 500K/year in 2020 it will already be a little miracle. 250K/years in 2020 will more realistic

I’d be careful drawing any competitive analysis with Tesla. You’ll be labelled a “Tesla-basher”, “numbskull” … and all sorts of nice things. (roll eyes)

It is all in good-natured industrial competition. I hope both Tesla and BMW . . . and every other car company for that matter . . . create great affordable EVs.

While criticizing Tesla brings most ire, criticizing others also bring harsh words. When I saw Bolt, I knew it was lacking and I was called “nice words”, too. It’s cool now that much of what I was speculating has come true with Tesla 3.

I do the same when SparkEV is criticized, especially when it’s not a balanced point of view that doesn’t take its price into account.

So roll with it; that’s how it’s done around here.

The post is actually quite good – acknowledged Tesla’s achievements, the progress toward their goals, and pointed out their weaknesses, simultaneously demonstrating where BMW’s i brand still has time to gain a real foothold against Tesla and keep Musk from stealing their lunch money (unlike Daimler, who just got embarrassed in the luxury sedan segment in 2015).

Historic record pre-release sales says you can roll your eyes till they cross.

I wonder how much BMW “I” brand will be handicapped by the mass exodus of some of their chief developers. I am hopeful they will improve rather than slide backwards.

Hey BMW, where is your 200 mile EV for $35k?

Look here:
You can see end date is 7/2016. The new 125 miles i3 will be to order in Europe from 1.05.2016 !
My neighboor works at BMW and did you think he is still testint the 94 Ah /125 miles i3. BMW is soon ready with 120 Ah and 170 miles i3 witch will start end 2017. I personally think 170 miles are ok because the i3 is a small car and the Model 3 is a bigger sedan.

It can compete, particularly with the hatchback design and getting close to that 200-mile EPA range…

Not just price and range. Performance, handling, and a charging network.

Unless you are a Tesla Short seller, why do people think their will only be 400K EV car buyers in 2018-2020 and all of them are Tesla Reservation holders? EV sales are NOT a zero sum game. Tesla today has 90+ Million new car competition (99.5% ICE). In 2020 they will still have 100+ Million new car competition, hopefully only (97% ICE). Tesla is Not trying to steal other car manufactures EV cars market share (their isn’t anything to really steal) they are trying to steal their massive ICE car market share and FORCE them to build compelling EVs to protect their overall market share. Tesla can at best make 500K cars in 2020, that still leaves people needing to buy 100+ million new cars a year. Unless you think people are going to wait 200 years for Tesla to get through only 2020’s 100 million back log at 500K a year. What happens to 2021 100 Million Car buyers?. Tesla has NO short or medium or long term plan to buy out other car manufactures and make 10 million or 20 million or 100 million EV cars a year. The only way to sell 10 million or 20 or… Read more »

“and show them what the people really need a compelling long range EV for long term sustainable transport AND show it can be done Profitably”

And for $35K or less. And that is what Sergio wants to see. I hope Tesla can pull it off.

If the financials of the Model S are true, then it is certainly not unreasonable for the base Model 3 to be $35k at Musk’s goal of about 15% profit margin per unit.

If the i3 looked more like the i8 and had a Rex that meant you got full performance even on a flat battery. It would compete very well with the model 3. With a 100 mile range and AWD it would probably also hold its own on a track. So, IMO, BMW is fine – the 3 series it going the way of dinosaur. Nissan have leaf 2 and GM have the bolt and volt so I can’t see tesla being the only show in town by 2020.

Certainly not, and the global charging infrastructure can grow by 2020, and who knows how far Tesla’s SC network will go, and what connectors/protocols they will be using by then – maybe a global CCS standard?

The question is, will they be competitive and meet their price points (Tesla included)?

Tesla is lucky because they have no current lineup to protect. There are no product or division managers trying to defend their combustion-powered turf and everyone who works for Tesla believes in the electric car as the future. There are lots of people in the car industry like the current head of Fiat, and it’s going to be hard to give up on sure-thing profits for the kind of investment it takes to build real EV’s and the charging infrastructure needed for them.

I love the i5 render! Great job!

Looks better indeed. That is how the i3 should have been in the first place. But BMW feared the 3 series sales would have suffered. They would have indeed, but BMW would have been a lot further in ev now.

The BMW 5 series starts at $50,000.
The i5, therefore, would be priced at $60,000 Minimum.

That’s what BMW did with the i3.
1) They took the $7500 federal tax credit and put it into the price,
2) and then added another $5000 just to be sure the i3 didn’t steal any 3 series sales.

And with an i5 at $60,000 the Tesla-3 is going to take significant marketshare.

Tom, you have convinced me BMW won’t have a 3 competitor anytime soon.

Nissan, GM have Leaf 2 & Bolt. They can compete with 3 by being cheaper, offering discounts and cheap leases.

First casualty will be the i3 – which can’t compete with 3 on range, size or style.

With a average price of $42k as Musk expects, 3 will severely undercut i5, even if it were a competent EV – and by all accounts it may just be a PHEV.

What BMW needs is a 3 series EV. Tesla is very clear 3 is a competitor to the 3 series. So, where is the 3 series long range EV from BMW ?

Article full of speculations and crystal ball stuff ….. Why???

Um, because it’s fun?

Life must be boring for some, eh?

Because without wild speculation and crystal ball-ing, half of the entire internet content regarding cars wouldn’t exist….


I think the Tesla S/X and the Tesla 3 will squeeze the BMW 3,5 & 7 series.

Tesla S is somewhere between a BMW 5 & 7

Tesla 3 is dimensioned like a BMW 3, but using BMW 1 type costs, and getting a BMW 5 size interior. So it really is a BMW 3 & 5 competitor.


No doubt that BMW is really in a bad position because its cars are standing first right in the track of the Tesla Model S and 3. Mercedes is also on that track but those cars tend to be owned by more mandarin type conservative persons, while a BMW is rather a younger dynamic person’s car just like a Tesla.

Well, if the 2015 sales records in North America and Western Europe are any indication, I’d say Tesla won. Model S outsold the long-time market leader in both regions: Mercedes S-class.

The real revolution will happen the day that a commuter car 220+mile at less than 20K$, and a pickup with 300+Mile sits on the same show romm foor.

The pickup is unnecessary, except in the bizarro US where people use trucks as purely personal transportation. Nowhere else on the planet is like that.

In 2007 Steve Jobs said the iPhone was “5 years ahead of the competition”. And by 2012 most of the competition was bankrupt or sold for scrap. Then came the Samsung Galaxy.

In 2012 The Model S was released and it was 8 years ahead of any EV, but more surprising is that it took only 4 years to become the #1 luxury car; outselling the S Class.

The Model 3 has no competition and is likely 6 years ahead of what any automaker will produce.

Among the ICE incumbents I don’t see a Samsung, I see Palms, Blackberries, and Motorola.

Steve Jobs stated that Apple would own the key technology in the iPhone. Tesla owns the key technology in their cars, batteries. Panasonic is a supplier, the chemistry and design is Tesla’s.

You are just making stuff on the fly …. or simply playing with the words.

Battery = pack of cells … yes the battery pack is their design

Cell = components chemically/electrically reacting producing energy …. Panasonic’s design, nothing to do with Tesla.

I know you are pulling for Tesla, but no need to overstate their achievements.

Also, how did you come up with 6 years? You really don’t believe that if any of the large manufacturers wanted they would produce a similar car in shorter times (and not making profit at it). You will say what stops them? Well, they are making quite good from ICE so why would they leave that pie abruptly … don’t worry their time will come and no, their cars will not be 6 years behind ….

It’s fact that Tesla’s R&D includes the chemistry of the battery and it’s gone into the batteries. So google it. Panasonic is a supplier just like Samsung is a chip supplier for the iPhone.

The six years is being generous, but if history is our guide it’s more like 8 years.

With the exception of the Bolt, which is no competitor to the Model 3, you can’t name one single car or concept that will be released in the next 5 years that will compete with M3. Where’s the competition? There is none. Where’s the competition for the Model S? There is none going on 5 years, only concepts and promises that it’s coming in 2020.

It may be hard for you to understand the shift that’s taking place, many dumbasses didn’t see the iPhone dominating either.

Back in 2012, leased a Volt for three years and about 18 months later a buddy of mine assumed a lease for a Ford Focus EV. I have yet to replace my Volt and my buddy decided to “sit this generation out” and bought a Jeep. Given all of the churn right now, his whole “sit things out” approach actually seems pretty reasonable. There are a few vehicles out there which I think work well “regardless” of the improvements coming – indeed the gen 2 Volt is one of them. The big change we will start to see is that “EVs” will just start to become “cars” and we will all go back to buying cars the same way we always have instead of buying based on their power plant type. This, as Tom notes, is the area where traditional car makers have a huge advantage over Tesla. The market wants sedans, coupes, CUVs, SUVs, minivans, convertibles, etc. of varying sizes and luxury features. Converting these to “electric” in their next generation platforms for these automakers would seem to be an easier task than having Tesla come up with all of these variants. Of course, that is Tesla’s stated goal.
Tom: I always enjoy reading your posts. As a BMW afficionado, you have a different perspective than I do(Chevy/Ford/Kia type guy). For me, $35,000 for a car(any car)is daunting, to say the least. Probably, I represent a lot more of the public than you do and I appreciate looking at things from your perspective, which is probably a lot closer to the “average” EV driver, who tends to be upper middle class, middle aged men. They are the ones who can afford a semi-luxury or luxury car, and are not necessarily put off by high EV prices. I only mention this because I wanted to place my opinion in context, it’s unlikely I will ever buy a BMW or a Tesla, simply for cost reasons. But I wholeheartedly approve of BMW and the German OEM’s trying to take on Tesla. They can doubletalk all that they want(and many times they are being perfectly honest too)but Tesla has a huge leg up on them. They all have a significant challenge ahead of them and although one can hire away EV engineers, etc., the breadth and width of the knowledge that Tesla brings is considerable. As you mentioned, these German companies are… Read more »

To me, BMW dropped the ball years ago with the Active E only being a compliance play. They were selling over 300/mo in their first year and they just let it die. If they wanted to keep market leadership in the 3-series class when EV’s took off, they should have stayed in the market. Then Telsa would be the one trying to catch up.

That’s completely false. The ActiveE was never for sale, and never designed for long term use. It was a small trial lease program and the 550 – 600 cars in the US were all leased months before the cars were made available.

They were all delivered to the customers over the course of roughly about 1 and a half months. The cars were hand built and cost BMW over 100,000 each per vehicle. It was designed for testing components, nothing more.

While my details may be off, the point is true that they had a 3 series EV *YEARS* ago and didn’t follow up on it. I don’t consider the i3 and i8 as following up.

Correction: it was on a 1-series base.

Tom is correct. Both the Mini E and the ActiveE were nothing more than test mules for the i3. They were never production vehicles. They were imported into the US under a test car exemption that allowed BMW to import non-compliant cars that had not been through such things as crash testing, etc. The trade off was that they had to be exported or crushed after a pre-determined amount of time. It was literally illegal for BMW to “stay in the market” with the ActiveE, and continue leasing them in the US. As for the ZEV credits, BMW wasn’t required to earn any ZEV credits at all until 2015, because BMW was classified as an “Intermediate Volume” car maker, and not a “Large Volume” car maker. It wasn’t until 2015 that BMW was required to meet this requirement: “2015 through 2017 model years, the overall credit percentage requirement for an intermediate volume manufacturer will be 12%” (CCR Section 1962.1 – Air Resources Board) 2015 was long after the ActiveE and Mini E programs were long over, and was even after the i3 was already being sold as a 50 state vehicle. Any claim that any of these cars were… Read more »