Elon Musk: “We Can Produce Something Better Than i3 Right Now, But It Wouldn’t Be Great”

JUN 6 2014 BY JAY COLE 100

We are not quite sure what it is about the BMW i3 and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, but the German plug-in  seems to always be on his mind like no other electric vehicle.

Several times over the past year Mr. Musk has given BMW and its i3 a back-handed compliment, a well placed snicker…or an outright slap.  An example of which would be the following quote from last August’s quarterly conference call that brought laughs from both the audience and Elon himself:

“I’m glad to see that BMW is bringing an electric car to market. That’s cool. I think there’s room to improve on the i3 and I hope that they do.”

BMW i3

Demand Has Been Surprisingly High In The Us For The “Not Great” BMW i3

Now with the BMW i3 finally hitting US shores and off to a strong start, maybe the thought that has been crossing his mind all this time is that some of the premium buyers might well indeed just opt for the 80-ish mile EV with optional gas range extender, because he let fly more loose comments this week during Tesla’s annual shareholder’s meeting while talking about the company’s upcoming 3rd gen car.

“It’s important to have a compelling mass market car,” he said of the ‘next’ Tesla while re-enforcing both a possible late 2016 debut and a $35,000 price point.

Then thoughts drifted back to the i3, which Tesla’s next offering will surely be competing against it.

 “I drove the i3, but the range isn’t great.  The issue is in order to create a compelling mass market car, we need a lot of battery production, and it needs to be at an affordable price that it doesn’t hurt the affordability of the car.”

“We can produce something like the i3 or better than i3 right now, but it wouldn’t be great. It wouldn’t be amazing.”

BMW as of yet has not fired back, but has taken a slightly different approach to promoting their plug-in vehicle, saying it is as much about the car itself, the driving experience and how it is made; as it is about total range.

CEO of BMW North America Ludwig Willisch had this to say about the i3 earlier this year to the Business Insider:

BMW Carbon Fiber

BMW Carbon Fiber

“You need to look at the whole concept.”

“We start off by producing carbon fiber in Moses Lake, Washington, with hydropower. Then we use fully recyclable materials to build the car. We build the car with wind power. So the whole production cycle is fully sustainable.”

“…others build electric cars the conventional way…you need to look at the carbon footprint of the whole thing. I would dare say that nobody’s at this point in time where we are, as far as the whole production process is concerned.”

Now that we have had an early look at BMW i3 sales (336 in May), and what looks to be at least 1,000 more sales coming in June (mostly with the range extender, as limited as it is), we know some of these sales must have come at Tesla’s expense; but just how many is the question?

And is the Tesla CEO concerned that the “premium EV” market pie the company owned 100% last year is starting to get cut up?

Or does he just enjoy taunting BMW?

The Street

Categories: BMW, Tesla


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100 Comments on "Elon Musk: “We Can Produce Something Better Than i3 Right Now, But It Wouldn’t Be Great”"

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Had BMW made the front of the i3 more Aerodynamic and used standard tires, it would have been a better vehicle. As it is now, its 70mph COD is not good. Even a city car needs to get on a highway sometime.


“more Aerodynamic and used standard tires”

One of the big reasons for the narrow tires is that they are more Aerodynamic….

70 mph COD? You talking about coefficient of drag? What do you get by cherry picking that metric?

It does 111 mpge highway, and probably beats every other EV in kWh/mile at 70mph. That’s hardly the i3’s biggest problem.

The real problem is the combination of high price, low range, lack of a 5th seat, and looks. Fix one or two of those and it’s quite attractive.

High price…you cannot have a car built on carbon fiber with led headlamps, driving assistance, park assist, performance, internet, keyless and all the bells and whittles sold for the price of a Kia. People don’t look at the whole package when comparing prices. When you factor in fuel savings over the lifetime of the vehicle, the car is less expensive than any comparable ICE car.

A lot of the things you mention aren’t standard features. If it was priced $10k less, it still would cost way, way more than a Kia, so I don’t know what the point of that comparison was.

You can justify the price all you want, but it’s still expensive given all the shortcomings I mentioned. A well equipped LEAF has AroundView, LED lights, intelligent key, etc while having more space, 5 seats, and costing $10k less.

A $5k cheaper i3 would be more reasonable. Even when considering gas savings and comparing to an ICE, it’s too much of a premium.

He is saying a large Company like BMW should be able to build an electric car better than the MS for less money or at least much better than the i3 for the same money (as the i3) but they didnt. I disagree but that is what he is thinking. (people lease BMWs for a reason folks)

+1 BMW didn’t raise the bar at all…they didn’t even meet it. Just like the Cadillac ELR and Volt the i3 is no different.

Not sure if I’d compare ELR to i3. The i3 is better positioned for success than ELR and at a much more reasonable starting point. Folks considering a loaded leaf SL can spend a few K more and get a much better vehicle overall. I also applaud BMW for reducing the production carbon footprint.

Actually BMW has raised the bar dramatically in areas you might not see: New materials and advanced manufacturing.

This results in a big step forward for light weight and increased efficiencies. Most other EVs are simply based on conventional stamped steel body technology, maybe with some aluminum stampings.

This is a potential area of concern for Tesla going forward. Regardless of how futuristic and well built the Tesla is, it is essentially based on conventional body build technology. They really don’t have the same R&D depth of the big companies, which could hurt when it comes to building In volumes. That said, I would still buy one, but this has to be a business issue that is on Elon’s mind.

All aluminum vehicles are not conventional builds.

They may become that in the not too distant future but not now.

Just as there have been aluminum cars before there have also been cars with extensive use of carbon fiber before.

Care to offer examples of mass produced cars that use carbon fiber other than BMW?

Extensive use.

Actually, aluminum builds have been standard for some time now.

Actually, BMW raised the bar significantly. This is why Musk trashes the i3 so much. I’ve noticed the more Musk hates on something, the more of a threat it is to his bottom line or it is something he wanted but couldn’t obtain. I can almost guarantee he tried to get his hands on the CFRP tech but was turned down.. from things I know about the industry but can’t eloborate, Musk likes to “form partnerships” to collaborate on tech.. which coincidently is tech he usually lacks or is behind with respect to the company he tries to “partner” with.. if he gets turned down he bashes the company publicly.

I guarantee you that Tesla had little interest in CFRP.

First of all, controlling costs is the most important thing for a startup. CFRP is way more expensive than aluminum.

Secondly, its benefits are minimal for a long range EV. For the difference in price, you can get a bigger battery and larger motor that more than makes up for range and acceleration advantages of a lighter car. Weight doesn’t affect efficiency as much as most people think.

Finally, CFRP is unproven in the real world. The reason Tesla made safety such a huge priority is that it couldn’t handle the negative press of a Paul Walker type of crash. The Carrera GT’s carbon fiber body snapping in half probably tells you that even Porsche didn’t have the simulation tools needed to make it really safe.

BMW used CFRP for differentiation, not because it’s a smart engineering decision. A bigger, cheaper body made of aluminum with a bigger battery would’ve had many advantages (more room, 5th seat, more range, etc).

How much does it cost to dispose / recycle carbon fiber, and how much to recycle aluminum.

Answer…. a lot more for CF.

Not really. Many people were disappointed in the range it got despite the extensive use of carbon fiber. It got slightly better efficiency than a Spark EV and Fit EV, and those cars were just conversions, but the tiny battery ultimately was the most disappointing thing.

BMW could have moved the bar higher, but they kind of missed that chance.

Big Solar “people lease BMWs for a reason folks”

One of the reasons that BMW, Mercedes, Jag, and all the luxury brands have such high lease numbers is due to tax laws for business vehicles.

If a business buys a luxury car, they can’t deduct the full price of the car from their tax liabilities. Because of that, most corporate luxury cars are leased, because the full price of the lease is fully deductible. That contributes greatly to why in strong business markets like the LA Region, Mercedes and BMW average 65-70% of their total sales as leases.

Up until a couple of months ago, Tesla was locked out of that market because Tesla didn’t offer a business lease that qualified for the full tax deduction. They’ve now changed that, so I fully expect to see the percent of leases start to go up.

This is going to take a while to ramp up though, because businesses have a hard time dealing with multi-month wait lists when provisioning vehicles. That is the next challenge to work through before business leases can really take off for Tesla.

Nix, Tesla leasing the regular way would change the whole GAAP/Non-GAAP thing. Good, if they can increase units, but it will bring them closer to the, typically lower, GAAP numbers.

I was referring to homeowners not businesses. But either way its the “smartest” way to get one of these “premium” cars.

I don’t think that Elon meant that BMW could have made the i3 a long range low cost car like Tesla’s gen3. He said that Tesla can not do that today either.

It will take the next generation battery cells and the Gigafactory economies of scale to make it happen.


The reason why i3 was mentioned at the shareholder’s meeting was that someone from audience mentioned it, so Elon just built on that, that’s all. By a compelling EV, Elon means something with 200 mile range, looks great, handles like a 3-series and is priced below $40K, that’s why he is not impressed by the i3, neither am I, it’s purely a fancy city car for $40k, that to me is not impressive.


The Model S is just a large sedan with 4x the battery of any other EV with poor luxury options. It’s optioned like a base 3 series. Not very impressive either.

It’s poorly optioned in the same way an iPad is poorly optioned compared to many other PCs and Tablets that cost less.

People like the interior because it’s clean and simply works, just like the iPad. It’s a striking contrast to the jungle of buttons you get from German competitors.

Luxuries are largely gimmicks, and the Model S has enough to make up for what it lacks vs. an S-Class. Automatic handles, no ignition, giant sunroof, rearview camera and internet while driving, etc.

mine seems very impressive to me. German cars not so much

Tesla/Musk talk like they *have* built a sub $40K vehicle with those specs and you can buy it today.

They have not. Let’s wait until they actually do something other than talk about it.

“Or does he just enjoy taunting BMW?”
I think he just says what he feels, which is rare. Elon has a lit bit of Bob Lutz in that he doesn’t sugar-coat things.

The i3 is all about options. Previously consumer had to settle for a ‘consumer’ brand to get a compact EV, or make a bigger $70k+ upgrade to a Tesla. i3 just offered an entry-level upgrade to a premium brand compact EV.

Which means Tesla’s upcoming 200 EV mile, $40k EV should do well.

Electric Car Guest Drive


Sure he can build something “better” at twice the price.

Tesla has done nothing to prove that they can produce a car in the price range of the i3.

Musks’ statements about the i3 detract from the accomplishment of the Model S. But then again, Musk consistantly disaparages competitors, and it reflects poorly on Tesla.

Instead of just reading the article, pull the context of the actual statements. You’ll see that it isn’t as much a statement about the i3, as it is about Tesla’s choice to not pursue a vehicle like the i3.

I attribute it to something Steve Jobs said (paraphrased): We can make a sub $500 computer, but it won’t be great.

There is a higher standard here. The i3 is close, but needs better AER and better AERO. The weird-sized tires won’t help when they need replacing either. $$$

Don’t spread false information. The tires are cheap.

$127-$150 each depending on if you get the all-season or winter.

Huh? Is a pro BMW troll…

There is nothing wrong about being pro BMW, or any other brand.

Do you have a link showing what tries cost for the i3?


I hope these two companies can work together. Tesla providing the batteries and charge infrastructure, BMW providing the carbon fiber panels and misc bits and pieces. Working together both companies could distance themselves from the pack, to the point of burying them.

Tesla is apparently trying to do it this way with Daimler.

And Daimler seems on the losing side.

Daimler looked at and tested Tesla drivetrains for the Smart ED but went with a local provider in Germany.

Those who think Tesla is going to be supplying batteries to the rest of the EV marketplace better think twice.

Tesla has nothing to gain by giving Daimler a good deal on powertrains. It makes ~$25k in gross margins on every 85kWh of batteries it can get its hand on.

You think Daimler would give it $5k profit on each 18kWh drivetrain assembly on top of covering tooling/engineering costs for such a low volume car? Hell no.

Same thing with Tesla and Toyota. Elon said at the same shareholder meeting they don’t have the battery supply to meet it without choking Model S sales.

TSLA does provide drivetrain for Mercedes B-Klasse EV

It appears carbon fibre is not easily recyclable and usually results in downcycling. Aluminum is fully recyclable, resulting in a closed loop for materials at some point in the future. I’d rather go for Al even though it isn’t quite as sexy. 🙂

Why would they buy batteries from Tesla?

Tesla doesn’t make batteries. They assemble battery packs from individual cells they buy from Panasonic.

Yes, Tesla does not make cells. They do design and manufacture batteries, and are skilled at this difficult art.


Drawbacks of BMW i3 are
1.) its bad NCAP crash test performance,
2.) missing “real” back doors for kids
3.) extreme bad AC charging options at home in Europe (no 3-phase charging)
4.) almost NO charging network for travel

Government or people who lease the car for 2 years dont think abeout that.

I don’t understand #2? The suicide doors area actually one of the few things I like about the i3’s looks. Kids can’t open these?

If you have small kids, you can’t easily take them out in a tight parking situation. This is the #1 reason I’m not buying i3.

Still not understanding. Why can’t you take out small kids?


I have the same problem. Baby on the way in October. There is no chance I will be able to get a carseat out of the back when parked in a parking spot.

I checked it out in person a couple weeks ago (No test drive allowed though). With the front and suicide door only partially open, there is just not enough room to lift children out of the back. Next time you can see one, try opening the front door half way, and the suicide door half way, then reach into the back seat.

I got offered a test drive in an REx by the dealer earlier this week, but I was headed to the airport for work. I almost don’t want to drive it, because I know I can’t buy it because of the door configuration.

OK, so you are talking about clearance for a child seat. Wouldn’t you have this same problem w/a normal door when parked closed to another car?


Ask any extended cab pickup owner about the “trapezoid trap” that you get stuck in with open driver’s door and suicide rear door when parked close to another car. That should explain the issue.


BTDT… I’ve been trapped by those goofy doors trying to get my kids out. The Falcon doors on Model X should be better, but the sliding doors of mini-vans seem best.

kdawg — grab yourself a 20lb bag of dog food (average weight of a 2-3 year old kid) and try simulating reaching out at arm’s length and putting it into a child safety seat. Now have somebody shake the bag to simulate a squirmy kid.

It is a leverage thing. The closer you can be to the center of gravity where a kid’s butt goes in the seat, the more leverage you have. Having to reach in even just a few more inches makes a lot of difference, because your arm acts as a lever, and the longer you have to reach out, the harder your back has to work on the other end of the lever.

What your saying is not so much the clearance but the weight/center of gravity. Aren’t you supposed to use rear facing seats until age 2? How is that handled w/a normal door? Of course they weight less at that age. However after 2, they should be able to slide out of the seat themselves.

Is it just me or have car seats for kids become ridiculously huge the last few years?

The main problem with the door configuration is that you have to open the front door before opening the back door, which is cumbersome if somebody wants to jump into the back seat on the driver’s side quickly while the car is parallel parked on a busy street. That, and the “limp along” RX would deter me from buying the i3. Other than that, I could love it.

I disagree. The suicide door is much shorter than the front door and should be able to fully open in a tight parking spot. Also, since there no B-pillar between the front and back seats, the i3 has a large opening to climb into the back after you slide the front seat closer to the dash.

I think you are making a mistake. There is no perfect car and aside from the suicide doors that I am not a big fan of (although most people I show the car to find it really cool) the i3 is almost a perfect car. The back seats are very accessible and although the front seats don’t look like they can recline to the front, they are.

Please take a look at http://ccs-map.eu/. There are a lot fewer public 43kW Type-2 than there are CCS chargers in Europe now.

But more private 43kw chargers than CCS 🙂 And lots of CCS Chargers are jeust 20kw.

THATS the Truth…

Put a somewhat bigger battery on a LEAF. There, you something better (for some) than an i3, that isn’t great. It seems that everybody can…

Someone asked him about the i3 and he answered them LOL how is it on his mind?

“So the whole production cycle is fully sustainable.”

Bullshit. How does the carbon fiber get from Washington state to Germany? Very likely on ships burning bunker fuel. If they were that concerned about sustainability, they would commit to creating the carbon fiber in Germany.

There is almost no hydropower in Germany. Cheap hydropower is a precondition.

I think they just wanted to suck up American buyers, i.e. look it is made of US parts rather than think of environment the second time.

Or building cars in the United States so that they don’t need to burn fuel again shipping cars back.

How is their battery manufactured and its carbon foot print compared to Nissan’s. I bet Nissan’s better since it is done right next to where they make the car.

A 2013 fact sheet from the Port of Moses Lake claims an average rate of $0.03 per kilowatt-hour for industrial power, compared to the U.S. residential average of about $0.12, and an estimated $0.30 rate per kWh in the Berlin region near Leipzig.

“you need to look at the carbon footprint of the whole thing. I would dare say that nobody’s at this point in time where we are, as far as the whole production process is concerned”
Sure, I fully agree with that. And it is something to take into account when looking at a new car. But if a car doesn’t have the range the buyer wants, he will not buy that car, not mater how low the CO2 emissions during production are.

It’s clear that Musk will not allow Tesla to release anything short of ground breaking for the time being.

I think Elon is particularly hard on BMW and the i3 because BMW is a premium brand and should be more capable of competing with Tesla than what the i3 is showing. Elon has been about not only building a great car at Tesla, but getting other companies to step up as well. You criticize more when you expect more.

Where to start? First, I think BMW’s response is pretty lame. They assume the only ones buying the car are treehuggers and only care about sustainability.

As for some of the comments here against BMW saying they haven’t raised the bar any.. Now that I must disagree with. If you are just looking at the BEV version, then I’ll agree. I can’t believe they came out with a BEV on a premium brand and didn’t even bother to try for at least 10 or 20 miles of range above the competition. (The Leaf and FFE)

Having said that, I think the BMW Rex did raise the bar for PHEVs. What other PHEV gets 80 miles of all-electric range?

Well, they may have “raised the bar” in the instance you described with more range in a phev but the price went along with it. I will give them that they are the only ones with 70 or 80 miles electric in a phev but I’d still buy a volt over the I3 rex because you are not limited to 200 miles total range with a volt.

I’m not quite confident of i3 sales’ “strong start”! I’ve been watching the local dealerships’ inventory and at least between two of them they’ve sold about 2 i3s, and still have 4 sitting on their parking lots — they’ve also been sitting there for 2-3 weeks. This is also Georgia where anyone can get $5K on a BEV. These tiny i3s are way overpriced with little range.

Funny thing is that the manager was so confident they’ll fly off the lot, he wouldn’t discount any of these by 1 penny.

“you need to look at the carbon footprint of the whole thing. I would dare say that nobody’s at this point in time where we are, as far as the whole production process is concerned”

Steel can be recycled. Can carbon fiber?

What Musk says makes sense in competitive terms. He needs to always talk up range and talk down Tesla short comings (not efficient, high price etc). He is the CEO of Tesla and wants to promote Tesla, so his comments shouldn’t surprise anyone. Model S’s USP is the long range.

Once Infiniti announces their 200 mile range car – I’m sure we’ll hear a slightly different tune from Musk.

lol infiniti

By the time Infiniti gets a 200 mile range EV, Tesla will have its new Roadster on sale.

What alarms Elon more than anything else is that the BMW is shipping the i3 *today* whereas the Gen3 is still several years away. This means that as we speak BMW is working on improved versions of the i3 series that will ship when the Gen3 ships. These will be cheaper and have longer range than the i3 and will possibly be better than the Gen3.

I think that is what everyone here wants including Elon.

Yes, he even addressed that question specifically at the meeting. He welcomes competition and would love for all automakers to make “compelling” electric vehicles.

Elon says a lot of things, many of which are not true. For example, he claims to be a founder of Tesla, which is not true (he fired a founder, then sued for the right to call himself a founder). Elon is chewing on a wad of crazy, and every so often he’ll spit some at you. His passive-aggressive guttersniping at other EV manufacturers is one example of this.

If you have ever watched the 60 Minutes episode with Elon Musk, you will need to eat your words in calling him a liar. Musk is very forthright about how Tesla started and what led him to buy out his partner. Further, 60 Minutes covered at length how Musk came within day of being bankrupt while trying to produce the Roadster. When Musk recited his experience to 60 Minutes, you can see how intensely this affected him.

You can say a lot of things about Elon Musk, but impugning his integrity is absurd.

Yeah, I don’t understand the angst towards Elon. I see him as a fellow nerd.

I could see Elon having nerves over the i3’s EREV, to BEV, adoption rate. It shows sustainability, and BEV purism, may be less what his segment is about, than he’s planned on. BMW’s is the data to watch.

Ace in the hole is the SC network. If BMW had one of these, the range extender adoption may not have been as high. Or if the AER was more than 80 miles.

I agree, if we are making the case on total costs, but to me the ace in the hole is up front cost. It may not seem rational to you, and me, but the 60-80 mile EV, plus ICE, for however much longer its price stands to be lower than 50+kwh BEV, with infrastructure, charging capability, etc,is the threat Tesla must watch.

I don’t think anybody has concrete data that splits the emphasis on Eco vs. Enviro. Tesla is a big yardstick in the >40k dollar space, but nobody can buy one with a small REx and 40kwh. Sales of this formula are the data that’s missing.

The i3’s EREV/BEV ratio tells us nothing right now. It’s far too early to read anything into small numbers in a very young market, i.e. pluggable cars. Even a year from now I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on that ratio, simply because you’re by definition talking about BMW drivers, not average car consumers. You wouldn’t examine BMW sales data for the percentage of buyers that spring for a super high-end stereo and extrapolate that to car buyers as a whole. Similarly, you wouldn’t extrapolate BMW buyers’ preference for high performance options to all buyers of luxury cars. This whole i3 vs. Model S thing is no more than a mildly interesting sideshow. I suspect both, as well as the follow-on models from both companies, will sell very well, especially as they benefit from lower battery prices. And that’s great news for everyone, including people driving their ICEs. The much more interesting developments are what happens now with the Leaf, the Volt, the various pluggable VWs, etc., simply because they could sell in very large quantities. I think the Leaf S, for example, is right on the brink of selling at a very compelling price, even with just the federal… Read more »

It’s really an issue of market segmentation. Since most of us here look mainly at electrification we forget about the market segmentation.

The i3 is a high end small urban/city car, whereas the model S is large luxury sedan. Different purposes, different market segments.

Functionally the i3 competitors are the I-MiEV and Smart ED, with the i3 at the top of the luxury scale.

The model S competitors are more likely the Panamera, Audi E-Tron and maybe the i8.

The Tesla Gen III presumably will go after the highly competitive mid market family sedan segment, which really only has mild plug in hybrids like Fusion or Camry at the moment, although for sure BMW will place something like an i5 in there on the high end.

The EV market is about as cross-pollenated as the dust on my car, right now. Volt owners are notoriously conquest buyers, not the loyal to GM.

I’m speculating, but certainly relative to other aspects of autos, EV’s are a segment, not a brand. Toyota is the brand where “Toyota buyers” are the data.

i3′s EREV to BEV ratio doesn’t mean a whole lot right now because, as others have said, the sales are not significant yet. Tesla doesn’t have much to sweat about until i3 sales even remotely approach Model S sales, much less worry about Gen 3 prospects.

The other thing is that given the short range of the i3 BEV, it’s hard to tell if people buying REx are buying it because they want an ICE for the extra security (as PHEV supporters like to say) or because the base i3 has way too little range (Elon’s argument about most of the other EVs). We would need a third option (an i3 with more battery range) to really tell the difference.

RE: is it PHEV security, or too little AER that makes buyers want REx?

It doesn’t matter.

This question implies they’d be indifferent to more AER, or similar range through PHEV, where my original point was EREV is accepted as significantly cheaper (maybe 5k-10k less, in cost). So, again, the answer to your question doesn’t matter if reaching for the cheaper drive train that meets a consumer’s needs (on ECO) is about to be what unfolds.

I don’t believe it is too early for auto co’s to drill existing data to try and establish if the above is true. Electricity is 1/3 the price of gas. How this bubbles up in demand is as important as BMW’s perception that being Green is the way to go. One has more influence in consumers minds, than the other.

…this is all bearing in mind the data that supports that 70-90% of yearly miles become electric, once 20-40kwh of battery are included.

“This question implies they’d be indifferent to more AER, or similar range through PHEV”
That’s not really what I mean. What my question really is the reaction of people to these scenarios:
1) pay slightly more for a BEV with the same amount of range as the REx (gasoline miles included, so ~160 miles total)

2) pay the same for slightly more BEV range (but less range than the REx with gasoline miles included, so ~100-120 miles total).

This would touch on the core question of Gen III vs i3 REx and whether people would flock to the all electric side (as Elon is expecting) given enough AER or to the REx side (as you are implying) even accounting for the possibility that the REx solution less expensive. If it’s the former, Elon has nothing to sweat. If it’s the latter, then Elon might have something to sweat about. But my argument is that the current i3 REx vs BEV ratio doesn’t give much insight into this at all, as it’s still a low range BEV (not comparable in range to what the Gen III is lining up to be).

Not so long ago BYD head was criticizing the model s by saying they  could make one immediately. The obvious comment was to say well what are you waiting for? Now we have Elon telling Tesla could make a model with a similar system as the i3. Again the obvious comment is to say what are you waiting for? With Elon at least we had a response to that question. He said it wouldn’t be great, it wouldn’t be amazing. But then of course we have to question why Space X is still involved in full fossil fuel RP-1 rockets, since the DC-X was already using at least potentially renewable Hydrogen, which makes the falcon 9 seem like something that is not great and not amazing. So there seem to be some kind of twist where some fossil on a bev is not cool but lots of fossil on a rocket is. The obvious balance here is to have a bev with decent 100 miles ev range, supercharge and a rex, and to make an hydrogen fueled falcon 9. There is a move planned to make a methane fueled Falcon 9, so why not start a move to give the… Read more »

I wouldn’t consider the i3 to be a premium vehicle; it’s an over-priced compact car that is much smaller inside than my Leaf. It will never be an EV I would drive because it’s too small.

So I don’t think the i3 is taking any sales from Tesla, and not even Nissan, based on the Leaf’s continued success. It may simply be expanding the EV market.

What ends this debate if Tesla is better then the BMW EV is.

You can drive a Tesla Model S from Virginia to Pennsylvania with one charging secession.

The BMW you have to stop four to five times along the way to Pennsylvania in areas were there are no fast chargers expect in Northern Virginia. The Rex only has a one gallon gas tank which makes it kind of useless for long distance driving. If it had a five gallon gas tank then it would be more of a challenge. Also the Tesla can push past 80 to 100 miles on hour while this car can’t do it for as long as the Tesla can.

The biggest thing wrong with the BMW is that it is double the price of a leaf but has the same range. If they were to double the battery range of it to match it’s higher price then it would pose a major block to Tesla. But as if now the two of them aren’t really competing with one another.

Reducing everything only to range is not very productive. By that metric, every Honda Civic is better than the Model S for a fifth of the price and also works outside of the Supercharger corridor. 😉 Of course, now you will say the Model S is more energy efficient than the Civic and contributes less to climate change. But then again, by that logic the i3 is better, since it is significantly more efficient than the Model S …

Sure, in general car terms, range doesn’t matter. That’s because with a gas car there’s gas stations everywhere and practically every gas car has “enough” range where it’s not a worry (it’s not a spec anyone really cares about at all).

However, in the BEV and plug-in world, range is obviously extremely important (it makes or breaks a purchase design). 80 miles of range (as most non-Tesla EVs are, including the i3) is so far from the “enough” point for many people that it’s a huge impediment to general acceptance of EVs. And “EV range” does have more significance than “gasoline range” too (no equivalent in consumer eyes).

The next part (which most people neglect) is charging power, and Tesla wins everyone else there by a wide margin.

In contrast, the efficiency of the EV actually is treated more like range is for gasoline cars. EVs have such a high efficiency (well past the “enough” point), that buyers don’t really care as much about which one has the higher MPGe.

It always depends what you use the car for. I would never buy a pure EV if I needed the vehicle for long-distance travel, not even a Tesla. The Supercharger network in the US is nice, but there are still large parts of the country that are not in range (not to mention the situation in other countries), and even if they are, you have to carefully plan every trip and may have to drive many extra miles just to get to the charger.

So, given that long-distance travel is out for *my* personal needs, the range is suddenly not a significant advantage anymore, as long as it is good enough for my real use case, which is urban travel. Now I have a choice between a 4500 pound/$100K vehicle with a (for these purposes) overdimensioned battery, or a significantly more efficient 2600 pound/$40K vehicle …

The bottomline is, yes, range is important, but it’s far from the only metric for an EV.

Ford is better than Chevy!
or is it Chevy is better than Ford?
Love this stuff as competition is good for all.
As an i3 owner, the car is amazing and the tech in the car is far more advanced than Tesla.
It looks to be a great showdown in a couple of years between these two companies.
Electric motors and batteries are not the competitive edge for either company.
Supercharger network, advantage Tesla
CFRP advantage BMW.

I hope generations will continue to debate:
Tesla is better than BMW!
or is it BMW is better than Tesla?
Bravo to both.