Barclay’s Kristina Church thinks that there is at least one credible competitor to Tesla. In Church's opinion, that credible competitor is BMW.
"We think BMW have positioned themselves as tech leaders to out-rival premium peers such as Tesla."
"In terms of positioning, Tesla’s target audience is likely sandwiched between the two i-brand models. The i3 may be smaller and with a lower range, but we think it will appeal to the same type of ‘sustainable’ driver as Tesla’s Model S, though may be a slightly less flashy one. The i8 is a higher-end, more expensive sports car. BMW’s emphasis on sustainability throughout the production process may appeal to a more deeply “green” consumer than Tesla."
Tesla Model S
"In the near term, the i3/i8 may erode some of the base of Model S buyers; in the mid-term, BMW’s EV focus means increased competition for Tesla’s Gen III, reinforcing our view that Gen III success is not guaranteed."
But then she loses some credibility with this statement:
"Combined with plateauing of Model S demand in the U.S. and Norway, we see incremental risk to the demand outlook for Tesla."
There's no concrete evidence to support this "plateauing of Model S demand in the U.S. and Norway." Tesla is currently in the process of fulfilling Model S orders in China, which is likely the cause for Model S sales volumes dropping off in some countries. However, there's no evidence that global demand for the Model S is falling. In fact, by the global sales figures, it would seem that demand for the Model S is still rising.
What's our take on BMW being a credible Tesla competitor? Neither the i8, nor the i3 pose any serious threat to Tesla Model S sales. Future BMW i models may indeed challenge Tesla head on, but with the i3 and i8, BMW doesn't yet have a Tesla competitor in its lineup.