World’s First Tesla Model S Owner Calls BMW i3 an “Odd Duck” With a Backup “Gasoline Lawnmower Engine”


Steve Jurvetson, a Tesla Motors board member and the world’s first Model S owner, spoke of Tesla and BMW in an interview on Fox Business Network’s “Money w/Melissa Francis.

Now, it should be stated that Jurvetson really doesn’t need to talk like this.  The Model S speaks for itself.

But Jurvetson made some statements, so here they are:

Odd Duck?

Odd Duck?

“And the reason is a hybrid car is not an electric car. It’s a common misperception. You have the worst of both worlds in many cases, a gas engine and a battery, all the complexity, all the maintenance, all of the tradeoffs that occur in a hybrid car. It’s what Elon calls an amphibian in a transition from dinosaurs to mammals. It’s an interesting transition species.”

That comment was in response to a question ask of whether or not Tesla will ever go the hybrid/range-extended route.

Here’s what Jurvetson said in response to a question posed on the possible threat to Tesla by the upcoming BMW i3:

“BMW itself said – and I’ve never heard any product release say this a year before its release – we’re not trying to make the best electric car; we’re building this vehicle because we have to for regulatory reasons. They’re basically they’re saying don’t judge us by this car and whether it’s any good or not a year before it’s released.”

We personally don’t remember BMW ever stating that the i3 was being built for regulatory reasons.  If BMW did happen to make that statement, then it escapes us.

Finally, when asked about the range-extender in the i3, Jurvetson stated:

“They’re putting in a gasoline lawnmower engine in there as a backup. It’s kind of an odd duck.”

Source: Wall Street Journal

Category: BMW, Tesla

Tags: ,

34 responses to "World’s First Tesla Model S Owner Calls BMW i3 an “Odd Duck” With a Backup “Gasoline Lawnmower Engine”"
  1. Jerry says:

    “We personally don’t remember BMW ever stating that the i3 was being built for regulatory reasons. If BMW did happen to make that statement, then it escapes us.”

    That’s because they never did

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      Exactly. By next year, the i3 will be released in as many or more countries than the Leaf. It is not a compliance PEV.

  2. Bloggin says:

    To comply with government emissions mandates, Mr. Reithofer said “we need about 30% plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles for the year 2025.”

  3. MDEV says:

    He is part of Tesla, he shouldn’t talk like that about BMW, Tesla have to talk with technology. This kind of talk belong to people like us.

    1. IDK says:

      I agree. The model S talks for itself…so will the BMW i3 in it’s own way.

      1. vdiv says:

        “Quack!” 😉

    2. io says:

      Indeed. Is Tesla feeling a threat from BMW or something? I don’t recall their spokespersons ever responding to new offerings from any other automakers so… aggressively.


  4. TeriJ says:

    Lawn mower engine? Please.

    As a representative of Tesla, he should act in a professional and accurate manner. Instead we get the maturity level of a 5th grader.

    The corporate culture at Tesla is worrisome. From the mis-representation of NHTSA safety scores, to the misquoting of BMW, to the non-GAAP accounting.

    1. Aaron says:

      The investors sure don’t seem worried about the non-GAAP accounting methods.

      Misrepresentations of NHTSA safety scores? No, they took information from two sources (independent and NHTSA) and mashed them together. Careful reading can discern the two.

      Misquoting of BMW? Maybe that is a misrepresentation, but is it false? Not at all.

    2. MTN Ranger says:

      Hey that’s a scooter engine, not a lawn mower! 🙂

  5. Bloggin says:

    This comment about the Tesla SuperCharger also clarifies their long term intent to become the Exon of the EV world.

    “Tesla is also open to sharing its supercharger network with other manufacturers, if they’re willing to shoulder some of the costs, Ms. Hendriks says.”

    Which means that in early 2014, there will be an announcement that Combo Chargers are being installed at all Tesla SuperCharger stations worldwide, through funding from GM, Ford, VW, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Toyota who already bought in with their investment dollars, etc.

    1. Brian says:

      That’s quite the job reading between the lines. I don’t see that statement meaning combo chargers are coming at all. I’d love to be proven wrong, though, as it would be a huge boon to many potential future EVs. I guess time will tell.

    2. Any car signed up for the Tesla Supercharger network will obviously use the respective Tesla plug (so far, the North American version and quasi-Mennekes Europe one).

      They absolutely won’t use a Frankenplug or CHAdeMO, etc.

  6. Vin says:

    Tesla should be careful, their arrogance may bite them later. It’s a good way to lose future customers. Even if what they say about the i3 may be true, there’s no need to crap on it like that.

    Tesla seems to forget that they are building their cars for regulatory reasons too. Without EV credits, they’d have to be able to sell their Model S for twice their current asking price, maybe more, to avoid following Fisker’s footsteps.

    1. Brian says:

      “Tesla seems to forget that they are building their cars for regulatory reasons too. Without EV credits, they’d have to be able to sell their Model S for twice their current asking price, maybe more, to avoid following Fisker’s footsteps.”

      Um, no, that’s not quite logical.

      1) Tesla IS trying to make the best electric car. They believe that electrics are the future (at least a substantial part of it), and are pushing the envelope. They are not just making them in response to regulations.

      2) The second half of your statement has merit. Without the regulations, Tesla would have a harder time becoming profitable. However, your cause-and-effect is all wrong. Regulations help them, but they are not the reason Tesla is building EVs.

  7. pjs says:

    It’s hard to be humble when you’re the best.

  8. evnow says:

    Don’t expect anything but mocking words from Tesla for BMW, Nissan, GM etc. Remember they are in bed with Mercedes and Toyota.

  9. It doesn’t do any good to talk about the other automakers if you are a Tesla rep. Just continue to boast about how great your product is and why people would want to buy and drive it. In my opinion that was bush league and makes Tesla look unprofessional. Industry leaders don’t need to talk about what they believe is “inferior” competition and when they do it makes it seem like they are worried about it and need to put it down. Plus, I don’t think anyone from BMW ever said what he claimed they said. If they did we would have heard it before. Every major automaker knows they will have to blend in hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles to conform with regulations, that’s no secret. To then bridge that common knowledge to claim someone said “we’re not trying to make the best electric car; we’re building this vehicle because we have to for regulatory reasons” is disingenuous at best.

    Act like the industry leader that you are and don’t worry about anybody else. It’s unfortunate he said this and hopefully Tesla has enough media savvy PR people to make sure they don’t continue on this course or it will eventually come back to haunt them.

  10. pjwood says:

    It doesn’t matter what Tesla says. They’re years ahead, and no competition looks like it’s going to come for years more. Skill? Hubris? Dumb luck? What are you going to do about it if you are in the market for a large, luxury EV/EREV? Buy an i3?

    Honestly, I hope we get more “lawn mower” comments, because they get people scratching their heads. All in the name of competition. Hard feelings? None.

    1. taser54 says:

      Hard feelings? No. Will I purchase a Tesla based on their corporate culture? No.

      Tesla is supposed to encourage future buyers to be a part of Tesla, not discourage them. With Elon’s antics now coupled with a Board member’s unprofessional comments, I decline to support them.

      1. Rick Danger says:

        What a surprise…….

      2. Brian says:

        What’s more, Tesla continues to proclaim that they welcome competitors. They want to usher in a new age of electric motoring, but they don’t want to do it alone.

      3. Bonaire says:

        I said this below, but I think Tesla is fast becoming the Lance Armstrong equivalent in the EV marketplace.

  11. James says:

    Hey Eric,

    Here’s BMW CEO Dr. Norbert Reithofer discussing i3 with the Wall Street Journal.
    I referenced this video a while back and I do believe Jay actually posted it up from
    my link. Go to 1:00 in the video to see Reithofer basically emphasize the impact
    of current and future regulations in the development of i3 and other future BMW

    The i3 is an “odd duck” – as I’ve been stating here and elsewhere for weeks. It
    really is an impressive move forward on carbon-plastic, aluminum and l
    lightweight metals construction. Yet all that innovation hasn’t produced a vehicle
    that’ll give BMW’s famous driving dynamics – and results basically in an 80 mile
    BEV. The ReX option just drives up the cost, but results in subpar performance
    for anything but limping along to another plug where it has to be charged 3 hours.
    The ability to charge the battery up to 42% while rolling is interesting, but when
    GM was faced with that fork in the road in Volt’s development – they took the
    route that was more efficient for the consumer – charging at home, which is far
    less pricey. It was much more reasonable for a Volt driver to continue along
    to his destination up to 380 miles on 40mpg petrol than use expensive petrol
    to charge the battery back up.

  12. drpawansharma says:

    Actually, an amphibian is not a transition between dinosaur and mammals, it is a transition between sea based and land based animals.

  13. vdiv says:

    Considering the Daimler and Toyota investments in Tesla Motors it is understandable why Tesla would bad-mouth BMW (and Audi). There is also an argument to be made that BMW with its tardiness to the EV market deserves to be bad-mouthed.

    Of course it may be better if Tesla instead collaborates with BMW and we see a Tesla drivetrain in an X5 for example. That is not realistically going to happen.

    How can BMW resoundingly refute criticism coming from the spoiled-rotten Tesla aficionados? Produce a 200-mile+ AER car.

    1. Bonaire says:

      They will.

  14. Loboc says:

    Calling a BMW engine a ‘lawnmower engine’ is pretty lame. BMW engines (even the motorcycle variety) are pretty high tech.

  15. Jerry says:

    They aren’t just mocking BMW, now the Volt and the LEAF are the target:

  16. Bonaire says:

    An EV “civil war” of uncivilized words continues to come out of Tesla and their fans. Makes it hard to root for them since it is hard to root for arrogance and exclusionary tactics. They are fast becoming the Lance Armstrong of EVs. Great successes. Highly juiced.

    1. James says:

      I disagree completely.

      While Lance Armstrong is a creep – and ask his ex wife and gf —- even whilst
      I rooted for him on the mountains of France, I also knew he was a jerk off the
      bike. The “cheating” part is so ridiculous. As a cyclist I’ve never used any drug
      or blood infusion to enhance my ride, yet you would have to be a pure idiot not
      to know nearly every cyclist out there on the Euro pro circuit does. Just like in
      American baseball, many users deny, some confess and some deflect the
      attention away from themselves by tattling on others. It’s pathetic. I’m not into
      cycling at all anymore but for my own recreational riding. I couldn’t tell you who
      won the Giro or the Tour, or the USA championships…. I don’t care. The problem
      isn’t the pressure upon the riders or the huge amounts of money that goes to
      winners – it’s not huge sponsorhip deals or endorsements. It’s about pain. The
      human body just cannot endure what folks who sponsor the Tour de France ask
      them to. It’s nearly a month of pain. Bike racers oft used to tell me it was the
      absolute hardest sport in the world, and I’d laugh because, as an American, I
      thought cycling was one day criteriums or a single day sprint up a mountain. No,
      it’s hell on earth and these guys are forced into a schedule of hurt and abuse
      and they do it because of machismo, and they were lied to when they were young.
      Nobody told them that to keep up the frenetic, insane pace of training and racing
      that they do, they would bonk and collapse unless they got in line and did what
      all the others do – dope. The smugness of Lance and many others came in that
      they felt they had beat the ( testing ) system. The rewards were worth the risks –
      and guys like Lance could accumulate over $100-200 million dollars by doing
      what they had to – to keep up. If measured upon that scale, Lance was the best
      of all the dopers – which basically includes 80-90%+ of all the riders. To say the
      sport is cleaned up today is stupid because the challenges set forth by the Tour
      have not lessened – in fact, they always seem to find more grueling mountains
      and climbs to tackle….the speeds and the times have ever increased due to
      doping over the years, so the stupidity of the sport just increases as well. The
      French and many others jealously probed and pried after Lance and his teams
      for years – ever claiming he was a cheat because he won. Sadly, their riders also
      were doing the exact same things. While the excuse: “Everybody else is doing it”
      didn’t play with my mother or yours when you were a kid — it does for professional
      sports when the rewards are so high monetarily. When race organizers place
      inhuman tests in front of any athlete and expect they meet or exceed them year
      after year, there are going to be those who will go for it by any means they can
      get away with. I say every organized or professional form of cycling needs to be
      reviewed just like pro football in the USA needs to be regarding head concussions.
      Again, the guys go out like sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered without any new
      technology to protect their brains from injury. Again, take snowboarders and extreme
      skiiers who, while people are dying on the half pipes and jumps – continue to get
      Olympic recongnition and addition. Where a snowboarder would do tricks off of
      a ten foot wall in the ’90s, today – it’s 25 feet and no regulation to decrease it. It’s
      sad that athletes feel they need to press beyond what is humanly possible to win
      at any cost.

      End of rant –

      To associate Tesla Motors with Lance A. is asinine and you know it. Here is
      a car that can do what no other can, and you also know that. if you compare
      an S Class Mercedes or 8 Series Audi to a Model S – there is no comparison.
      Elon and Co. have basically made them all look like horse and buggy builders.
      Who cares if their buggies are well-engineered or have reached extreme heights
      of buggy making over the generations…Because they’re still buggies.

      Tesla has a right to be proud. Americans do also. I am extremely proud of Tesla
      and hope Elon doesn’t pull a PayPal and eject before he makes it into one of
      the world’s most successful car companies. What I see as confidence and
      bravado, you see as deriding fun-making. The entire world is competition, and
      if you are part of a revolution that makes the others look tired – you can proudly
      go about and state your opinions – you bet. In the end, it’s the cars that do
      the loudest talking – and Model S just keeps making those buggies look like
      very very expensive 19th century antiques.

  17. Bill Howland says:

    Some of these guys would benefit from Finishing School.

    Its bad form to unduly criticize competitors…. The Model S, while very nice, still has a few maintenance problems of its own, and its cold weather performance to date I find Lacking. Perhaps next winter the new Norway owners will tell us whether some of these bugaboos have been addressed. (I was quite surprised as to how hot the charging cord of the Model S gets while charging at a mere 40 amps, 199 volts, as evidenced by me at the Toronto Tesla Service center recently. I checked this because a friend’s Roadster has had to have his universal mobile connector replaced twice before he gave up on them and is now just using an evse). My purchase of a Model S or X will be delayed until then. Currently, the model S’s problems are not evident in my older Roadster.

    Other manufacturers could have really pounced on the Tesla S’s poor cold weather performance. But they restrained themselves.

    Musk’s assessment of the Volt as “Mediocre at Best” does not jibe with Volt owners. It is at once the most well liked car apparently ever, and also the biggest selling EV currently in the States. It also is quite low maintenance, and the Volt Specific hardware has a really great warranty.

  18. Dan Frederiksen says:

    I see it goes without saying that Jurvetson shows his petty stupidity here.
    i3 is far from perfect but the tiny range extender option is a very good thing. I think he got a little carried away with the coolaid. You can level that criticism at the Volt where it’s a clumsy mix of two drivetrains in a very uninspiring package. But the i3 config is so clean that it doesn’t ruin the EV purity of the experience unlike the Volt. And naturally it is a pure EV if you don’t get the option but even with the option I will think of it as an EV exactly because BMW didn’t saddle it with a crap 4 cylinder from a car.
    The range extender has a suit case feel to it as opposed to the car nose filled with junk.
    Like a honda portable generator on a camping trip.
    The Volt is a crap conventional car smeared with a bit of electric drive, the i3 is an electric car with an emergency kit.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Everyone doesn’t see the world as you do. Amoungst Volt owners, this is the best car ever. As owner of both a Roadster and a Volt, they both serve different market segments and are unique in their own way.