BMW’s Tesla Killers: i3 and i8

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As Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) struggles with production and with concerns about how quickly it can fulfill orders for its Model 3, BMW has become among the leaders to press Tesla’s market share down and become the leader in electric car technology and sales. It already has two cars for sale that have begun the progress. And it is aggressively promoting its new BMW 330e, which gets 72 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent.

The BMW i3 shares a great deal in common with the Model 3. The exception is that a buyer can get an i3 now. The Model 3 will carry a price of about $35,000. The i3 sells for $42,000.

The i3 continues the BMW performance heritage:

The BMW i3 is one of the fastest BMWs off the line. Its incredibly responsive acceleration is felt immediately from a standstill with 184 lb-ft of pin-you-to-the-back-of-your-seat torque4 making for an exhilarating and exceedingly fun ride. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, this EV is a BMW.

Its weakness is that it gets only 81 miles per charge, less than half of most Teslas.

The i8, which costs considerably more, is up against the Tesla Model S P85D, which will go 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds, which makes it one of the fastest production cars in the world.

The BMW i8 costs $140,700 and is a performance monster. However, its 0 to 60 number of 4.2 seconds makes it a slug compared to the Model S P85D. The i8 does have its advantages:

As a plug-in hybrid, the BMW i8 combines an electric motor with a combustion engine for unparalleled power and performance. Launching from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, this vehicle is as efficient as it is dynamic.

The all-electric motor is situated on the front axle, while the TwinPower Turbo 3-cylinder engine drives the rear axle. When combined, these two elements deliver an innovative all-wheel drive sports car with a total system output of 357 horsepower, 420 lb-ft of torque as well as an added electrical boost inherent to eDrive vehicles.

Electric car purists would consider the combustion engine cheating.

But the i8 is a BMW, with a huge dealer service network if anything goes wrong. BMW has been in the factory business for decades. It does not have to wait for a Gigafactory to be complete, as is the case with Tesla.

Tesla only has a year or two to show it can dominate the electric car market. BMW, among others, is hot on its tail.