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Tesla Model 3 vs BMW i3

Tesla Model 3 vs BMW i3

I'd like to have the input of the people around here. I've lived in North America for twelve years. When I first arrived, I couldn't find any US cars that had styling or design that I liked the look of - none. Was that because the US can't design anything? I thought so but then the Apple Mac disproved that. The Mac embodied industrial design that was striking fresh and clean... Oh, that was designed by a brit. So, I'm left with the impression that the US can't design. This cannot be true - a whole nation cannot be bad at design, the laws of average don't stack up.

Then I realized, there are no small hot-hatch designs and it was those that I missed. But, why are American cars big, great in a straight line, softly suspended and useless at going around corners? Answer: The same reason that elephants are big - it’s all down to the habitat. UK cars are typically found on backroads often only marginally wider than the car, roads that are cut along the property lines of 12th century land owners rather than point-to-point interstate flows - there’s no concept of a twelve lane highway in the UK.

I grew up loving hot-hatches like the GTI, XR3 and R5Turbo so for me, the i3 is pretty normal apart from one problem - why is the interior brown? Where’s the black, silver, and the carbon fibre from the UK version? That’s still a mystery for me. Which one will fit perfect for your lifestyle?

Dramsey | July 20, 2014

The Mac embodied industrial design that was striking fresh and clean... Oh, that was designed by a brit.

Depends on which Mac you're talking about. Ive's first Mac design was the original CRT-based iMac.

I grew up loving hot-hatches like the GTI, XR3 and R5Turbo so for me, the i3 is pretty normal apart from one problem - why is the interior brown?

I can't see anyone who loves hot hatches liking the i3; the driving reports I've read have have criticized the intrusive stability control and skinny, low-rolling-resistance tires. Aside from the size it doesn't seem very hot-hatchy.

As for the Mod 3, who knows? Absolutely nothing is known about what it will look like.

grega | July 20, 2014

One of the Tesla benefits are that it tries to be a great car first and foremost. They haven't taken the path of being "greener" by compromising on handling by using extra thin tyres etc.

It seems some companies act in the following order
1) be efficient and use the least energy possible
2) use electricity
3) be brilliant

Tesla does it in the other order.

Ocean Railroader | July 20, 2014

BMW i3 could have creamed the Tesla third generation years before the Tesla theat came out if BMW could chose to. In that right now the BMW i3 has the range of a Nissan leaf which is 80 miles. The BMW also has a price that is double of the Nissan Leaf. This doubled price goes up angst logic in that you would naturally think that if a car as double the price of a leaf it could afford double the range. If BMW doubled the range of the i3 to 160 it would really cripple Tesla for a few years in til the 200 to 300 mile version came out at the same price.

Tesla could fight this threat and bash BMW over the head if it introduced a 110 kilowatt battery pack for the same price as the 85 kilowatt battery pack is now. Then they could move the 85 kilowatt battery pack down to the price level of where the 60 kilowatt is now. The 60 kilowatt battery pack could then be moved down in price to where the former 40 kilowatt pack used to be at for $49,000.

if they did something like this everyone thinking about buying a $45,000 BMW with 80 miles or 160 miles of range might go for a Tesla with 160 miles of range.

Realo.de | July 21, 2014

@Ocean Railroader

In that right now the BMW i3 has the range of a Nissan leaf which is 80 miles....If BMW doubled the range of the i3 to 160 it would really cripple Tesla for a few years in til the 200 to 300 mile version came out at the same price.

you should notice that BMW offers a model with range extender that doubles the range so that exactly the 300km are possible (150km in full electric mode.

The BMW also has a price that is double of the Nissan Leaf. This doubled price goes up angst logic in that you would naturally think that if a car as double the price of a leaf it could afford double the range.

Not quite. In Germany, Leaf starts at 30k up to 36k, BMWi3 starts at 35k up to 40k (with extender). Agreed, you pay for the "BMW-factor" but that's what Germans would/will do. We are willing to pay more for a BMW than for a Nissan (with the same performance) - it's just a question of brand.

... The 60 kilowatt battery pack could then be moved down in price to where the former 40 kilowatt pack used to be at for $49,000.

sorry, but here you mix apples and oranges. The BMWi3 is "perceived" as a small-sized city-car, M3 will competes with the BMW3x series (x=320,325,330).

The BMWi3 has about 170PS and 0-100 min about 8 second, much lower than the expected M3.

Nanana26 | July 21, 2014

City cars are extremely popular in Europe. It allows for easy parking. The width of roads in Europe ar ealso much "thinner" than in the US, corners are tighter and parking spots smaller.

As far as BMW i3 goes. It's probably the best choice for a cheaper EV right now. It is head and shoulders above the rest in it's class like the Nissan Leaf or Volt, especially interior wise. I haven't had the chance to drive one, but I have sat in one and the interior is so far beyond what a small car is supposed to have.

I do think if you buy an i3 you should buy the version with the range extender and fast charging. I don't know why that's not the standard option.

Nanana26 | July 21, 2014

"why is the interior brown?"

Do you mean the wooden interior accents? BMW says it's eucalyptus wood because it's eco-friendly wood.

There is some truth to that though, eucalyptus wood is easily sustainable, you can chop off eucaliptus at it's root and it will grow again within a few weeks, which makes it easy to sustain.

Ph03n1x | July 21, 2014

If I like the interior of the i3, the exterior is ugly like never before.

Regarding Model S (and Gen3 if not redesigned), it is "classical", far form the fisker karma diesgn for instance. However, and I hope so, everything was done to be drag efficient. That's why the Model S has this ugly black plastic nose. Anything else would kill air entry, drag efficiency and range.

On the general design impression, I have to agree with you. However, some old car (muscle or oldsmobile) does look appealing to me sometimes. But when I came first in N-A, the only one that I loved was the new mustang design, very agressive. I went back in Europe and eventually came back in N-A to stay there. At this time I had to buy a car. I had enough of seeing this mustang everywhere and as it was also a big gaz consummer, I decided to look somewhere. From all the car I could choose, I went for an european one, and I am still.
The last Gen of Ford design seems good but not yet at the European design level. Model S is great (aston martin references) but not WoW imho.

Tiebreaker | July 21, 2014

@Ph03n1x - test drive one, you will WoW.

Ph03n1x | July 21, 2014

I already did. And yes the WoW is there while driving, I was speaking about its design, and interior that are very good, but not WoW.

However, in a sense someone could ask, what do you need more, but with that tag price, I could want a WoW about design :)

balabanshik | July 21, 2014

Some time ago, I went and test drove an i3. There are two sides to that: design and utility.

Design. I don't really know where to start with that. Inside and outside, it looks like they took a bunch of interns and let them loose. Alternatively, they took the experienced designers, capable of producing a classic look of the BMW, put them on some sort of mind altering substance, and gave them the task of "designing a car for the modern audience". The outside is questionable at best, while the inside is extremely busy with bits sticking out at strange angles, the tiny screen (for the model year), and all the knobs thrown in for good measure. Now, design is a very subjective thing, but I'm yet to see a person who would be happy with both the inside and the outside of the i3. Not saying that such a person doesn't exist, of course. Just rare.

Utility. First and foremost, the battery. 80 miles is tiny. Usable, but does not exactly add confidence. You'll be able to commute, but a shop trip after work would stretch it somewhat. Then there's the dynamics. The official specs say 0-60 in 7 seconds, but it must be with an anorexic driver and no luggage. It feels sluggish. You still get the instant torque, but the dynamics are in the SUV territory. Equipment and further bells and whistles - uneven: the backup camera has turning lines, but *manual* seats on the most loaded all-electric (i.e. without the integrated lawnmower engine) version. Really, manual seats.

At $50k (for the loaded EV-only) I'm extremely doubtful. But maybe I just lack the capability to be swept away by the magnificent design...

Realo.de | July 21, 2014

Some remarks about BMWi3 / BMWi8

@Kiyoris: I fully agree, couldn't say it better

What BMW wants and how the iSeries is positioned in the market is something "next generation" - not a car like an eSmart or an eGolf - just a well-known car with an "e". The design is "futuristic" (you don't have to like it, but at least a i3 "attracts attention" - ah, see, an i3! (the same way a Citroen DS did some 60 years ago).

and then - don't disturb with facts! :-). 0-100 is about 8sec, range 150km, and 300km with extender (believe it, please :-)) - it's a city car and a proof of technology, no mass product.
However, from a marketing perspective, I think the range extender is an excellent argument: 300km just gives the owner a "good and save feeling" - there maybe a lot of good arguments that this is not necessary - but arguments will always against feelings.

I think BMWi3 (currently the best selling EV in Germany) will find it's niche)

Last word, price: it's 40k in Germany and M3 is expected to be 45k (MS-85 "starts at" 85k and is 100-120k realistic price)

Anemometer | July 21, 2014

On the subject of "just adding a bigger battery pack to the i3", where would the exra cells go?

http://www.bmw.com/_common/shared/insights/corporation/bmwi/concept/life...

I'm sure in time they'll add newer tech and bigger options but for now your stuck with what's there and available now.

I like hot hatches and the brown interior. The deisgn I'm 50/50. I have a Niisan Juke for my Mrs - which took me some time to get to agree to buy. I think the i3 is a simailr thing - something totally unfamiliar puts a lot of consverative types off. They don't want to be seen in anything too different, which it is by loads. However if you are the type to want an electric car then you are someone who thinks different so ... I guess that'a a moot point. Not sure it's for me though. I want something lower and sporty looking. Less city car. Something like maybe the Model III will look like.

However I am severeley tempted to get an i3 because with the range extender could drop my current fuel bill by more than 2/3rds from £164/month to £18 electric and £31 in petrol! Yikes. I need the rex as I have a long journey at the start and end of each week, but all the other trips are short enough to do via battery. The lease costs £370 are a fair bit higher than the 1.6 Jukes £224, but overall seems not a bad car to lease. Wouldn't choose to own until more sure of residuals! Comparine juke apples with i3 oranges - the i3 is much nicer, has a premium brand and has 170 not 110 bhp :-) Plus I think done through my own company I could save a fair bit in personal tax. (Next job for spreadsheet). It's cerftainly a car I'd but with my head rather than my heart.

Brian H | July 22, 2014

TM is not in competition with the i3. TM wishes there were some real EV competition. It wants to displace ICEs, not other EVs.

Realo.de | July 22, 2014

@Brian_H

TM is not in competition with the i3. TM wishes there were some real EV competition. It wants to displace ICEs, not other EVs.

Very good point: I see several market segments:
1) "pure" ICEs
2) "ICEs with 30km electric range in cities" (these are sold as an ICE with a "green flag" - but no (substantial) compromise in performance)
3) 50%50 hybrid (like BMWi3, Opel Ampera) combining the advantages of an EV with the range of an ICE
4) there are the full-electric city-cars (like Mitsubishi)

Tesla today defines its own segment with the technology of 4) and the performance/range of somewhere between 1) and 3). Tesla is, at first, an all-electric car. So if, according your argument, Tesla will not compete in the other segments (from a technology point of view), fine.

Considering performance, we have already stated that the competition will be rather hard. What I could image is that EM compares the M3 with e-versions of Audi4 or BMW3 (as 2)-cars in the segments above). Then, it's a competition in some kind of e-segment, however, with still some strong disadvantages concerning range.

Competing with an all-electric car in the broad range of hybrids seems to be difficult in my opinion.

Ph03n1x | July 22, 2014

And we have also to see what people will start doing with the Tesla patents.
I would love to see a dolerean or a Cadillac 62 full EV !

Sin_Gas | July 22, 2014

@ German_Tesla_Fan wrote:

"4) there are the full-electric city-cars (like Mitsubishi)"

You forgot the smart electric drive--a MB/German design--built in France, with originally a Tesla Battery and Motor. Current generation has a Bosch Battery--not sure about the drive. Also coming soon, MB B class and of course the Leaf.

I don't count Honda FIT, Fiat 500e, RAV4 EV, etc. as they are avaiable in such small numbers, or only in California, and are mostly compliance cars. What a pleasure it was to go into Boston Dealership with 17 electric smarts to choose from, and a guy who really knew what he was talking about. Sells only smarts, and drives an ed himself.

Sin_Gas

ElectricSteve | July 22, 2014

I test drove the i3 and i would NEVER buy one. It is a nice looking car but it behaves like a drunk COED on the freeway. You drive on wheels that are the width of garbage-can lids and the car car "wobbles" from side to side when changing lanes. It was fine in town, but a drunken sailor at highway speeds, not inspiring confidence at all.

Tiebreaker | July 22, 2014

Tesla Model S competes head-to-head with Panamera and the likes. Ask Porsche.

balabanshik | July 22, 2014

@German_Tesla_Fan
I would probably be incorrect to compare the Citroen DS and the BMW i3. If anything, the DS would compare with Model S, they addressed similar market segments. Besides, the DS looks gorgeous even now, some 40 years after its appearance, while the i3 looked weird even before its release. And it adds little in terms of technology, unlike the DS had (again, compare with the Model S).

You can tell I like the DS, right? ;-)
In fact, if I had a lot of money, I would get a DS body and put it onto the Tesla skateboard base to create an absolute dream car...
(drools quietly in the corner)

Ph03n1x | July 22, 2014

@Balabanshik
But... you will loose the hydrolic suspension ! ;)
And in the same dream, a R5 on a very small tesla body...Laughable but so much souvenirs :)

Haeze | July 22, 2014

I would love to see a Honda CRX HotHatch with a Tesla drivetrain.

balabanshik | July 22, 2014

No need to lose the suspension. Model S already has pneumatic suspension that is probably the very distant descendant of the DS suspension.

Tiebreaker | July 22, 2014

Citroen DS was named by car designers the most beautiful car in history.

Red Sage ca us | July 22, 2014

Well, actually...

Motor Trend Channel - 2013 Tesla Model S vs 1956 Citroën DS-19! Head 2 Head Episode 29 (12:20)

In terms of classic cars with a dream Tesla Motors drivetrain... I'd like to see:

Acura NSX, Honda CRX, Chevrolet El Camino, Chevrolet Corvair, Chevrolet Bel Air, Studebaker Starliner, Tucker '48 (Torpedo)

balabanshik | July 22, 2014

I would also strongly suggest 1959 Cadillac De Ville.

Realo.de | July 23, 2014

The DS - a magnificent car…
nice to hear the the DS is obviously well known in the US. We had both, a DS as well as an ID (the "basic" version), whereas one of our friends even had an SM (!)

I would not compare a DS with an i3 from a technological point of view - I just wanted to make the point of something looking "totally different". The MS, on the other hand, while a technological breakthrough, looks rather "traditional" (like a Panamera, Maserati, Aston Martin,…) It looks good, but not extraordinarily "different".

Brian H | July 23, 2014

The i3 "extended range" is NOT recommended by BMW for routine use, only emergency limping to a charge point.

Realo.de | July 23, 2014

@Brian_H

The i3 "extended range" is NOT recommended by BMW for routine use, only emergency limping to a charge point.

no disagreement at all: that's exactly what I tried to say: it gives you a save feeling (in case you need it).

However, with the Tesla, you stuck in the middle of nowhere - that's the difference…

Tiebreaker | July 23, 2014

Let me paraphrase:

However, with any car and no brains, you stuck in the middle of nowhere - that's the difference…

Evidence:

Tiebreaker | July 23, 2014
DTsea | July 23, 2014

I bet there is an electric socket closer than 164 miles though german tesla fan. Maybe you should change handle to german tesla critic?

Realo.de | July 23, 2014

@DTsea,
bet accepted: In Germany, there is NO place were you find such a sign - never say never (as I know well) - but you will find a gas-station every 10km (still a way to go), but the SCs a several hundred kms far from each other (200km (generously)).

So, 100bucks, ok?

Realo.de | July 23, 2014

@DTsea

seriously: the fuel gauge (Audi4) shows "reserve" at 100km and then counts down in 10km steps - So you always find EASILY a station nearby (no walk needed), some are 24x7 open.
The situation could be more difficult with a Tesla.

Realo.de | July 23, 2014

my handle…

well, I can easily change from GTF to GTC… Just the following remarks:

1) I am, in fact, a Tesla fan.
2) I come, as you all know, from Germany, a market that Elon says is "essential"
3) I see, in Germany, a small niche market for Tesla and, maybe, I will buy a M3 (because I personally do not make many long distance trips) - so, as a 2nd car, a M3 would be definitively ok
4) but I also see some real problems for Tesla to become a mass market car in Germany

Elon is, in my opinion, the greatest living entrepronoeur. I love the SpaceX, the GigaFactory and his solar concepts:

BUT: these are visions, and here we talk about (unfortunately conservative) markets.

So, as a fan, you have to be critic in order not to become "over-enthusiastic" :-)

Timo | July 23, 2014

Why would it? If there is gas station there is three-phase plug somewhere in that gas station. Just ask. It would be pretty odd gas station if it doesn't have one.

It takes longer than filling the gas tank, but that would be emergency situation only.

Tiebreaker | July 23, 2014

@German_ICE_Fan: You are too deeply mired into the 100+ years old mindset. I don't think we can change it here...

DTsea | July 23, 2014

Gtf/c, the tesla miles remaining clicks down in 1 km or mile increments. Last time I was in Germany (last year) there were no areas like the American southwest, and all buildings near roads seemed to have electric outlets.

DTsea | July 23, 2014

What german_audi/MB/BMW_fan is too polite to mention is that german cars don't suffer under the protectionist taxes intended to keep foreign cars out.... so the price of the tesla looms worse to the german buyer.

Grinnin'.VA | July 23, 2014

German_Tesla_Fan | JULY 23, 2014:

"4) but I also see some real problems for Tesla to become a mass market car in Germany"

Elon is, in my opinion, the greatest living entrepronoeur. I love the SpaceX, the GigaFactory and his solar concepts"

I don't agree with you on everything, but I think you're just being realistic when you express the needs:

* Tesla needs more range, particularly at typical freeway/autobahn speeds.
* Limited range wouldn't be a big problem IF the recharge times were comparable to ICE cars.

Ron :)

P.S. And BTW Elon is ... the greatest living ....

Realo.de | July 23, 2014

@Timo

Why would it? If there is gas station there is three-phase plug somewhere in that gas station. Just ask. It would be pretty odd gas station if it doesn't have one.

It takes longer than filling the gas tank, but that would be emergency situation only.

so, there also should be a hotel nearby?:-)

Realo.de | July 23, 2014

@DTsea

What german_audi/MB/BMW_fan is too polite to mention is that german cars don't suffer under the protectionist taxes intended to keep foreign cars out.... so the price of the tesla looms worse to the german buyer.

Thanks for this argument: I completely agree - tax, electricity, gas etc. situations are for sure completely different in different countries/markets.

For sure, if a MS is 100k and a MB_S is 200k, there is a market for both (but in different segments). But in Germany I can buy for 100k a well equipped BMW7,... with luxury, high performance, and wide range.

Same with M3, Audi4 and BMW3 (as already told).

To make a critical comment: I believe that there always will be a kind of "protectionism" for the German car industry. So, as long as VW, BMW,… will not come up with own EVs, there will be no active governemental support for EVs in Germany (Some call this lobbying) :-(

Timo | July 23, 2014

No need for hotel. Three-phase charging can give you about 100 km/hour assuming you don't drive like you stole it.

Realo.de | July 23, 2014

@Grinnin'

I don't agree with you on everything, but I think you're just being realistic when you express the needs:

* Tesla needs more range, particularly at typical freeway/autobahn speeds.
* Limited range wouldn't be a big problem IF the recharge times were comparable to ICE cars.

thanks for the agreement - that's why I am (still) a fan of the battery swap technology (at highways) (instead of the SCs):
- then we have the paradigm shift from "recharge" to "battery swap" (something like buying sparkling water in returnable bottles: you give an empty bottle (battery) back and buy a new, full one (a fully charged battery)
- at home, you do the recharging as usual - very comfortable in all situations…

centralvalley | July 23, 2014

Tiebraker,

The "next gas 163 miles" sign wouldn't be on US6 as you are leaving Tonopah NV for Ely, would it?

Red Sage ca us | July 23, 2014

German_Tesla_Fan noted, "I see, in Germany, a small niche market for Tesla..."

How much of the German market would be enough to get them out of 'niche' status? In the US, I think that as soon as annual sales pass 150,000 units, they'll no longer be a niche manufacturer here. Once they pass 1,500,000 per year, they'll be an established player. What number would get Tesla Motors into a higher status in Germany? 30,000 to start, perhaps? 300,000 or more? Articles from October 2013 indicated that Tesla was hoping to sell 10,000 cars per year in Germany by 2015. I think that would be considered 'niche' most anywhere...

Realo.de | July 24, 2014

@Red_Sage
There were 3Mio registrations in 2013. There are 1.000 MS registrations expected in 2014 (0,03%). AudiA4, BMW3 is around 50k registrations each (so, Tesla is 2% of each or, 0,2% in this class/segment)

So, I (personally) would accept 5.000 Tesla (10% of BMW3) as "reasonable" (or: 1% of Audi/BMW/Mercedes "class": or, every hundred's car you see (in this class) is a Tesla)

I can not image how Tesla will manage to sell 10.000 cars in 2015 when they barely will sell 1.000 cars in 2014 but, time will tell. (Currently, there are 60% commercial registrations and only 40% private holders)

BTW: I have just seen one single MS here (and that, most probably, was a retailer's car).

BTW: there were around 3.000 Panamera registrations in 2013 (and 215 MS)

Realo.de | July 24, 2014

EV-registrations in Europe (1st half year 2014)
according to
http://teslamag.de/
1. Nissan Leaf: 7.109
2. Tesla Model S: 5.330
3. Renault Zoe: 3.669

Remarks:
- 2/3 of Tesla are sold in Norway (special tax etc. conditions for EVs)
- BMWi3 VW e-Up! not yet included
- Tesla S: 450 registration in Germany

Grinnin'.VA | July 25, 2014

@German_Tesla_Fan | JULY 23, 2014:

"I am (still) a fan of the battery swap technology (at highways) (instead of the SCs)"

To me, temporarily swapping a Tesla owner's battery with a 'rented' one is problematic. It would require a large inventory of swap batteries and large storage system. A battery swap system that treats the batteries as commodities offers more promise in my view. This would require a fundamental change in the battery legal status. Tesla would commit to providing suitable batteries, including upgraded ones for 'rent'; Tesla owners could swap out their batteries either at service centers or supercharger sites any time they want to for a modest fee. If Tesla can morph their battery supply/ownership/warranty setup into such a 'battery-as-a-service' instead of 'battery-as-a-product', they could match ICE cars in 'refueling time' for Teslas on road trips AND eliminate the battery-service-life/replacement-cost concern.

Ron :)

Tiebreaker | July 25, 2014

Ron - BaaS!

Red Sage ca us | July 25, 2014

Grinnin' Ron suggested, "A battery swap system that treats the batteries as commodities offers more promise in my view. This would require a fundamental change in the battery legal status."

This sounds an awful lot like the failed system that Renault employed through Better Place in Europe.

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