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BMW quicker than Tesla to bring "Bluestar" to the market?

http://green.autoblog.com/2011/05/17/bmw-i3-priced-at-35k-with-160-mile-...

Pretty much the specification I'd expect from Tesla's "Bluestar" model. Is BMW stealing the show?

Same with the BMW Mini E. It's battery pack is also based on 18650 cells, but BMW does not seem to continue that path with the first BMWi models.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/entre/2010-05-10-entr...
(Again, via AlfredG's website)

Lots of credit to Alfred :-)

However, on the VW site, the headline says:
"VW: by 2020, electric cars with 800 km range"

Really? That is about 500 miles. In 9 years. I don't think Tesla should fear.

What could be a real worry: big companies who can afford to flood the market with money losing EVs, and push Tesla in the corner. And give EVs a bad name. Anti-dumping legislatures should include EVs. Anyway, the market will not be saturated for years, and Tesla's innovation and quality should keep them ahead.

I don't worry about any EV dumping campaigns of the established car makers. Either their EVs suck, then they won't prevail, or they are great cars - so we get great EVs at a low price.
Chances are, no low cost EV will be produced in masses soon. Car makers cannot afford to lose $15k loss on every car sold, if they sell big volumes (=hundreds of thousands). That is just a huge amount of money. Would be cheaper to buy Tesla and close it.

VolkerP, that makes a lot of sense to me. +1

Hey, no need to lose $15K per car, i.e. word is on this forum that Leaf is not profitable. And "flood the market", not "prevail". And not with the direct intention of pushing out Tesla. It was about stealing the show. There are many reasons why would big car maker go into the EV market.

On the other hand, I also agree, if a lot of good cheap EVs come to the market, we will all benefit. That is Tesla's position too, isn't it?

Tesla is about motivating change, as others have said.

All auto manufactures are only just beginning to recover from huge losses. Maybe recovering that is, big maybe in some cases. No manufacture, especially those with outstanding loans, will be allowed to produce ANY CAR at a loss!!!!! Period!!!! The governments that hold those loans will slaughter every member of senior managment that is involved in that decision, and rightfully so. You only produce/sell a product at below cost for one reason, to kill your competition. The auto industry is not about killing competition these days, it is about survival. You can not survive, at a loss.

No government will be involved in killing a car company that makes 100% electric cars, especially an American company with American backed loans. Obama will NEVER NEVER let it happen. Period. Those "discount" foreign cars would be slapped with a new "duty" that will bring the price in line with what it should be. Nothing will be gained, except Federal US bank accounts which will be happy to receive that cash.

Tesla is safe. The world needs them right now and more and more car companies see it. Tesla is the preferred supplier of electirc motors and battery systems in the world. They are the world leaders, with no one even close, right now. It will take a few years for someone to catch up, and someone will of course. Most car companies will "fast track" their developement process and just use Tesla supplied major components, until they can figure out their own.

Nissan chose to develop their own (a risky but noble decision) and they are paying dearly for it as they have had to stop production and fix a major "undisclosed" flaw in the electrical design. It seems use of the A/C or heating causes the battery system to destroy itself, and we all know how disappointed we Model S owners would be if our $5k or $15k or $25k battery packs became worthless. I imagine Leaf owners are equally depressed, and I truely feel sorry for them. I mean that.

Tesla has no competition worries for the next 2-3yrs. Their real success depends on delivering a $30k car which the mass market can afford at that 2-3yr mark from now. The only thing that Elon Musk might be more focued on then that goal, is to setup a terra-farm on Mars.

Interesting news about the Nissan bug! Got a link?

BTW, a "manufacture" is, if anything, an act of manufacturing. By a manufacturer. Note the final "r", designating an agent or performer of the act of "manufacturing".

As I've commented in the past, I'd say Tesla is in great shape at least through 2016. There isn't a production-intent or concept EV from any major automaker that can outperform the Model S, never mind the Roadster. Not the Audi A1, not the subject of this article from BMW, none from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Volvo, Saab, Jaguar, etc., of which I am aware.

The closest currently on the road is the BMW MINI E, which claims 156 miles on the LA4 cycle (combined city+hwy: ~104 miles). It also states acceleration from 0-62 mph in 8.5s. That approaches the base Model S in range, and it might be similar or better in terms of handling. However, without more dense battery tech, that's as good as it's going to get. It doesn't touch the Model S in terms of acceleration and interior space - the MINI E loses the entire second row of seats and some of the hatch area to the Li-ion battery pack. Highly impractical.

If a big auto company is truly serious about EVs, then their existing resources and economies of scale will dwarf Tesla. However, that is based on the market as it stands now.

The longer the big companies wait to dedicate themselves to EVs, the bigger Tesla gets, not only in resources, but also in reputation and brand recognition and market share. Between the head start and the long way to go before market saturation, Tesla could be in great shape for the rest of this decade. If they make it that far, then it's reasonable to assume that they'll be big enough in resources and diverse enough in available models to become the new member of the Big Three.

That assumes Chrysler will fall, or at least continue to shrink: their current lineup is the most innefficient, and they have no current investments into any advanced or alternative powertrains, much less an EV. The HEMIs have to go...

Tesla does have a competitive disadvantage in terms of the gadgets.

So many people on this forum are asking for HUDs and proximity stuff (adaptive cruise control, overhead views, blind spot alerts etc.). Each of those things takes more time, more people and more money to develop than Tesla can probably afford at this stage of the game.

I'm sure that, in time, they will develop those things, but they clearly haven't yet, as far as any outsider knows, anyway. They have so much to prove with the Model S in terms of safety, reliability, range and performance. These slick gadgets coming from Big Auto are most likely not going to be present, at least in the first generation Model S.

Besides, there's only so many ways to implement many of these things - they'd either have to develop their own implementation that is somehow sufficiently different, or license somebody else's design, which isn't cheap, either.

As for gadgets, Tesla could (and should) license these things from someone like Mercedes or Toyota. It should be trivial to add these things to their technology sharing agreements. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Doesn't most of those gadgets come from companies like Bosch anyway? Just adapted to the different models. Tesla can buy these things from same suppliers as most other automakers does.

now that BMW has 2 i cars coming, I will wait until they are out to see which 1 is better to drive.
I just hope the BMW i cars keeps its handling like the petro cars.

@pinguhk
that's the problem all established ICE car manufacturers face: their EVs will be compared to their "traditional" cars. In every aspect: handling, price, performance, range, weight, size, cargo capacity, efficiency, and so on. Of course they will lose on some aspects -- if not, every car manufacturer would switch to EVs in an instance! So BMW will carefully weigh all these factors, deciding where to take the blame and where not. Sure thing is, the result will not please everybody. Hell ,I wouldn't like to be the one making these decisions!

On the other hand, Musk has likened the handling of the Model S to BMW on several occasions. Also, he is (or was?) driving an M5 himself. The handling of BMW's cars definitely sets the bar for the Model S. We do not know yet whether that bar can be reached by anyone except BMW, but we will learn soon...

(Much sooner than BMW is going to have any of its i-series EVs ready for test driving, that is.)

Considering how low center of gravity model S has, having same or better handling than BMW M5 series should not be difficult thing to do.

There are some -- pretty vague -- updates wrt the i3 and i8. Interestingly, while the i3 might be comparable to Tesla's "Bluestar", the i8 is clearly a competitor for the Fisker Karma, not the Model S. The Model S seems to stay in a unique position for quite some time to come.
http://green.autoblog.com/2011/07/29/bmw-i3-and-i8-revealed/

Announcing a new vehicle with exaggerated claims seems to be par for the course in this business. The object is always the same - kill sales of a competitor until you can get your product out
the door. Remember GM's claims of a "sub $30K" Volt (this before any Fed subsidies)? They pushed that number for years, until time came for actual pricing. How does an underestimate of roughly 50% grab you?
You can believe BMW's price when you have an official order and price sheet in your hand and it says $35K. Not before. This kind of corporate behavior is fraud, more or less.

Neither of these cars (or vapor-cars) is a serious competitor to the Model S. The i3 is positioned against the Nissan Leaf: 80-100 miles per charge, boxy design. The i8 is, as Volker correctly surmised, designed against the Fisker Karma.

And seriously -- I would not trust my life to sides made of a single sheet of carbon-reinforced plastic (or not without a LOT of real-life data). I'm willing to be bleeding-edge on many techs, but not fundamental safety items. I drive in Boston, after all....

Neither of these cars (or vapor-cars) is a serious competitor to the Model S. (Robert.Boston)

I agree 100%. The reason I bring it up here is not so much the Model S, but the "Bluestar", a $30k all-electric family car that is said to be the next major step in Tesla becoming a mass market manufacturer. The BMW i3 specifications are pretty close to what I'd expect from Tesla's Bluestar, but as has been mentioned already more than once, the i3 is a vapor-car at this point (as is Bluestar, to be fair).

The "Bluestar" idea is rooted in The Secret Tesla Master Plan blog post by Elon Musk. It is dated from 2006 and it does not explicitly mention "Bluestar", but it is the most authentic reference available:
http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/secret-tesla-motors-master-plan-just-bet...

Tesla still seems to follow its plan, according to this article quoting Elon, dated January 2011:
http://www.plugincars.com/tesla-will-unveil-electric-suv-2011-and-30k-el...

The working title "Bluestar" is a common notion among Tesla fans (Model S was "Whitestar") but it seems to be rarely used by Tesla themselves. Here is a source that links that title to a $30k family car, dated from 2008:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10049993-54.html

I just read the first article and there seems to be a whole of dreaming going on here. This car will not compete with anything Telsa makes. Both Telsa cars are several degress of magnitude better. This car is a direct attack agains the Nissan Leaf and it should kill the Leaf actually.

As for the $35k price tag, that fantansy was discovered when I read the line about weight saving of 550-750lbs by using carbon fibre. Oh you mean that incredible strong, hard to work with and extremely expensive high end material? Just a few carbon fibre inserts of today's cars cost $1000s of dollars. Even 550lbs will require a large portion of the car to build entirely from it. In todays market, that translates into $10,000 (probably a lot more) in just carbon fibre. Even mass produced, this will still cost way too much.

And expect the Bluestar to have comparable range to the current Mod-S, at least, by the time it comes out. Of course, battery tech advances will help all mfrs., so the playing field will be much different by 2015-6.

It's all about Marketing. A long time ago, I loved BMW, but couldn't afford one. It was the ultimate performance sedan company. Then, after the 320, BMW came out with the 318i and I bought one. It was a piece of crap. Their attempt to build a car that the masses could afford resulted in a underpowered, slow, unreliable, embarrassment. Important lesson - you cannot be everything to everybody. I think their low end EV will be another failure.

Tesla will be very successful selling luxury and performance EV cars in the $50K and up price range. If they eventually go below that, it will result in a vehicle with compromises, and MUST be marketed as such, or it will fail as well. If you want to make a $35K EV with less than 150 mile range, you better market it as a "City Car" or a "Commuter Car". Label it for what it is. Otherwise people will expect some of the performance and luxury they see in your other cars and will be disappointed.

Once production ramps up for the Leaf, Nissan would be wise to market it as a "City Car" or "Commuter Car". Then, nobody will criticize the range limitation, because you have already indicated the intended use. Marketing 101.

As new tech progresses and becomes more common, costs reduce and specs increase. I don't have any problem seeing Tesla building a $35k EV with a 200 or more mile range in a few years. As long as they continue to put a heavy emphasis on their engineering it should be a very good car to boot.

Reality Alert! Don't count on any car company selling a $35K EV with a 200+ mile battery before 2018. Current battery tech requires too much space and weight to fit a 200 mile range battery into a compact car. It's tough to make a mid-size EV (including 1,000 pound battery, to go 200 mi) under $50K (ask GM & Nissan). It will require a new battery chemistry. When it comes, it will take a few years of use to bring the price down. Only then will you see a $35K EV with 200 mile range. The good news is you'll see plenty of PHEVs with 200+ mile range before 2018. The Hybrids will sell under $35K, but Tesla is not in the Hybrid business. IMO

Semantics... "a few years," is a rather relative term. I don't see your estimate of 2018 as being beyond what I was expecting. Perhaps I should have used the word several. I don't think a "Reality Alert" is necessary for me, thank you.

@David M., weight or size, no. Roadster is a compact (very compact) car. You can fit current generation batteries in compact car quite easily.

Changing battery chemistry does not require years to use to bring price down, only technology to squeeze it into same form as previous ones. Panasonic 4 Ah batteries are not same chemistry as these current generation Panasonic batteries. I don't expect them to cost much more than these do. They are also nearly twice the density Roadster batteries are, so same range would need half the batteries, lowering battery weight and size quite a bit smaller (less batteries means also lighter support structures needed).

With those 4 Ah batteries 200miles requires roughly 200kg battery pack (Roadster pack is about 450kg), and 200kg of solid stuff does not take much space, it can fit under passenger seats, or in a floor like in Model S.

(Nissan and especially GM do not know how to make decent EV, Tesla does).

The Secret Tesla Master Plan is still in action. In the August 2011 earnings call, Musk said (without mentioning the term "Bluestar"):

I've said for many years now that in order to make something, in order to achieve the mass markets, to have something compelling at the mass market level for product, you really need to optimize design and achieve economies of scale. And I think generally you need to do about three significant iterations on a new technology at least. And that's why our strategy has been to start up with the Roadster at low volumes, roughly higher price, and go to Model S mid-volumes, mid-price. And our third-generation of vehicle would be high volumes at a low price. (Elon Musk)

I found the following remark similarly interesting. So there will always be the next model around the corner, always food for the press and the forums:

But we want to come out with a new product every year. And so there will be Model S mostly next year, Model X the year thereafter, another vehicle a year after that and another vehicle a year after that. (Elon Musk)

Source for both quotes: http://seekingalpha.com/article/284453-tesla-motors-ceo-discusses-q2-201...

@mwu sorry, did not intend to be abrasive with comment

@Timo, You're right. 245 mi battery fits into Roadster, but the car costs $109K. Will be quite a while before the cost for a battery like that comes down by 75%. Or maybe a different battery chemistry could make it significantly cheaper to go 200 mi on a charge. I hope I'm wrong, but my intuition says that we won't see a $35K EV with 200 mile range until 2018.

Food For Thought
We may be much more likely to find a battery solution which would allow a 120 mile battery to recharge in 15 minutes. Now that would be a game changer. I wouldn't be spending the extra $20K for the 300 mile battery if I could recharge the 160 mile battery in 15 minutes.

David, no problem.

I agree -- battery range wouldn't matter nearly as much if recharges could be done faster. They say you should give yourself a break driving every 2 hours anyway. A stop to recharge for 15 minutes would be perfect assuming recharging stations are located within every 120 miles or so along the route.

Getting recharge stations set up could be another barrier to entry although I've been reading (I think in another thread here) that there are a few businesses which are already planning on getting them installed. I don't think recharge stations will be the biggest problem, but it's one to think about. A lot of people are going to be waiting for the recharging stations before buying an EV, and some businesses are going to be waiting to install charging stations until there is enough market for it and potentially enough of a standardization on them.


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