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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?

Standardization is going to be the big issue. I suspect Tesla hasn't even decided on what their final standard for the Model S's quick charging port will be. They probably won't until they find out if a U.S. standard is imminent, or they give up and set their own standard. Of course they probably do have their own standard decided, in the even that U.S. standards aren't set before the Model S comes out.

@ David, cost for 200mile battery for $35k car is low enough approximately 2013. In Roadster it isn't the battery that costs that much, it is the rest of the car. It has carbon fiber chassis, and that costs a lot, and they need a margin, which also increases the cost (and they are using old batteries, which probably cost a lot less now than Model S batteries will cost).

200 miles is about 50kWh. With assumed $300/kWh for 4Ah batteries that's $15k for batteries, so there is still $20k to use to build rest of the car (minus margin). Completely doable, though it does require quite good CdA and low rolling losses to reach that 200 mile range.

Reason why Nissan and GM can't make it that cheap is that they are using way more expensive batteries than Tesla.

That's David M., not David70.

I thought SAE J1772 was pretty much a given for charging standards. No?

Timo, actually the Roadster chassis is aluminum, and the body panels are carbon fiber. (Sometimes I like being smart alec ;-)
http://www.teslamotors.com/roadster/technology

I think I've seen a design like this before:
http://green.autoblog.com/2011/10/17/overview-of-bmw-i3-lifedrive-tech/

The entire article screams Model S/Model X. Seems like Tesla is in fact becoming an industry leader, that even BMW is following (without mentioning Tesla's name, of course).

I'm just surprised it took so long. Just look at how sad and pathetic the newly announced GM Spark is in comparison. The Spark is yet another EV conversion. What is GM smoking???

There is an interesting macro perspective on the electric car business. When in engineering school I took a course in industrial history. An interestiing point emerged over and over. Very, very seldom do the dominant players in an industry survive the introducrtioon of a disruptubg technology. Without going too far back there are some recent examples. Carriage companies making autos? Radio manufacturers making TV sets? Business machine companies making computers? Mainframe computer companies making PCs? It should be interesting. I'm betting on Tesla.

PC makers making phones and tablets ? Yes, there is one notable exception, because they are the disruptor, but the vast majority is running on fumes. Tesla has that great potential of a century to revolutionize personal transportation. But they haven't won yet, the road to go stretches outside of mind's eyes view. It will be a steady uphill seemingly never ending battle, but if they keep the eyes on the ball, they can do it. It breaks down or it booms. I have bet aggressively on the latter (I own many TSLA leaps).

First real news regarding Bluestar in a long time (or is it?): It will share the "Third Generation Platform" with the next generation Roadster. The latter is announced to hit the market in 2014, while a car that will attract customers who otherwise might choose a 3 series is targeted for around 2015. A yet more mass-market model (Musk has mentioned 200k units/year in the Business Insider interview) can be expected for 2016. At least that's my interpretation of the meager information revealed in this article, which cites Elon Musk:
http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle.aspx?AR=259752

Hm. The statement that "Tesla made a loss on every Roadster sold" can't be true. A condition of the gov't loan was that TM show an operating profit without the assistance, and it did so for one or two months (June/July last year?). That would be impossible with a negative gross margin. I seem to recall a direct cost figure of ~$76K for the Roadster by the time the process was finally smoothed.

The reason Martin got turfed was that it was costing $140K to make the car, and he wouldn't give on some of the measures needed to bring it down.

jackhub wrote: "Very, very seldom do the dominant players in an industry survive the introducrtioon of a disruptubg technology. Without going too far back there are some recent examples. Carriage companies making autos?"
Can't think of ANY.

"Radio manufacturers making TV sets?"
RCA.
"Business machine companies making computers? Mainframe computer companies making PCs?"
IBM *both* times.

"It should be interesting. I'm betting on Tesla."

I am too, but the fact is that often some of the dominant players manage to make the switch. At the moment Nissan is quite frankly the only one which looks like it has the right attitude; I consider it Tesla's only competition among the mainstream carmakers. I think Tesla may have locked up the upper-end market completely by the time Nissan enters it, but Nissan may lock up the lower-end market before Tesla gets the Bluestar out.

Brian H, there was some confusion and misinformation being spread recently regarding the Roadster operating profits, perhaps due to recirculation of obsolete news reports. I believe the truth is that it was originally selling for $90K and costing $140K to make, but they raised the price by $35K, cut the production costs by $35K, and turned $35K worth of standard features into options, thus ending up with a $70K production cost and a $125K price tag. (Very very roughly speaking.) I have this mental image of Elon telling three separate departments to find him $35K in profits and all of them succeeding. :-) Good practice for everyone at Tesla, actually.

Volker.Berlin wrote: "First real news regarding Bluestar in a long time (or is it?): It will share the "Third Generation Platform" with the next generation Roadster. The latter is announced to hit the market in 2014, "

Again an aggressive timeline! They're designing Model X as we speak for 2013 release, finishing the setup for Model S... they can't possibly have enough expertise to actually start designing the next gen Roadster until late 2012, or perhaps even 2013. And if this is the Bluestar platform, this platform is supposed to be cheaper! Batteries won't have gotten that much cheaper by then...

The 'Model R' might miss its 2014 target; both the Roadster and the Model S missed their *original* targets. (Though Tesla intelligently did not promise any date for the model S until after the factory was purchased, which was the major delay.)

This remains a race to get mindshare and marketshare before the major car companies wake up and start producing good electric cars for general sale, so I understand why they keep pushing the timeline as hard as they can. But I'd expect that they'd need to staff up more and get more funding to hit this timeline.

Oh, one other thought about the "loss on every Roadster" -- due to the low volume, they never did make enough money to cover the original capital costs for designing and tooling for the Roadster, so to that extent the entire Roadster program was run at a loss (though not a per-unit loss). This could be what the reporters mean. Of course, this is not surprising; in some sense the Roadster was an intentional loss leader in order for Tesla to learn how to run a car company. Extrapolating from the Tesla Secret Master Plan, the per-unit profits on the Roadster were clearly thought of merely as defraying the capital costs involved in going through the learning curve necessary to become a car company.

@ncn
"in some sense the Roadster was an intentional loss leader in order for Tesla to learn how to run a car company."

More than that: to demonstrate that to the world, and to inspire consumers who wondered "can an EV ever be a compelling driving experience, rather than a street-legal golf cart."

'All reserved Signature vehicles have been delivered to customers' will be a huge milestone. Assuming they don't fumble or significantly delay on that deliverable, 2012-2015 will be good years for Tesla stockholders.

ncn, the aggressive timeline that I imply when interpreting the news fits well with a statement that Musk has repeated in some interviews, that he wants Tesla to release a new vehicle every year. To me that statement now reads like this: 2012 Model S, 2013 Model X, 2014 Roadster, 2015 3-series competitor, ... more Model S variations (minivan, convertible?), ... VW Golf/Jetta competitor??

Of course this is highly speculative and things are harder in practice than in theory, so I wouldn't be surprised if 2014 or 2015 goes by without a new model from Tesla, but the trend is clear: Tesla is very focused on leaving the niche.

It is obvious that they have to work no multiple projects in parallel to achieve that and in fact are already driving multiple parallel projects now. I think that's quite possible even for a relatively small company like Tesla, because each project is in a different phase. Each phase needs different expertise and different teams, and if they succeed in cleverly interleaving the projects they can keep all teams busy at all times and in fact deliver a new vehicle every year or so. I think I remember Musk even mentioned something like this in one of his many interviews -- that Tesla can run projects in parallel, because they need all the teams and experts in the company, anyway, but not all projects compete for the same resources at the same time because they are in different stages of development. Going forward that way, I have no doubt they will continue to staff up aggressively.

Thanks for the hint on the Model S missing its original target. I looked up some articles from March 2009 and it seems that in fact the Model S was originally announced to start production "no earlier than" 2011. I had completely forgotten about that. Good PR, Tesla! ;-)

Also, thank you for your comments on the Roadster "losses". Makes a lot of sense to me.

Remember how long GM kept claiming that their Volt would cost "under $30K" ? Initial price - $42K. Not even close - killed an enormous number of sales.

@ncn I hope Tesla makes the tight schedule we have laid out for them, but you raise a legitimate concern.

Yet, as we consideer the response time of the major US auto companies, we might think back to the introduction of the 'compact.' For how many years did we hear them say 'Oh US drivers will never settle for a small car.' They lost at least one if not two entire generations of drivers to the foreign competition who introduced compacts. Most of those drivers have never gone over to the US companies. Of course it remains to be seen, but I do not give the major US companies high marks for taking completely new directions.

As I have noted in another thread somewhere, industrial history shows that dominant players in an industry very, very seldom survive the introduction of a disruptive technology. Think of carriage makers, radio manufacturers, vacuum tube producers, and business machine manfacturers.

Jack hub, all you need to do is look at the Spark and the Focus electric to see that the US manufacturers are nowhere close to "getting" it at all. In fact it's history repeating itself with Nissan taking the lead. The wild card of course is Tesla. Go Tesla!!!

@ncn
RCA survives only as a trademark used by Sony. IBM sold its notebook business to Lenova several years ago.

Tesla seems to shift their priorities in a way that I particularly like seeing, getting closer to implementing the next step of The Secret Tesla Master Plan: The next-generation Roadster is delayed in favor of GenIII (Bluestar)!
http://green.autoblog.com/2012/02/11/next-tesla-roadster-delayed-until-a...

As much as Roadster fans will be tortured by the prospect of waiting until 2016 for a successor, I congratulate Tesla to publicly reinforce their plans for a serious mass market EV. May this have something to do with announcements from competitors taking up speed? Honi soit qui mal y pense... ;-)

Agreed, VB. Accelerating the GenIII line will help counter a critique I often see whenever Tesla comes up in public discussions: "Tesla's just making cars for the rich, so their cars don't solve the big problems."

Tesla also needs to "turf" the premium product space quickly. This theory is confirmed Tesla's decision to reveal a functioning prototype of the Model X nearly two years before commercial delivery: claim the space, force competitors to catch up. There is no public BEV entry--yet--in large and popular mid-size premium sedan (archetype: BMW 3-series). Tesla should be running hard to be in that space early, if not first.

I really think that most car companies are banking that oil prices will go down, and or most consumers will adjust their 'lifestyles' to afford the extra $$$ per week on gas (although most salaries have gone down, and or are stagnant).

With that said, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens over the next five years with regard to where auto makers will go with their ICE technology.

Right now, I think Europe is a fairly good indicator of where many current US auto makers are following suit… small, low-HP, butt ugly, and cheap ICE autos.

Yeah, Tesla did not lose on every Roadster sold. They posted a profit in July of 2010 and their balance sheet was clear to the fact that they would have remained profitable on Roadster sales and powertrain deals. The perennial red ink is simply Model S & X development, as we all know.

The US companies may be dragging their feet somewhat, but the planned electrification announced by Mitsubishi (plug-ins of their CUV and other models are in the works) and Audi (e-tron or e-tron/hybrid powertrains planned for all Audi models) makes me nervous as a Tesla fan and (modest) stockholder. That, of course, is if Mitsu and Audi roll out their models aggressively. Mitsubishi looks like they might, Audi could, if they really wanted to, and Ford and Toyota are probably making the boldest overall plug-in statements so far with popular models coming out with both hybrid and plug-in options, plus a token EV each.

As much as I don't want to admit it, the full hybrids and the plug-in hybrids are going to be the perceived "safe bet" by the typical consumer that can afford a $25k to $35k vehicle (after incentives). I don't like the half-assed feel of messing around with a gas engine at all, and the pollution and increased complexity the hybrid drivetrains provide, loss of space, weight, etc.

However, these vehicles will still be able to tow things and haul loads much better than current EV costs would permit. These vehicles are substantial improvements in efficiency over their ICE-only siblings. They will noticeably reduce fuel consumption and thus pollution and (perhaps) a decrease in US demand for oil.

Ultimately, it is about the most efficient use of energy. In theory, the most efficient use of energy is the least polluting and the most cost effective. Taking everything into consideration, from well-to-wheel, manufacture, net pollution, etc., EVs are it. In fact, to my knowledge, electricity is the most efficient manner of doing "work" (in the physics sense - making something move, spin, or whatever).

So, the remaining human "work" to be done is to improve the generation and storage of said electricity. Both are promising, but worldwide, we are doing better so far with the generation problem than with the storage problem. Here in the US, we're still grounding excess night-time electricity, largely from coal-fired plants that cannot be ramped up and down easily to match demand.

That's where I think, in the long term, Tesla "has it right", whether they survive to see it or not. My material goals in life are to have a modest, efficient home, with a yard, a roof optimized for as many solar arrays as possible, and a pair of Teslas in the garage (85kWh Model S as the long-distance and daily workhorse, if I dare use such a term, and the GenIII Roadster for kicks).

Some new details on the upcoming i3 which will have its first public appearance during the London Olympic games:
http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1076919_first-bmw-i-store-opens-in-l...

However, the Big Ones are unassertive as ever wrt plug-ins. They are really just testing the waters with half a toe, while Tesla already hits a big splash. I'm very curious where this is going to lead 5 years from now:

"Audi cancels all-electric A2, A1 e-tron due to high price-tag fears"
http://green.autoblog.com/2012/06/04/audi-cancels-all-electric-a2-a1-e-t...

"BMW getting cold feet with i3 and i8 electric vehicle plans?"
http://green.autoblog.com/2012/06/12/bmw-getting-cold-feet-with-i3-and-i...

The third blog entry appears to be complete BS. There are no indications that BMW makes a retreat in the "i" cars. The article mentions no sources at all that you could verify against, nevertheless it spread though the car blogosphere at god speed.

VolkerP, thanks for pointing it out. In the best case, this (false?) report triggers some reaction from BMW, which then would offer some real news value.

It looks like green.autoblog has noticed the same about that last blog entry:

http://green.autoblog.com/2012/06/14/bmw-i8-plug-in-hybrid-will-cost-ove...

"The BMW i8 is still on the drawing board (despite some rumors to the contrary)"

More BS. Check these i8 spy shots at Heise Autos. The exterior shape and design has cooled down a lot as could be expected when going from concept to pre-production.

That actually looks quite a bit like that autoblog drawing. Not the original concept though with glass doors.

bmw has a limited number (700?) electric vehicles on the road for 2 year leases. It does not come close to Tesla

http://www.bmwusa.com/standard/content/uniquely/bmwefficientdynamics/Exp...


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