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Interesting BMW I Intel

So, I got the camber set where I wanted along with the ride height and took the replacement Red/Black P85+ by to see my buddy at the BMW dealer. Up until the Model S, he was my go to guy for BMWs (mostly M5s) for both me and my wife. In addition, he knows a thing or two about driving and how cars handle having won the Indy Lights title before hanging up his Hans. Anyway, he got to drive my first P85 and I wanted him to see the difference in the plus package.

The interesting thing that came out of the visit (apart from putting a big Tesla Grin on him in front of all his buds) was that a very large portion of the floor space is being reallocated to the upcoming I roll out. BMW is spending big bucks on the I push in the US. This is one of the largest dealers in the nation and apparently BMW corporate is serious about moving BEVs.

The USA rollout for the BMW i3 isn't until mid-2014.

I have no problem about keeping an eye on the "competition" (although I don't personally believe essentially a Chevy Volt with a BMW logo is competition).

But by mid 2014, there is going to be a lot of hype surrounding the Tesla Model X. And by then, between that hype and there will be so many Model S's out there in the market, no one is going to give a second look to the BMW i3.

Tesla has a full year to promote the Model S via sales. Remember, most people haven't a clue as to what the Tesla S is. And the hype surrounding this model didn't start until April/May. It has only been 3-4 months of acknowledgement by the media.And it still is a trickle unless you're an automotive or green car junkie.

Heard their M div might go all electric. Makes sense for them to do that. ( at least, be electrically powered for the launch )

I don't think the BMWi is going to be a HUGE sea change, but the fact that more auto makers have EVs will create the critical mass that enables the BELIEF that EVs are a substitute for the internal combustion engine.

If BMW M class goes electric, then THAT will likely be a competitor for Tesla.

But not the Leaf, Cruz, Volt, RAV-EV or BMWi.

RedShift, that would be great. First real competition as BMW M5 EV.

davidg11, actually I think it's mutually helpful, more EVs on the road, more acceptance for Model S and vice versa...

BTW I got that news from BBC several months ago. So it's a bit more credible than coming from a single person's mouth. However, it still feels like a stretch! The famed M engines, the SMGs, the manual transmissions, all thrown out of the window in one fell swoop? If it does happen, it represents a damn fine victory for Tesla, and EVs.

I'd love to sample the electric M3 sedan!

I flew to Greenville/Spartanburg, SC this past week from CO to attend a family wedding. At the reception my brother told a few friends that I had a Model S. Both friends work in management (engineering) at the big BMW plant there. They were on me like flies on wedding cake.

After 30 minutes of Tesla Time, and to ire of the bridge because there was a growing crowd around me and not her, they both left drooling over the thought of the technology. They both said from an engineering standpoint once this EV snowball starting really rolling down hill, it's going to shift all the auto industry. Granted, they said, there are technological advances still needing to be made, but they were confident it would come about in time, and they're probably closer today than most think. They started to describe the i3, but when I showed them photos of my Model S, they grew quiet.

http://bmwi3.blogspot.com

It was a great time, and I only wish I could show them more than photos on my iPhone. Damn the bride, this was about me and my Tesla!

^footnote - a few other folks at the wedding had never heard of Tesla, and when they finally saw the photos they both said simultaneously "oh, it looks like a real car!".

I am so proud and happy the Model S looks so awesome, too.

Spent 8 days in the Carolinas, never saw a Model S, although I know they have some in the region, especially up near Raleigh/Durham.

The fact that BWM will have an EV will generate interest in and of itself, depending upon where it is available. Most consumers know the BMW brand, most consumers have no idea what a Tesla is. Some of my acquaintances thought it was a brand of toaster.

However, by the time BMW and the rest commit to longer range EVs, guess what's going to happen? Tesla will have 2-3 year lead on the competition and will have secured every battery supplier on the planet much in the way Apple has been able to secure reliable supplies of NAND Flash memory, LCD screens, and other supplies ahead of its competitors.

The only real competitor will have to have :

Better handling (tough to do, since skateboard architecture is inherently good-boned to begin with)
Better materials (easier, currently)
Better recharge infrastructure (tough to do, potential VHS vs Beta looming here)
Overcome inherent conflicts with their current revenue generators (thus, half hearted and baked ideas currently being foisted on the public)
Lighter weight (tough to do, case in point the Carbon Fiber i3. Since this is a commuter car, imagine how lengthy and expensive a fender bender might turn out to be)
More features (lane departure, other junk - easier to do, currently)

All this has to happen quickly, before ver 2.0 of TMS, or ver 1.0 do TMX and Gen 3 come out.

Red;
'zackly.
The carbon fibre makes me wonder what the real pricing will be.

Note to EV makers: Stop making your cars look like eggs, pie wedges, something out of the 80's version of Battlestar Galactica, and other idiotic designs.

- Signed-
The world.

RedShift -

Unfortunately, I don't know if you are right. A larger network of dealers, a larger network of service centers, very strong brand loyalty and a long history as a company will probably make them a formidable competitor even with an inferior product.

Wouldn't convince me to buy one, but I think it will convince a lot of people.

@oaktowner:

No doubt, BMW makes for a tough competitor. In the end, we win, coz we get a really good EV.

Regarding dealer network: BMW is reportedly trying to sell the i3 without dealers. ;-)

Wow the i3 is ugly!

I think the more the major automakers build electric, the more it validates Tesla and eases people's mind about an electric car. It is amazing how little people know about electric. I started with electric r/c toys, then electric bicycles (home built), with lithium r/c battery's, oh of course the lithium drills in there also, the drill is where the battery improvements was most noticeable. My brother started telling me about the Tesla roadster, and the Fisker, I really didn't get interested until the model S. I studied everything I could about the car and absolutely love it! I tell people about it and their assumptions are ridiculous! The biggest problem is they don't even know Tesla exists, the 2nd is the many many misconceptions they have about electric cars. So the more these other automakers help educate the consumers, or the dummasses as I like to call them, the better it will be for Tesla! They will only need to get people to know who and what they are, the malls, and the more owners will eventually get that done. Oh of course having the gen 3 that is actually closer to what most people pay for a car will help immensely! And it should come about the same time all the rest of this stuff is falling into place.

Have to admit, as a car guy thru-and-thru, and a German car guy as well, I clicked on the link to look at the BMW and exclaimed out loud at first sight: "oh dear... That is hideous!"

Sorry but that pushes back EV by 20 years it looks JUST like every non-believer's impression of what an EV should look like....

I agree, Bikezon. It looks like a devil's cross between a Smart Car and a Leaf.

I wonder why they decided on that two door format, which makes for a really ugly, stubby car. That's not particularly aerodynamic, is it?

I'm really surprised Tesla is the only company to understand the real market for electric cars: Upscale early adopters who are willing to put up with pretty much any kind of problem to get something unique and innovative. Even though compact-based electric cars sell poorly and almost certainly lose big money in the process, carmakers keep on building them. Look at them: Fiat 500E, electric Mini, Focus electric, Leaf, Volt, and now the BMW. All of them effectively competing with cars half their price with ranges too short to be viable for anything but direct commuter uses.

Seems to me all the companies in this market save Tesla are looking for the cheapest way to get tax credits and not the right way to build an electric car customers actually want. I'm sure Elon oscilates between being happy his company has no competition and disappointment that competition has such a tough time learning from him :).

David

I am of a different opinion here.

The i3 , IMHO, is a VERY serious alternative to the Volt, and is superior in every way, it would seem, to the Leaf.

We have a Leaf(VIN # 320) and a Volt (VIN # 679) and a Model S.

Neither the BMW i3 or i8 are real alternatives to the Model S, but BMW is going to be putting MAJOR pressure on Nissan/Infiniti and GM plug-in products.

I do agree that the i3 is not a thing of beauty, BUT it promises to be a much better Leaf (faster 0-60, better handling, longer EV range) and a potential alternative to the Volt as a EREV.

Actually our Model S is replacing our Volt as our "road trip" car and we are VERY serious about getting the i3 to replace our Leaf as commuting and short trips (with the added security of that small range extender ICE).

It is the BMW i8 that might be sexy looking, but is more expensive and not as fast (in 0-100 mph) as the Model S 85 P+ version that will, IMHO again, suffer vs, our Tesla's, at least here in the US. Maybe the looks and the 155 mph top end will give the i8 more leverage in Germany, but almost everywhere else Tesla is likely to bury it.

When Gen III Tesla arrives with 200 mile range, supercharging, and a $40,000 base, THEN even the i3 will be in trouble, but for the next 3 years BMW does have a wedge in the market.

OMG that is ugly.

@gparrot

The BmW won't be ready until 2014 or later. So that head start will be about a year before gen 3 competition.

In a way, the way the big car manufacturers currently look at the EV market reminds me of the way the music industry looked at the phenomenon of digital music and the internet. For the longest time, they thought of their market as being divided into two types of consumers. One consisting of "good people" who head down to the local store and buy a shiny silver disc there to play on their home stereo and in their cars. And the rest, being the "bad guys", who only (illegally) download music from the internet.

While in real life, if there was such a strong bipolar division to be made, it would be that there are two kinds of people: people who love music and both buy _and_ download a lot of music, and people who don't really care much about music, and don't buy nor download a lot of it but just turn on the radio if they want some background noise.

Not understanding their marketplace brought the music industry pretty much to their knees. I think currently, car manufacturers are making a similar mistake. They treat EVs as if they need to create a NEW market for it, and therefore their EVs need to appeal to a different type of driver than their existing customers. Enter the i3.

On the contrary. The BMW i3 should have just been a 2013 model 3 series sedan, but with ALL the benefits of a 100% electric: frunk, low weight center, no driveshaft running through the interior, etc etc. I love the MS an I am thrilled to be driving it for the next 5 years. But seriously, if that electric 3 series sedan would have been available right now, I would not have switched to a new American startup company for my next ride. I would have stuck with BMW because I love everything about their cars - except the ICE engines.

Once BMW (and of course, this goes for every successful manufacturer) realizes that they do not have to "invent" a new type of consumer to design their EV's for, but should just keep building the same types of cars they have always been building - but with a different drivetrain - for the same people that have always loved and bought their cars, then they can be a formidable competitor to Tesla. Which, personally, I think would make Elon Musk very happy as his dream is not to replace evert car in the world with a Tesla, but with an EV, regardless of the brand.

David;
Surprisingly enough, that shape can be very efficient. Google Mercedes Box Fish!

Ironically, I think that the appearance of the i3 (and other EVs) can only benefit Tesla.
Here's my reasoning: BMW will spend advertising dollars to educate a segment of the population that has so far not been made aware that EVs are now viable. As good consumers, they'll look around at what else there is, and when they come across the Model S it will be "game over", at least for those who can afford it. Thanks, BMW.

+1 David

Brian H. that Mercedes box fish is interesting, kinda reminds me of the dymaxion car. Google that and tell me what you think!

Gparrot, the gen 3 won't be to far behind (time wise) the i3, will cost about the same, should be far better looking (obviously can't be worse), and will have the benefit of the supercharger network, why not wait? If waiting isn't an option buy the cheapest model S or X, and spare yourself the misery of being seen in an i3! Tesla FTW!

+1 pebell

Rear-wheel steering on a 3-wheel car -- the thought give me willies.

Once BMW (and of course, this goes for every successful manufacturer) realizes that they do not have to "invent" a new type of consumer

It's not that they need to invent a new type of consumer, but rather that they need to invent a new type of employee.

Except the problem is even bigger than that. BMW has whole management chains, engineering centres, factories and production lines, training programmes, patent portfolios, and who knows what else, geared towards producing internal combustion vehicles. Turning around a ship like that is so hard company officers will shy away from the very idea and instead try to redefine the problem so the company can pretty much go on as it always has been doing.

What they have been trying to do therefore is to sell in the EV as a #3 car to families that already have a #1 and a #2. So they make dinky little toy cars that are good for moving around town but pose no threat to the #1 and #2 market segments. And then they live happily ever after.

(Tesla enters stage right)

Panic.

@bent: I agree that what you are describing is exactly what they have done so far, and that mentality brought us the i3 and i8. What we should not forget, though, is that to have the i3 ready for unveiling now, means that they started planning them several years ago. And I don't know about you, but a few years ago I sure wasn't preaching the EV gospel like I am doing these days. What I needed was to see a car like the Model S to understand the full potential of the EV. So basically, we are looking at the brand new i3 with the benefit of "hindsight".

The stage they are in now, is indeed panic. They have seen the MS now too. The big question is, where will they go from here? Will they continue to make #3 cars, or will they "pick up the gauntlet". It will be years before we know for sure. But IMHO, if they do, they _will_ be a force to reckon with. Probably not when it comes to the EV drivetrain. But for sure when it comes to everything else that makes a premium high end car.

As with many things in life, it only takes 20% of the time and effort to reach 80% of your goal. To get it close to 100% takes the other 80% time and effort. BMW has already made that effort on so many things, from rain and light sensors to heads-up displays, suspension, perfect seats, adaptive cruise control, auto-tensioning seatbelts, climate control throughout the entire car, defrosting and defogging windows, the list goes on and on. For many of those things, the Tesla is at 80%, pretty good and well above "show stopper" level, but to get them to a 100% will take a lot of effort. On the other hand, BMW (again, this company is just an example) is a few years behind with the drivetrain and mindset, and has a lot of catching up to do there.

I think it will be a particularly interesting rat race ;-D

I say "bring on the competition!". The more serious other auto makers are about EVs the better off we'll all be. The MS is still the hottest thing on wheels today but I welcome some crowding in the marketplace. The world needs to change their focus as EVs in general are a far superior product than their ICE companions!

It's funny to note that the i3 had no unveiling today in Germany itself, figures! Germany is tragically far behind in infrastructure build-up (only 3800 chargers in 580 cities).
In January to June this year there were 35 times more EV/hybrid cars registered in the US than in Germany, although the US is only a 5 times larger auto market. In Japan several automakers plan to add 4000 more fast-chargers and 8000 regular charging stations to Japans existing infrastructure, with govermental support.

(points taken from article in german SPIEGEL magazine)

In the article comments the i3 was basically sandblasted due to its design and the usual naysayer (non-)arguments.

Though the above doesn't sound good (for EV market in my country), the fact that Tesla will offer Superchargers puts Tesla further ahead of the competition which has to fight over which way to go (manufactuers blaming politics blaming manufactuers...).

@ GLO
I completely agree. More EV (not so much hybrid) competition is best. That was a main goal of Elon from the start.
The financial news this morning is abuzz with the i3, but all the newsies immediately switch the focus to Tesla. Tesla is still the story.

Missed link to actual i3 article in SPIEGEL (german) for reference:
http://www.spiegel.de/auto/aktuell/weltpremiere-bmw-praesentiert-elektroauto-i3-a-913614.html


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