There has been an impression that BMW is positioning its BMW i series against the offerings of the popular US carmaker Tesla. Tesla now has the Model S while BMW is launching its i3 compact EV and i8 premium plug-in hybrid. But Ludwig Willisch, chief executive of BMW of North America, is quick to dismiss that notion.
"It's a different concept," he said while speaking to the J.D. Power International Automotive Roundtable. He remarked that their idea from the start was to produce a megacity vehicle for the i3 and to offset the additional weight brought by the batteries through lightweight construction. He said that the major EV maker "has been a nice snowplow for us" in raising public awareness of electric drive.
While he did not name Tesla on his remarks, it was apparent that BMW is considering Tesla. For instance, Willisch grants that BMW's Future Retail initiative that will be launched this year is at least inspired by Tesla's showrooms.
BMW is targeting to have an open, airy retail setting with a number of video screens and no cubicles, "a high tech automotive gallery." He mentioned that the Tesla Model S doesn't match the i series vehicles as a driving machine: He commented that the Tesla Model S is “very heavy on the braking,” while the i3 feels just like a normal car. “That's a big difference when it comes to driving.”