BMW i8 will face a serious challenge from the Tesla Model S

Article by Andrew Christian, on June 12, 2014

BMW has started deliveries of its i8 plug-in, which it touts as a brand shaper. Ian Robertson, BMW’s chief of sales and marketing, remarked that sustainability is another vital element of premium cars that may quickly become a must-have.

The EUR126,000 ($135,700) sports car is the carmaker’s most expensive offering. The lightweight carbon-fiber frame model is powered by an electric motor and is touted to be more fuel efficient than the Toyota Prius. It could also out-accelerate a Porsche 911.

The BMW i8, however, will face a serious challenge from the Tesla Model S, which base price is only around half its tag at EUR65,740 in Germany. Juergen Pieper, an analyst at Bankhaus Metzler, remarked that German luxury carmakers are more feeling Tesla's surges since they are expected to be the biggest innovators.

He remarked that Tesla will be able to capture customers who would typically buy a BMW, noting that even in Germany, people are lining up to test drive the Model S. Tesla has become a preferred brand for trendy consumers because of its unconventional and green driving image.

A Model S can cruise up to 426 km (265 miles) in a single charge, and could recharge its batteries in the many free fast-charging stations scattered across North America and Europe.

Michael Willberg, chief executive of Ultrasone and a Tesla Model S owner, said the American brand represents “the right direction, a paradigm change."

He told Bloomberg that "Tesla is the car of our times." On the other hand, i8 will challenge Tesla by offering a 37 km of emission-free driving as well as features like distinctive wing doors.

The BMW i8 will also be the first production car to have optional laser headlights. The i8 marks will be the carmaker’s first pure-bred sports car since the M1, which was dropped in 1981.

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