Monday, April 25, 2016

Can BMW Fend Off The Charge of the Tesla Model 3? Part 2

My concept 2020 BMW i5. BMW's answer to Tesla's Model 3 (shown in Moloughney Red)
Designed in conjunction with BMWBLOG
In last week's post, we looked at the impact that Tesla's Model S has had on the sales of competing vehicles in the large luxury segment in the US. That set the table for the question of whether or not the Model 3 can have equal or perhaps even greater success in the entry level, premium segment when it hits the streets sometime in the end of 2017 or early 2018. That segment has been owned by BMW's 3-Series for decades, and BMW isn't going to just give it up without a fight.

But what exactly can they do? The Model 3 has captured the imagination of the public and Tesla has received over 400,000 reservations in the first three weeks since the reservation process has opened. That staggering number has undoubtedly caused a few sleepless nights for product planners of various OEMs. In fact, if we look at theory of Diffusion of Innovations, the interest in the Model 3 would absolutely prove that the electric vehicle market has now moved beyond the innovators and early adopters, and we are now well into the early majority phase. That's good news for Tesla, but is BMW also ready to capitalize on the inevitable market shift we are witnessing?

The short answer is yes, they absolutely can. In fact they are probably positioned better than any other OEM to do so because of the tremendous investment that they have made in BMW i. They've poured billions into the i division, and it wasn't just for the i3 and i8. Lessons learned working with CFRP, aluminum and a variety of sustainable materials and manufacturing processes will be carried into future plug-ins. In fact, it's doubtful any auto manufacturer has spent more restructuring the company in preparation for the shift to electrics, than BMW has over the past seven years. However, the remarkable Model 3 reservation list probably indicates that they need to accelerate their EV programs and bring some vehicles to market a little sooner than they might have planned if they want to minimize defection from the brand. The good news for BMW is that Tesla can have a million reservations, and that won't mean they can actually make the cars fast enough to satisfy demand. In fact, every car Tesla has released so far has has been delayed, and even when they initially "launch" the vehicle, it takes them 4 to 6 months before they are making them in serious volume and the first few months of production are usually plagued with quality issues.
The Tesla's Model 3 is predicted to launch in late 2017
So even if Tesla does manage to have a few ceremonial Model 3 deliveries in late 2017 as promised, they probably won't be making them in volume much before the summer of 2018, and I highly doubt they will deliver more than 30,000 to 40,000 Model 3s before the end of 2018. By the time 2019 rolls around, Tesla will likely have any initial quality issues worked out and will be able to begin really producing the vehicle in high volume. So BMW has about three years to produce a vehicle to compete in this segment which will curb mass defection from the loyal 3-Series following, as well as keep the BMW name synonymous with innovation, performance and sustainability.

Does BMW have a vehicle in development that can compete in this class that has already been green-lighted for production? Yes they do, the 2020 i5. We've all read an assortment of i5 predictions from various "BMW insiders" ranging from it being a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, to an EV with a range extender. If BMW is serious about competing in this space than it shouldn't be either. The i5 needs to be a long range electric vehicle, there's no need to mess around with range extenders or fuel cells. The remainder of this post is purely my thoughts and predictions on what BMW should and could do to remain a leader in the industry. I have nothing concrete to base these opinions on, and everything you read below is purely speculative.

The cornerstone of the BMW i will be the 2020 i5 which will launch in mid 2019 with the following specs:

-Five door hatchback w/seating for five
-Aluminum frame, CFRP body same as i3 & i8
-78.75 kWh battery pack, with 70kWh is usable
-EPA rated range of 245 MPC
-Capable of charging at 150kW.
-345 hp and 375 lb-ft torque. 0-62 mph in 5.0 seconds
-All wheel drive option
-Options include HUD, panoramic roof, various "BMW Driver Assistant" autonomous driving features. 


So why doesn't BMW bring the i5 to market sooner and beat Tesla to the punch? Is it because they don't think the market is ready, or they just don't believe in long range electric cars just yet? The answer to both of those questions is no. It's all about the batteries. Tesla knows this, and refused to wait for the market to bring cutting edge battery cells to them. Instead they are building what will be the largest battery factory in the world, to supply their cars with the best batteries as soon as they are available. BMW, along with the rest of the OEMs, will rely on third party suppliers for their battery cells. It's too early to tell which strategy is best, but once the Gigafactory is operational, it should provide Tesla with the advantage of having the best cells available and at a lower cost, but that has not yet been proven.

Why 2019? That's because Samsung SDI, BMW's battery partner is scheduled to bring to market their next generation lithium ion battery cell sometime in 2019. These new cells have been described by Samsung as the "Low Height Pack" cell generation because they aren't nearly as tall as the batteries currently used in the i3 which will allow for a lower seating position. However, the real progress is in the specific energy of the cells and the cost. The current i3 uses 60Ah cells that are believed to have a specific energy of 130 Wh/kg. The 2017 i3 is rumored to be using the latest Samsung SDI cells that are the same physical size as the 60Ah cells, but are 94Ah with a specific energy of about 190 Wh/kg. These new cells are going to increase the i3's range from 81 miles per charge to about 120 MPC. However that still isn't good enough for the long range Model 3 competitor that the i5 needs to be. The 2020 i5 will use Samsung's Low Height Pack cells that are estimated to be about 125Ah with a specific energy of about 250Wh/kg, nearly double the energy density of what the current i3 batteries have and cost less than the current 60Ah cells do. These cells will allow BMW to stuff a 78.75kWh battery pack in the i5 and still keep the weight under 4,000lbs.
A Samsung SDI rep holding their new "Low Height Pack" cells which won't be available until 2019. Notice the energy rating is not listed on the cell as it is on the other batteries on display. Also note the low height as compared to the 94Ah cell on the left. That 94Ah cell is rumored to be in the 2017 BMW i3, and is the same physical size as the 60Ah cell used in current i3s. 
The i5's battery pack I'm designing would consist of 14 modules, each containing 12 battery cells for a total of 168 cells. If BMW allows 90% of the pack to be available, that means 70kWh of usable energy and an EPA range of about 245 miles per charge. It will also accept up to 150kW of DC power and utilize the emerging network of 150kW DC fast chargers that, by then, will begin being funded by members of the CharIn EV association. The network will be minuscule compared to Tesla's Supercharger network, and Tesla still has a huge advantage there, but at least customers will see a path to what someday could rival the Supercharger network, which currently doesn't exist. I'm not even ruling out a partnership with Tesla, where the other OEMs pay Tesla to install 150kW CCS stations at every Supercharger location. After all, at Audi's 2014 LA Auto Show press conference, the automaker promised they would have a network of 150kW DC Fast charge stations installed and operational before they launch the 2019 e-tron Quattro. How else could they accomplish that?

The i3's battery tray
Granted, even if BMW hits the mark with the i5, the Model 3 is going to be a widely popular vehicle as long as Tesla can manage to deliver what they have promised. However, a strong competitor from BMW like what the i5 has the potential to be, can limit the number of sales the Model 3 takes from BMW in this segment. The i5 will cost more than the Model 3, starting at $49,990. However the standard i5 will be better optioned than the standard Model 3, and I believe a loaded Model 3 will end up costing around $60K anyway. Therefore the average purchase price of the two cars may only be $6,000 to $8,000 apart.

That said, the i5 isn't the only plug they'll have in 2020. By then BMW's entire array of models will offer PHEV options. They already sell the X5 40e plus the 330e, and by the end of the year will have the 740e in showrooms. Sometime in 2017 the 540e will be added to the iPerformance PHEV line. These are all very competent PHEVs, and the reviews have been very positive with regards to the driving experience they offer. The only problem I have with these cars is the AER. None of these vehicles boast an EPA range of even fifteen miles per charge, and I just don't find that acceptable in 2016. If BMW wants customers to see the value in paying more for the plug in version of any car in their line, it has to deliver an electric range that can save them a reasonable amount in fuel to offset the couple thousand dollars extra the vehicle costs, and 13 miles of electric range just doesn't do it.
BMW now calls the PHEV line that comes from their conventionally powered vehicles "iPerformance"
BMW needs to upgrade the batteries in their PHEVs to the higher density cells coming to market now, and then again in 2019. If BMW were to use the higher energy cells available later this year, the AER of their iPerformance PHEVs would jump up to about 20 miles per charge without increasing the battery's physical size or weight. Then, in 2019 when the 125Ah cells are available, they can bring the 2nd generation PHEVs to market with a boost to 30 - 40 miles of electric range. This won't satisfy the hardcore EV aficionado, but there will be plenty of people looking to buy their first plug in. These people aren't ready for a 100% electric car, and a PHEV with a respectable AER will bring them (or keep them loyal) to the brand.

The final piece of the puzzle is the 2nd generation i3. Using Samsung's Low Height pack 125Ah cells means BMW can offer a 48kWh i3 which would most likely have about a 180 mile electric range. I expect BMW to stick with the range extender option when the 2nd generation i3 is released so the choices will be the 180 mile BEV and a REx that has about 325 miles of combined range, and both versions will charge at 150kW like the i5. I also expect it to have the functionality to turn the REx on manually when the operator wishes, because BMW will have worked out the issues with CARB and the BEVx designation which is why the current i3's range extender is restricted from using the built in Hold SOC Mode that European i3 owners get to use. Expect the gen 2 i3 to be slightly larger than the current model, and I'm betting BMW will replace the rear coach doors with conventionally opening ones. They will also figure out how to add a third seat in the back. BMW will improve the drivetrain efficiency as well as add about 20 hp and 25 left of torque. 0 to 60 times for the BEV will be in the mid 6 second range.
BMW will bring the MINI Rocketman BEV to market in 2018
One last prediction. In 2018 BMW will introduce the MINI Rocketman and it will be available in pure BEV and use many of the i3's components. It will have about a 100 mile range and at launch be available only as a hardtop. However, the following model year it will also be offered in convertible trim, finally giving the EV faithful an attractive and sporty electric ragtop offering.

While BMW's i5 will be the Model 3's direct competitor, I believe it's going to take an entire portfolio of plug-ins for BMW to remain competitive in the ever expanding plug-in market. While BMW absolutely needs a flagship long distance pure EV, there is no one size fits all in the automobile industry, and the plug-in market is no exception. This is one area where BMW has a clear advantage over Tesla. By 2020, BMW will have no less than seven models with plugs in their showrooms, and most likely that number may actually be closer to ten models. If the incredible amount of reservations the Model 3 has amassed has proven anything, it's that the public is absolutely ready for compelling electric vehicle options. Tesla has captured the imagination of the world. They've proven that it can indeed be done and people want to support them for doing so. Your move BMW. 

34 comments:

  1. Hi Tom,


    Thanks for this second post. A worthwhile read, as always.

    I would like to see a REx option on the future i5 though, because it still give you such a great amount of flexibility. If any deals or agreements with Tesla's SC network can be made, then the necessity might not exist to the same extent. I'm not holding my breath on this one though.

    As you are aware, the charging network situation here in Europe is different. Ecotricity is a provider of 106 free, reliable CCS charging stations in the UK right now and I am hoping this will double over the next 2-3 years.

    One major drawback I see is the change of minds that is still necessary in BMW garages. In conversations I have with long-serving BMW employees at dealerships, I find that many still don't take the EV move by their product manufacturer seriously. They're still in love with the classic models and would rather see BMW produce 100 refined grilles for a ICE 7 series than spend any time on a plug-in car. This shift will take longer than we all think.

    A second big aspect of the Tesla allure is the software focus. This obviously starts with OTA upgrades and moves all the way through to the overall experience of their cars. As an i3 owner for just over a year, I am stunned how difficult it is to report to BMW i even the simplest bug with their iRemote app or the ConnectedDrive site. User experience, testing, design... there are so many opportunities for other manufacturers with software heritage to trump here. Just as Tesla has to step up to the mark and deliver a lot of cars by 2018, BMW has an equally gigantic task of moving the needle not only on their BMW i offerings, but also in terms of software end user mindedness.

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  2. Another entertaining and thoughtful article, Tom! I hope your predictions are well-founded, but I'm not optimistic. Had Herbert Diess been named CEO instead of Krüger, BMW i would be coming into its own. Instead, BMW's petrolheads have taken over, driving out the EV-enthusiasts in the company. BMW is marching into the future with its eyes firmly focused on the past.

    Your render of the i5 looks to be based on the Active Tourer PHEV, a car I like a lot (well, except for the gasoline engine :-) I would have deleted the black hood, and the i3's "running stream" rear side window treatment, especially now that the Bolt has copied it.

    If BMW was really serious about electric cars, it would have brought the Active Tourer PHEV to the U.S.; it could have exposed people to daily electric driving, who are not quite ready to abandon their ICE. The Active Tourer is lower, lighter, sleeker, more efficient, and sportier than the X1, while having the same utility as the X1. The AT's electric 4WD system is also far superior to the X1's mechanical 4WD. But BMW is still too dogmatic to offer anything in the U.S. that isn't macho-ICE.

    I haven't read anything in the last year about BMW's "plans" for electrification that gives any indication they are actually moving ahead. They are steadfastly resisting, offering only vague statements about the next decade. As you know, I have offered hopeful suggestions about the path that BMW i could and should take to advance its groundbreaking early progress, but to no avail. I've now given up on BMW, and am waiting patiently for my dual-motor Model 3.

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  3. Great article, Tom. As the comment above notes, BMW has to also adopt to the way things are done in the group sourced environment to consolidate its current advantages. While you may have insight due to your access, and you've previously noted that input from the Active E group was well listened to, BMW has to reach back to its endusers and engage more. The iconceirge has to step up its game, the dealerships have to be a part of this shift or all the best intentions won't bear fruit in the failure to execute.

    Transitioning to that will prove as much a challenge to BMW as becoming a mass market manufacturer (that's reaching out to a lower end market segment) that Tesla is attempting to do. Its an opportunity that they have to actively remediate, more than in the i3 rollouts and ongoing support.

    Keep the thoughtful articles coming, it is always a treat to read informed information, and not just fan boy blathering so common these days.

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  4. Great insights and speculation into BMW's near-term approach. I wondered about one thing though:

    "These cells will allow BMW to stuff a 78.75kWh battery pack in the i5 and still keep the weight at about 4,000lbs."

    Are they really going to field the i5 at 4000 lbs? Seems pretty astonishing considering that they've spent so much energy bringing CFRP to the i3--which weighs in at 2/3rds of that.

    I'm not really in love with the styling of the i3--though I drive a peculiar-looking Leaf so I imagine I'm not one to talk. I think the process of converting electrics to mass-market appeal involves muting a lot of what I see as nonsensical design flairs at this point. (If only the Model X hadn't added gullwing doors we might see more of them on the road...) To that end, "the rest" have much to learn from Tesla. BMW would do itself a favor by not forcing its loyalists to choose a Jetson's mobile simply because they're used to BMW and they're ready to drive an electric. The saying "different strokes for different folks" cuts both ways: half the population might love the styling, but if half hates it, as a company it's going to require a lot more effort to eke out your market share in the new world of electrics when there aren't just "standard" choices elsewhere, but beautiful ones.

    The only other comment I have is I think your projections for Model 3 manufacturing are overly pessimistic (or optimistic, as a BMW enthusiast.) This is one area I've constantly lamented about EV enthusiasts and manufacturers alike--something akin to infighting within the small-but-growing EV crowd. It isn't exactly that--but to me it's the antithesis of the concept "a rising tide lifts all boats."

    BMW is not "doomed" by Tesla in any respect. As you've pointed out, BMW is probably more ready than any other OEM for the world-changing revolution of electrics. As ready as Tesla? I think that's doubtful regardless of cash reserves or manufacturing capacity. If Tesla only produces 30-40,000 Model 3's in 2018, it would be a disaster, and it could spell doom for the company. But it's terribly unlikely, in my view, that it turns out to be so few.

    Based on their current manufacturing trend, Tesla is likely to produce at least 75,000 cars in 2017. This figure is hampered a good deal by the lengthier and more complicated production sequence of the Model X. A figure of 100-125k cars built in 2018 seems a fairly reasonable estimate, and that would likely include a 50-60% share of Model 3's. On the low side, 50,000 with the possibility of almost 70k produced, 2018.

    This sets aside entirely the possibility (likelihood, in my view) of Tesla partnering with an OEM manufacturer to build components of the Model 3 chassis. Such an arrangement wouldn't likely impact production as early as 2018, but it's hard to believe Tesla isn't considering an option like this given that they have an idea of what their most ambitious projections could yield and they also know the wolves are starting to come for their heels.

    My estimate for 2018 production of the Model 3 is thus roughly double what yours is. 60-75,000 is to me a more reasonable estimate.

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    1. Elon Musk has recently reaffirmed Tesla's target to produce 80,000 to 90,000 Model S and X cars during 2016 (after a slow start due to the Model X introduction), so saying Tesla is likely to produce at least 75,000 cars during 2017 seems quite a bit on the low side.

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    2. If you could post where Elon is quoted to have said this--better yet where he reaffirmed it--it would be helpful. As of this moment, their trajectory is to 80,452 cars in 2016 based on their last five quarterly production figures, and Q1 of '16 has been less than stellar at 14,820 cars, so they have some catching up to do in order to average 25% more cars per quarter for the rest of the year than they have ever made at peak production. They have the demand, certainly, but demand hasn't been the question.

      My comment was made to establish a lowest bound; to put reasonable figures on the table. I have no doubt that they’ll exceed 75,000 cars next year, but to make guesstimates significantly higher than that for a lower bound is foolish. There’s no doubt the figure will drop somewhere in the 75-100k range, and if anything begins to restrict that number it will be a modest transition of demand from purchasing an S or an X to purchasing a ‘3, as might well be expected. No one anticipates a glut of ‘3s to become available until at least Q1 or Q2 of 2018, and essentially that means we’re saying the same thing.

      This year? Roughly 80,000 units—if that.
      2017? Another 75-100k units.
      2018? 125-140k units.

      I’d like the figures to be higher, but then I was among the first five or six thousand reservation placers.

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    3. This is a press release from April 4: http://ir.teslamotors.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=963460 Tesla is having a Q&A on 1st quarter results and outlook on May 4 at 2:30 p.m. PT which will be live webcast on Tesla's investor page.

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    4. Deliveries doesn't equal production. And Tom's number are not pessimistic. I think 30K-40K M3 for the first year would be very surprising. it's a new platform, new tooling, new components, 100% new. If Tesla produce 20K-25K it will already be an accomplishment, so when Tom's make his prediction, he actually give more credit to Tesla to overcome 1rst year production issues and ramp up. And it's not like Tesla made its name on its capacity to meet delivery dates.

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    5. While I don't drive a leaf, and Im not a BMW fan per say.. I came to BMW because I liked the design of the i3.... just saying some of us actually like it. That said, I'm more in-love with electric than BMW, and my dealer is firmly cementing my feelings, so Im unlikely to buy a second BMW unless its a worthwhile upgrade.

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    6. When I first saw the i3, I said what the heck is that. But now owning one, I have totally falling in love with it. Both in looks and the typical BMW driving fell. No matter where I go, people stop to look and talk about the car. When the 2017s come out, I will be a family of two i3s. Note: I also own a BMW M6 which now is only driven once a week, as ev vehicles are the future, which is now here. And what I am saving in gasoline is making the payments on the i3

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    7. When I first saw the i3, I said what the heck is that. But now owning one, I have totally falling in love with it. Both in looks and the typical BMW driving fell. No matter where I go, people stop to look and talk about the car. When the 2017s come out, I will be a family of two i3s. Note: I also own a BMW M6 which now is only driven once a week, as ev vehicles are the future, which is now here. And what I am saving in gasoline is making the payments on the i3

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  7. Great post Tom, as some as mentionned, I believe the i5 will also have a REX option. It may only be offer in limited area where the charging infrastructure isn't as developped, but it will be available.

    If BMW can bring the i5 in 2019 (not in pre-sale, but actual sales) they will be in a good position. If you look at other premium brands (Audi, Mercedes, Cadillac, Lexus, Infiniti...) They are the only one with an active programme producing EV cars. All the others are still in planning mode (Porche is the odd one as they do have something but in a very limited AER).

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  8. Another great incisive post Tom. I really hope BMW's strategy follows your thinking and they don't have any wobbles about really committing to the full EV design,technology and engineering vision. I remember reading Johanna Quandt's obituary in The Times which said she was a passionate advocate for electric vehicles and championed the i programme. I hope her children are exercising the same influence on the BMW Board.

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    1. Great point - and current Quandt family members are (privately) investing a lot in solar and other renewable energy projects. Harald Krueger does not seem to get the message - or he got it too late.

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  9. Hi Tom - thanks for the great article! Hope BMWBlog will also cover this one (but they might be a bit afraid of reactions from Munich!)
    Two questions/comments I would like to share:
    1. Do you think 2019 is going to be early enough? I have strong doubts, especially after the recent announcement in Germany of the EV purchasing incentive of up to € 4K. This will be good for about 300-500 K (PH)EVs but excluding expensive models (above € 60K). So BMW would only have its PHEVs and the i3 basically. I guess Nissan/Renault, Kia and VW will take the lion share of this. The incentive will end somewhere in 2019 (€ 1.2 billion cap).
    2. I think BMW also has to make its future EVs more energy efficient. I am saying that owning an i3 BEV, which does consume little energy in absolute terms, but not necessarily so good given its size and weight. With the Tesla Model 3 coming in at less than 60 kWh gross battery size, it will likely have 50 kWh net available. My i3 gets usually 19.5 kWh available. Using EPA rating (estimated 215 miles for Model 3), the Model 3 would get more miles than the current i3 per kWh. And that for a bigger, heavier, sportier car with a larger battery - while the i3 is using CFRP and aluminium only. BMW could probably gain more by making the car/drivetrain more efficient than by using expensive CFRP/aluminium.

    But I have to agree with Chris Llana that the outlook for BMW is not very good - so many BMW i folks leaving seems to indicate they are disappointed in the EV strategy of the company. Confirming what we have seen from the outside as well. Not showing the next BMW i model/concept in the anniversary year is a bad signal - it could mean BMW will not last another 100 years!

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  10. Good comment as always Tom. Your suppositions have the benefit of conversations with the movers and shakers at BMW. Bearing in mind that we now know the new i3 battery is 6 months early I would hope that both i3 v2 and i5 are available at least 6 months before your forecast.

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  11. Good comment as always Tom. Your suppositions have the benefit of conversations with the movers and shakers at BMW. Bearing in mind that we now know the new i3 battery is 6 months early I would hope that both i3 v2 and i5 are available at least 6 months before your forecast.

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  12. First, an an experienced corporate marketing person, I think we should all consider Tom's post to be a calculated leak by BMW to try to blunt some of the Model 3 hype. I suspect there is less speculation and more informed knowledge that Tom is able to admit. But moving on...

    Second, no matter how you much you discount Tesla, BMW Is playing catch up in a big way and they are very late to the party.

    The Model S consumes .06 Wh/lb/mi, the i3 consumes .09 Wh/lb/mi. The Model S is dramatically more efficient than the i3, which allows them to avoid spending money on carbon fiber. BMW has very limited expertise in producing EVs, they are building up staff and expertise in electric propulsion, but the numbers tell the story. They are not making a very efficient car today, nor are they making it any volume. And the i3 has had its share of recalls and engineering problems (I just had my engine mounts replaced).

    More importantly, BMW (et al) are still acting like this is an engineering problem to be solved. It's not, it's a system problem, an element of which is vehicle engineering. BMW is way behind, if not entirely blind to the software engineering, dealer network and charging network issues. An i5 BEV will find very few CCS chargers once it leaves either coast, and 150kW CCS chargers to feed that i5 are a pure fantasy. BMW dealers, as other people have mentioned, have not embraced the i3, it's a CARB compliance car, sort of a nuisance, not a "real" BMW. My dealer only has an i3 mechanic in the shop 3 days a week, less than 5 miles from a fully staffed Tesla service center.

    Tom's scenario is entirely dependent on Samsung delivering in volume, on time. Tesla is already producing batteries in its Nevada factory, low volume PowerWall products to be sure, but is way ahead of anyone else. And Tesla's factory is close to a proven supply of lithium in Nevada, that's not the case in South Korea. Ship lithium to South Korea, then batteries to Germany, then cars to the US. Tesla ships lithium across Nevada, and batteries from Nevada to California. Which supply chain sounds better?

    VW had to cheat to make its diesel's compliant, and diesel's have been part of its business for many decades. Mitsubishi just did its mea culpa on fuel economy. Don't be surprised if there are others.

    I hope BMW is at least moderately successful, competition is good, but history is not on the side of major corporations making big transitions.

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    1. No way Jose. Even assuming that your .06 Wh/lb/mi vs. .09 Wh/lb/mi is correct (which is a weird metric - I've never seen it mentioned before), that would be due to the MS aerodynamic advantage, which is a function of the type of car, not any intrinsic technological superiority. The i3 is the most efficient car on the market today, and that is a fact.

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    2. I think it's a good question to explore. What do we use for a measure of efficiency with which to compare different vehicles if not Wh/lb/mi?

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    3. Weight is generally considered bad and to avoid, so why should more of it - everything else being equal - improve the efficiency measure (as in your equation), unless you consider it to be a proxy of something else of value? Size maybe, but then why not use interior volume instead?

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    4. The i3 specs say 36.9 cf of cargo space with the seat down, and let's add 1 cf for the frunk to make it 37.9, though the i3 frunk is pretty much worthless.

      The Model S reports 63.4 cf with the seat down, including 5.3 in a very useful frunk.

      If we call the front seats equal in volume, that's a gift to the i3 because the Model S has much more volume in the front seats.

      My i3 reports an average of 4.3 mi/kWh, or 232 wh/mi. Today I drove just under 100 miles in the Model S, with outside temp in the mid-80's so the AC was running the entire time, a mix of freeway (70-75mph) and country roads and reported 282 wh/mi. Another gift to the i3 because with the AC running the i3 range drops about 8%.

      So based on volume:

      i3 = 232 / 37.9 = 6.12 wh/cf
      Model S = 282 / 63.4 = 4.45 wh/cf

      I3 / Model S = 137% of the power per cubic foot of volume.

      I like my i3 and currently plan to lease a 2018 when my 2014 lease is up. But BMW needs to use at least 30% less energy to be equivalent to Tesla, and they’ve already played the carbon card. The BMW drive train is just significantly less efficient than a Tesla.

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    5. Russ, these are interesting numbers and I do not question them. However, back to my original point, how does that prove Tesla's superior *drivetrain* efficiency, and not simply better aerodynamics? That's all I am saying.

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    7. I get different calcs. And for fun I include my wife's Smart ED.

      It seems the only comparable volume number to use is total volume, which EPA Passenger + CARGO CAPACITY, ALL SEATS IN PLACE. And I looked at fuelecomony.gov for the kwh/100mi rating.

      So using these inputs:
      Tesla S70 120+31.6 ft3, 38 kwh/100mi
      i3 BEV 84+15 ft3, 27 kwh/100mi
      Smart ED 53.2+7.8 ft3, 32kwh/100mi (gee, it doesn't FEEL that big!)

      Please check my math, but I get:
      Tesla 2.51 wh/cf
      i3 BEV 2.72 wh/cf
      Smart ED 5.25 wh/cf (!)

      Note that the Smart uses a Tesla drive train. But unlike the branded Tesla or BMW, and LIKE the cars of my youth, it has a DC Permanent Magnet motor. And darn those carbon AA cells depleted fast!


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    8. Interesting metric.
      Seemingly marketing focuses.
      Not worth a bucket of warm spit.

      Zombie stat that means nothing.
      Model S is a heavy car -- pudding boy heavy -- but it is an aerodynamic car.
      I3 is smaller, lighter but more real world shape factor.

      Chunky 4M vehicle loses out to aero 4.7M vehicle -- dog bites man stuff at best.

      Consequently the figure is interesting but not front line regarding the market viability of either of these 2 models.

      I5 is easy if BMW stop the ego tripping.
      Tesla has put down a marker.
      It is a marker that they will struggle to live up to.
      However it gives BMW something to aim at.

      Future -- BMW has the killer app.
      REx is what they need to fight and win against Tesla.

      **********
      **********

      REx is the answer.
      Tesla will not go down that road.

      200 KW motor / CD segment vehicle.

      60 KWHr battery vs 40 KWHr battery and 40 KW REx
      Costs, weights, drive ability, range?

      How fast will 40 KWs get you on the motorway -- 70 / 80mph?
      Use the REx for cruising and the battery for acceleration?
      Set the REx cut in to 50% charge on long journeys?
      Set the REx cut in to 30% charge day to day.
      Real world 70 mile range on batteries only.
      Real world as in battery life.


      Delete
  13. what's going on with the Audi on the electric front - their only plugin the A3 is sold out all over North America

    ReplyDelete
  14. more important than the car is the charging network. range, looks, cost are all secondary for widespread adoption. I can drive in my Model S almost anywhere in the USA today, and it only will get much better in the next year. I have a model 3 on order. Without a supercharging network only very few BMW EV's will be sold. Black swan events are quite dramatic for the incumbents. Motorola (phones), Nokia, and Blackberry are just a few of the large players of gadgets on history's list of destruction. Nikon and Cannon make great digital cameras, but they had to fully dedicate themselves to the transition. Can BMW? I say the odds are less than 50%, I hope they do, they make great cars, I had a BMW M3 prior to the Tesla...

    ReplyDelete
  15. REx is the answer.
    Tesla will not go down that road.

    200 KW motor / CD segment vehicle.

    60 KWHr battery vs 40 KWHr battery and 40 KW REx
    Costs, weights, drive ability, range?

    How fast will 40 KWs get you on the motorway -- 70 / 80mph?
    Use the REx for cruising and the battery for acceleration?
    Set the REx cut in to 50% charge on long journeys?
    Set the REx cut in to 30% charge day to day.
    Real world 70 mile range on batteries only.
    Real world as in battery life.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "The i5 will cost more than the Model 3, starting at $49,990. However the standard i5 will be better optioned than the standard Model 3, and I believe a loaded Model 3 will end up costing around $60K anyway. Therefore the average purchase price of the two cars may only be $6,000 to $8,000 apart."

    How will it be better optioned that the Tesla Model 3? That is very hard to imagine given that Tesla's innovation is currently unrivaled. Also, a completely max'd out Model 3 MAY cost close to your $60K number, but the majority of them will sell for much less. The model 3 is better looking (IMO), has a better range, will be out much sooner and most importantly has an existing charging network. BMW has a long, long way to go...if they can even catch up at this point.

    BMW (and any other manufacturer for that matter) is better off getting in line to purchase the batteries from Tesla and going from there.

    Lastly, Tesla owners don't want anything with a gas engine. That said, while BMW may have close to 10 cars with a plug - only a few of those would be considered a competitor of any Tesla vehicle.

    ReplyDelete
  17. One might find it hard to single out a name as the best since both BMW and Tesla are two close competitors. Tesla's Model S, undoubtedly, hit the market hard and now there is a speculation whether Tesla could break its own record in the entry level premium segment when its Model 3 will hit the market in 2017 or 2018. Let the time to decide! Tesla also claims that it has received bulk reservations, which definitely worries its rivals. Yes, I am quite sure that BMW will bring something new to take on the model, however, the market shift takes time. The German player might launch 2020 i5 in 2019.

    ReplyDelete