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BMW Refuses to Compete with Tesla

BMW has been in the news this week with some updates on some of their electric car offerings, but none of them are particularly awe-inspiring.  Tesla, meanwhile, revealed some updates that look to increase both power and range of several already record-breaking models.  In a BMW vs Tesla comparison, the German automaker does not seem terribly interested in pushing the limits of electric car technology in order to remain a solid competitor with Tesla, but it is not dropping out of the race, either.

Mini Cooper Price Revealed

BMW unveiled its brand new electric Mini Cooper only a few months back, and the response so far has been mixed.  Some people are glad to have an electric version of the distinctive little car on the way, while others have been less than impressed with the 145-mile WLTP range and the fact that the vehicle was built on BMW’s aging i3 electric platform. 

On Monday, BMW finally announced the pricing for the electric Mini Cooper in the U.S.  The MSRP is going to start at $29,900 plus an additional $850 Destination & Handling fee.  This puts the Mini Cooper on par with the Nissan Leaf, which starts at $29,990.  The thing is, the Leaf’s base range is 226 miles, meaning that if you bought the Cooper, you would be paying practically the same price for 50 percent less range.  If forced to choose between the two, the Cooper really is not the best option.

BMW i3: Not Dead Yet

While we previously reported that BMW was on the cusp of discontinuing the i3, it sounds like that is no longer the case, at least not for the next few years. 

According to an interview with the German news outlet Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse revealed that the i3 will actually continue to be improved, including an eventual upgrade of its current battery pack.  “The i3 will continue to be produced, no question about it,” he said in the interview.  “The car is already an icon today. Which car can claim this after only six years? Icons tick according to a different logic, they don’t have a classic successor, they always remain true to themselves in essence.” 

Global demand has increased for the BMW i3 every year since its release, including a 20 percent increase in demand last year alone.

Unfortunately, the BMW i3 has never been all that impressive when it comes to range, unlike Tesla.  The base model started out with an 81-mile range back in 2014, which increased to 107 miles in 2018, and to 153 miles in 2019.  If the next battery upgrade follows a similar improvement to the previous ones, it would be reasonable to expect a range of about 185 miles the next time around.  By the time that upgrade actually comes out, however, more electric cars may have left such numbers in the dust.   

Tesla Model S and Model X Receives Range Update

Those of you who watch Tesla’s online product pages probably noticed a slight increase in the range of the Model S and Model X recently.  This is thanks to an error on Tesla’s part, at least according to CEO Elon Musk.  “The base Model S at this point has a range of 370 miles. Actually, technically it’s 373, but we actually certified it incorrectly as 370, but it’s 373. And there are some software improvements that we think will make that even better,” he said during Tesla’s Q3 earnings report.  The range has not been updated on the EPA website yet, but it will likely be soon.

An increase of 3 miles is normally nothing to write home about, but considering that the Tesla Model S currently has the longest range of any electric car out there, it is still nice to see that number climb. 

Tesla is not stopping there, either.  On top of fixing their range certification, the electric car manufacturer is planning on completing some electric motor optimization to increase both power and range.  “I forgot to mention, we’re also expecting there’s going to be an over-the-air improvement that will improve the power of the Model S, X, and 3,” said Musk during that same call.  “That’s, by the way, coming in a few weeks. It should be in the order of 5% power improvement due to improved firmware.” 

Tesla’s VP of technology Drew Baglino clarified Musk’s statement by saying that the optimization should result in about a “5% improvement for all Model 3 customers and 3% for Model S and Model X” customers.

BMW could stand to learn a little from Tesla in this regard.

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