Luxury Electric Car Confrontation: BMW i3 Challenges Tesla

Tesla motors has company in the luxury electric vehicle market. BMW recently revealed its first mass-produced electric vehicle, dubbed the BMW i3. According to Business Insider, this futuristic-looking two-door coup will hit the U.S. market in 2014 and retail for $41,000. That’s significantly cheaper than the Tesla Model S electric car, which starts at a base price of $69,900. Electric car shoppers could be eligible for federal tax credits on both vehicles, but the BMW i3’s lower price tag will appeal to a broader range of shoppers.

With a unique design, an impressive engine the features immediate full torque and an available home charger that operates 80 percent faster than normal outlets, the BMW i3 is a welcome addition to the electric car market. With EV sales on the rise, expect to see plenty of i3s on the road come 2014.

The Specs

Most EV shoppers start their investigation of a new vehicle with the same question: How far can it go? Using its electrical engine, the BMW i3 can travel between 80 and 100 miles in between charges. That’s slightly more than most EVs, which typically have a 70 to 80 mile range. Unlike many EVs, which need speed to build torque, full torque is available immediately on the BMW i3. An intelligent heating and cooling system keeps the lithium-ion high-voltage battery at the prime temperature for peak performance. BMW includes an 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty for the battery. Shoppers who are on the fence about the range may opt for the optional two-cylinder, 34-horsepower gas engine that doubles the range. It may increase your carbon footprint, but the $4,000 option also makes the car much more convenient. Drivers looking to offset this small gasoline engine may consider eco-friendly TireBuyer Kumho tires, which cut rubber dust emissions by 10 percent.

i3 Vs. Tesla Model S

It’s natural to compare the BMW i3 to Tesla’s Model S, the polarizing EV that earned scathing reviews from the New York Times and the title of Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year. But as their price tags indicate, the i3 and Model S aren’t exactly direct competitors. Tesla offers three different batteries in the Model S, all of which outperform the BMW i3’s lithium-ion battery. The Tesla Model S features a classic, sporty design, while the i3 is more likely to turn heads because of its unusual look.

Electric Car Sales Grow

Both BMW and Tesla will be encouraged by 2013’s EV sales numbers. Electric Vehicle sales more than doubled in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period of time in 2012, according to Autos.aol.com. Nearly 42,000 EVs have hit the road since January, and 36 percent of all EVs on the right were purchased in the last six months. We may not see 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015 like President Obama suggested, but the news is encouraging for an industry that hasn’t been putting its foot on the gas (or electric battery). The BMW i3 is one of the most anticipated vehicles of 2014, and could boost this EV surge even more.

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