Tesla Eyes a Stronger Opponent in BMW i8

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BMW i8

It wasn’t long ago that Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Chief Executive Elon Musk appraised the BMW (BMAXY.PK) i3 with borderline mockery. After saying simply there was “room to improve,” Musk went on a laughing jag that lasted about twenty seconds. Clearly, Tesla’s CEO wasn’t impressed with BMW’s first foray into electric vehicles. However, the second offering by the German automaker has hybrid supercar bona fides and a press campaign worthy of the big leagues. The i8 could give the Tesla Model S a fairer fight.

Not all-electric, but green

Critics of the BMW i8 immediately point out it’s not an all-electric vehicle but rather a plug-in hybrid with fewer than 25 miles of range before the combustion engine kicks into gear. All told, the i8 can get over 90 mpg with its combined engine performance. That figure is a far cry from the 265-mile range of the top-shelf Model S, but 90 mpg is about double the best fuel efficiency standards in non-electric vehicles. Furthermore, the electric miles-per-gallon rating known as “MPGe” for the Model S (90 MPGe) lands it right at the i8′s rating.

In other words, there’s a great deal of “green” in the BMW i8 to go along with its first-class styling points, like “scissor” doors and LED lights. On the question of performance, the BMW i8 is the only EV to compete with the high performance standards of the Model S in the price zone. Capable of 362 horsepower on 420 lb-ft of torque, the i8 can flash from 0 to 62 in 4.4 seconds. Only the performance version of the Model S 85 kWh model can best that time.

Though the i8 has been considered a supercar beyond the price range of even normal luxury consumers, its price is miles — but not light years — away from a similarly equipped Model S.

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