By Jarryd Neves, Motoring correspondent
BMW chief executive Oliver Zipse tore into American carmaker Tesla, criticising the quality and reliability issues of the American brand’s products. Automotive News Europe reports Zipse said this is what sets the Munich-based luxury brand apart from Tesla, a leader in the electric vehicle (EV) segment.
This isn’t the first time the 57-year-old has laid into Tesla. In February this year, the CEO remarked that, in the face of stiff competition, he cannot see Tesla retaining its lead in the EV sector. Despite this, Musk’s car company managed to top the European sales charts in September and, in doing so, became the first electric car to occupy first place. The premium-priced Model 3 beat popular vehicles such as the Renault Clio and VW Golf.
At a conference organised by German newspaper Handelsblatt, Zipse commented, “Tesla isn’t quite part of the premium segment. They are growing very strongly via price reductions. We would not do that since you have got to last the distance. Where we differ is our standard on quality and reliability. We have different aspirations on customer satisfaction.”
Since the beginning, Tesla has focused solely on electric vehicles, arguably the future of the automobile. This, together with innovative technology and desirability, has made battery-powered cars attractive to consumers. As traditional carmakers pivot towards the electric movement, many are playing catch-up. In May this year, Forbes reported the Model 3 is now the 16th best-selling car worldwide. Aside from that achievement, Musk’s cheapest model is also the best-selling EV of all time; remarkable, considering it was introduced in 2018.
BMW’s i3 electric city car, on sale since 2013 has mustered up sales figures of ±210,000 units. However, the 105-year-old luxury carmaker has several electric tricks up its sleeve in order to combat Tesla, founded just 18 years ago. With SUVs enjoying great popularity across the world, BMW recently launched its halo EV, the iX. Available in two states of tune (xDrive40 and xDrive50), the brand is promising a range of up to 630 km for the top model. Tesla’s luxury Model X SUV is capable of 348 miles (approx. 560 km) but isn’t available in South Africa. The BMW should arrive locally before year end, with a starting price of R1,650,000, on par with petrol and diesel-powered SUVs from the brand.
However, if BMW wants to increase its market share in the electric vehicle sector, it is the recently launched i4 (the Model 3’s closest competitor) that should impress consumers most. Early reports from overseas motoring publications seem promising, though, with the BBC’s Top Gear magazine describing the four-door electric coupé as a “sweet-driving alternative” which is a “better steer” than the Tesla Model 3.
Automotive News Europe notes sales of BMW plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles have nearly doubled, with over 230,000 examples sold in the first nine months of 2021. Still, this is some way behind Tesla; the company shifted over 241,000 vehicles in the third quarter alone.
Watch the video below to learn more about BMW’s Tesla fighter, the i4.
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