BMW starts selling the i8 as Tesla threatens its position image

While the California-automaker’s Model S doesn’t command the sales of a traditional luxury brand, like BMW, its innovative business model threatens the established luxury segment players.

More so, BMW, which is the world’s biggest premium automaker, could be shaken by Tesla’s advances in the luxury segment, as – just like the US battery-car maker – the German company is a lone automaker, not backed by a huge multinational group, like Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

“Germany’s premium automakers feel Tesla’s rise more keenly because they’re expected to be the biggest innovators,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Bankhaus Metzler. “Tesla will be able to win over people who’d normally buy a BMW. Even in Germany, people are lining up to test drive” the Model S.

Today, BMW’s best asset against the unconventional Tesla Model S is the $135,700 i8 hybrid – the maker’s first true sports car in three decades and the pinnacle of technology for BMW. The combination of an electric motor with conventional gasoline power and the lightweight carbon-fiber frame enables the i8 to reach a fuel economy that surpasses that of a Prius, while commending acceleration times worthy of a Porsche 911.

While the $63,570 Model S can go for 265 emission-free miles, the i8, launched today during an event near BMW’s Munich headquarters, can only go the same for 23 miles (37 km), but adds to the balance perks like the wing doors and optional laser headlights.

Via Bloomberg