Power eDrive vs. Tesla: The Future Of BMW And Its M Division

For those of you who follow the news on MotoringFile, we are currently in Las Vegas for AMVIV 2015. It’s not atypical to see cars from other brands attending these gatherings, and so we had the chance to test-drive the Tesla Model S P85D. Everything you’ve read or seen about the Insane Mode of this car is accurate. It is mind-blowing and neck-snapping. For someone who never had the chance to test-drive, or let alone ride in an electric vehicle, this was a revelation. The BMW Group is not insensible to Tesla, and while it appears to be the only manufacturer best-prepared to compete with Elon Musk’s company, it has yet to release a competitor to the Model S. However, this potential “Tesla killer” – as BMW calls it – might come sooner than we think.

Last November, BMW introduced a 675 hp eDrive 5 series GT concept. With torque “well into the four digits” and a range of power output from 250 to 650 hp, this concept was meant to show the upper end of BMW’s new plug-in hybrid architecture.

Earlier this week, famous BMW insider Herr26 revealed on BimmerFile that the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage was carrying a version of the Power eDrive drivetrain seen in the 5 series GT concept. With a power output of 550 hp, the engine of the CSL has been “tweaked by the M Division to suit the character of a BMW M car.”

Herr26 further elaborated on the topic, indicating that the next generation 5 series would receive this Power eDrive drivetrain with a variety of hp outputs along the power-band. Given that the first M car of the GXX platform will be the M5, the very first BMW M with eDrive might come out within the next few years. A plug-in M car is probably heresy for enthusiasts, but if it is executed as well as the Porsche 918 Spyder, this will be a car to behold.

Although we only have bits of information at this point, it’s hard to see how an eDrive M car would make for a Tesla Model S substitute. If history teaches us anything, any product with a “killer” moniker end-up failing its goal. In addition to that, a Tesla and a BMW eDrive remain completely different cars. And listening to one of the co-hosts of the excellent Accidental Tech Podcast comparing the M5 to the P85D reinforces this idea.

BMW has non-negligeable catching-up ahead of itself to compete with the Model S. And by the time they get to that point, Tesla will have a $30,000-$40,000 car on the market. Other AMVIV attendees got to test-drive the P85D yesterday, and we stopped counting the number of times MINI owners said “if Tesla comes out with a $30K car, I’ll buy it in a heartbeat!” All of these dynamics will contribute to an intense and healthy competition between two brands we admire, and it will ultimately benefit us, the buyers. These are definitely exciting times we live in!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • SockRolid

    I fear for the European economy in the next decade. Software and hardware design are dominated by American companies, and there seems to be little that any European company can do to keep from falling back on protectionism (e.g. taxing Google or attacking it as a monopoly.) That’s the last resort for economies unable to compete.

    And guess what. Cars are becoming increasingly tech-intensive. Tesla is already making the cars of the future, and once they develop the battery of the future, they’ll be well on their way to owning the 21st century in terms of auto production. Not to mention the strong rumors of an Apple car. Not looking good for the European economy.

  • Pretty much everyone that I give a drive to in my wifes Fiat 500e is shocked at the performance. It’s a frickin’ hoot to drive, as is pretty much any electric. The punch much above their weight in terms of take-off pull when compared to total HP. They deliver urgency even in the real entry level versions. What the MINI owners fail to grasp is that there are ALREADY cheap electrics that are on the market now that aren’t P85D insane, but are much sportier and fun than most imagine.

    And I don’t fear for the Europeans. Bosch is fully embedded in advanced vehicle electronics (as are many other companies.) Many of the European automotive companies are very, very tech savvy, and in segments where they are weak, they learn fast and invest in catching up (Pretty much every big car company now has a tech center somewhere in the SF Bay Area to capitalize on the very talent that is fueling Google, Tesla, Apple and others.

    Near me the i3 started slow. Compared to other inexpensive options, it was late to market and a bit on the expensive side. Lately I’m seeing more of them show up so I have hope for it still. But the Model S at the high end, and the 500e (newer) and Leaf (older) seem to be the ones of choice. I wonder if BMW had done more with the 1series Electric to scale it cheaply with more conventional engineering if they’d have a $35k 1 series electric that could have been in the market for a couple of years.

    Now it’s even harder, I drove the Kia Soul electric (without hamsters) and it was a more practical, but less fun package than the 500e, but still sportier than you’d think. There’s the Golf electric and tons of others at the lower end, so it’s going to be hard to grow. When the Leaf came out, anyone who wanted an cheap electric really only had one choice, brand be damned.

    I’ve also noticed that the attitude of the public is starting to shift slowly. As more and more of the inexpensive electrics are on the roads, two things are happening. Seeing an electric car is no longer uncommon or rare, and lots of people are getting rides in them and being shocked at the package for price. (Last guy I gave a drive to in the wife’s 500e has a Fiat Pop at home. Said his car couldn’t even begin to compete with the performance of the electric.)

    One way or another BMW will find it’s way to electrification of one sort or another, and I think they will do it well.

  • Oh, and don’t knock the enthusiasts as luddites. Who do you think is buying the i8s and the 918s and LaFerraris?