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!