I think an important part of the comparison is being missed : the i3, model S, leaf are ELECTRIC !!
I know that they're electric, that's obvious. This may bring some advantages but it may also bring disadvantages. Electric cars are a suitable substitute for some but not for others. By concentrating on the power source alone you ignore wider issues.
It's very true you can get a fancy BMW 5 series for the price of a Model S, but the series 5 (sedan) is not electric
and it's fuel economy is terrible !! the 2013 series 5 does 34 mpg highway and 23 (!! ouch) in town. Come on, my 2010 elantra does 36 mpg (80% highway, 20% small slow country roads). The model S gets 97 highway and 94 in town (epa numbers)
Also, from a performance perspective, the series 5 does 0-60 in 7.9s (5.9 for the Model S), manufacturer data.
Which 5-series are you referring too? It is in general a very fuel efficient car given size and performance. I know in the US you get limited models and the way testing is done does not take account of stop-start systems which does explain part of the picture. The EPA MPG figures you quote are correct for the latest N20 powered 528i (bearing in mind the anti-stop-start stance of the EPA already mentioned) but the performance figure you quote is wrong. Maybe you are referring to the older N52 powered car or some even older model? Nowadays it's 6.1:http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Content/ ... tions.aspx
That's not the best model to be choosing anyway, even in the USA. The US 535d (what we in the rest of the world call the 530d, our 535d is more powerful, another great demonstration of the German sense of humour) does 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and even on the biased EPA test will get 38/27mpg.
I would be a little worried about comparing 0-60 times in the US. A lot of your motoring publications and also manufacturers measure 0-60 how it is in drag racing: from when the car crosses the start line to 60. Obviously the car isn't doing 0 at the startline when it actually starts a little behind the line and in fact what they're giving you is measured over 5-60mph. This is how there are are American 'tuners' who take a Corvette, modify the engine, test it on a poorly calibrated dynomometer at the shaft and claim vast power improvements over the factory rating which is measured at the wheels, then claim that they can do 0-60 in 2 seconds. They can't, they lie. An electric car would do disproportionately better in such a drag style test of 0-60mph as it's initial
acceleration is so quick. Take a look at the i3 vs M3 video to see this. It would be nice to see Tesla qualify how they do their performance testing to see if they're measuring it properly.
A major problem you also see me bring up here is that the EPA test does not allow use of stop-start systems. This means you're not even taking advantage of all of the technologies the car has and it is one of the key ecomony techniques, just check ecomodder.com. An electric car or hybrid on the other hand is not effected by this testing issue, hence they will score better in this biased test. Then again, diesel isn't such an easy marketing buzzword as electric or hybrid.
The EPA eMPG have a debatable relevance. That energy has still got to be made somewhere and it's weighting is up to interpretation. Yes, electricity is more efficient but trying to work out some MPG equivalent misses the point - they are NOT comparable, that's the whole point.
So yes, you can get a fancy bmw that will guzzle up gas for the same price as the model S. Maybe the ride will be better.
Let's just check US prices shall we?
Tesla Model S: $62400 but only after a $7500 federal rebate, the cost still has to be ridden out somewhere by someone and you can expect these rebates to end in time.
BMW 528i: $47800.
So no it isn't the same price. Then how many miles will it take for the fuel to be offset? I calculate it to be around 124000 miles. That's even with the federal rebate you get in the US and your cheap fuel.
Plus you will get better ride but also far, far better handling as you simply can't expect a 2000kg car to handle as well. I know handling is a foreign concept to many, but it's important to lots of people. It'll also be more reliable, more comfortable, have lower cabin noise and you can expect a longer service life from it.
model S warranty details : $4,800, the technician comes to you (no need to take your car anywhere), includes Annual inspection (or every 12,500 miles), Replacement parts like brake pads and windshield wipers (almost everything except tires), 24 hour roadside assistance, System monitoring, Hardware upgrades and the battery
Hard to find BMW warranty info : for a platinum 7 years 100,00 miles coverage it seems that the MSRP is $4000 (bumper to bumper, pretty much everything covered, 24h roadside assistance), there is a $50 deductible per visit...
UK list price for BMW Service Inclusive Plus is £1580 for 5 years. No idea what kind of service prices might be in the US and where you have got your data from. Tesla are quite possibly offering these services at cost or below cost, because they want to give people assurance that they're buying into something that should be reliable. You're also very limited in who else you might be able to take your Tesla too whereas I can take a BMW to any number of independant garages who will be able to do work on it at lower cost once the car is out of warranty.
I'm not totally against the electric car here. It does have it's place however the batteries remain a problem. Carrying around hundreds of kilograms is inherently inexpensive. For many of those people who would benefit from an electric car, the wider benefits to mankind would be far greater if they switched to public transport. Then again, public transport doesn't make someone lots of money... Trains are electric and they don't have the troubles of batteries, a big reason why electricity is the accepted power source for trains. I am for innovation of course and the BMW i3 is a clear innovator by bringing composite materials to a far lower price point and this low weight helps make electric drive practicable.
What I really don't like however is people believing in marketing nonsense and big headline grabbers about power source without considering the wider picture. There are for example people who believe that a hybrid is automatically more environmentally friendly, even if the fuel economy is the same. I pointed out the poor economy on the Lexus RX400 some years ago and how it only matched some other car to which someone said "but it's a hybrid so it's better for the environment", proving my point.
I think Tesla aren't going to be around long term as an independant company. They are very much living off investor money as people will see it as the next big thing. However, what happens when the big manufacturers cotton on to the technology as finally being economically viable? Either Tesla will be bought or they will simply be steam rollered as they will not be able to keep up with companies who've been making cars for over a century. Don't be surprised if they are not operating independently by the time electric cars are a common sight.