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BMW exec casts doubts on Tesla’s ability to produce Model 3 in volume at $35,000, says iNext is the real thing

Tesla has its fair share of naysayers who don’t think they can deliver the Model 3 at the $35,000 price point. BMW’s head of sales and marketing, Ian Robertson, joined those naysayers this week and cast some doubts on Tesla’s promises.

When talking with Car and Driver at the Geneva Motor Show this week, Robertson commented on Tesla’s impact on the industry:

“The world needs that sort of new competitor. That isn’t to say that we’re not going to be very competitive with them as well, of course—but Elon Musk has achieved a lot, and I admire what he has done. I think that [Musk] is moving from being a startup to being a full-blown company, and he’s beginning to understand some of the challenges that brings. Those are the sort of challenges we don’t have. We are able to productionize things and move quickly in that regard.”

Fair enough, but he followed with a less encouraging view of the Model 3:

“The Model 3 will come, but I’m not sure of what volume it will come with, I’m not sure of the price point it will come with, and I’m not sure how good the car [will be],”

Instead, he reminded us that the ‘iNext’ will be an alternative and “the latest in electromobility”. But it’s not expected to hit the market until 2021. It’s not like there’s a choice.

In the meantime, BMW’s electric vehicle plans for the next few years simply consist of incremental improvements to its current lineup, BMW i3 and i8, and to keep adding plug-in hybrid powertrains to its exiting models.

The two other main German automakers, VW and Daimler, have both announced much more aggressive plans for electrification that will take a significant share of their respective production capacities. Interestingly, Robertson confirmed for the first time a volume goal for BMW’s electric vehicles:

“We think that as we go through the period between now and 2025, that number will go up to maybe 20 percent.”

Of course, he is talking about plug-in hybrids and all-electric. I would expect the all-electric models to represent less than half of that 20% considering they are not planning many models.

If ‘iNext’, which is expected to be based on the prototype pictured above, is going to be BMW’s first all-electric competitor to the Model 3, they will be late to market. GM, Ford, Audi, Mercedes, and several others, are all planning vehicles in the segment sooner.

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