2014 BMW i3 (German-market version), Amsterdam, Oct 2013Enlarge Photo
Electric cars can be confusing enough to neophytes--a car that you plug in at night just like a phone ?!?!?--but when you add in social status signifiers, it can all get quite complicated indeed.
Which is how we end up with a Hollywood Reporter piece that asking whether celebrities may abandon their Tesla Model S electric cars for the newest, latest, trendiest electric car on the block, the 2014 BMW i3.
2014 Tesla Model SEnlarge Photo
It's a fun piece to read, and the bulk of it is a drive report of BMW's first production electric car.
"The i3 remains a koan of a car," it says, "and it reveals the answer to the riddle of its existence by degrees as you experience it."
And despite its headline, the article doesn't really answer the question, ending only by suggesting, "The answer to the koan of the i3 would seem to indicate BMW might be on to something."
We're going to take a stab at answering, though: No, it won't.
(And, by the way: We've come a long way from Leonardo DiCaprio and his Toyota Prius, haven't we?)
The BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S may well be cross-shopped by buyers eager to drive electrically, but the reasons many will choose one over the other likely have to do with the fundamental differences between the two cars.
Leonardo DiCaprio was the first Hollywood star to be seen taking a Toyota Prius to the OscarsEnlarge Photo
The Tesla Model S is a large five-door hatchback that will seat four comfortably, rated at 208 or 265 miles of range--giving a realistic range of 150 to 200 miles under almost any circumstance.
The BMW i3 is a small, upright city car with a rated range of 81 miles in pure electric form. It has an innovative optional range-extending engine with a tiny gas tank that will give another 75 miles or so.
But the rear seat of the i3 is more suitable for packages and knapsacks than for adult-sized humans, and any rear passengers can only get out of the car after the occupant in the seat ahead has exited and opened the front door--the rear doors can't open on their own.
So we'd suggest that the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3 will coexist fairly happily among not only Hollywood celebrities, but also the much larger (and growing) pool of buyers who simply like the experience of driving an electric car.
Especially if it has a prestigious badge like BMW or Tesla on it.