BMW 330e plug-in hybrid ads: no wait for Tesla Model 3 needed

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The Tesla Model 3 electric car, which its maker says will launch late next year with 200 miles of range and a $35,000 price, has caused a few shock waves across the car industry.

All the German luxury makers now have plans for their own 200-mile battery-electric vehicles coming in 2018 or later, at various prices.

Now at least one maker, BMW, is starting to counter the Model 3 in its marketing—though the Tesla remains more than a year from production.

DON'T MISS: BMW still leads U.S. plug-in sales percentages; plug-in hybrid SUV helps

The 2016 BMW 330e is the plug-in hybrid version of the company's best-selling product, the renowned 3-Series sport sedan.

The EPA rates it at 14 miles of electric range, 31 mpg combined when operating as a conventional hybrid after the battery depletes, and a middling 72 MPGe running electrically.

(MPGe, or Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, is a measure of how far an electric vehicle can travel on the same amount of energy as is contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.)

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

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BMW has released two new ads that point out that the BMW 330e is available now, today, rather than requiring buyers to wait for the unknown launch date of that (unnamed) future electric car.

"You will wait, and wait, and wait some more, all before that electric-car company's new model ever even arrives," intones the voiceover.

The alternative, according to the ad?

ALSO SEE: Do BMW, Mercedes, Volvo Plug-In Hybrid SUVs Compete With Tesla Model X?

That would be "the all-new 72-MPGe performance-driven BMW 330e is here, now, reinventing what a plug-in hybrid is as only BMW can."

"It's the car you've been waiting for," the ad concludes, "without the wait."

Underscoring their message, the pair of 30-second ads are called "Waiting" and "Wait or Drive."

2016 BMW 330e

2016 BMW 330e

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BMW has been doing quite well in plug-in hybrid sales recently, even as it continues to log a higher percentage of sales of cars with plugs than any other maker aside from Tesla.

In recent months, sales of its X5 xDrive 40e utility vehicle—also rated at 14 miles of electric range, though a lower 56 MPGe and 24 mpg combined—have come close to those of its i3 battery-electric hatchback.

Some of the hundreds of thousands of people who've put down deposits on the Tesla Model 3, of course, may not see a 14-mile plug-in hybrid BMW 3-Series as a suitable substitute.

CHECK OUT: BMW's Next Two Plug-In Hybrids Revealed, Only One For U.S. (Sep 2015)

But it's probably worth remembering that electric-car advocates tend to view plug-in hybrids as the gateway drug to all-electric vehicles.

The contrast between operating on electric power only and that disappointing moment when the engine kicks on almost always sparks a desire for more electric range.

General uncertainty remains around Tesla's ability to deliver the Model 3 in volume on its announced, and very aggressive, schedule.

2016 BMW X5 xDrive 40e, Hudson Valley, NY, Dec 2015

2016 BMW X5 xDrive 40e, Hudson Valley, NY, Dec 2015

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The BMW 330e is probably about the same size as a Model 3. Given BMWs technology-forward image, perhaps some those 330e drivers will be ready to make the jump to a long-range electric car after their leases expire.

BMW has just boosted the range of the BMW i3 from 81 to 114 miles for the 2017 model year.

Its next electric car, a small crossover utility thought to be called the i5, is expected to go on sale for the 2019 model year.

[hat tips: John Briggs, Brian Henderson, and many others]

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