BMW: No Interest In Tesla Cooperation, Musk Was Posturing For PR

2014 BMW i3, 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

2014 BMW i3, 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

BMW and Tesla Motors seem like potential electric-car rivals, but over the past week there's been much talk of a possible collaboration between the two carmakers.

That's because Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company was engaged in informal talks with BMW, and would be open to sharing things like battery and charging-station technology.

MORE: Tesla, BMW Chat Over Possible Partnership, Elon Musk Says

Now, BMW is speaking up, and it doesn't sound quite as enthusiastic.

The carmaker has no plans for cooperation with Tesla, officials told German business magazine Wirtschafts Woche, and isn't interested in buying Tesla shares either.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013

While Musk's comments about a possible collaboration made a splash last week, the unnamed BMW officials say these informal discussions don't have much significance.

Musk also expressed interest in BMW's use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic for the body shells of the i3 electric car and i8 plug-in hybrid, and BMW does appreciate the comment.

[EDITOR'S UPDATE: After this article was published, Tesla Motors asked that we include the following statement from the company:

Not only did Elon not "talk up a partnership" with BMW, we actively sought to squash any such rumors the moment they surfaced more than a week ago. Elon respects BMW as a company and we have talked informally about many things, but at no point did he claim there was any partnership or serious discussions.]

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Selling the material isn't out of the question, the company said, but that applies to any interested carmaker, not just Tesla.

BMW also had no interest in getting involved in plans for a German battery factory Musk mentioned last week.

2013 Tesla Model S and 2014 BMW i3, Hudson Valley, NY, Nov 2014

2013 Tesla Model S and 2014 BMW i3, Hudson Valley, NY, Nov 2014

That plant--which Musk says could open in five or six years--would thus likely be a solely Tesla affair like the the massive Nevada "Gigafactory" now starting construction.

Going beyond simply quashing rumors of a partnership, BMW accused Musk of using the company for "PR purposes," claiming Tesla is looking to fill the void after the winding down of its relationships with Daimler and Toyota.

RELATED: Tesla And BMW: Natural Competitors In Electric Cars, One Day

So with a partnership unlikely, BMW and Tesla seem set to resume a path toward electric-car rivalry.

Each automaker has taken a very different approach so far, but as both seek to grow sales of electric-cars, a direct face-off at some point in the near future looks increasingly probable.


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