2014 BMW i3 and 2014 Tesla Model S [photo: Tom Moloughney]
And now that they're taking the Tesla Model S electric luxury sedan seriously--as well as the expected arrival next year of the much-delayed Model X crossover utility vehicle--Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche are planning to fight back.
The February issue of Automobile magazine has a rundown of those companies' future electric-car product plans, under the dramatic title, "Germany's Plan To Shock Tesla."
The article summarizes what it says are the planned vehicles each will introduce between 2018 and 2021 to compete with current and future Tesla models. They will be priced from $65,000 to more than $125,000, and represent a total investment commitment of about $7.5 billion.
While some details have been known (and were included in our October piece on the same topic), others are new.
2016 Audi A3 e-tron - First Drive
Here's a brief summary:
AUDI: The surging luxury brand owned by Volkswagen Group is already in the process of launching plug-in hybrid versions of its current and future product line. The first to hit the U.S. will be the 2016 Audi A3 e-tron, a plug-in hybrid compact hatchback version of its new A3 compact sedan.
In short order, the next Q7 large SUV will follow--details on that powertrain were released this month--with the A8 large sedan, Q5 mid-size SUV, and A6 sedan and A7 hatchback to follow as each of those vehicles is redesigned.
But its Tesla competitor is expected to be called the Q6 e-tron, an all-electric "four-door coupe crossover utility" with sleek and highly aerodynamic lines that will cost $80,000 to $100,000 and could take as long as four years to arrive.
This vehicle had previously been referred to as the Q8, so it's not clear exactly where it will fall in size.
Automobile quotes power options at 300 horsepower (224 kilowatts) and 400 hp (298 kW), with a 500-hp (373-kW) model in reserve.
2013 Tesla Model S and 2014 BMW i3, Hudson Valley, NY, Nov 2014
BMW: The Bavarian maker of "ultimate driving machines" is far ahead of both Mercedes and VW Group's Audi and Porsche brands in electric-car expertise, with its i3 battery-electric minicar and i8 plug-in hybrid sport coupe now entering their second year of production.
It plans to face off more directly against Tesla, according to the report, with a new sedan--possibly to be called i7--with unique bodywork that's based on the current 5-Series mid-size sedan, but fitted with BMW's new Power eDrive architecture.
That powertrain, however, is essentially an electric vehicle with 200-kW (268-hp) electric motor to power the rear wheels, and a 150-kW (201-hp) front electric motor combined with a 245-hp four-cylinder range-extending combustion engine.
Combined with battery packs of up to 20 kilowatt-hours, the output of these systems will be more than 500 kW (670 hp). The default driving mode is fully electric up to its battery capacity, then range-extended electric thereafter.
A concept car is expected to appear in about two years, though the powertrain was already described by BMW at its Innovation Days event last month. The price is expected to be slightly below $100,000.