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BMW Takes on Tesla with the Electric 3 Series

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【Summary】The units will have an estimated range of 248 miles per charge. In the company’s strategy to cut production costs by reducing the number of options for its vehicles, BMW plans to focus on high volume units that are profitable.

Michael Cheng    Jul 04, 2017 1:19 PM PT
BMW Takes on Tesla with the Electric 3 Series

Tesla is currently enjoying a commanding lead in the EV space, as other automakers fail to compete against the company's offerings. But that may all change in the near future, as BMW looks to go head-to-head with Tesla in its own backyard.

To solidify its goals, the German automaker announced it will launch electric versions of the popular 3 Series in the coming months, possibly at the highly anticipated Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

"The 3 series is one of the company's most popular models, so it makes sense that it would electrify that model sooner rather than later," said Evan Williams from Auto Guide.

Read on to find out if BMW's electrified 3 Series has what it takes to take on Tesla's EVs.

Electrification of BMW's 3 Series

The auto manufacturer is taking a lean approach to production, based on what we know so far about the new vehicles. The units will have an estimated range of 248 miles per charge. It is likely that the cars will possess technology from the company's R&D projects worth roughly $6 billion. Oh, and while the car is expected to be displayed at the Frankfurt Auto Show, it won't actually be in commercial showrooms for another year. It seems that the business is delaying the release to make room for the effects that the Tesla Model 3 will have on the industry. 

As for other BMW models, they won't be electrified until much later in the transition timeline. The BMW X3 will be fully electrified by 2020 at the Leipzig facility, while the fully electric BMW iNEXT is expected to be released shortly after in 2021. Interestingly, a fully electric MINI may reach customers before the two BMW flagship models in 2019.

BMW will not be the only automaker launching EVs at the auto show. It will fight for attention against Jaguar, Volvo, Honda and Mercedes-Benz (other companies that are rumored to also be introducing new EVs at the event).

Other BMW Plans

In the company's strategy to cut production costs by reducing the number of options for its vehicles, BMW plans to focus on high volume units that are profitable. For example, the brand intends to phase out manual transmissions from the 2 Series. But this strategy isn't effective across the board. BMW is still currently deeply invested in diesel technology, as the company is unable to meet European CO2 regulations without advanced diesel tech.

"Our biggest lever is to reduce complexity and lower the amount of choices there are," said Nicholas Peter, BMW's chief financial officer. "Our electrified cars are profitable today, but it's less than vehicles with combustion engines. Models like our plug-in hybrids need to become more profitable and we need to cut costs to ensure we can meet our goals on profitability."

Based on this predicament, it is clear leading automakers, like Ford and Honda, that have found success in fuel-powered cars are having a tough time transitioning to newer technologies. By comparison, new players, like Tesla, don't have to worry about spending boatloads of money on upgrading outdated car models currently in circulation today. 

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