The EV automaker is proving to be a formidable rival.
The popularity of the Tesla Model 3 continues to increase in Europe and luxury legacy brands like BMW are rightly concerned. BMW launched its own Model 3 rival, the i4, earlier this year. Being first to market has endless benefits, at least in this case.
Early in the year, Zipse expressed doubt whether Tesla could maintain its status as the top EV seller as new competitors came to market. And now BMW CEO Oliver Zipse has taken another swipe at Tesla, according to Bloomberg.
As Model 3 demand has only increased since those comments, Zipse is attacking Tesla in another way: reliability. "Where we differ is our standard on quality and reliability," Zipse said. "We have different aspirations on customer satisfaction." What does that imply?
That Tesla is not really a premium brand? Yes, at least that's how Zipse views it. "Tesla isn't quite part of the premium segment," he continued. "They're growing very strongly via price reductions. We wouldn't do that since you've got to last the distance." Numbers, however, don't lie.
Tesla delivered 241,000 vehicles in the third quarter alone while BMW's combined sales of plug-in and EV models reached 230,000 but it took the first nine months of the year to reach that. BMW still has a long way to go in order to close the EV sales gap with Tesla.
The new i4 and iX SUV will certainly help things. BMW isn't the only German automaker playing very close attention to Tesla these days. Mercedes-Benz lost out to Tesla in the US luxury sales race in the first three quarters of this year. Tesla also bested Lexus and, of course, BMW.
What's all the more astonishing (and deeply frustrating for competitors) is that Tesla managed to achieve incredible sales despite the ongoing Autopilot investigation by the NHTSA and controversy surrounding its Full Self-Driving rollout. The Silicon Valley company also joined Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Alphabet (Google's parent company) in the $1 trillion valuation club.