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Getting to the Bottom of This BMW-Tesla Collaboration Fiasco

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BMW-Tesla Collaboration Elon Musk Face

Is Elon Musk meeting with BMW execs to discuss partnership?
Photo: Wired Photostream via CC

The auto industry news wire has been abuzz the past week with news of a potential BMW-Tesla collaboration. With word the two biggest electric vehicle (EV) titans could be combining their strongest assets, we all believed heaven had intervened and brought forth a perfect union.

Then, as quickly as news broke, the collaboration was scrapped. Or, was it even happening in the first place?

Here’s a quick look at the comments and rumors that led to allegations of a BMW-Tesla collaboration.

Is the BMW-Tesla Collaboration Actually Happening?

Round One – Elon Musk Speaks: Just a few days before Thanksgiving, in an interview with German publication Der Speigel, Elon Musk clearly stated that Tesla Motors and BMW were discussing a collaboration.

Because of Musk’s interest in BMW’s lightweight carbon fiber parts, and his own pride in Tesla’s long-range batteries, the billionaire co-founder thought the partnership would be mutually beneficial. “We are talking about whether we can collaborate in battery technology or charging station.”

He also indicated Telsa intends to have a battery production plant on BMW’s home turf in about five years.

Round Two – The Media Reacts: The automotive news world took Musk’s comments as a strong indication of a collaboration between the two automakers, pointing to their meetings in June concerning the creation of charging stations. Also, after having cut collaborative ties with Mercedes and Toyota, Tesla’s current position seemed to be begging for a new partner in the form of BMW.

Electric-Drive-Event-238 BMW i3

The BMW i3 and its carbon fiber body

Round Three – BMW Laughs: BMW officials had their own interview to weigh in on the allegations, this time with German business magazine Wirtschafts Woche. The unnamed representatives explicitly stated that the company isn’t interested in buying Tesla shares and won’t be involved in Musk’s battery factory.

BMW is willing to sell the carbon fiber technology to any automaker, but that doesn’t mean there’s some sort of “BMW-Tesla collaboration” going on.

Essentially, BMW is willing to fool around with Tesla but that doesn’t mean they’re in a relationship.

Round Four – What’s Next?

Depending on how you feel about Elon Musk, you’re either laughing at BMW shooting down his over-eager hope for a partnership, or you feel sorry for him because of BMW’s cold, condescending dismissal.

Either way, the situation is disappointing. BMW is making innovative, efficient vehicles but are suffering seriously with battery capacity and charging range. Tesla, on the other hand, has phenomenal battery range but isn’t the most skilled at crafting vehicles. A partnership could produce the best possible EVs imaginable.

Unfortunately, the two automakers remain stubborn, continuing toward a possible rivalry: high-range battery hipsters versus stylish carbon fiber upper-classmen.

BMW-Tesla Collaboration Elon Musk Conference interview

Just because a collaboration isn’t officially happening doesn’t mean the two automakers can’t share ideas
Dow Jones Events via CC

Source: Reuters and Green Car Reports

  • Marleychil

    Their is another factor Musk could be a taunt, to say I need something like what you are doing, but to say your needs are not worst than mine is a joke, and here is why?

    The fact is BMW is already feeling the pressure from the EV market for when Daimler’s S class was targeted, both BMW’s series 5 and 7 sales felt the shock waves. BMW knows the next target is their best seller, the series 3. Added to this is concerns about how well their line of hybrids will do against electric vehicles such as the , Model S, Model X and Model 3. Simply put, they have committed to hybrids in the EV REVOLUTION……They brought a knife to a gun fight……..BMW may lose up to 20% of their market share to the competitors in spite of almost doubling their models. They are between the rock and the hard (face) place. They are caught selling three, ICE and the hybrid which you build twice (has both electric + ICE or LCV) <> ……………The 3 Tesla vehicles alone could do serious damage to their lineup. The scales are with the other competitors.

    If I was Mr. Musk I would turn up the heat by releasing new extended range improvement through greater efficiency and increase battery capacity. All the while continuing to enlarge Supercharger network. When they decide to come to the table (it’s) is their business. For the record, Daimler has already said they will continue their relationship with Tesla, they just needed their money. As for Toyota, they like making hybrids. Expect the Volt to do well <<> BMW worries should not be Tesla or Elon’s PR, but rather Audi and Daimler. The EV range and supercharger network are big obstacles. BMW there’s AIN’T-NO-HALF-STEPPING<>
    Audi has begun to make their move. <> —- It’s hard enough to do one thing great you are trying to do three — Oh, by the way a lot of car buyer are already delaying their next automobile purchase until 2017–You Gotta catch up–THE EV REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN!! Look I like BMW cars, one of the two cars here is a 2007 series 3. I don’t like so of the companies practices. I would love to see a exceptionally made BMW EV. Hopefully they come to the table sooner than later. Pride comes before the fall.

  • Marleychil

    The bottom line BMW needs Tesla more than Tesla needs BMW. BMW is in the fight for its life. Tesla doesn’t have scales, yet. Competitor like Audi and Daimler do. BMW has commitment to …..hybrid…… in the ……EV revolution……They brought a knife to a Gun fight. Already people are putting off their new car purchase to 2017. Audi has began to make their move. For the record Daimler said their relationship with Tesla will continue, we just needed our money. BMW is between the rock and the hard (face) place. Please remember Pride comes before the fall. Tesla and Elon wants to see exceptionally built electric BMWs. Without range and SuperCharger network your work be a lot harder. Go back to table.