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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