Electric cars, also known as EVs, are becoming increasingly popular. They use electric motors instead of gas engines, for a more eco-friendly and economical way to travel. But which car company offers the better electric car, Tesla or BMW?
While Tesla and BMW electric cars have a lot of features in common, overall Tesla makes better electric cars because they outclass BMW when it comes to crucial factors like acceleration, driving range, and charging times.
Keep reading to learn about the different models of electric cars Tesla and BMW make, and how they compare when it comes to things like horsepower, All-Wheel drive, battery power, self-driving features, seating, and more.
What Types of Electric Cars Do Tesla and BMW Sell?
To determine which company has the best electric car, we must first go over the different types of electric cars each company sells. Both Tesla and BMW have around 4 different kinds of electric cars that are either already for sale or about to launch. All of these cars have different features and are made to fill different roles.
Below will be a quick rundown of Tesla’s and BMW’s current electric cars, and then after that, we can start comparing the features of all these cars to find out which are the best.
Tesla has 5 different types of electric vehicles currently for sale:
- Model S
- Model X
- Model 3
- Model Y
Below we’ll go over some of the features unique to each of these EVs.
The Tesla Model S is one of their flagship cars, a sedan-style car known for being stylish and fast. Tesla recently released a new version called the Model S Plaid, which can accelerate faster than the other Model S they offer, the Model S Long Range. Although as the name implies, the Long Range can travel farther than the Plaid.
The Model X is similar to the Model S, but instead of being a sedan, it is an SUV-style car. It seats up to 7 people and is known for its “Falcon Wing Doors” and large touchscreen. Like the Model S, it comes in Plaid and Long Range versions.
The Tesla Model 3 was created to be a cheaper alternative to the Model S, with less range and slower acceleration. Like the S it is a sedan-style car and has a Long Range version, though instead of having a Plaid version it has a Performance version for slightly faster acceleration. It also comes in a Standard Range Plus version.
The Model Y was likewise made as a cheaper alternative to the SUV-style Model X with worse speed and range. Unlike the Model X, it does not have “Falcon Wing Doors”. It comes in two versions, Long Range and Performance.
The Tesla Cybertruck is the company’s first electric truck and will launch in late 2021. Known for its angular shape, the Cybertruck will be able to tow over 7,500 lbs and have 100 CU FT of storage space. It will come in Single Motor, Dual Motor, and Tri-Motor versions, with increasing speed and range based on the number of motors.
Since BMW hasn’t officially announced any plans to make an electric truck, Tesla wins out in this field. Since there is no BMW equivalent to compare it to, the Cybertruck will not be discussed in the rest of this article.
Types of BMW EVs
BMW has 2 electric vehicles currently on the market and 2 that are about to come out. They are listed here in order of release.
Below we’ll go over the unique features of each of these BMW EVs.
The BMW i3 was BMW’s first all-electric vehicle model. It is a subcompact hatchback-style car known for its premium interior and two-tone paint job. It comes in two versions, the standard i3 and the i3s which have faster acceleration. Both versions can be ordered with an optional “Range Extender”, which adds a gasoline engine to the car, essentially turning it into a hybrid.
The BMW i8 is the second car in the BMW i line, though instead of being fully electric it’s a hybrid.The i8 is a sports car known for its “dihedral doors” and stylish appearance. It comes in two different versions, a hardtop coupé and a convertible roadster. Both versions have similar acceleration and range.
The iX will be BMW’s first electric compact SUV and will launch in early 2022. It will feature all-wheel drive, two motors, and a much better driving range than the i3. The iX will come in two versions, the xDrive50 and the higher-horsepower M60.
Launching around the same time as the iX, the BMW i4 is a low-slung sedan based on BMW’s pre-existing 3-Series sedan. The eDrive40 version has a single motor and rear-drive, while the M50 will have two motors and all-wheel drive, as well as increased horsepower.
Comparing the Tesla and BMW Electric Cars
Now that we know the premier electric cars sold by Tesla and BMW, let’s compare their speed, range, safety, and other important features.
Since the different cars sold by each company are made to fit different types of driver needs, we’ll go over both companies’ best and worst cars and then compare them to declare a winner in that catagory.
This section will cover all the parts of an EV that determine how it feels to drive. Things such as acceleration, horsepower, rear or all-wheel drive, and brakes. These are some of the most important factors to think about when determining what car is better, so this section will go over all these features in great detail.
Acceleration is one of the biggest factors in determining how fast a car feels. It’s usually measured by the number of seconds it takes a car to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour.
For those looking for a car with speedy acceleration, the Plaid version of the Tesla Model S wins out by a longshot. Capable of going from 0 to 60 in only 1.9 seconds, it’s one of the fastest accelerating electric cars that’s still street legal.
The BMW with the fastest acceleration looks to be the upcoming M50 i4, with a significantly slower 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds acceleration. The BMW i8 follows close behind with a 4.1 second acceleration. After that, it’s the iX at 4.6 seconds, and then finally the i3 is the slowest car of them all at 6.6. Seconds.
As for the other Tesla cars, the model X Plaid hits 60 in 2.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest accelerating SUVs. Performance model 3 manages it in 3.1 seconds, and the Performance Model Y is not far behind at 3.5 seconds. Even the slowest Tesla cars are still faster than their BMW counterparts, so Tesla wins this round.
Horsepower is a deciding factor in how fast a car can accelerate and what speeds it can hit, so it’s not surprising that the results of this section will resemble the ones above it.
The max horsepowers of all the Tesla cars are listed below.
- The Model S Plaid has a staggering 1020 horsepower
- The Model X Plaid also has 1020 horsepower
- The Model 3 Performance version has about 470 horsepower
- The Model Y Preformance version 456 horsepower
Here are the max horsepowers on the BMW side of things.
- The upcoming M60 version of ix is rumored to have over 600 horsepower, though not much is know about it yet
- The M50 version of the i4 will have 536 horsepower
- The i8 has 360 horsepower
- The i3 maxes out at 181 horsepower
Although Tesla still has the car with the highest horsepower, the ix, and i4 BMWs can give some of the less powerful Tesla cars a run for their money. Depending on your budget and needs, the BMWs might be a better choice for a high horsepower car, unless you decide to spring for the insanely powerful Tesla Plaids.
Most of these electric cars have All-Wheel Drive, which means both the front and rear wheels receive power, giving the car better traction when driving in harsh conditions like snow and dirt. All-Wheel drive does add some weight to the car and reduce fuel efficiency, though in an electric car that doesn’t matter as much as the range.
All the Tesla cars have All-Wheel Drive, except for the Standard Range Plus version of the Model 3, which has Rear-Wheel Drive. The single motor Cybertruck will also have Rear-Wheel Drive.
The BMW EVs have more of a mix of Rear-Wheel and All-Wheel Drive. The i3 is only available with Rear-Wheel Drive. The i8 uses its hybrid engine to achieve All-Wheel Drive, and the iX will also have All-Wheel Drive. The i4 will have Rear-Wheel Drive on the eDrive40 version, and All-Wheel Drive on the M50.
It’s hard to say if Tesla or BMW is the better choice here, since they both are focused on All-Wheel drive with only one type of car that lets you choose between All-Wheel or Rear-Wheel. However, the i3 stands out as the worst option for this feature, as you don’t even get a choice and it’s subpar range negates the benefits of Rear-Wheel drive.
The quality of a car’s brakes affects its overall handling as well as its safety. Because of this, most cars aim to have the safest breaks possible. However, some of the cars talked about in this article have had problems with their breaks in the past.
The 2018 version of the Tesla Model 3 had subpar brakes that took much longer to stop the car than the industry standard. These were later fixed with a software update.
On the other hand, the BMW iX will let you choose between 3 different brake pedal options, including one-pedal driving. The i3 is also known for its ability to come to a stop without brakes on some flat streets, though this is not recommended.
Both BMW and Tesla want to provide the best breaks possible, but BMW offers a little bit more for people who want to practice braking less.
This section will go over the battery capabilities of the Tesla and BMW EVs. For electric cars, the battery is just as important to factor in as the motor when it comes to determining which car is best.
Range is one of the most important features of an electric car.The driving range of an electric car tells you how many miles you can travel before having to recharge. Since electric car charging stations are few and far between and recharging a car takes much longer than just filling up the gas tank, good driving range is a must.
The Tesla Model S Long Range version offers the best range out of all these cars, with 405 miles per charge, and the Plaid Model S isn’t far behind at 390 miles. The Model X averages at about 350 miles, and the Long Range Model Y can go about 326 miles.
The Tesla Model 3 is the only Tesla with 3 different versions currently for sale, and their ranges vary wildly, with the Long Range having a driving range of 353 miles, the Performance only managring 315, and the Standard Range Plus having the worst range at 263 miles.
BMW’s two upcoming cars, the iX, and i4 will both have a range of about 300 miles. The i3 has a paltry range of 153 miles and has an optional gas-powered “Range Extender” to make up for its subpar range. Since the i8 is a hybrid, it can only travel for 22 miles on electricity and then gets 35 miles per gallon on gas.
Once your electric car hits the limits of its driving range, it’ll have to recharge. A fast recharging time means you’ll be able to start driving again sooner, so it’s an important feature to look out for.
Tesla cars can be charged at their Tesla supercharger stations, which take 15 to 30 minutes to charge 200 miles worth of power car depending on the model, with the Model S and Model 3 charging the fastest. When plugged into the optimal home outlet, the car can recharge up to 44 miles of range per hour.
In electric car rapid charging stations, the BMW i3 can recharge 105 miles in 30 minutes. At home it can recharge up to 16 miles an hour. The i8 cannot be rapidly charged, and at home, it can charge up to 9 miles an hour.
The ix will have rapid charging and can recharge from 10% to 80% in 35 minutes, while the i4 is said to be able to recharge 90 miles in just 10 minutes.
Tesla has BMW beat when it comes to battery quality. All but one of their cars have better driving ranges than even the best BMW EVs. BMW’s upcoming iX and i4 cars come close to the Tesla cars in the range, but the i3 has such a comically bad range that it can be converted into a hybrid. The i8 is just a hybrid so it doesn’t need good range.
In terms of charging speed, BMW and Tesla are close when it comes to rapid charging. At home, Tesla cars tend to charge faster. Once again the i8 is the worst in this category because it’s a hybrid, and doesn’t really seem to be optimised to run off electricity for very long.
Interiors and Seating
So far this article has just been talking about the technical specifications that determine how good a car is to drive. This section will examine how nice these cars are to ride in, and how useful they are for transporting people and things.
Depending on your needs, you might want a car that can seat many people, or a more stylish or compact car that only seats a few people.
The Tesla Model S Plaid, Model X, and Model Y all have 5 seats, but they all have an optional ad-on that adds 2 small child-sized seats, bringing the total number of seats to 7. The Model 3 just has 5 seats.
The BMW iX and i4 can both seat up to 5 people. The BMW i3 has 4 seats, and the backseats can be folded down for more trunk space.The i8 coupe can technically seat 4 people, but the backseats are small and not adjustable. The i8 roadster seats 2.
Once again, Tesla’s excessive design features allow them to beat out BMW in a close race. It’s worth noting that without the ad-on, the two newer BMW i cars offer the same number of seats as all Tesla cars. The i3 is also a subcompact car, which means in exchange for fewer seats it’s smaller and easier to maneuver in tight spaces.
Electric cars are known for their big screen displays, and Tesla is no exception. All Tesla models have a large square touchscreen which is used for everything from controlling the AC to watching movies and even playing video games. The Plaid versions of the S and X also have touchscreens in the backseat so that passengers can be entertained.
The BMW i3 has a small rectangular screen that uses the iDrive interface, controlling with a number of buttons and a touch-sensitive dial. It’s used for navigation, playing music, and other features such as Apple CarPlay. The i8 uses an almost identical system.
The upcoming iX and i4 will both have long curved rectangular screens that stretch from behind the wheel to the center of the console. They will combine the usual features of a screen with a heads-up display, and are rumored to have touchscreen functionality.
It’s up to you to decide what type of screen is best for your needs. Tesla lets you turn your car into an entertainment system and use a touchscreen, while BMW offers easier-to-access button controls and a touchpad that’s simple to use while driving.
Design and style are subjective features, but it’s worth covering them here since Tesla and BMW differ so much when it comes to the styling of their interiors.
Tesla interiors are incredibly minimalist. Since all the controls are in the touch screen, there are no buttons. All models offer a minimalist dashboard made mostly of plastic, with a thin strip of wood.
BMW opts for more lavish interiors. The i3’s lavish interior uses a mix of recyclable materials and was one of the first electric cars to use wood in the interior. The i8 uses more conventional dark plastics. The iX will have a dashboard wrapped in a choice of leather, faux leather, or even microfiber cloth. The i4 mixes wood, leather, and plastic.
Unless minimalism is your thing, BMW seems to offer the more stylish interiors. They mix a variety of different materials to give the dashboards a unique and fancy appearance. They also offer more options to customize the interiors than Tesla does.
Safety is an important yet underrated feature when deciding what car to buy. Electric cars often use self-driving technology to keep their rides safe, but what about conventional things like airbags and seatbelts? In this section, this article will compare the physical safety features of Tesla and BMW cars.
All Tesla models were given a 5-star safety rating by NCAP. They all have around 8 airbags, though there have been a couple of instances in the past where the airbags failed to go off in a crash.
i3 BMWs have 6 airbags, but only got 4 stars from NCAP because they don’t have as many features to protect pedestrians. The i8 was never crash-tested by the NCAP, but there are 8 airbags in the coupe and 6 in the roadster. Since the iX and i4 aren’t out yet, it’s unknown how they will be rated by the NCAP and how many airbags they will have.
It’s hard to say which of these cars is the safest. Tesla certainly has a reputation for making the safest cars ever, but we won’t know which company really makes the safest EVs until the iX and i4 are tested.
Driver-Assist and Self-Driving Features
Electric cars are thought of as futuristic, and they try to uphold that reputation by featuring various “self-driving” features. Some merely provide assistance to the driver to help keep them from getting into an accident, while others aim to make the car drive itself in certain situations.
These features are supposed to work alongside a human driver, helping them drive safer and avoid obstacles.
The BMW i3 has many assist features such as automated emergency braking, a forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control. The i8 has similar features, except for it lacks adaptive cruise control.
The driver-assist features of the iX and i4 have not been fully revealed yet, but it looks like the iX will have some advanced self-driving and driver-assist features such as emergency braking with a pedestrian sensor, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with a semi-autonomous mode. The i4 will have similar features, but “self-driving” will be limited to just staying in lanes.
Tesla cars are known for their slew of driver-assist features. All the models have emergency braking, lane change warning, and adaptive cruise control. But Tesla cars are most famous for their “Full Self-Driving Capability” features, which we’ll get into in the next section.
Telsa’s “Full Self-Driving Capability” feature is an additional add-on that gives cars the ability to self-drive in some situations, such as when entering or exiting a highway, when changing lanes, and when approaching a stop sign or light. It also features autopark and a “summon” feature that makes your parked car come to you. It’s available on all models except the Model Y.
The iX is the main electric BMW that has the sensors and computer power for a potential autonomous or semi-autonomous driving mode. The i4 also looks to have some decent stop-and-go technology. Only time will tell how well their self-driving features measure up to Tesla, but it looks like both brands are neck and neck in this field.
Price is perhaps the important factor to consider when comparing cars because often a bad car can be redeemed by being very cheap, or a good car damned by being too expensive.
Listed below are the price ranges for each Tesla model. The lowest price represents the cheapest version of the car they sell, while the highest price represents the most expensive version they sell.
- Model S: $81,190-$131,190
- Model X: $91,190-$121,190
- Model 3: $38,690-$57,190
- Model Y: $53,190-$62,190
Tesla prices neatly sort into two tiers, their premiere and value cars. Model S and X cost about the same, while the Model Y looks like the worst deal for what it is unless you really need the space. Also, these prices can surge if you decide to buy the extra seats, the Self-Driving Mode, or even one in any color besides the default black or white.
Here are the BMW price ranges. The cheaper prices represent the less-powerful versions of the cars, while the higher prices represent the more-powerful versions. The exception to this is the i8, where the two prices respectively represent the cost of the coupe and roadster versions.
- i3: $45,445-$52,495
- i8: $148,495-$164,295
- iX: $84,195-$95,000 (est)
- i4: $56,395-$62,190 (est)
The BMW prices are pretty good, except for the i8 which is woefully overpriced for a car that’s not even fully electric. The i4 and iX seem to be around the same price as their Tesla counterparts, though the i3 is a bit overpriced for how old it is.
In terms of price, Tesla and BMW are very close. Tesla’s premiere models are expensive, but not as overpriced as the i8. The iX is a better deal than the Model X, and the Model Y and i4 are comparable in price despite being very different cars. The Model 3 is a great deal. All in all, it really depends on what type of car you need.
Tesla and BMW electric cars are about equal when it comes to things like seating, price, All-Wheel Drive, and Driver-Assist features. However, Tesla cars offer better driving ranges, charging times, acceleration speeds, and safety features. Tesla is better than BMW in the factors that matter most in an electric car, so overall Tesla offers the better electric car.
Although Tesla is the better option right now, things might change once the iX and i4 launch and more information are learned about them. The i3 might also be a feasible choice for someone who really needs a compact car and only travels short distances. But currently, the Tesla Models S, X, and 3 seem like the best options for someone looking to buy an EV from one of these two brands.