By on June 9, 2015

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

Should rumors of BMW’s latest plans be true, there will soon be another electric SUV rival to the Tesla Model X on the market.

According to a report from German newspaper WirtschaftsWoche, BMW is looking to enter the electric SUV/crossover game with a rival to the upcoming Model X, Automotive News says. The entrant would be assembled in Spartanburg, S.C., home of the X Series line of crossovers and SUVs, pending board approval.

However, said SUV would not be an X waiting to give it to the Model X, but a new member of the i Series, forming a triad with the i3 city car and i8 PHEV sports car; the latter two are assembled in Leipzig, Germany.

When asked by Automotive News if the report was true, a BMW representative said it was all “speculation.” If the story does hold up, though, don’t expect to see the new entry right away. According to Evercore ISI global automotive research chief Arndt Ellinghorst, the earliest such a vehicle would hit showrooms would be in 2018.

The i Series SUV would also be the second possible rival to Tesla’s offering, with Audi entering the game in 2018 with its own all-electric SUV; said SUV is set to arrive in concept form at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show.

[Photo credit: BMW]

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11 Comments on “BMW Rumored To Be Working On US-Built Tesla Model X Rival...”

  • avatar

    The problem for BMW is the lack of CCS charging stations. By 2018 there probably will be more of them, but will they be located at dealerships? A dealership based charging network has problems like when the dealers try to restrict charging to their own customers, use the charging spaces as parking for used cars, or restrict charging to dealership hours.

    It’s happening at Nissan dealerships now. Teslas corporate owned supercharger network is free of those issues and located at logical long distance travel related locations like rest areas. If the other manufacturers are going to be successful at selling EVs, they need to get together and duplicate Teslas network.

  • avatar

    The real problem with EV’s is that – though we have “standards” for the charging systems, no one is willing to miss out on all the profits they can earn catering to these vehicles.

    Until the governments offer tax credits or incentives to business owners – and maybe even homeowners for setting up charging stations, EV’s will continue to suffer from “range anxiety”.

    Every single venue should have chargers.

    Movie Theaters
    Strip Clubs
    gun ranges…

    This way, wherever you’d go there would be a place to charge – which would ultimately drive down the demand for charging space.

    Tesla buyers get to charge at Tesla stations free.
    Will BMW do the same?

    • 0 avatar

      A couple of personal examples of how charging stations bring in business. There’s a fried chicken restaurant in Rhode Island that I never would have visited, but they’re on one of my long distance routes and I stop for chicken and a free charge. Another place is a supermarket with a cafe and free charging. I used to just pass them by, but now I stop in for a free charge along with a fresh baked muffin and large coffee for $2.

      In the Boston area, level 2 chargers are breeding like rabbits. The Friday before Memorial day weekend I took a longer route home. Just to be on the safe side, I scanned for charging stations along the route with the nav system and got a crapload. Had to use the search filter function for the first time! On another trip, I scanned just to see what was nearby and among the stations was a furniture store (Cardi Furniture) of all things. Around Boston, most “99” restaurants have charging. In addition, local malls are getting CHaDeMO Level 3 stations. They just added the Burlington Mall in Burlington MA. Copley Place and Chestnut Hill Malls as well.

      Locally, I never need to charge away from home. Most trips are less than 10 miles round trip and it’s not even a challenge for my car.

      If you want to check out the charging situation, just go to for a good listing. You can also apply filters and see just how feeble the situation is for SAE/CCS charging.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    With the i3 priced so much higher than its peers, I’d expect the BMW SUV EV to be priced way above the Model X. And so would the Audi product. And neither BMW nor Audi will have the Gigafactory to reduce costs, although I think Audi is the only other mfr using the 18650 form factor.

    High price, plus lack of nationwide charging infrastructure, will doom this vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      The most likely reason why noone else bothers with “gigafactories”, is that they aren’t really all that likely to “reduce costs” in any reliable way. Like all big upfront capital projects, they do reduce nimbleness. And, assuming things stay fairly constant, could possibly reduce costs a bit.

      BMW’s biggest concern, is not to make much money off of e-cars. But rather to have something to offer those very profitable amongst their customers, who are currently jumping ship in droves for Tesla. IOW, a retention play, not a conquest one.

  • avatar

    Would not be surprised to see this being sold only in CA and NY. Automakers are being compelled to sell zero emission cars, and they’ll continue to do so as long as big car markets require that they do.

  • avatar

    No gull-wing doors? Feh!

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d take sliding doors.

      Someone needs to man up and put sliding doors on an SUV so that I can have them best of the minivan and the offload worlds. Extra bonus points if it has a plug. While the BWW brand is a net-negative for me personally, I think I’d get ever it for an offroad electric minivan with a electric power takeoff.

  • avatar

    Tesla will succeed because the Model X looks like a regular vehicle except for the gull-wing doors. If BMW keeps the frippery to a minimum and makes something that looks like the x3, they’ll do well. If it looks like the i3, or even close, it’ll get an initial wave of buyers and flop. IMHO.

  • avatar

    The killer app in this space will be the Tesla auto-pilot features. Once other drivers start seeing Tesla drivers casually browsing the net with their iPads – or maybe even sleeping though heavy traffic jams (you know it’s going to happen), they’re going to demand that feature in their cars. Gull wing, pidgeon wing, duracell powered – it won’t matter. They’re going to want auto-pilot features.

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