Looking at their future product plans, the established German luxury carmakers have now clearly started to take electric-car maker Tesla Motors seriously. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche are all expected to launch at least one Tesla-targeting electric vehicle apiece over the next few years.
New consumer research indicates the German luxury makers — particularly BMW — may have reason to worry. Consumers often cross-shop Tesla with German luxury brands, according to Edmunds data cited by Bloomberg.
BMW sat solidly at the top of the list of other brands considered by Tesla buyers. According to the data, 27.6% of Tesla shoppers in March also looked at a BMW model. Toyota had the second-highest overlap, at 23.2%. It was followed by Audi (20%), Honda (19.3%), and Mercedes (19.2%).
Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand was the sixth-most considered by Tesla buyers, at 16.3%, while Porsche came in ninth place, at 11.6%. Other luxury brands — including Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Lincoln — were much less likely to be considered by Tesla shoppers.
The high rankings of Toyota, Honda, and Ford show that Tesla shoppers don’t confine their shopping only to luxury cars. But Tesla seems to aim for the luxury segment currently dominated by the German brands, and it’s established itself there. The current Model S and Model X are priced much higher than most vehicles from mainstream brands.
With a promised base price of $35,000, the upcoming Tesla Model 3 sedan will cost half as much as a base Model S 70. Yet the Model 3 is still expected to compete as much with luxury cars as models from more mainstream brands, including the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, which will start at $37,500 and likely match the Model 3’s range.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the Model 3 will be Tesla’s answer to the Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series. Indeed, the sporty character and high level of technology features expected from the car could make comparisons to German luxury cars more logical than comparisons to the Bolt EV.
The German brands all have electric cars planned for the next few years, though most will likely target the Model S and Model X, rather than the Model 3. BMW will reportedly expand its “i” lineup with an i5 crossover and a flagship sedan that would sit above the current 7-Series in its lineup.
Audi will launch an all-electric SUV based on the e-Tron Quattro concept in 2018, and Porsche will follow with a production version of its Mission E concept by 2020. Mercedes is rumored to be developing a dedicated electric-car platform that could support multiple models.