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Feedback from BMW or other premium brand converts?

M3FNATIK

Recovering BMW Addict
Nov 9, 2019
256
160
SoCal
Sorry to revive an old thread, how’s the build quality of BMW vs. Tesla? One thing I like about my BMW is how solid and composed it feels when going over bumps. I also kinda wish the Model comes with adaptive suspension and heated steering wheels.

For context, I am a 20+ year BMW owner/enthusiast. I currently have an E46 M3 convertible (weekend toy), 2017 F80 M3 (daily driver), just returned our 2017 i3 Rex, and picked up a Stealth Model 3 (P3D-, LR AWD Performance, etc) for the wife's daily driver and there are a few things you should know.

1. BMW is a 100+ year old company that knows every trick in the book in manufacturing and producing excellent paint, body work, interior design, balanced driving machines. Fit and finish is top notch. Design is driver oriented. Everything is made to increase driving pleasure. Technology on a BMW, though adequate, is NOT cutting edge. They lag behind Tesla despite trying to catchup the last few years, and are NOT on par to Tesla in anyway. I would guess they are about 3-5 years behind in this area despite having dabbled in self driving cars for many many years and trying to implement OTA software updates. BMW is inherently a very conservative company (or at least used to be). Things need to be tested and vetted before hitting the market, and even then, they view the NA US market as very sue happy so they rather not take the chance. Things move very slow in terms of coming to market. BMW's philosophy is they want you to buy/lease another car every 2-3 years to get the latest and greatest, not get a free software update that gives you more features (no way Jose! you gotta buy a new car to get new features!) This mindset just doesn't work anymore.

2. Tesla is a what, a tech company in its 16th year or so of existence? They produce SUPERIOR tech vs. BMW. However, they cannot hold a candle to the coach build of a BMW. Fit and finish, though much improved, is not on the same level. Material quality, though adequate, is not on the same level. Think Tesla quality = VW quality = Toyota quality = Kia quality...you get the idea. Maybe one day Tesla will be able to match the coach building of a German marque, but they still are a long ways away from that. However, being a vertically integrated tech company has many advantages and Tesla can move very quickly. Tesla is keen on market feedback and is very adept at giving customers what they want. When you buy a Tesla, you feel like your purchase is somewhat future proofed. The same cannot be said of any legacy car builder today, including BMW.

I could go on and on about my experiences with BMW, both good and bad, but overall, you can see that BMW is the past and Tesla is the future. Maybe BMW will get their act together and build a Tesla killer but I am not sure they will be bringing a ringer like that to the game or not. If I was BMW, I'd make the next 3 series fully electric and downsize the variations of offerings to just the basics (330, 340, and M3), style it like a modern BMW (no big hideous grilles), and give it at least 350 miles of range and price it at 45k, 55k, 65k and it would win most if not all the BMW converts such as myself back. But we all know BMW won't do that. They care more about the risk of cheapening their brand and want to nickel and dime you over options packages vs. anything else and to me, that is why it was time to try something new and move on to a Tesla.
 

holmgang

Active Member
Sep 9, 2019
1,299
1,315
eu
For context, I am a 20+ year BMW owner/enthusiast. I currently have an E46 M3 convertible (weekend toy), 2017 F80 M3 (daily driver), just returned our 2017 i3 Rex, and picked up a Stealth Model 3 (P3D-, LR AWD Performance, etc) for the wife's daily driver and there are a few things you should know.

1. BMW is a 100+ year old company that knows every trick in the book in manufacturing and producing excellent paint, body work, interior design, balanced driving machines. Fit and finish is top notch. Design is driver oriented. Everything is made to increase driving pleasure. Technology on a BMW, though adequate, is NOT cutting edge. They lag behind Tesla despite trying to catchup the last few years, and are NOT on par to Tesla in anyway. I would guess they are about 3-5 years behind in this area despite having dabbled in self driving cars for many many years and trying to implement OTA software updates. BMW is inherently a very conservative company (or at least used to be). Things need to be tested and vetted before hitting the market, and even then, they view the NA US market as very sue happy so they rather not take the chance. Things move very slow in terms of coming to market. BMW's philosophy is they want you to buy/lease another car every 2-3 years to get the latest and greatest, not get a free software update that gives you more features (no way Jose! you gotta buy a new car to get new features!) This mindset just doesn't work anymore.

2. Tesla is a what, a tech company in its 16th year or so of existence? They produce SUPERIOR tech vs. BMW. However, they cannot hold a candle to the coach build of a BMW. Fit and finish, though much improved, is not on the same level. Material quality, though adequate, is not on the same level. Think Tesla quality = VW quality = Toyota quality = Kia quality...you get the idea. Maybe one day Tesla will be able to match the coach building of a German marque, but they still are a long ways away from that. However, being a vertically integrated tech company has many advantages and Tesla can move very quickly. Tesla is keen on market feedback and is very adept at giving customers what they want. When you buy a Tesla, you feel like your purchase is somewhat future proofed. The same cannot be said of any legacy car builder today, including BMW.

I could go on and on about my experiences with BMW, both good and bad, but overall, you can see that BMW is the past and Tesla is the future. Maybe BMW will get their act together and build a Tesla killer but I am not sure they will be bringing a ringer like that to the game or not. If I was BMW, I'd make the next 3 series fully electric and downsize the variations of offerings to just the basics (330, 340, and M3), style it like a modern BMW (no big hideous grilles), and give it at least 350 miles of range and price it at 45k, 55k, 65k and it would win most if not all the BMW converts such as myself back. But we all know BMW won't do that. They care more about the risk of cheapening their brand and want to nickel and dime you over options packages vs. anything else and to me, that is why it was time to try something new and move on to a Tesla.

BMW wants to hedge its risk rather than go headlong in a specific direction. Its corporate strategy is for all short-term platforms having modularity to equip as combustion, battery, or hybrid. They can plug-and-play the configuration as needed for every market. The i3 was developed as a learning/exploratory project, not a main part of core portfolio, hence they never pushed strongly in that direction.

They have healthy enough margins and appropriate ownership structure to take a larger gamble. But then again, money is money, and they've been making it.

I don't buy the excuse of Tesla being relatively young as the cause for quality woes and fit and finish. That is purely a conscious, management decision. No company is expected to reinvent the wheel before manufacturing every product. Toyota shares its production know-how openly. Tesla can and do poach people with the right experience. Fiat and Dodge are some of the oldest companies in the industry, and they largely make garbage. Kia Motors is old, Hyundai is young. Both made rubbish - independent of age - until they got together and decided to go upmarket with things like Genesis brand.

We can be sympathetic to Tesla's position. Why they do what they did resulting in less than perfect fit and finish for the cars. It was because of pressure to hit delivery targets, show profitability/sustainability, etc. But not because they did not know how.
 

Probllama

Member
Jan 29, 2019
183
123
Colorado
Material quality, though adequate, is not on the same level. Think Tesla quality = VW quality = Toyota quality = Kia quality...you get the idea. Maybe one day Tesla will be able to match the coach building of a German marque, but they still are a long ways away from that. However, being a vertically integrated tech company has many advantages and Tesla can move very quickly. Tesla is keen on market feedback and is very adept at giving customers what they want.

I sort of disagree on materials quality. I cross shopped the G20 3 series and Model 3's material quality is superior in my opinion. Especially the vegan steering wheel feels significantly higher quality than the cheap (plasticky) G20 steering wheel. My F32 4 series also had some hard plastics that the Model 3 doesn't have.

I also have zero creaks or rattles in my Model 3. Multi coat white paint is definitely satisfactory though not as thick and rich as in our Lexus (to be fair Lexus has arguably the best paint quality of any brand) and panel/trim alignment is much improved compared to earlier builds but still not as tight as BMW or Lexus...
 

M3FNATIK

Recovering BMW Addict
Nov 9, 2019
256
160
SoCal
I sort of disagree on materials quality. I cross shopped the G20 3 series and Model 3's material quality is superior in my opinion. Especially the vegan steering wheel feels significantly higher quality than the cheap (plasticky) G20 steering wheel. My F32 4 series also had some hard plastics that the Model 3 doesn't have.

I also have zero creaks or rattles in my Model 3. Multi coat white paint is definitely satisfactory though not as thick and rich as in our Lexus (to be fair Lexus has arguably the best paint quality of any brand) and panel/trim alignment is much improved compared to earlier builds but still not as tight as BMW or Lexus...

I get why you would disagree. And here lies the problem with BMW. They offer multiple lines of trim of each model and although they simplified this for this generation of cars, it makes it hard to compare apples to apples. For example, the 3 series is offered as a base non-sport, non-premium 330 sedan for 40k. The steering wheel on this trim level is really, basic and yes, the steering wheel on this one sucks haha. To get a comparable steering wheel you'd have to upgrade to their M Sport Line and thats another 5k to get a nicer steering wheel (along with bunch of other cosmetic and suspension bits). Where Tesla offers 1 steering wheel option across all Model 3s and its a great steering wheel, who wouldn't want it and why make someone pay for Performance model just so they could get a premium steering wheel?

Personally, I like Tesla's approach better myself. As a long time BMW owner, they have conditioned me to buy their highest trim and spec levels b/c I like fun and powerful cars. In the process, I end up spending way more than I should on a car but that's sorta the price to pay, to play, as they say. But this is also where I really like what Tesla is doing. They're disrupting the market by giving you more for your money by really just simplifying the choices by selling you basically the same trim level across all range models and let battery capacity and extra performance determine how much more you want to pay. Hopefully with so many folks leaving BMW for Tesla, it will a collective vote with our pocketbooks that gets BMW to change their old ways. BMW could totally put Tesla out of business if they adopted the same business model and built competitive EVs. I have no doubt they could build a superior car, but are they willing to give up a business model that's worked for so many years?...only time will tell.

In an ideal world, I'd take the technology in a Tesla and drop it into the body of a BMW 3 series (M Sport trim) and you have a car that is the best of both worlds.
 

M3FNATIK

Recovering BMW Addict
Nov 9, 2019
256
160
SoCal
BMW wants to hedge its risk rather than go headlong in a specific direction. Its corporate strategy is for all short-term platforms having modularity to equip as combustion, battery, or hybrid. They can plug-and-play the configuration as needed for every market. The i3 was developed as a learning/exploratory project, not a main part of core portfolio, hence they never pushed strongly in that direction.

They have healthy enough margins and appropriate ownership structure to take a larger gamble. But then again, money is money, and they've been making it.

I don't buy the excuse of Tesla being relatively young as the cause for quality woes and fit and finish. That is purely a conscious, management decision. No company is expected to reinvent the wheel before manufacturing every product. Toyota shares its production know-how openly. Tesla can and do poach people with the right experience. Fiat and Dodge are some of the oldest companies in the industry, and they largely make garbage. Kia Motors is old, Hyundai is young. Both made rubbish - independent of age - until they got together and decided to go upmarket with things like Genesis brand.

We can be sympathetic to Tesla's position. Why they do what they did resulting in less than perfect fit and finish for the cars. It was because of pressure to hit delivery targets, show profitability/sustainability, etc. But not because they did not know how.

Yup, you totally get it. This basically explains their recent strategy of wait and see despite spending billions in developing the technology to build CF chassis and battery tech for the i3 and i8, yet to only sit on them and give them away via highly subsidized leases. It's the wrong strategy and that was proven when the board replaced Harald Kruger this year. Had BMW continued to move forward and developed the i4 (SAV) and i5 (the sedan version of the i8) minus the hybrid drive, as originally planned, then I wouldn't be on this board discussing Teslas and would be getting into the next generation i4 or i5.

I also agree that Tesla uses a lower fit and finish standard to hit delivery targets more quickly. It would delay deliveries if every little detail got fixed. My front bumper and fender are not properly aligned but at this point, I've learned to accept it as I wasn't expecting BMW like quality, but rather, I wanted the technology.
 

Swampgator

Active Member
Apr 27, 2016
1,561
3,142
Florida
BMW is not likely to survive the transition to EVs. They will be facing bankruptcy by 2022 and will ask for (and get) a government bailout.
You can mark this post and recheck in a couple of years. Conservative hedging does not work in the midst of disruption.
Somebody rated my post as funny?

Take a look at this if you don't think BMW is in trouble:


What is the Altman Z-score?
Altman Z-score is the result of a test for creditworthiness that measures the likelihood of bankruptcy of a publicly traded manufacturing company.

Current Altman z-scores, per Value Investing | Market Insight of Investment Gurus, selected automakers:
*higher is better*

1.91 Tesla
1.84 Honda
(financial distress zone is any score below 1.81)
1.77 Toyota
1.38 Nissan
1.35 Fiat Chrysler
1.14 Volkswagen
1.09 Daimler
1.09 GM
0.95 Ford
0.79 BMW
-4.36 NIO
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,296
6,864
Canyon Lake,CA
Had a similar decision dilema when ordering a Tesla. Kept my AMG E series Mercedes after taking delivery of our Tesla, just in case I wanted to keep that driving experience.

Soon realized the Mercedes was just collecting dust.

Every time I was considering taking the Mercedes, I realized I was going to need to purchase $50 worth of premium fuel. Never drove it after that, and put the Mercedes up for sale.

Used to think the Mercedes was fast...an it was, under full throttle and after gathering some revs, but the electric drive gave such better immediate thrust that the Mercedes seemed sluggish in normal every day driving.

Used to love the sound of the motor, but soon realized it was just a foolish illusion, that I had been trained to relate to high performance. Quieter is much faster.

For the average driver, all that noise is a real distraction and fools you into thinking you are going fast. With electric drive you can much better calibrate to subtle tire noises and generally drive much quicker without all that torque changing gear shifting. So much smoother coming off the corners, you will not believe it.
 

tvad

Member
Jun 30, 2019
979
973
California
Did you read my entire post above before rating it funny? I explicitly said they would get bailed out.
Yes, I did. I found it humorous that in one post you took completely opposite positions. You first stated the opinion that BMW will not survive the transition to EVs. Then, you stated they will face bankruptcy and get bailed out. If BMW gets bailed out, then the result is that they have survived.

Ergo, my reference to GM 2009.

Maybe I don't understand your definition of survive.

My definition of survive is being in business after the bail out. Failure to survive is not being in business.
 
Last edited:

Swampgator

Active Member
Apr 27, 2016
1,561
3,142
Florida
Yes, I did. I found it humorous that in one post you took completely opposite positions. You first stated the opinion that BMW will not survive the transition to EVs. Then, you stated they will face bankruptcy and get bailed out. If BMW gets bailed out, then the result is that they have survived.

Ergo, my reference to GM 2009.

Maybe I don't understand your definition of survive.

My definition of survive is being in business after the bail out. Failure to survive is not being in business.
Ok I guess. My definition of failure is bankruptcy. But yes, unfortunately in the modern world failure is rewarded and BMW will survive in some altered state.
 
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tvad

Member
Jun 30, 2019
979
973
California
Ok I guess. My definition of failure is bankruptcy. But yes, unfortunately in the modern world failure is rewarded and BMW will survive in some altered state.
I appreciate your explanation.

In the post we're discussing (#185), you never mentioned failure. You specifically addressed survival, and that's what I have been discussing with you.

I agree that bankruptcy equates to failure, and in that regard BMW may not "survive" (defined by continuing in business without assistance of bankruptcy and a bail out) past 2022. I'm not ready to agree to the premise, but it's certainly possible.

Isn't it fascinating that a business (or individual) can fail financially, yet continue to survive?
 
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Electroman

Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,260
6,414
TX
Tesla is a what, a tech company in its 16th year or so of existence?

Not sure I agree with the spirit of that statement.

You are right literally that they were registered in 2003 and so it is a 16 year old company. That kind of definition would make sense for a software or a service company. For a company that has to build massive factories, buy cutting edge machines, spend enormous capital (which other industry is this capital intensive?) , hire tens of thousands of blue collar workers & some of the highly paid Silicon Valley computer professionals and make a 'consumer' product - it is not fair to count their existence from the day they registered.

it is only fair to say they are a 7 year old company from 2012 when they released Model S. It is then they got real world experience of mass manufacturing cars in an assembly line.

For a 7 year old company they are doing great.
 
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M3FNATIK

Recovering BMW Addict
Nov 9, 2019
256
160
SoCal
Not sure I agree with the spirit of that statement.

You are right literally that they were registered in 2003 and so it is a 16 year old company. That kind of definition would make sense for a software or a service company. For a company that has to build massive factories, buy cutting edge machines, spend enormous capital (which other industry is this capital intensive?) , hire tens of thousands of blue collar workers & some of the highly paid Silicon Valley computer professionals and make a 'consumer' product - it is not fair to count their existence from the day they registered.

it is only fair to say they are a 7 year old company from 2012 when they released Model S. It is then they got real world experience of mass manufacturing cars in an assembly line.

For a 7 year old company they are doing great.

It was both a compliment that its impressive what they've done for such a relatively young company, and to put into context how they've only been building cars for a short period of time so it's an not quire fair to compare them vs BMW which has been around for over 100 years. Don't get me wrong, for Tesla to be building more technologically advanced cars than 100% of the legacy car makers is no small feat and a huge compliment. And to be on par with with many of the mid range makers in terms of material and build quality is also a compliment. It's just you just can't match BMW in terms of coach build that easily and at the efficiency they do it at without a huge cost. Hopefully one day Tesla will have it all worked out and by then we should have FSD as well. I truly believe Tesla will be the first to achieve that feat.
 

DrtyJrze

Member
Nov 10, 2019
479
638
USA
BMW is not likely to survive the transition to EVs. They will be facing bankruptcy by 2022 and will ask for (and get) a government bailout.
You can mark this post and recheck in a couple of years. Conservative hedging does not work in the midst of disruption.

I agree with this. I posted in the BMW forums a few years back that once BMW was taken over by accountants and not people with a passion for driving they were doomed. We now see the fruits of number crunchers running the show. When you try to be everything to everybody you’ll ultimately fail.

...and that’s why many of us are on this forum now.
 

ivy_

Member
Sep 25, 2019
144
140
Michigan
I agree with this. I posted in the BMW forums a few years back that once BMW was taken over by accountants and not people with a passion for driving they were doomed. We now see the fruits of number crunchers running the show. When you try to be everything to everybody you’ll ultimately fail.

...and that’s why many of us are on this forum now.

Agreed. My SR+ is way closer to my old E46 ZHP in the fun-to-drive category than any of my recent BMWs. (2 F30s and and an F22)
 

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