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Tesla Model 3 vs BMW 3-series - a personal view

pdk42

Active Member
Jul 17, 2019
1,035
1,019
Leamington
I have to 100% disagree with that, been a previous BMW owner and we bought my wife a brand new Lexus, my personal experience is the Tesla pre sale and after sale support in the UK is leagues better than anything I experienced with BMW which is worse than Nissan, and even better than the service we got from Lexus.

Maybe things have changed since we took delivery but I simply don't recognize the description some people portray Tesla customer service. All my experience with Tesla customer service has been top class.
Well, I can only go by my own experience:

- I received virtually no information on delivery status after ordering - no tracking, no build status. Just radio silence.

- My delivery appointment was received less than a week before the date. I felt forced to accept given other people's experience of losing their car allocation if they tried to re-arrange.

- I had issues with the final invoice and then once correctly received I wanted to process a test transaction before sending the full amount. All my attempts to contact Tesla on these issues resulted in a lot of time waiting on the phone, or sending e-mails that never received a reply.

- When trying to order accessories before delivery (an extra plate and a 32A commando socket), all I had was an e-mail address and it took 4 days to get to the point of talking to someone to place an order.

- I tried several times to get a reg number, only to get it by accident when I ordered the accessories (the guy taking the accessories order told me).

- The collection process itself clearly showed signs of pressure. There was a group presentation to maybe 20 people and then we were shown to our cars in groups of three. We all sat in the car whilst the handover guy shouted instructions to us through open windows and we had to put a thumbs up to show we'd understood. 5 mins and then time to say bye-bye, pronto. Not much of a ceremony for a £50k car.

- When I raised the problem with the front bumber asymmetry, the guy completely dismissed my comments and said it was "within spec". Couldn't wait to get me out the door.

- I've decided in the end I've decided to see if I can get the alignment fixed. First appointment is a month away.

- I'd like to know whether the service appointment is something that can be done while I wait or not. There is no-one to call to ask the question.

- I've got problems now with the phone app (dropping my car from the account and forcing a new logon). I can't find anywhere where I can talk to someone about this.

...
 

gangzoom

Active Member
May 22, 2014
1,203
1,020
Uk
^It sounds like nearly all of those things are related to the volume of Model 3s been rushed out.

We had a unveiling 'ceremony', flowers, a key bag, goodies for our daughter, no rushing, delivery advisor point out defects they noticed. Literally the opposite experience of what you described!!

Even last week when the front suspension arms needed replacing on the X, Tesla sent a flat bed to pick up our X from home, offered an enterprise loan car, fixed the car within 24hrs, and than arranged for it to be delivered back to the house. All with excellent communication, txt messages replied to within 5 minutes.

My only conclusion is you Model 3 owners might ruining the experience for the rest of us existing owner :p.
 

NLM3

Member
Oct 4, 2019
14
7
Winchester UK
It is a good job they’ve got the best product, but they.d better sort this out pretty soon before there is real choice. I have an egolf - that was an easy deal to do!

I ordered an inventory M3 almost 2 weeks ago. I can’t find out when it will be delivered yet! Sent the usual email, no reply. Managed, eventually, to talk to a human - in Holland - who promised to find out and send me an email within the hour. No email. Spent 1hr 20 mins listening to their holding message on the phone, at which point the automated voice told me they couldn’t take my call.

Here’s the thing I’m trying to understand. I ordered and got a VIN. My account says they are preparing my contract. Then a credit note appears in my account for the deposit amount, same VIN reference. I’m only trying to understand what’s going on!
 

pmg102

Member
Jul 11, 2019
151
112
Liverpool, UK
Going to a Tesla (especially Model 3) is like going from a flip phone to an iPhone. Recently, some old line auto makers have introduced over the air updates.

This x1000

UI is important. Getting feature updates after you’ve received your toy is important. Map updates that don’t require you to take your car into the dealer, or download to a memory stick then transfer to the car - is really important. Integration with 3rd party services is also key... Google Maps, Netflix, 3rd party games - great features that Tesla have only had to integrate to, they haven’t seen the need to invent their own Tesla versions.
 

ScottishRosco

Member
Aug 1, 2019
49
29
Scotland
This x1000

UI is important. Getting feature updates after you’ve received your toy is important. Map updates that don’t require you to take your car into the dealer, or download to a memory stick then transfer to the car - is really important. Integration with 3rd party services is also key... Google Maps, Netflix, 3rd party games - great features that Tesla have only had to integrate to, they haven’t seen the need to invent their own Tesla versions.
I wish they would integrate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto then. Gives people complete choice then!
 
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Mr Miserable

Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2019
4,358
7,979
UK
I have to say I think that it's a pretty fair summary.
I can identify with every comment, both negative and positive, although I have no experience yet of the service centres (and long may that continue to be the case!)
The most annoying thing about my Tesla experience to date is knowing that it wouldn't take much to fix. Sadly, it also means that a competitor wouldn't have to do much to surpass the Tesla customer order and delivery experience.
The Model 3 wasn't the best selling car in the UK in September - not by a long shot, it just seemed it, perhaps because of the sausage machine delivery experience. Tesla don't feature as a manufacturer in the SMMT figures and are dumped into the 'Other' category. In September 'Other' had 3673 cars registered whereas even Suzuki managed 3812. BMW managed 27,384, behind Ford & Mercedes.
I don't think we are at tipping point yet but the Model 3 and the Jaguar IPace have and will continue to tilt the balance. The extent and reliability of the public fast/rapid/ultra/superduper charging infrastructure for non-Tesla owners, as has been pointed out, is a major impediment in the short term along with the high initial prices. Additionally, crappy feedback from customers can't help.
 
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pdk42

Active Member
Jul 17, 2019
1,035
1,019
Leamington
The Model 3 wasn't the best selling car in the UK in September - not by a long shot, it just seemed it, perhaps because of the sausage machine delivery experience. Tesla don't feature as a manufacturer in the SMMT figures and are dumped into the 'Other' category. In September 'Other' had 3673 cars registered whereas even Suzuki managed 3812. BMW managed 27,384, behind Ford & Mercedes.
Yes, I noticed that. Clearly I was miles off in my estimation of sales statistics!

The most annoying thing about my Tesla experience to date is knowing that it wouldn't take much to fix. Sadly, it also means that a competitor wouldn't have to do much to surpass the Tesla customer order and delivery experience.
Yes, I agree with that. It seems they've done all the hard stuff on the engineering and then let it all down with poor final QA and lousy customer service.
 

brianman

Burrito Founder
Nov 10, 2011
17,526
2,992
Why change? I like it the way it is now. My LR AWD is my daily driver and the LR RWD is our trip car. Well, I sometimes wish I had gotten the performance model. I do think Tesla should still sell the LR RWD model. It's the longest range Model 3 and a great value.
Perhaps I read too much into "Too bad." in your post.
 
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jimisbell

Member
Jun 25, 2019
9
8
Ingleside On The Bay
OK, I love it. BUT here in Texas the range MUST be 400 miles to cross West Texas from Corpus Christi to El Passo. I cannot sit at a charger waiting for a full charge only to find it runs out 20 miles short of the next charger. I could die 20 miles out in the desert.
 

MoparGuy

Member
Oct 1, 2019
42
12
San Diego
Nice article, however, to be fair on the CO2, mining to get battery resources are a very polluting process and in one day those resources will be gone, add to that the manufacturing process and then disposing of these batteries when you add to that the $10000 of credits government here gives to EV's ( less for Tesla now ) I think the nice clean equation will change a bit.
 

SO16

Active Member
Feb 25, 2016
2,863
8,785
MI
I posted this over on the UK f30 forum (f30 is the just-recently-replaced 3-series). I thought some of you here might be interested in it too...

I promised over on another thread to give you all a write up on the Model 3 that I've just received.

I tried to do the usual quick review, but the problem is that comparing a BMW 3-series to a Tesla Model 3 is not an easy comparison. They are quite different cars and a simple A/B comparison really doesn’t work. The problem is that the BMW is, IMHO, the high water mark of the affordable, quality ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car; whilst the Model 3 is the first, quality EV that gets close to doing what a BMW does for most of us.

So, I’ve ended up writing an epic – sorry. Read on if you want…

My love affair with BMW

I’ve had a BMW since 2006. The list has been: e46 330d coupe, f11 530d estate, f31 330d estate, and f31 335i estate. I’ve been very happy with the brand. The dealerships are excellent overall; the cars are a fantastic blend of price, features, performance, quality and style; the service network is first rate; and I’ve never been let down by any of the cars I’ve owned. I came from a succession of Audis and my wife has a VW Golf that she loves, so I have a soft spot for VAG too. But I never contemplated going back to Audi after the 330Cd. Merc, Volvo, Jag etc never interested me. Their brands don’t match my own “branding” () and their cars never seemed to offer anything over a BMW. I thought I’d never leave BMW.

Tesla Insanity

So, why the Tesla? As anyone who’s even casually looked into how Tesla operate, especially since the launch of the Model 3, the decision might be viewed as a bit insane. For your £50k you get the privilege of self-service on-line ordering only (like buying an iPhone); vague and unrealistic delivery dates; zero communication on order progress; chaotic and rushed handover; minimal PDI; questionable after-sales service based on “service centres” of which there are precisely 10 today in the UK (forget the idea of the local dealership); and to top it all, a service model that disempowers the customer via an app-centric request system that tries its best to prevent you talking to a real human.

And all that’s before you start getting spooked by endless stories of poor paint quality, bad panel alignment, leaking doors and boot lids, lights that fog up, and a long list of other complaints that even a brief scan of the various Tesla forums will reveal. Then if all that isn’t enough there’s range anxiety.

But EVs are the Future

If all that sounds pretty negative, then I concur. I cancelled one order before reversing my decision. But I stuck it out and actually I’m very glad I did.
The essential point is this – EVs are the future. Once you get your head around EVs you realise that the ICE is yesterday’s technology. After my first drive in a Tesla I got back into my 335i and my immediate thought was “wow - all this noise, vibration, fumes, gear-changing, turbo lag, heat, torque converter slip, etc etc is just sooooo clunky”. An electric drivetrain gives instant torque and power, is near silent, is way more efficient, and it’s an order of magnitude less complex mechanically. If you were to invent the car today and had access to current battery and charging technology, deciding to build an ICE car wouldn’t even enter your head. And this is before you look at the environmental benefits.

The Environmental Argument

I’m no eco freak, but I’ve got a science background and am totally convinced by the global warming hypothesis. I’m equally convinced that air quality is a massive hidden health issue in nearly all our towns and cities. If you believe those two points, then it’s hard not to look to EVs. EVs reduce tailpipe emissions to zero and that’s a big deal for air quality. Particulates are a massive contributor to a range of health issues. And beyond the tailpipe, there’s the CO2 emissions. Some people will try to convince you that the life-time CO2 costs of EVs are no better than ICE cars. But actually, every properly-conducted study shows that this is just plain wrong. If you look at total CO2 use over a car’s lifetime – so including the energy needed to produce the raw materials, manufacture the car, produce the car’s fuel, and finally to dispose of it – EVs typically consume a quarter or less of the CO2 compared to ICE cars. That’s a long way from zero emissions, but it’s a massive step nonetheless.

Convinced by the EV Drivetrain

So, I’m now personally convinced by the EV drivetrain – for reasons of driveability, maintenance costs, and environmental impact. It also makes economic sense. BIK from April will be 0% and there’s also a scheme to use a salary sacrifice if you don’t run a company-provided car. In Scotland there’s a £30k interest-free loan and if Jezzer gets into power, we’ll have the same in England and Wales. Then in terms of running costs, an EV beats the pants off an ICE. If you charge at home, fuel costs are as low as a tenth of a car like the 335i. Even with a mix of home and public charging, it’ll still be much, much cheaper than petrol or diesel. And with a much simpler mechanical design service costs are much lower too.

The Tesla Charging Network is as Important as the Cars

Wanting an EV doesn’t immediately lead to wanting to buy a Tesla though – there are, after all, plenty of other EVs out there. That true, but all aside Tesla have a massive disadvantage – a completely dysfunctional public charging network. I can’t even begin to describe the mess we’re in. We’ve got about 50 independent operators out there, many requiring you to have an account and access card, some needing a monthly subscription. Then the reliability is diabolical. It’s fairly common to arrive at a charger and find that it’s not working.

Recent legislative changes are pushing all operators to accept regular contactless payment cards – but that often comes with a sting in the tail of higher prices. BP Chargemaster for instance will charge you 40p per unit at one of their 150kW fast chargers – that’s about 10x the price of overnight domestic electricity and 2x the cost if you have an account with them. That’s daylight robbery. And finally, many public chargers are down at glacial charge speeds – 7kW mostly - that’ll give you about 25 miles/hr of charge. A Tesla supercharger is typically 150kW with new generation chargers coming on stream soon at 250kW. Today I get about 300 miles per hour charge rate on my Model 3.

The good news is that these problems are gradually being shaken out – with new entrants such as Ionity (a JV between BMW, Ford, Merc Benz and VAG) pushing things along. Hopefully, that’ll force some of the current crappy operators like Ecotricity to either measure up or give up.

In the meantime though, Tesla’s charging network remains the only viable solution if you want an EV as a replacement vehicle that does more than potter around within its range from your house. So, as of Oct 2019, the iPace, eTron, Mercedes EQC, etc are marginal at best as ICE car replacements. The range and charging infrastructure just isn’t there yet.

If you want more than a local runabout, it has to be a Tesla

If you’re still with me, you can see that if you want an EV today that can do sensible distances, Tesla is really the only option. But it shouldn’t be viewed as a Hobson’s choice purchase. Any current Tesla has a lot more going for it than just “the only viable EV available today”. The Model 3 in particular is actually a great car in its own right. It’s fast, comfortable, drives well, is loaded with tech, and pretty desirable as a brand and a vehicle.

What’s not to like? Well, there’s all the things I listed at the start. Tesla’s service model is clearly trying to disrupt, but my own view is that they’ve gone too far. I can’t think of anyone who’s bought a Model 3 who is anything but critical of the whole purchase, delivery and after-sales service model. Frankly it stinks and if the established players ever get round to building a competitive car and have the charging network to support it, then they’ll eat Tesla for breakfast. This is clearly a long-term concern if you’re buying into the brand. However, the success of the Model 3 (I reckon it’ll be the UK’s top-selling car in Sept 2019), clearly shows that the right product will attract the buyers. We are at a tipping point in EV sales.

Some BMW 3 / Tesla Model Comparisons

So, to the specifics – how does a Model 3 compare to an f31 BMW 335i? Well, here goes…

- The BMW is better built, has a better quality interior, a better service model from pre-sales to after-sales, and delivers an excellent overall ownership experience. But it’s old tech and once you’ve bitten off the EV tree, you’ll never go back. The current BMW range probably represents the high summit of the ICE art. You could say that it’s its swansong.

- In the areas where BMW excel, the Tesla basically measures up as “good enough” - except for the service model where, frankly, you just need to grit your teeth and hope you don’t need to use it! This sounds overly negative I know, but it’s an honest assessment. It’s an expensive car but it doesn’t feel as premium inside as, say, the new G20. It’s certainly better than a Renault or a Nissan, but it’s not a BMW or an Audi. It’s not far behind, but it’s still behind. Sure there are interior things that the Model 3 delivers that are very nice – things like the huge glass roof and the stunningly-good sound system, so it’s actually a nice place to be – but I keep thinking that BMW would have done it better.

- However, the Tesla excels in areas where the BMW just can’t reach. I’m talking of the EV drivetrain with its refinement, instant torque and power; the tech (autopilot, “full” self-driving, big touch-screen UI, integrated streaming services, first-rate remote app support); and the running costs.

- The Tesla is not a driver’s car in the same way as a well-setup BMW is. It’s too heavy for that and the AWD nowhere near as playful as a nice RWD 3-series. But the track tests show that the Model Performance will best the BMW M3 in all categories – by quite a margin. Faster 0-60. Faster 0-100-0. Faster around a circuit. And it’s cheaper. Personally, I don’t do track days but if I did I think I’d prefer a nice E90 M3 with its delightful V8 engine.

- As a day-to-day car though – the Tesla is way more than good enough and in some areas is superior. The tech is better, it rides better, it’s quieter, the sound system is better and it’s more comfortable. It also pollutes less, is cheaper to run and just brings a few more smiles to the face.

- But what of the claimed Tesla Model 3 build quality issues? Spend more than a minute on the web and you’ll find a lot of complaints about paint and build quality issues. I was personally very concerned but in fact, the car I have is pretty good. The paint in general is fine (but I have pearlescent white which is excellent at hiding surface imperfections). There’s a little missing top-coat on the insides of the front wings in the door jambs, but it doesn’t bother me. Panel alignment is pretty good too. There’s a slight asymmetry in the front bumper fit, but it’s not much and again I can live with it. Maybe others wouldn’t - we all have our own OCD levels. Door and boot alignment is spot on, as is the glazing. There’s certainly nothing on my car that would get most people worked up about. However, as I said above, I’m pretty sure that a BMW would be just that little bit better. Neither would be perfect – they’re both mass-produced cars – but it’s clear to me that BMW have more experience and expertise in the art.

In Summary

In summary – I’m very happy to have made the switch. The car is definitely the first step on the road to the next generation and it makes any ICE car seem dated. I just wish that this was a BMW Model 3 EV – I’d be beating the door of the dealership down to buy it!

And in fact, I think that BMW have, a bit late, realised this. I expect to see a Model 3 competitor from BMW by 2022 by which time the Ionity network will be in place and then we’ll see if Tesla can continue to succeed. They’ll have to up their game significantly on their service offering and build quality to survive. But right now they have 2-3 years lead on any EV competitor.

So, as of Oct 2019, if you want a quality EV car that will replace your 3-series, then get a Tesla Model 3.

And finally, the obligatory pickup shot:


Model3Pickup
by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

Perhaps once Tesla has been around a century like what BMW has, the service will be on par. But it will be much less time than that.
 

CactusOne

Member
Feb 14, 2018
68
179
Paradise Valley, Arizona
OK, I love it. BUT here in Texas the range MUST be 400 miles to cross West Texas from Corpus Christi to El Passo. I cannot sit at a charger waiting for a full charge only to find it runs out 20 miles short of the next charger. I could die 20 miles out in the desert.

There are 6 Super Chargers between Corpus Christi and El Paso. You will not die in the desert in a Model 3..
 
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alexGS

Member
May 1, 2019
171
158
New Zealand
Yes, I agree with that. It seems they've done all the hard stuff on the engineering and then let it all down with poor final QA and lousy customer service.

Instead of the ‘safe’ VW and BMW choices you’ve made in the past, I really wish you’d chosen Alfa Romeo :D that would help you to appreciate great cars and lousy service!

-Alex
 

brianman

Burrito Founder
Nov 10, 2011
17,526
2,992
OK, I love it. BUT here in Texas the range MUST be 400 miles to cross West Texas from Corpus Christi to El Passo. I cannot sit at a charger waiting for a full charge only to find it runs out 20 miles short of the next charger. I could die 20 miles out in the desert.
I think that's a great argument for giving good recommendations directly to Tesla on where they need to add mid-router supercharger sites for the journeys of interest to you.

Lamenting products that doesn't exist (on planet Earth) yet when there are alternative solutions using existing products is just misdirected mental and emotional energy.
 
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