Throughout the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, BMW has been the performance luxury vehicle of choice for those with discretionary income and a need for some excitement on the road. In the last decade, however, the luxury world has been turned on its head as Tesla has become the best-selling luxury maker on the road. This is impressive since Tesla came onto the scene as an all-electric vehicle company.
Both BMW and Tesla make an excellent choice. If you want a gadget-packed, super-fast car with zero emissions at the tailpipe choose the Tesla. However, if you want a great driving car with a gas-powered engine and traditional styling all backed by an excellent dealer network, choose the BMW.
The better vehicle for you will depend on what is a priority. If you are looking for luxury and performance, then chances are that Tesla and BMW are at the top of your list. So which one should you choose? Here, we will compare both Tesla and BMW in nine key areas.
When it comes to style, it is hard to top what BMW has to offer. From its iconic kidney grille to its sleek style, BMWs have stood the test of time. Tesla also stands out thanks to its aerodynamic design and its lack of a need for a grille. While some people love Tesla’s sleek exterior design, some find it uninspired.
On the interior, BMWs offer a variety of styles from the more astute to the downright ultra-luxurious. Tesla’s interior is very clean. However, the lack of design/color styles for a vehicle at its price point may be a disappointment.
BMW offers one of the widest selections of vehicles of any luxury automaker. You can choose between coupes, sedans, convertibles, roadsters, and SUVs. In all, BMW offers several dozen models.
Tesla currently offers four models, the Model 3, Model S, Model X, Model Y. While the Cybertruck and new Tesla Roadster is coming, the all-electric automaker does not offer nearly as many vehicles as BMW.
BMW is synonymous with luxury and performance. While the base model BMWs offer excellent performance, the M line of BMW vehicles offers some of the most incredible acceleration and handling of any vehicle on the road. Those who love to have fun on the road know what a BMW can offer.
Here is where Tesla really knows how to upstage the competition. All Tesla models offer supercar-like acceleration on their highest trim levels. Even the more affordable Tesla – the Model 3 – can offer 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds.
While BMW offers a good amount of tech in their vehicles, the company has never been known for its tech features. In fact, BMW has been criticized for its rotary infotainment controls in past models. If you’re buying a BMW, it is certainly not for its tech features.
Tesla is the unrivaled leader in automotive tech. The company’s CEO Elon Musk is perhaps one of the most innovative minds on the planet and it shows through Tesla’s infotainment system. Also, the vehicle’s over-the-air updates actually make the vehicle better over time.
BMW has adequate safety for their vehicle. However, BMW doesn’t really specialize in advanced safety features. That’s not to say that you won’t feel safe in a BMW. You should simply not expect anything special from it.
Tesla vehicles are exceptionally safe due to the fact that they have no front-mounted engine and the battery tray lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity. Also, the fact that all Tesla frames are stamped from one piece of steel makes it one of the safest vehicles on the road.
As one of the largest luxury automakers, BMW has an excellent dealer network. Whether you need to take your BMW in for maintenance or repairs, you will have no problem finding a dealership that can assist you.
Tesla has no dealership network. Therefore, you have to contact the manufacturer directly for maintenance and repair issues. This can be a problem if the company is backlogged with maintenance and repair requests since they outsource all of their work.
Quality & Reliability
BMW has high initial quality thanks to its German approach to engineering and design. As the vehicles get older, however, you will have to deal with some pretty costly repairs. However, you should not have any concerns with the vehicle’s initial quality.
Build quality has been an issue with Tesla since its beginning. Some of the quality issues found on Tesla vehicles include poor paint, poor fit & finish as well as occasional build defects.
If you are purchasing a BMW, then you should expect to pay a pretty penny. Even the entry-level models are going to cost more than comparable luxury offerings from Acura, Audi, and even Mercedes Benz. That’s due to the continuing popularity of the vehicle.
Tesla vehicles are not “cheap” either. However, Tesla’s electric vehicles come with one big advantage – the Federal Tax Credit on electric vehicles. With the tax credit, a well-equipped Model 3 Performance is priced at around $60,000 which actually undercuts the comparable BMW M3 by about $20,000.
BMW vehicles are known to drop like a rock after their fourth year on the road. That’s because of the high cost of repairing German vehicles. Also, BMW drivers usually drive their vehicles rather hard. You can expect a BMW to depreciate by 50% to 60% after four years.
Tesla vehicles have actually gone up in value over time. For instance, you can find 2017 Model 3 vehicle for sale for about $45,000 which is $10,000 over its original purchase price. That’s because over-the-air updates improve the vehicle’s infotainment and performance features.
You Should Buy a Tesla If…
If you want to drive a supercar fast vehicle with leading tech features and a sky-high resale value, then you will want to get a Tesla. This vehicle continues to be the future of the automotive world.
You Should Buy a BMW If…
If you are looking for a high-performance vehicle with a traditional engine, specific body style, and interior design, and strong dealer network, then a BMW is going to be your top choice. BMWs give you lots of excellent choices throughout its model line.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.