von Holzhausen: BMW i3 is ‘IKEA’ level design; Tesla Model E (May) Debut 2015

Last week Tesla’s design chief, Franz von Holzhausen revealed Tesla is consistent in its view of the BMW i3 city car, and said its own mass-market EV will be likely shown at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in 2015.

The report came via a German-language interview with Autobild.de, and it did not state when von Holzhausen foresees the new car’s production and sale to the public, but it could be 2016 or 2017, say reports.

When asked about the 2015 first-reveal date that the LA Times says was “confirmed Friday,” Tesla’s Global Communications Director neither confirmed nor denied the date, but pointed out her Google translation from the German has von Holzhausen hedging his answer:

Her read on the statements are as follows:

Question: “When can we see the much-anticipated midsize sedan for the first time?”

Answer: “Probably at the show in Detroit beginning in 2015.”

The photo caption from the German interview was not hedged however.

“The premiere for the highly anticipated mid-size sedan from Tesla is provided according to von Holzhausen for Detroit in 2015,” said the caption translated from the original article.

Tesla’s electric car (Model S pictured) with an estimated range of 200 miles has been known to be coming, its price estimates have ranged from $30,000 to more recently $35,000 and the LA Times says it could sell in the 40s.

It’s been referred to as the Model E, and it is to be a volume seller following on the heels of the Model X SUV to be launched next year.

BMW i3.

BMW i3.

Tesla executives have been known to speak unflatteringly of BMW’s entry into the EV city car segment before, and the following is translated from the German text:

The i3 is more an IKEA piece of furniture as a design piece of furniture. I’m not sure if the i3 meets the basic standards of the brand. From a pure design perspective, the car is of course unique. The interior is very modern. Very clean, thin seats. I like the material used. If the i3 is on the road, it looks a bit strange and unconventional. I personally feel that a car must not look so funky. The electric drive train and the proportions are unique enough. You have not that make a great statement with it.

 

It’s believed Tesla’s own design criteria for its entry level car would be on par with a 3-Series, albeit all-electric.

Tesla’s mission is to create no-excuses cars, not necessarily funky design exercises, although some room may be left open for that as well, as the translated text spoke of an electric Tesla city car “a la e-smart.”

“Such a car would certainly make sense, but only later,” said the report citing von Holzhausen.

Last week also, GM was reported by Bloomberg as saying it will have a 200 mile range EV with generator for 2016, but the brief news leaves open room for questioning and speculation as to how it would compare to a future entry level Tesla or second-generation Chevy Volt.