The Model 3 pricing and options that Tesla disclosed last week have created an uproar with a lot of reservation holders based on the hundreds of comments that we received since Friday.
Here we try to walk through those options by comparing them with a BMW 3 Series.
There’s no perfect comparison because of how some options are packaged and since BMW sells through dealerships – sometimes at discounts, but Elon Musk said that the Model 3 was positioned as a BMW 3 Series competitor.
Recently, a not-so-scientific poll even showed that several BMW 3 Series owners were planning to replace their cars with the Model 3.
First off, the 3 Series is offered in several different variants. The 330i is probably the best match in term of size and powertrain performance.
Unfortunately, Tesla didn’t release the power output of the Model 3, but if we compare the 0 to 60 mph accelerations, the 330i’s 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds compares the Model 3’s 5.1 seconds for the long range version and 5.6 seconds for the standard version.
Here’s a comparison of the interior and exterior dimensions:
So they are both mid-luxury sedans of about the same size, though the Model 3 is slightly bigger. Now what about the price and options without taking into account that one is gas-powered and the other is electric?
Again, BMW is selling its vehicles through dealerships that most often than not are offering discounts, while Tesla’s advertised price is the final price.
In order to get a sensible idea, we have to work with the MSRP of each vehicle. The Model 3 starts at $35,000 and the BMW 330i starts at $38,750.
Matching Standard Features and Options
Now it’s where things get more complicated because each vehicle have features that the other doesn’t have, like the Model 3 comes standard with back-up camera and parking sensors, while they are a $950 add-on for the 330i.
While Tesla offers the Autopilot features as $5,000 (Enhanced Autopilot) and $3,000 (Full Self-Driving) upgrades, the safety features that the Autopilot hardware enables are standard and the 330i actually needs a $1,700 “Driving Assistance Plus Package” to match those features.
Navigation is also standard in the Model 3, while it’s an option in the 330i. It’s part of a $2,750 technology package that also includes a heads-up display, which is simply not available from Tesla. Though similar products can be bought and installed aftermarket, like this $800 Navdy HUD kit (currently discounted at $500), so we could add $800 to the Model 3.
Separately, navigation is a $1,950 option for BMW which is actually a perfect match.
As for the paint options, the BMW 330i has the advantage of having more choices since the only standard color for the Model 3 is black, while the 330i has black and white.
Tesla offers 5 other colors – each for a $1,000 premium. The 330i has 10 more premium color options – each for a $700 premium.
But technically, you can have both cars in black without spending more.
As for the wheels, the 330i comes standard with 17″ wheels, while the Model 3 has 18″ standard wheels.The BMW offers way more wheel options, but it’s a minimum of a $600 premium to have 18″ wheels.
If you have been following, The Model 3 is still $35,000 in order to get roughly the same options as a BMW 330i with $43,950 MSRP.
Now, I haven’t been talking about the fact that one is equipped with an all-electric powertrain and the other is a gas-powered car, nor all the gas savings and incentives available with electric cars, like the Model 3.
That’s because Tesla aims for the Model 3 to be the best vehicle for the price in order to compete with gas-powered cars in its segment before even accounting for EV advantages.
Of course, that will only become a reality in a few months once Tesla makes the standard battery pack and non-glass roof option available.
Currently, Model 3 buyers have to take the long range battery pack and premium package, which brings the price up to $49,000. I think it’s probably where some of the disappointment is coming from. It looks like a temporary issue, but we will have to keep an eye on the production ramp, which is the constraint right now.
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