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Ultimate Showdown of Green Cars: Tesla Model S vs. BMW i8

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Green is in these days, and this is very evident in the products we use on a regular basis. There are energy saving LED lamps that consume very minimal electricity; and there are reusable shopping bags and rechargeable batteries. For motoring enthusiasts, there are green cars or those that use electricity.

The Tesla Model S is perhaps the most recognizable electric car today, and for good reason. It has set the standard in electric vehicles, with top-of-the-line features, luxurious interiors and impressive driving dynamics. It’s not surprising that it has been voted by different motoring publications as Car of the Year numerous times.

To date, more than 50,000 units have been sold around the world, with majority of buyers coming from the United States, Europe, and China.

But if there’s one car that is closely in pursuit of Tesla Model S for the title of best green car, it has got to be the BMW i8. Yes, the two are not exactly competitors as the Tesla is strictly an electric car while the BMW is a hybrid car, but the fact that these cars use electricity to drive their wheels is enough for them to be compared with each other.

Now how close is the BMW i8 from catching Tesla Model S? Or has the German brand caught up with the American car?

Tesla Model S

tesla-model-sSince its launch in 2012, the Tesla Model S has set the bar on what an electric car should be like. Performance on the road is very remarkable. It is quick and smooth-riding like a sports car. Yet it has enough space to comfortably sit five adults, with plenty of space at the rear for groceries and other stuff.

The Tesla Model S has a rear-mounted electric motor, which is about the size of a melon. It is available in four battery options. The entry level 60kWh model S boasts of 380 horsepower, and can accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 5.9 seconds.

The midrange 85 model has a driving range of up to 502 kilometers, and can zoom to 100 kilometers per hour in 5.4 seconds, with a top speed of 200 kilometers per hour. For a more spirited performance on the road, drivers may opt for the 85D and P85D.

Fuel efficiency of the Tesla Model S is 88 and 90 mpg, or the electric equivalent on battery power.

To maximize the driving range of the five-door hatchback, Tesla equipped its vehicle with an aluminum body. This translates to very lightweight car that benefits from its superb suspension, able to deliver a smooth ride even when it transverses uneven and potholed roads.

One of the advantages that the Tesla Model S has over the BMW i8 is its interiors. There’s plenty of space inside for five adults to sit comfortably, with enough legroom and headroom. In fact, the front cargo area of the Tesla, or the part where an engine is traditionally placed in a conventional car, can accommodate more people than the back of the BMW.

BMW i8

The German carmaker’s answer to the Tesla Model S is the BMW i8. This is a hybrid car, meaning it does not entirely rely on electricity. It has two separate powertrains. One is an electric motor that is located up front and which drives the front wheels. The other is a 1.5 liter, turbocharged three-cylinder engine that drives the rear wheels.

When powered by the electric motor, the i8 can drive up to 32 kilometers. But when the pace picks up, the three-cylinder engine kicks in to produce 231 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque in driving the rear wheels. It only takes around 90 minutes to fill the battery pack of the i8, and that is enough for the electric motor to go up to 22 miles without carbon emissions.

The i8 can accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour in just 4.4 seconds. Clearly, it delivers a sports car-like performance on the road. It is lightweight at 3,455 pounds, thanks to its full carbon fiber body and aluminum for chassis and engine support.

The i8 sits four adults, although entering and exiting the car is quite difficult because of the cramped interiors. There is also not a lot of storage space inside, which makes the BMW i8 not exactly the car you’d buy if you were a family man.

The other problem with the BMW i8 is its prohibitive price. To be able to own this car, you would have to shell out around $135,000. That’s almost half the price of the 2014 Tesla Model S, which sells for around $69,000.

All things considered, it’s easy to understand why the Tesla Model S is outselling every green car in the market. The BMW i8 still needs to prove itself as a viable alternative to the Tesla model.

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