Fascination with Tesla Motors' role in the luxury electric vehicle market continues, even among the competition. Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America recently told Bloomberg that, Tesla is "cool" and "the talk of the town," and that, "what the industry as a whole can learn from them is continue to push innovation, continue to have the challenger spirit."
Volkswagen AG's luxury unit expects that it can sell more than 150,000 vehicles in the US this year. Keogh thinks Audi and Tesla are redefining luxury branding, moving it away from "granite" and "furs." Audi will be competing with Tesla in the plug-in electric vehicle market, adding EVs next to its clean-diesel lineup, he said, but not in every Tesla-approved method. Keogh is baffled by Tesla's sales strategy outside traditional dealer showrooms, for example, saying that dealers have a clear "leverage advantage" and build personal relationships with prospective customers through schools and other communities.
Audi's not the only one ready to take a whack at Tesla. General Motors has said as much, and there's a rumor that a BMW insider has leaked information on taking on Tesla. Tesla's success in the US has been goading BMW to roll out an all-electric or plug-in hybrid i5; the crossover or sedan could be competing direction with the upcoming Tesla Model X crossover and its "falcon-wing" doors. While we're all for more plug-in vehicles, there's been no decision made yet on whether BMW will actually build the i5.