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What Elon Musk Thinks of BMW's i3

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Tesla Motors (TSLA - Get Report) CEO Elon Musk is never one to mince words, especially when it comes to the competition. Given that he's been critical of some of the electric cars out on the road before, it's no secret that he thinks Tesla could build something better than BMW's i3.

At yesterday's shareholder meeting, Musk was asked about the company's upcoming third-generation car, which he has previously said would cost around $35,000 to make it appealing to a wider audience than the Model S, which has a base price of about $65,000. "It's important to have a compelling mass market car," Musk said of the Gen III car, which is not yet named.

In reality, the Model S, which has won numerous awards -- including being named Consumer Reports top car in 2014 -- costs upwards of $100,000, once a buyer chooses from a variety of add-ons for the car. It has been responsible for much of the fanfare Tesla has enjoyed over the past few years, but the company's future is on the third-generation car, which will have a range of about 200 miles for a single electric car. Other companies, including BMW, already have electric cars at lower price points, but Musk is convinced there's much more to be done. "I drove the i3, but the range isn't great," Musk said during the question-and-answer part of the shareholder meeting. "The issue is in order to create a compelling mass market car, we need a lot of battery production, and it needs to be at an affordable price that it doesn't hurt the affordability of the car."

Musk noted that there needs to be "monster economies of scale" as well as technological innovations in the battery cell to get something like what he wants for the third-generation car, and the earliest that could happen is late 2016.

Despite this, Musk is confident Tesla can build something better than what BMW has right now. "We can produce something like the i3 or better than i3 right now, but it wouldn't be great. It wouldn't be amazing," he said.

This isn't the first time Musk has lobbed shots at BMW for the i3. On Tesla's 2013 second-quarter earnings call, Musk was asked what he thought about the i3 from an analyst, and started his answer by laughing. After the laughter, he said, "Well, I am glad to see that BMW is bringing electric car to market. That's cool. I think there is room to improve on the i3 and I hope that they do." That comment brought on more laughter, leading Musk to laugh hysterically for about 10 seconds, before finishing his thought on the future of the electric vehicle market.


Also See: BMW i3 Enters the Electric Scrum

Also See: First Comparison: BMW i3 vs. Chevrolet Volt

Also See: Elon Musk Is Cooking Up Something Big for Tesla

Also See: Tesla Motors Shareholders Meeting: Key Takeaways

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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