BMW Takes on Tesla in New Ads

The 330e Electric Plug-In Hybrid Touted as 'Car You've Been Waiting for Without the Wait'

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BMW is taking direct aim at Tesla in new ads for its 330e electric plug-in hybrid. Two new TV spots don't mention Tesla by name. But the implications are clear that BMW is taking a jab at the startup electric car maker and the fact that the much-hyped Tesla Model 3 won't be available for a long while.

The ads -- which will air during the Olympics -- are by boutique agency The Vault of New York. The shop won the assignment after an RFP went out about it in May, said Jon Paley, the agency's chief creative officer and managing partner. MDC Partners-owned KBS remains BMW's lead creative agency, a BMW spokesman confirmed.

One ad (above) shows a sad-looking man sitting on his front porch. "You will wait, and wait and wait some more -- all before that electric car company's new model ever even arrives," states the voiceover, before promoting the BMW 330e as "the car you've been waiting for without the wait." Another ad shows a woman walking by two empty charging stations in a parking lot before jumping in her BMW 330e.

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"The reality is that there is a much-hyped car out there but it's not out there," Mr. Paley said. "It's not available. You can't buy it right now. You can't drive it right now, and BMW's answer is there is a terrific car -- it happens to be a plug-in hybrid and it's now."

A Tesla spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla's Model 3 -- which is its first mass-marketed car -- was announced in late March. The introduction generated a lot of hype as thousands of people put down $1,000 deposits on the car, which is expected to retail at about $35,000 and have a range of 215 miles per charge. As of late July Tesla had taken 373,000 orders for the Model 3, Reuters reported. But customer deliveries aren't expected to begin until late 2017.

BMW's 330e -- which is branded using the "iPerformance" moniker -- became available earlier this summer with a price starting at $44,695. "Pure-electric driving is possible at speeds of up to 75 mph and with a range of around 14 miles," BMW stated in March when it formally introduced the vehicle.

BMW is not the first traditional automaker to take a jab at Tesla. Nissan in April ran print ads promoting its electric Nissan Leaf that stated: "No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today." The ads appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

The BMW ads represent a significant win for The Vault. The shop -- which employs fewer than 25 people -- opened in 2010 and promotes itself as an ad agency, production company and post-production company. It first won BMW work in late 2014 for ads that run during the holidays, Mr. Paley said. "We are hired assassins. We are brought in on a specialty basis," he said.

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