Tesla Rules Silicon Valley, BMW no BFD

Fiat 500e more compelling electric vehicle than pretentious Bavarian plug-in hybrid

By Derek Handova

As amusing as it is to see BMW trying to steal Tesla’s thunder, not to mention its electric car lightning, it would be equally comic if not so tragic. Elon Musk, self-promoting entrepreneur in the tradition of P.T. Barnum, Sir Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs, has no equal in cars. The closest a German automaker ever got to his ilk was Dr. Z (i.e. Dieter Zetsche) of Daimler-Chrysler in the early to mid 2000s.

Daimler-Chrysler’s Dr. Dieter Zetsche was as close as a German carmaker ever got to equalling the self-promoting entrepreneurship of Tesla’s Elon Musk. Photo credit: Daimler AG / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Silicon Valley is about the new, new thing. And BMW — even an electric BMW — is as old school as the SGI workstations that gave us the Jurassic Park movies in the 1990s. You cannot swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting some pretentious computer nerd driving his new BMW with paper license plates on U.S. 101 between University Avenue and Oregon Expressway in Palo Alto, California. It is just no BFD to have a BMW nowadays. It only shows you have a fragile ego that you need to cover up with sheetmetal and chrome.

The Ultimate Driving Machine does not make you the Ultimate Driver And just because you drive what BMW self-proclaims as the Ultimate Driving Machine, it does not make you the Ultimate Driver. A Tesla, on the other hand, connotes an inner confidence not based on outward appearances. Thus, Tesla drivers have nothing to prove by cutting people off on the freeway, unlike BMW drivers who do cut people off so frequently as to have inspired the “I Hate BMW Drivers!” Facebook page.

In fact, BMW drivers are so widely known for their haughtiness toward their fellow commuters that even its German competitor luxury carmaker Audi has taken a poke at the Munich-based company with its “performance with the right attitude” television spot where an Audi driver slows down for a puddle so as to not splash two awestruck onlookers waiting for the bus. However, immediately behind the Audi is a car that looks very much like a Bimmer but without the telltale logo. Apparently, some BMW drivers are a little too thin-skinned for this implied criticism.


BMW drivers have only themselves to blame for the stereotype they project of being self-entitled jerks who have little regard for others on the road or even in the parking lot. More than occasionally in public parking lots you can see where a BMW driver felt justified in taking up two parking spots when one would have done the job just fine.

BMW drivers continue to prove themselves to be self-entitled jerks demonstrated by their propensity to take up two parking spots when one parking spot would suffice. Photo credit: Derek Handova

Fiat 500e next best electric alternative to Tesla
To be honest, if you cannot afford a Tesla, the next most significant electric car that will set you apart in Silicon Valley is the Fiat 500e, which was named Road & Track’s Best Electric Vehicle for 2013. It is not big or flashy, but you can save gas and the environment while maneuvering around all those would-be Bavarians in the diamond lane. And while Nissan tried admirably with the Leaf to ride the electric car wave, it made way too many compromises to keep the cost down at the expense of looks and performance.

The Fiat 500e, Road & Track magazine’s Electric Car of the Year for 2013 is the thinking person’s next choice after Tesla’s Model S if affordability is an issue. Photo credit: Chrysler Group / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Background image: “Elon Musk, Tesla Factory, Fremont (CA, USA).” Photo credit: pestoverde / Foter / CC BY