But both luxury car manufacturers have put aside their differences to participate in the Technical University Munich's (TUM) Visio.M joint research project, which aims to explore ways of reducing the price and increasing the safety of small electric vehicles.
Germany's federal ministry for education and research has contributed 10.8 million euros ($13.8 million) to the project, and BMW has been appointed lead manager in the program that brings together more than 15 private companies and public associations from across the country.
Vison.M's goal is to create an EV prototype that meets European regulations, with a power output of 15kW and a kerb weight of 400kg (without the battery). The project will build on the basis of the University's MUTE prototype, which made its debut at last year's Frankfurt motor show.
Together, the partners will investigate innovations and new technologies for vehicle safety, propulsion, energy storage and operational concepts – all viable under large-scale production.
Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz are well advanced in their own separate EV development. The BMW i3 city car will hit the market next year, while Mercedes has been extensively testing its E-Cell system ahead of an anticipated launch in the not-too-distant future.