Cars US luxury car sales 2015

Published on January 15th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


#1 Large Luxury Car In US = Tesla Model S (2015 Sales Comparison)

January 15th, 2016 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

Thanks to RobStark on the Tesla Motors Club forum, we’ve got news that the Tesla Model S was the #1 best-selling large luxury car (or “premium car,” as some might prefer to call the class) in the United States in 2015.

As we all know, Tesla doesn’t report sales/deliveries by country. However, various outlets estimate Tesla sales using a variety of methods. EV Obsession estimated 26,566 Tesla Model S sales in the US in 2015. Rob notes that the lowest estimate was 24,200. In either case, the Model S outsold the Mercedes S-Class, the BMW 7-Series, the BMW 6-Series, the Audi A7, the Audi A8, the Porsche Panamera, and every other car in this class.

Here’s a quick look at how all these cars compared in 2015 vs 2014:

US Luxury Car Sales Tesla US luxury car sales 2014 US luxury car sales 2015

Giving the conventional automakers a little bit of slack, you could note that if you combined their various models on this class, Mercedes would be a little bit above Tesla, and BMW and Audi would be… well, still quite far behind.

Of course, Tesla doesn’t have the extensive dealer network Mercedes, BMW, and Audi have. Tesla doesn’t have the decades of brand building and advertising. And Tesla doesn’t have the production capacity of these giant automakers.

Think Mercedes, BMW, and Audi (Volkswagen) are getting a little bit concerned about Tesla at this point?

And what about when the Tesla Model 3 comes to market, challenging the BMW 3-series/5-series, the Audi A3/A4/A6, and the Mercedes A-Class/B-Class/C-Class?

I have an idea.

Why is Tesla crushing these class premium brands? Here are some thoughts on that as well:

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media: Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, SCTY, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB. After years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these companies and feels like they are good companies to invest in.

  • Esperiel

    You may also be interested in (AUS) FCAI (9.501m^2 footprint + cost tiers) & (US) IIHS (footprint + weight ( ) categorization methodologies (FCAI footprint:( + cost( [using $AUD breakpoints]). See related discussion on exclusion of various E-class vehicles: (

  • Robert Reiley

    Here is where Tesla hurts itself by insisting on not doing somethings the traditional way (monthly sales reports, breaking sales data by country), because they lose this big headline in the traditional automotive press.

    The traditional automotive press has two things holding them back from acknowldging how Tesla has unseated the king of this segment (the S Class): one is that they don’t really like electric cars, and two that they have their sacred cows, German cars are among them and none moreso than the Mercedes S Class. The automotive press will do anything to ignore this victory by Tesla, and that includes ignoring unofficial numbers.

    • Red Sage

      Unfortunately, too much of that attitude may be influenced by a lack of advertising dollars from Tesla Motors. I suspect that certain publications have writing staffs that have been informed by their publisher that until they fork over cash… only bad news for Tesla will be covered. Trust though that traditional automobile manufacturers have been made well aware of the situation by their ‘independent franchised dealerships’.

  • Esperiel

    Zach, I thought you might want to glance at my comment in this thread trying to determine causes for Tesla’s #s in segment. (stats [’14,’15 us only] vs SUVs.) A particularly non-trivial factor (I’m guessing) is Tesla’s resistance to cannibalization from ICE SUVs (links/data cited in comment)

  • Esperiel

    Please see my comment above. Inclusive luxury units have gone up if anything. (I suspect it’s public SUV/crossover trend combined concurrently w/ low gas prices where it’s simply luxury SUV cannibalizing matching luxury sedan/coupe segments)

  • evfan

    My prediction – a year from now we will be looking at a similar list and see how in 2016 model X sales beat all the other luxury SUVs

  • timbuck93

    Where are the batteries made?
    Where are the materials from the vehicles made?
    Are either of those made locally to where the vehicles are sold?

    • Red Sage

      Battery Cells — Components manufactured in Japan, Constructed in China, Built into Battery Packs in Fremont CA. (Until the Gigafactory in Sparks NV is operational.)

      Body is Aluminum — Supplied by ALCOA of TN.

      Sales — Worldwide. It’s a small, small world with JIT manufacturing and logistics.

      Why does this matter to you?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Adding a bit more…

        As Tesla grows they plan to open car and battery factories around the world, probably starting in Europe and China. I’m sure locally sourced materials will be used if that’s the cheapest source but some importing will likely be necessary.

  • neroden

    I’ve stated elsewhere that Tesla has turned gasoline cars into an “inferior good”. That’s a technical economics term which means that richer people buy less of them (McDonalds is the classic example). In this case, people who can afford it get Teslas and stop buying gasoline cars, because Teslas are better.

    This should have interesting results

    • Interesting framing.

    • Red Sage

      Somehow I missed this reply before. It is very good. Thanks for the perspective.

  • jimak

    Let me know when Tesla competes heads up without subsidies.

    • WeaponZero

      Name me 1 manufacturer on the list who does not get subsidies?

    • neroden

      Two years ago.

  • Esperiel

    I’m assuming whichever criteria needed to pass minimum EPA req. Lexus LS(SWB) is mid-size as well. Only Lexus LS(LWB) is Large car. LWB is ostensibly the prevalent model for US sales in contrast to EU ( See: )

    To reduce outliers, I based my categorization class grading; must ideally pass all subjects (size, volume, weight) to graduate to higher class (otherwise held back a grade) –just like school LoL. A8(SWB) is borderline/fail case; A8 (SWB) passes on length & weight but critically fails on volume*

    (EPA): >=120cf = Large

    (Highway Loss Data Institute classification): >195 inch length + >110 inch wheelbase

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): >=3500 pounds * = Heavy

    * This is an odd one, however it can be said that higher relative weight gives advantage in car on car collisions. Sucks for fuel economy though.

    To see extended discussion on topic with tables: ( ) Alas it doesn’t have A8

    * I’d be borderline tempted to give it extra credit for hitting >= 103 ft^2 footprint personal-for-funsies criteria.

    • Red Sage

      Good reply. Ultimately, having a gigantic displacement 8-cylinder or 12-cylinder heat generator under the front hood along with all the associated accessories takes up a huge portion of the packaging potential for traditional ‘luxury’ vehicles. They are wide, and long, and heavy — but not very efficient or spacious.

  • crevasse

    This has got to be hurting manufacturers and dealers. And they won’t have any answer for years. Astounding ignorance and complacency on the entrenched incumbent’s part. All this while gas is at a very low price. Can’t wait for a solid Model 3 to clean up on the BMW 1-3 series and CLA class Benz. Well, really any sub 50k sports car.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    “Every year, we are doubling our total cumulative production.” — Musk.

    Is there room for the Model S to keep growing? The luxury market is a zero-sum game with about 100K yearly participants. What’s going to happen here?

    • Steve Grinwis

      They clearly just move into the luxury SUV market to grab a few more sales there, before heading into the more mass market mid-luxury sports performance market.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        So will they ever drop the pricing on the Model S?

        • neroden

          Oh, yes, eventually they definitely will.

          First they’re going into as many international markets as they can, though; they intend to take the *whole* luxury car market not just the US market.

          As noted they’re also going to take the luxury SUV market with the Model X.

          Once they start maxing out on sales in those categories, the Model S price will probably be reduced… a little bit.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            As I understand it the Model S has the highest markup in history. So it might be costing them 40K to produce a 120K car. The extra money goes into building the gigafactory, superchargers, other brands, etc.. It looks like Tesla has tapped out the Model S’s foothold in the USA and there are not that many more markets to grow in outside of the USA either. They had hoped to sell most of their vehicles in China but China put up trade barriers and several well funded Chinese companies are months away from making copied Teslas. So it might be time for Tesla to start dropping their prices and moving full steam ahead towards the Model X and Model 3.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Porsche’s gross profit margin is higher than Tesla’s.

            You can look at Tesla’s product costs and sales revenues on their most recent stockholder letter.

            Tesla has tapped out in the US? Who told you that? There are no US buyers on their waiting list? They had hoped to sell most of their vehicles in China? Where are you getting this stuff?

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I got the idea the Model Ss have tapped out from this article. Before seeing the numbers here I was probably thinking the same as you. Namely that the Model S could keep growing as it has for years to come. Now however I see its sales per year being about the same. Basically on the end of the ‘S’ curve Musk always talks about.

            I had hoped that Tesla’s profit margins were incredibly high. That they could simply lower the price once the infrastructure was in place. Unfortunately if Tesla is indeed forced to stay in the zero-sum luxury market with their Model S then they have no room for continued growing in the USA.

          • Kraylin

            I had read that Tesla’s margin was the best in the industry and I have actually repeated that several times. Fortunately I generally hedge things I can’t prove outright so I likely often say “among the highest in the industry”.

            That being said, do you know if Tesla at one time had the highest? Is this slightly different depending on the time frame the margins are compared? I am not surprised Porsche is at/near the top…

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t know if Tesla was ever the highest. And I don’t know if there is anyone except for Porsche who has GPMs higher than Tesla. I took a look at GM, Ford, and Toyota. Not even close.

            You can check out Tesla’s quarterly GPM here. I’m not sure how one would find out if Tesla was ever first except by reviewing the GPM for ever other company.


            Want to set up a database?


          • neroden

            Pfft, no, the gross margins on the Model S are only in the 20%-25% range, so on a $100K car, it costs $75K to make.

            And that’s an average which includes the very-high-margin options. (I swear the cost of production of the “P” model is probably $1000 more than the regular model, but the price market up is $10000.) So the margins are less on a $70K base model.

            Part of that is aluminum, of course, which is still expensive; all rumors have been that Model 3 will be steel-bodied. And a very large part of that is that the batteries are still being imported from Japan; the Gigafactory should do very good things for the gross margins.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Maybe aluminum is 5x more expensive and harder to work with. But Tesla has invented and mastered the handling of aluminum so it should be about equal. And aluminum is so much better than steel.



            I was so hoping Tesla’s markup was much much more. Where did you get those 20%-25% markup numbers from?

          • neroden

            I got those markup numbers from Tesla! Though they are now saying that they’ve managed to get gross margin up to 30%.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Good for them. I continue to hope they change their mind and use aluminum in their M3. Metal prices seem to fluctuate dramatically so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I think I tend to disagree. You don’t want to de-value your flagship car.

            I think they just keep adding features, bigger batteries, bigger motors, and the first car to get updates.

            If you want a cheaper car, get a Model 3

    • Dragon

      They should have a little (probably not much?) room to grow in the USA with buyers (like myself) that would never buy a luxury car but want a large-battery EV that can go cross-country without unreasonable charging delays. Of course buyers like me are likely to pick up Tesla’s used inventory, but that inventory can also be seen as a form of growth since they make profit on it as well. Even the Bolt or possible LEAF 2.0, though it will have a 200 mile battery, won’t have nationwide range unless someone installs an equivalent to the supercharger network. I don’t think it’s very likely Tesla will have competition in long range driving until some time after Model 3.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        It’s hard to say. The middle class is vanishing leaving only a few rich. The graph above shows the luxury market in the USA shrunk by a little over 1% between 2014 and 2015 which backs up the shrinking middle class.

        I’m still hoping Tesla lowers their prices on the Model S as their production numbers have gone up and their learning costs have diminished. The Model S might get repositioned out of the luxury market and become “The People’s EV”.

        • Dragon

          I think it makes a lot more sense to have a different car for the lower price range. S is large and has expensive bits in the base model like the two LCD screens and power everything (even power door handles). Instead of dropping the price as their production becomes cheaper, they’ve been increasing the battery size and feature set in the base model. If batteries from the gigafactory meet their pricing goals, maybe they could finally drop the price, but that probably won’t happen till fairly close to Model 3 launch, in which case I think it makes sense to just wait for Model 3. They can’t drop the price too much on S without risking losing the prestige factor which I assume is important to a lot of buyers in its current market, and it wouldn’t be good to risk diminishing profits just before they need capital to push massive expansion on Model 3 and battery production.

          I agree middle class is shrinking and will continue to do so until we elect people (*cough* Bernie Sanders *cough*) that will put in place policies to redistribute wealth away from the 1% who currently have a higher percentage of America’s wealth than at any other time in history.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Presidents can’t change tax laws. Put effort into changing Congress.

          • Dragon

            Indeed. Didn’t mean to imply Bernie could fix things on his own. But things have been so gerrymandered it’s hard to imagine how the House could be fixed until districts are redrawn fairly… Having a president willing to lead the charge and pull any trick in his power to move things forward would be a big advantage. At least I hope Bernie is that guy – certainly our best shot.

          • neroden

            Bernie’s talking specifically about “coattails” — getting lots more people like him into Congress and state legislatures by getting out the vote of the people who are currently sitting out because they think “both parties are worthless”. Dunno if it will work, but at least it’s a *plan*.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Yes indeed.

    • Red Sage

      It really depends upon how you define ‘luxury market’. For some, it is anything available above a particular price point. For others, it is anything available from a given marque. That is, for some people, if a car costs over $60,000 and sports a Dodge or Chevrolet badge, it still isn’t a ‘luxury’ vehicle. Meanwhile, those same people may feel that anything with an AUDI, BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes-Benz logo is in the ‘luxury’ segment, even if the vehicle itself is less capable than a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.

      From my point of view, everyone who claims there is a ‘limited market’ for expensive electric cars is either seriously myopic or thoroughly disingenuous. Because no one criticizes Acura, AUDI, BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, or Porsche for selling high cost vehicles — claiming there is a ‘limited market’ for expensive internal combustion engine cars. No. Instead they flip the telescope the other way around and say the cars are ‘worth it’ for the sake of ‘exclusivity’. This year the Model S will outsell several of its direct competitors — COMBINED. How’s that for ‘limited’?

      There is no reason to drop pricing on the Model S. None. It is very strange how the narrative is always about ‘how expensive’ the Model S Performance versions are, but no one ever notes how much MORE expensive its direct competitors are… Instead, they compare the base price of other cars, as if they are just as capable. Fact of the matter is that less capable vehicles from BMW, AUDI, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche cost quite a bit more than the Tesla Model S P90D. Heck, the Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series starts at $263,900.

      There are those who want Tesla Motors to lower the entry price of the Model S, thinking that will increase its sales. Not necessary. They are already outselling every other car in class. While others want their ‘luxury’ cars to maintain a false air of being ‘exclusive’, Tesla wants their cars to be ubiquitous, common, ordinary, and accepted as the norm. The ‘People’s EV’ from Tesla Motors will be the Model ☰.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Each year there are about X number of cars sold in this market called luxury. Now the old manufacturers are selling about .7X and Tesla has .3X. If Tesla doubles, as Elon implies, and has .6X next year those other manufacturers are going to hurt. And obviously there is no doubling past .6X. I’d be happy to see Tesla enlarge the luxury market but so far it hasn’t happened. Instead Tesla has been eating the other car makers market. Don’t confuse facts with being myopic or disingenuous.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Losing 30% of sales has to be a large butthurt.

          Hard for Tesla to enlarge the luxury car market. That’s an issue of how many people can afford a luxury car.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Exactly my point. I’m thinking they have to make the entry point for the Model S a little lower so that it spans a greater range.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Maybe not. Keeping the entry price high keeps the luxury/snob level high. ;o)

            Fill in the price gap with a tricked out Mod 3. Entry price of $35k with about $20k worth of add ons. Leave a gap between the two models just to maintain the exclusiveness.

  • Shiggity

    Really what this tells me is that there is no longer room for everyone in the premium sedan marketplace.

    At the rate Jaguar is going, they won’t be around for too much longer. Same with some of the other smallerish premium car makers.

    If you don’t have a strong EV program, you’ll go insolvent faster than RIM / Nokia did. Expect that exact same trend to happen in the car market. One maker is soon going to have most global marketshare, Apple style.

    The global mega robotics maker will get it’s start by making self driving cars, then go from there. Trillions at stake here.

    • Red Sage

      They will mostly attempt to go even more upscale. They will ignore the EV revolution to their detriment. They will focus their dollars on marketing and advertising to promote luxury, tradition, heritage, craftsmanship, and exclusivity. Their sales will go down, their prices will go up, and they will join the boneyard of those who could not change with the times.

      • neroden

        And the thing is, they could go more upscale *if they went EV*.

        But now gasoline cars are an inferior good; there is no upscale gas-car market. The upscale market is all EV.

        Aston Martin might have figured this out, based on rumor. Rolls Royce sure didn’t! (And they should have given that their selling point is *quiet*, *roomy* cars, which is a perfect fit with a large battery pack and a silent electric motor.)

        • Red Sage

          Correctomundo! Unfortunately, Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW these days… And BMW put 1/3rd the battery pack capacity in their $140,000 i8 as they did in their $42,000 i3. So, the likelihood of a 220 kWh fully electric Rolls-Royce limousine is pretty bleak.

  • Vertigo

    It’s not just the US, either. Most manufacturers haven’t released their 2015 data yet, but if you compare this year’s Model S sales with others’ 2014 figures, Tesla have the second best selling large exec *in the world*, behind only Mercedes’ S-class. That’s pretty extraordinary when you consider that a lot of countries aren’t properly supported by Tesla yet, as well as the detrimental factors listed in the article.

    Hell, they outsell every single model Jaguar makes, even though the XE and XF start at half the price… No wonder Jag’s suddenly making a fuss about belatedly hopping on the electric bandwagon and diving into Formula E.

    • Agreed. Very similar comparison in Europe last I saw.

    • Steve Grinwis

      Jaguar has never sold well. Because it’s British. And the British suck at making reliable cars.

      To quote Jeremy Clarkson, talking about the Complete Carbon Fibre Alpha Romeo 4C.

      “At least it won’t rust”

      “Oh, They’ll find a way”

      • Haha, nice line. 😀

      • Vertigo

        That’s a pretty outdated statement at this point, Jaguar’s been doing very well in owner surveys for nearly a decade. But yes, the dodgy build image is something they’ve still failed to shake, as statements like this prove.

        I think what’s more problematic right now is that they’ve become a me-too company – their saloons look uncomfortably similar to what the German companies offer, and the XE sees them getting into the distinctly Teutonic business of micro-niche-splitting. When they come up with something genuinely original or groundbreaking, like the C-XF’s concealed doorhandles or C-X75’s… everything… they shelve it in favour of something that other companies are already doing perfectly well. Cough, F-Pace.

        Anyway, my point was that Tesla sales are annihilating much cheaper cars from long-established brands. There must be some very jealous eyes on them right now.

        • Dragon

          Yeah, the thing that most sticks in my mind about Jaguar is an incident when my uncle was complaining years ago about how often his broke down.

  • Joe Nulton

    I really dislike the bolt it looks too cheap like a bigger version of the Aveo. No ty I’ll wait until something better looking comes out! I’m not saying it’s going to be the Model III only time will tell.

  • jeffhre

    MBZ has quite a few cars that overlap the Models S, that are not S class vehicles. And all three have SUV/CUVs that account for much of their luxury level sales – where Tesla only had 208 to date which doesn’t have a large effect on Model S sales.

    All told though, an amazing result from what was a bunch of Silicon Valley Guys trying to get auto parts suppliers to just call them back, as few as five years ago!

    • Shiggity

      Do people keep forgetting that for the first time almost ever, the US is beating on the Europeans in the premium sedan market?

      Pretty soon the US could dominate *ALL* car / truck sales. If you win EVs, you win EVERYTHING.

      Germany picked clean diesel, that pick was 100% wrong. And now they have to pay dearly for it.

      In terms of all electric trucking, Tesla Motors is miles ahead too.

      • newnodm

        But Japan will dominate with the fuel cell!!!

        • Steve Grinwis

          Ya. No…. Fuel cells are DOA.

          • Think he was joking, but who knows on the internet, right?

          • Steve Grinwis

            … We need a sarcasm tag.

          • I always give one of these: 😛

            But that doesn’t seem to convert in some cases.

            And can use this: /s

            But that just confuses many people.

          • Kyle Field

            Lol…totally just topped this in as a comment then saw your post. Too funny

          • neroden

            Use the full tag:

          • Kyle Field

            That’s the secodn attempt at sarcasm in this thread that was misinterpreted. Henceforth, we small use an /s tag to denote sarcasm lol

        • jeffhre

          Love to see that chart, LOL! Will Zach produce a summary article for 2016 with interactive graphs?

          Uh, lets see there’s twelve here and sixteen there and oops, missed two over there! Darn gotta start over – twelve…

      • Matt

        China is in the EV game, and there is a big growing market in Asia. So world market is not rapped up yet.

        • Kyle Field

          BYD is doing well in China this year with electrics which is great to see

      • neroden

        China’s a serious competitor in EVs. A very very serious competitor, ahead in the bus, truck, and car markets. Honestly I think the US will come in second to China.

    • neroden

      The result of the auto parts suppliers not calling Tesla back, of course, is that Tesla is making a huge percentage of stuff in house… with very good results for the bottom line.

  • This totally defeats the argument that BEV’s are and will always be relegated to a niche in the much larger car marketplace.

    If a BEV can take 25% of a market segment with little or no marketing (save Musk’s Twitter account), BEV’s are and will continue to be a growing segment of the total car marketplace.

    Tesla have crossed the chasm.

    • “save Musk’s Twitter account”
      -Haha. Love that.

      Yeah, I think buyers of all other EVs are basically early adopters and first followers still. While the Model S is a mature car in its segment, competing for sales with the “masses” (in that market).

    • Red Sage

      As early as the first half of 2013 the ‘independent franchised dealerships’ in the US were noticing that their high end new cars were taking longer and longer to move off the lot. The Model S has outsold those cars every calendar year since, while their sales have steadily dropped. Some thought it was just a fad, while others worried it was a trend, and by now all should be aware it is not a mere coincidence. For 2014, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class outsold the Model S, but it still ‘lost’ 2013 and 2015 to the electric car in class.

      With the Model ≡ on the horizon, I’m sure that they realize the same attrition may be in store for the A4, ATS, C-Class, 3-Series, IS, Q50, XE… Not to mention that some who are in the market for Accord, Altima, Camry, Malibu, Optima, or Sonata may decide to test drive the Model ≡ on a whim… And then decide they wouldn’t mind driving their old car another three-to-six months while waiting for a custom order Tesla to arrive. Leaving the other marques to languish on their lots, hoping for someone to come through to buy them…

  • Matt

    All “large luxury car” sale by model were down YTY 5.1%-16.6%; except TESLA which was up 43.8%. That is a big deal, TESLA saves segment from having a down year.

    • Or simply steals market share from several of them. 😀

      • Kyle Field

        I love this fact from the article the most. Straight up market share they.

  • Esperiel

    Note: CTS/A7/BMW6 are “(EPA)”mid-size” or smaller]”/(EU:”E-segment” or lower) all the others listed (including Tesla) are “(EPA)”large”(EU:”F-segment”). That differentiation is called out in the GoodCarBadCar ’15 US car sales year end stats ( )

    • Red Sage

      By the way, the AUDI A8 is a Midsize car in the US too. You have to move up to the AUDI A8 L, extended wheelbase version, to get a ‘Large’ classification.

  • onesecond

    Wow, that table should really tickle the German automakers. Time to wake up and produce compelling electric cars!

    • Meh, they can just wait 3-5 years. 😉 😛

      • Ross

        In tarnishes their brand. I’d much rather get the Tesla than an EV from a reluctant convert.

    • Ross

      It is hard to understand their complacency.

      When there is a compelling EV against their lower end cars there is little reason not to believe the tables will be similar.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Disagree. It’s a lot easier to build an expensive car than it is to build a cheap car that’s still compelling and reliable.

        • Red Sage

          You sound like my Pal, VIofIX… He loves unions, hates Elon Musk, and won’t admit for a second that he would adore the Model S if it had Cadillac emblems on it. If it is so ‘easy’…

          Why isn’t there a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman Limousine with a 220 kWh battery pack, and dual electric motors producing 600 HP on the way? It would be smooth, powerful, quiet, luxuriously appointed, easier to build, spacious, with tons of cargo space, and they could hang whatever price tag they wanted on it.

          Where is the BUICK ELECTRA styled and designed to take on the Model S directly, while offering all the same performance and loads more ‘luxury’…? Finally a car that lived up to the classic name!

          C’mon, Man!

          • ddmmrr

            While the comparison above is cool, the Tesla is really not a substitute for an S class. For starters, you could throw in an extra Leaf or two on top of the Tesla for the price of an S class. People don’t buy a Mercedes to have a ludicrous mode. They buy it for the interiors and the quality of the ride and most likely, for the brand name. These are completely different demographics who don’t ever cross shop. So, it’s fair to say that the Tesla is doing really well year over year and these other cars aren’t doing well year over year. One did not siphon sales from the other.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Why have sales for the non-Tesla brands slumped?

            Where have the Tesla buyers come from? Were they drivers of non-luxury cars prior to this?

            I need some ‘splaining as to how Tesla did not siphon sales away from the others. Siphoning seems, to me, to be the simplest explanation and the simplest is often the best.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I think a lot of siphoning did occur, but the other phenomenon of people buying a Model S who weren’t already luxury customers I think is also a thing. Most people i know personally who bought a Model S are not in the market for an S Class.

          • neroden

            Yep. I was in the “Audi A4” market segment, at most, before buying my Model S.

            Incidentally, Tesla has got its gross profit margins jacked up so high at the moment (30%) that if they accepted other carmakers’ level of gross profit margin (5% – 10%) they could price the Model S at the same level as the A4. They obviously won’t because they need that gross margin to fund expansion, but it’s worth noting.

          • Esperiel

            I think mass shift to SUVs (trendy + (recent) cheap gas) is partially responsible for competitor losses as well.

            Wild speculation on Tesla gains: 20% new non-Lux cross-shopping customers; 25% competitor cannibalization; 40% Tesla’s multi-Lux-segment appeal and resistance to segment sedan->suv (minor)exodus (Tesla fans hate ICE SUV); 15% Tesla resistance to model fatigue (S-Class drops avg 15% units after new model year peak[1])

            [’14 year end vs ’15 year end]:

            Auto sales have dropped ~2% from ’14->’15 7.92m -> 7.74m (

            SUV sales have gone up ’14->’15 (

            Lux.L.SUV: +15% (+15.6k units)(

            Lux.M.SUV: +10% (+49k units)(

            Lux.S.SUV: +39% (ibid)

   -11% (-9k)(sans Tesla) vs (near even)(inc. Tesla)(

   -15% (-49k)(

   +8% (ibid)

   -2% (

          • neroden

            Yeah, it’s not an entirely fair comparison chart but not for that reason. The “luxury” cutoff is a bit too high.

            In fact, despite the Model S being a lot more expensive, the Audi A6 is cross-shopped with the Tesla, not just the A7 and A8. And the A6 is still selling pretty well.

            Tesla is definitely siphoning off high-end car sales. Just not quite as fast as this chart would indicate.

          • ddmmrr

            The comparison to the A6 seems about right. When the original model S was introduced as “whitestar”, they compared it to a BMW 5 series. That still seems like the logical home for the model S.

          • Esperiel

            > The comparison to the A6 seems about right. When the original model S was introduced as “whitestar”, they compared it to a BMW 5 series. That still seems like the logical home for the model S.

            Original intro was compared via entry level pricing on discontinued model w/ rebate. Elon had said repeatedly that any EV must not only match but exceed equivalent ICE to effectively compel a consumer purchase so model S was effectively an F-segment sandbagging as E-segment.

            Tesla meets all large car reqs {
            >=120cf(EPA sans frunk);
            F-class(EU); >195 inch (Highway Loss Data Institute classification);
            “Very Large” [concurrent >100ft^2+>4000lbs] (IIHS) (official procedure explicitly specifies rounding down to smaller size classification on any borderline cases) Tesla at 105.1sqft 4.6k-~5k lbs) –the traditional Large Luxury vehicle list are all ~103sqft+ (closer to 105 sqft midpoint than 100sqft boundary) }

            whereas A6 misses all those criteria. Tesla’s basically positioned so S70 to nab E-segment (~EPA-Mid) cross shopping checking out entry F-segment, but it’s still an F-segment (~EPA-large) car.

            I hate bringing up price (a $35 hotdog is still a hotdog and not a steak regardless of price) but WRT to entry prices, S starts at $70k and A6 starts at $45k. They’re just different segments by established criteria.

          • Red Sage

            Very excellent information! Good to see that someone else is willing to research such data in a proper fashion. Thank you.

          • Esperiel
          • Esperiel

            I’m glad you found it of merit. You might also a more detailed table (including Aus. FCAI footprint & price-level criteria) interesting:

          • Red Sage

            OK. You are welcome to that analysis. But… you are very much incorrect. Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Second Place. Because Tesla Model S is preferred by those who drive their own cars, as opposed to riding along in the rear.

          • athbr

            Ok…how does your last statement disagree with what I’m saying? It’s a totally different demographic. Tesla has a more tech-oriented clientele. That’s not the market the S class ever targeted, or even intends to. If you tell me that the S class is siphoning off BMW 5 series sales, I would quickly agree with you. The S class? Not even remotely true.

          • Red Sage

            The reason I put it this way is that several analysts, pundits, experts, and various talking heads all predicted the absolute opposite. They said that Elon Musk was smoking crack and liking it by projecting 15,000 units per year for Tesla Model S. They thought he would be lucky to move a third of that, and likely thought it would be 1/5th as much. Yet, using that 15,000 unit number, Tesla Motors has sold more than 7 years worth of Model S Production over the first 3-1/2 years it has been on the market.

            In 2013 Mercedes-Benz experienced about a 12.8% increase in US sales over their 2012 result — and still trailed the Model S by 26.9%. In 2015 the Model S had a 37% increase over 2014 US sales, while the S-Class had a 13.2% dropoff in US sales — and subsequently trailed the Model S by 16.9%.

            The Porsche Panamera sold 25,094 units to US Customers from 2012 through the first four months of 2016 combined. During the same period, the AUDI A8 sold 24,511 units in the US. The Tesla Model S reached 26,400 US Buyers during 2015 alone, and is likely to reach 30,000 Customers on these shores during 2016.

            The BMW 7-Series has seen hard times of late, with US sales dropping every year since 2010. The Model S sold 17,108 more units here than the 7-Series in 2015, and the S-Class beat BMW by 12,642 units. For the sake of comparison, combined 2014 and 2015 sales were only 19,036 units for the 7-Series. The 7-Series has remained solidly in third place in class since the Model S was introduced. Things are looking up though, as sales of 3,185 cars through April 2016 mean BMW is on pace to beat last year’s total by a whole 263 cars.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Well, I don’t think I sound like your pal at all. I generally dislike Unions, and I actually really like Musk. The Model S is still an achievement, even if it’s just proving it can be done. And that’s even before Space X. I also love that the quickest production sedan is electric. If someone handed me a Model S, I’d be quite happy about it, especially if it came with the extended warranty.

            However, as for why there isn’t an S-Class Pullman Limousine? Well, that 220 kWh battery pack would cost $66k for the type of cells that mercedes uses in their electric cars for starters. Also packaging that much battery would be challenging. And they’d have to re-engineer an existing platform, which is horribly expensive, and expect to sell a meagre handful of the cars. Just to give you an idea, I’d expect that car to need a retail price in excess of $300k to sell. And why would you buy one of those when you could buy three Model S’s?

            The Buick Electra? Well, no one is going to take a Buick over a Tesla dude. It’s just not going to happen. As for their mass market car? Expect the Bolt to be compelling, well priced, reliable, and also be available for sale substantially before the Model 3.

          • Red Sage

            Dude. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Maybach Pullman Limousine costs nearly $1,000,000. The car would simply be designed from the ground up as fully electric — not a conversion of an existing platform. The Rolls-Royce Pullman costs maybe half that amount if fully decked out. So, yeah… a $300,000 car of the sort I described would be a BARGAIN in that class of vehicles. People would buy it because it would be the BEST available… and they could afford it.

            If Buick or Cadillac were to build a proper fully electric vehicle, one could take on the 5-Series and E-Class, while the other went after the 7-Series and S-Class. If they only managed to come in third place — behind Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors — they’d still improve their market position and mindshare significantly.

            Given the number of preorders for Model ☰ in the past few days, I doubt anyone cares that the Chevrolet BOLT will be available sooner, because Tesla Motors has the equivalent of ten years of BOLT Production lined up as Buyers already.

      • Red Sage

        It is a matter of Pride, Prejudice, and Perspective.

        They have so much pride in what they have accomplished with ICE over the years. When you go from barely managing 3 MPG to scraping past 25 MPG in a performance car over the course of forty years it is considered a milestone accomplishment. Then someone creates the MPGe designation, and only EVs get 90-120 MPGe.

        They have literally spent decades building a case against EVs by purposely building the worst hunks-of-junk they could manage, then saying, “See? It just can’t be done! If we can’t do it, no one can!” Then Tesla Motors came along. Oops.

        They have so much invested in ICE at all levels, from suppliers to engineers to executive staff, who have all had a certain shared point of view about what a ‘car’ is, and should be. There is a certain belief that turning their companies over to software and electronics engineers is going to ruin the culture they have built over time. They prefer a world where mechanical engineers rule. Oh! And they don’t want to lose their jobs.

        • Esperiel

          Randy Carlson of Seeking Alpha “Tesla: Real Competition Ahead” had appealing analysis with regards to EV foot dragging. “ICE carmakers are targeting compliance BEVs toward lower-end market segments to avoid cannibalizing their high-margin ICE cars, SUVs and pickup trucks.” And I’d say they’re trying to avoid brunt of an Osborne Effect as well. The best method for the above is to make high priced entry segment car.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I honestly think that GM and Nissan at the very least have an entire plan for how to electrify their lineup. In the short term they’ll take huge profits from high margin ICEs and then launch EVs when they need to, to ensure profits are as high across the market disruption.

            They might even welcome increasing EV regulation in the form of EV target production mandates, as it will give them an excuse to demonstrate market leadership.

          • Esperiel

            > They might even welcome increasing EV regulation in the form of EV target production mandates

            I think it’s as welcome as a root canal to them; def. not overjoyed and quick to embrace it(just like last time where incumbents succeeded in litigating and eventually nerfing ZEV requirements in 2001 IIRC.) They’ll be dragged kicking and screaming into it

            Ostensible upcoming ZEV Reqs:

            2018: 4.5%
            2019: 7.0%
            2020: 9.5%
            2021: 12.0%
            2022: 14.5%
            2023: 17.0%
            2024: 19.5%
            2025: 22.0%

            CA Air Resource Board. § 1962.2 Zero-Emission Vehicle Standards for 2018 and Subsequent Model
            Year Passenger Cars, Light-Duty Trucks, and Medium-Duty Vehicles. []

          • Steve Grinwis

            If they’re going to be dragged, why the Volt? Why the Bolt? Why the Leaf?

            These are not compliance cars.

          • Esperiel

            Dragged as in forced by legislative and market pressure and having their excuses wrested from them.

            Legislative force via ZEV requirements (2001 nerfing will be slowly reduced because exclusive “transition” “EV”s will no longer qualify); CA’s 2030 100% ZEV mandate will probably come up again (although I suspect by 2025 the EV value proposition may render legislation moot/redundant.)

            Market pressures: I considered Nissan the first to break ranks in embracing EVs with Leaf (esp. with claiming high fleet penetration goals publicly first.) Their accumulation of ZEV credits would make their competitors have to match them or risk penalties. Tesla will also continue eating into highest margin sedan’s and ostensibly SUVs (I’m speculating non-trivial luxury SUV cannibalization from Tesla).

            Excuses shot down: It’s been made nonviable for them to continue saying “there’s no consumer demand” or that it’s “technically infeasable”, “the best solution is fuel cells” (Tesla [and now other EV growth] would kill that in the crib via market), etc. etc.

            I’ll believe they’re actually committed when they are selling in high volume BEVs comparable in specs (dimensions etc) to their high margin ICE cars; until then, part of me is wary of them only complying out of necessity rather than embracing sustainable transport fully (also because I think they can’t yet due to sunken costs in ICE infrastructure that they can’t simply abandon overnight and not get hammered by Wall Street).

            It’s not hard to imagine them having to hold off on public 100% fleet commitment (to manage expectations & avoid Osborne effect), and keeping changing on low margin products (to have lower $ hit / less painful transition) as you stated which I also agreed with.

            > why the Volt? Why the Bolt? Why the Leaf?

            I’m referring to bona fide ZEV EVs. Leaf was because Nissan was first to commit and break ranks because their CEO made heavy public stance on EVs and I’d argue it served as dual purpose ZEV credit gambit on Nissan’s part. GM went w/Volt & Spark to shield itself from huge ZEV credit deficit (that it pulled off successfully going from ~900 credit deficit in ’13 to almost none in ’14)( . But I’m holding the stance that it took the carrot/cattle-prod of ZEV penalties to help force them from status quo.

            > These are not compliance cars.

            [Compliance 2.0]

            I’m referring to compliance cars in manner Randy Carlson defined them in Tesla’s Real Competition:

            1) Compliance BEVs must be good enough that enough of them can be sold; 2) Compliance BEVs must be sellable through existing dealers as part of existing product lineups; 3) Most important, compliance BEVs must not cannibalize high-margin ICE sales. These constraints drive the kind of compliance BEVs ICE carmakers are building, as well as the sales/marketing strategy for these vehicles.

            Compliance Cars – Less Is More

            [Compliance 1.0]

            Typically CARB state limited; Lease only; Volume limited; No advertising (or negative advertising); Short range; no fast-charging; High price (for size/segment); High incentives; not on dealer lots (must be ordered/special delivered).

          • Red Sage

            Correct. If Ford, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, or General Motors were to build a ‘Tesla Killer’ to compete against the Model ☰, they would also KILL the Fusion, Accord, Camry, Altima, and Malibu. Instead, their strategy is to perpetuate the myth that you must give up something to have a plug on a car.

        • JJ

          I suggest that we follow the money and see that for the present there is a lot more money to be had with ICE than EV. The dislike for EVs is front and center at ICE dealerships, even the ones that have an EV in their inventory. The EV revolution is going to displace a large number of jobs and those folks will not go quietly into other ways of making a living.

          • Red Sage

            That is said all the time. It is never entirely true. When ICE vehicles took over from horse and buggy, some people lost their jobs. But for every livery stable attendant that lost a job grooming horses, someone else got a job as a gas station attendant who checked oil levels and filled the tank. Guys who had developed a reputation for craftsmanship with stagecoaches and carriages found that the demand for their coachwork translated well to preparing stylish, luxury interiors for automobiles. And in the end, the automobile industry grew tremendously larger than the livery stable business, and at a faster rate.

            The great thing about electric vehicles is that they can still co-opt the majority of the automobile industry. Electric cars still need tires and wheels, brakes and sensor systems, plastics and upholstery, headlights and taillights… Those who have experience servicing ICE vehicles still retain all the functional skills and dexterity that will allow them to remove and replace components for electric vehicles as well. And electric cars still use the same system of streets, roads, and highways that will take people to stores and shops, restaurants and hotels throughout the nation.

            Those who cannot adapt to change will certainly be left by the wayside. That is the same as it has always been. A mechanic who refused to learn how to fix anything without a carburetor probably hasn’t had a great deal of business in the past 25 years. People who are unable to migrate their current skillset to work on selling, maintaining, or repairing electric cars will find their hands idle and their opportunities sparse.

  • phineasjw

    ~60 days till the Model 3 unveiling…

    • Can’t wait. 😀

    • vensonata

      Is that right? I must be out of the loop. Thanks for the note. It really hasn’t been front page news.

      • Happening in March. Likely March 31 😀

        • Ivor O’Connor

          March 31, 2018.

          • lol 😀

            I think they’ll hit 2016 on this one. 😀

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I don’t see it happening until the second gigafactory.

          • neroden

            I don’t know. If Tesla keeps up previous practice, Tesla will actually show a fully driveable protoype, albeit a hand-built one. (And this is a possibility.) However, Tesla might instead adopt auto industry practice and show a “concept car”.

    • Carl Raymond S

      For 60 days, GM’s Bolt has the spotlight.

      • Steve Grinwis

        GM’s Bolt will also have the spotlight when it starts shipping en masse 6 months before we’re likely to see a Model 3

        • Red Sage

          I am already surprised, though happily so, that the Chevrolet BOLT is slated to have a 60 kWh battery pack. That is a good thing. I have never seen General Motors take a vehicle from Concept to Production in less than two years. Even the Cadillac Converj Concept took five years to become the Cadillac ELR — and it was based upon the VOLT. So kudos to GM if they really did manage to go from zero to 100% to provide a fully electric car of a completely new design to be available for nationwide sales by December 2016, after being shown in January 2015. That is quite an accomplishment.

          But the comment by Carl above is relative to the fact Tesla Model ≡ is due to be shown in March 2016. Hence, 60 days in the spotlight for the BOLT. But as you say, GM will indeed get a boost in PR for bringing out the Bolt in Q4 2016, well ahead of the Model ≡ in Q4 2017.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I’m convinced the Bolt has been in planning for approximately 4 years at this point…. GM has been biding their time.

          • Gabriel Vargas

            but GM will produce only 30,000 for 2017, Tesla have planed 2018 120,000. but now will be 250,000 for 2018

        • It definitely will. And probably no more so than here on CT. How long it will be king is the question…

        • ddmmrr

          More like a 12-18 month lead time if things go right. We’re trying to compare a production prototype of the Bolt with an initial concept of the 3 that is still 2 months away.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Well, I’m assuming that the Model 3 starts selling when Musk says it will,

          • patb2009

            You want to make a baby, you don’t tell a girl to give birth.

    • Steve Grinwis

      I’m actually really excited for this. Despite trying to be the voice of reason, I would genuinely like Musk and the Model 3 to succeed.

  • Zooba

    There’s a funny mistake in the first table, looks like you simply added up the column to get the % total change.

    Also, later on, “Of course, Tesla doesn’t have the extensive dealer network Tesla, BMW, and Audi have.”

    • Haha, thanks a lot. Fixing now.

    • Senlac

      Curious, but didn’t Tesla sell just over 50k, or is that production not sales?

      • Tesla sold 50,580 worldwide. This is just for the US.

        • Senlac

          Ah, let me finish my coffee, thanks.

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