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Published on February 10th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


#1 Tesla Dominates Large Luxury Car Market In US (Updated Figures)

February 10th, 2016 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

This is a point that I already highlighted in an article approximately a month ago, “#1 Large Luxury Car In US = Tesla Model S (2015 Sales Comparison).” Now, however, Tesla* has provided us with its official numbers! Our estimates for US Tesla Model S sales were a tad high for both 2014 and 2015, and the result is that Tesla’s year-over-year growth was even higher than projected. Either way, though, the story is the same: Tesla crushed the competition in the large luxury car market in 2015. Here’s Tesla’s table and own words on the triumph:

Tesla Sales Large Luxury SedansIn Q4, we increased global deliveries over 76% year on year as Model S market share gains continued in every geographic region. In the U.S., just over three years after entering the market, Model S took share from all incumbent manufacturers to become the number one selling comparably priced four-door sedan. In fact, Model S was the only vehicle in its class with growing sales last year. Even on our competitors’ home turf and in countries without government incentives to purchase electric vehicles, Model S is winning. For example, in Switzerland, Model S outsold the Mercedes Benz S-Class, the BMW 7- Series, the Porsche Panamera and the Audi A-8 combined for the full year, and also outsold the Mercedes Benz E-Class. In Germany in Q4, Model S outsold the Porsche Panamera. Finally, across all of Europe last year Model S outsold the Audi A8 and A7 combined and the BMW 7-Series and 6-Series combined.

Here’s the 2015 data put into chart format (since I love charts so much, and know others do too):

Tesla Tops US Large Luxury Car Sales

Image by Zachary Shahan | EV Obsession | CleanTechnica (available for republishing with the same credit)


Since I’ve already covered this general story, I’ll just repost what I wrote last month (for anyone who missed it or wants a refresher). And, by the way, Elon made the same point regarding the Model 3 vs similarly priced competition in the gasmobile segment on the quarterly conference call that just concluded. Anyhow, here are my brief words from last month aiming to add more context:

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.

And since I didn’t mention it last month, I fully expect the Model X to take over the luxury SUV market at least as much as the Model S has taken over the large luxury car market. As Elon noted today on the conference call, he thinks the Model X is the best car in the world. I agree. Tesla execs may have ordered many headaches and sleepless nights for themselves due to the complexity of the X, but they also put together the most amazing car on the planet, imho.

Tesla has been purposefully suppressing demand for the X since it is so production constrained right now, but once word starts to get out there, reviews start to get published in the mass media, and more and more people see and experience the vehicle, X demand will increase in tremendous fashion.

Stay tuned for an update in a year or so. 😀

And if you need an intro or refresher on why the Tesla Model S & Model X kick the competition in the rear end so hard, check out:

Tesla Model S P85D Review

Tesla Model S 70D Review

i8 vs Model S vs ELR vs Panamera S E-Hybrid vs i3 (Exclusive)

8 Reasons Electric Cars Kick Your Car’s Boot

The #1 Reason Why Electric Cars Will Dominate The Car Market

The Other #1 Reason Why Electric Cars Will Dominate The Car Market

Tesla’s Competitive Advantages — 5 Big Ones

5 Ways Teslas Trump All Other Electric Cars

*Full Disclosure: I’m an investor in Tesla (TSLA). That is, I own stock in the company and don’t intend to sell it for at least 10 years. As such, I may be biased, but I have enthusiastically covered Tesla for much longer than I’ve been a shareholder and I don’t aim to move the stock price with my words. Frankly, I just write about what I find interesting and important. I think Tesla will be a long-term success for a handful of obvious reasons. I also fully support its mission. These are the reasons I’m long TSLA.

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Freeway

    People simply don’t buy the Audi A8 even though it is critically praised and regarded as one of the best in class. The American public is clearly not willing to pay over $70k for an Audi. That is concerning for Audi’s image.

  • PaddyB

    Essentially the company is doing something very difficult. The outlay to develop the Model S and Model X were huge, and the investments in production line machinery have been immense too (notwithstanding the ‘bargains’ they got with the NUMMI factory). In 2016 Q1-Q3 the cash burn was extremely high gearing up for Model X production + Gigafactory + energy production line. In Q4 not so much cash was spent in tooling, but the depreciation of the Model X production machinery had to begin which, matched with very low output, meant a large reported loss. But all this is just the logical consequence of ramping up production of any new vehicle. It is pronounced with Tesla, because they are moving from one to two vehicle production. In carmakers with a full line, everything is smoothed out. What matters is that Model X will be extremely profitable in margin terms, and investors will see that coming through in future quarters. It’s reassuring to know the Model 3 will be a much simpler car to produce, even if much higher volumes will present a whole new set of challenges!

    • Nice summary. Thanks.

    • Frank

      Nice summary, but I think you meant to say 2015, not 2016.

  • vensonata

    Hmmm, well I know nothing about luxury car sales but it appears that basically the entire U.S. market amounts to about 115,000 large luxury sedans per year. Tesla sold 25,000 of those. Now it takes a year for the word to spread and of course some of those luxury gas car buyers update after a couple of years. So within about 2 years Tesla could easily hit 50% of the entire U.S. luxury market with the S and X. By 2018, who knows, Tesla could be outselling the entire combined competing luxury car makers. Then you know what must happen? Yes… all those competing brands must convert to electric or disappear. And good luck matching the technical expertise of Tesla by that time!

    • Ross

      Extrapolating this to the Model 3 my biggest concern is Tesla won’t be able to make large numbers of them fast enough to dominate the segment in the way they are at the higher end.

      • EyingTheLies

        Why do you think they are building a battery Gigafactory?

      • Frank

        Sounds like they don’t have any big roadblocks up to half a million cars. Yes they have to finish their third and simplest design, and go through the tooling and the ramp a third time, but they have successfully done all these things before. Yes the numbers will be much bigger, but their production is going up in leaps and bounds.

    • Sreehari Variar

      Yeah, if only as many folks who have heard of Mercedes or BMW have heard of Tesla. You can only imagine!

    • onesecond

      Well, (irrational) brand loyalty may buy them some time, but I like your take on things. I think German automakers have noticed since they start pouring a lot of money into EVs and have anounced a bunch of cool electric cars that unfortunately will stay vaporware for a couple of years. They are truly five years late and they may regret it dearly.

    • harisA

      Similar thing happened when Toyota, Honda and Nissan introduced their luxury brands in late eighties. Lexus started outselling Mercedes in few years after its introduction and a lot of people thought that German luxury days were numbered.

      Germans (and Japanese) will come around this time too. Some of their best engineers go into automotive fields.

      • nakedChimp

        How much consolidation happened after the fact?
        How many luxury car makers joined or just simply went bankrupt around that time?
        No one is saying that BMW, VW or Mercedes or Toyota won’t be around in 10 years time.. but their piece of the cake will have shrunk, maybe considerably.

        • harisA

          All the German majors are still around and the bar chart shows that they are way ahead of Lexus, Acura and Infinity in terms of sales.

        • Jenny Sommer

          There is enough cake for everyone and the cake is growinh. Some suggest we have hit peak car already…I don’t think so.
          While the piece might get smaller in % of the market it will also get bigger in total numbers.
          0.7% is the market share of EVs in the US. It’s small in their most important market, China, too.
          They will built more Hybrids which are even more popular than pure EVs at the moment (BYD Tang, Outlander,…)
          The Q6 E-Tron is slated to start manufacturing in 2018, more VW models will use the MEB platform soon, Mercedes is developing an adaptive platform and will have 300miles EVs at some point.
          The i5 might be BMWs first BEV SUV.

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