Tesla Model 3 vs Small & Midsize Premium Car Competition (New Sales Figures & Charts)

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In the middle of last month, I published an article about expected Tesla Model 3 sales versus gas car sales in its class. To be clear, the estimates were for all models (not just the Tesla Model 3), with gas car estimates based on April 2017 sales and recent trends.

It turned out that estimates for a few of the models were quite off — sometimes high, sometimes low. The good news: that makes this update all the more interesting. Also, diving into vehicles lineups and pricing, I’ve slightly modified the list compared to what I used in April.

Tesla actually highlighted the Model 3’s standing in the Midsize Premium Sedan category in its quarterly letter to investors this past week, showing that the Model 3 slipped in barely below the #1 Mercedes C-Class in April.

However, I do think the model selection used for that graph was too narrow. If you want a Tesla in this general price range and size, you have one choice — the Model 3. If you want a BMW or Mercedes in this general price range and size, you have the BMW 2 Series, BMW 3 Series, BMW 4 Series, Mercedes C-Class, or Mercedes CLA-Class. So, I think it makes more sense to combine the relatively similar models from these competing brands (and also from Audi, Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti).

When you do that, you get the Model 3 in the #5 position with approximately 13–14% market share. (If you include only the models Tesla included in its quarterly report graph, the Model 3 seems to get 26% market share.)

Small & Midsize Luxury Car Sales (USA)

Model(s) April Segment Share
Mercedes C/CLA-Class 7,058 20%
BMW 2+3+4 Series 6,902 19%
Audi A3 + A4 + A5 6,357 18%
Lexus ES + IS 5,034 14%
Tesla Model 3 4,777 13%
Acura TLX 2,914 8%
Infiniti Q50 + Q60 2,530 7%
Jaguar XE 299 1%

To emphasize, yes, you can limit the Model 3’s competition to just a few models with very similar specs (as Tesla did in its quarterly letter), but I’ve been convinced that’s a little misleading since there is so little choice on Tesla’s side and so much more choice on the gas car side. Furthermore, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and CFO Deepak Ahuja noted on the conference call this past week, Model 3 buyers are coming from a broad range of models — which makes total sense and is similar to the case with the Model S.

Now, if you want to look to the future instead of the past, the Model 3 rises quickly, since production is ramping up and demand is more than healthy. Assuming that gas car sales hold steady from month to month but Model 3 production rises to a consistent 2,000 or so cars per week in May, Model 3 deliveries in the month of May take the #1 position (with 8,000 US deliveries). That would also give the Model 3 a sizable 20% of the market. Of course, if you compare just the 5 models Tesla compared, the Model 3 looks even better, grabbing 37% market share.

Small & Midsize Luxury Car Sales Estimates (USA)

Model(s) May? Segment Share
Tesla Model 3 8,000 20%
Mercedes C/CLA-Class 7,058 18%
BMW 2+3+4 Series 6,902 18%
Audi A3 + A4 + A5 6,357 16%
Lexus ES + IS 5,034 13%
Acura TLX 2,914 7%
Infiniti Q50 + Q60 2,530 6%
Jaguar XE 299 1%

A key note here is that Model 3 production isn’t close to full flow yet.

Also worth noting is that you could get more competitive than the selection I settled on above and could say that the Model 3 should also go up against cars like the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, and Dodge Charger. I actually agree — the Tesla Model 3 should be pulling buyers away from those cars as well thanks to its superior performance, US roots, and overall cool factor. However, I’d say that we should go even a step beyond that and pit the Model 3 against every passenger car on the market (again, just cars, not SUVs & pickup trucks). That’s the subject of the next story being published today. Check in again soon.

For now, though, if you want to compare the base prices and sales of the cars in the “Midsize Premium Car” category, here’s a list of those models and their lowest MSRP options (lowest MSRP for base trim and lowest MSRP for highest trim, before options):

US Small & Midsize Premium Cars

Model Base MSRP
Mercedes C-Class $40,250 — $47,900
Mercedes CLA-Class $32,700 — $50,400
BMW 2 Series $34,950 — $40,750
BMW 3 Series $34,900 — $45,050
BMW 4 Series $44,800 — $52,950
Audi A3 (inc. R3 & S3) $31,950 — $54,900
Audi A4 (inc. S4) $36,000 — $55,800
Audi A5 (inc. S5) $42,600 — $58,800
Tesla Model 3 $49,000 (for now)
Acura TLX $33,000 — $43,950
Infiniti Q50 $35,200 — $37,200
Infiniti Q60 $39,950 — $41,950
Lexus IS $38,210 — $43,455
Lexus ES $38,950 — $41,820
Jaguar XE $35,725 — $52,275

→ Related: Tesla Model 3 = #21 Best Selling Car In USA. #15 In May? #6 In June Or July?

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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