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Published on January 20th, 2019 | by Zachary Shahan


“Tesla Killers” Lookin’ … Totally Tame — CleanTechnica Sales Charts

January 20th, 2019 by  

For years, we heard and read so much hype about “Tesla killers.” It was like fingernails on a chalkboard from the beginning, because it just didn’t make sense, but it started getting really absurd as you saw the titles pop up frequently for all manner of EVs and concept cars.

A handful of models had the label pinned on them consistently for a decent period of time. And just to be clear, it was largely media outlets that did the pinning (non-cleantech media outlets). I don’t recall seeing many auto execs talk of crushing Tesla, even if that was their hope or their insinuation from time to time.

On the backs of Tesla’s latest production and sales numbers, and leading into my newest edition of “Nasty Tesla Charts,” I thought about comparing some Tesla vehicle sales to “Tesla killer” sales. Let’s go for a stroll through these.

Chevy Bolt

The Chevy Bolt was perhaps the most hyped Tesla killer. GM was getting its long-range, fully electric, fairly affordable car out to the public sooner than Tesla. The vehicle won prestigious awards and much praise from reviewers and early owners. Alas, it’s no Tesla, and certainly no Tesla killer, as the sales have shown.

Jaguar I-PACE

Jaguar I-Pace

The Jaguar I-PACE is another top contender for most hyped Tesla killer. The car again has received great reviews and seems to be a wonder, fun contributor to the EV market, but its sales volume is not comparable to the sales volume of Tesla’s Model 3.

We don’t have a precise number for the I-PACE globally, which would be the most sensible scale on which to compare Tesla vehicles with the Jaguar I-PACE for the final months of 2018. Without those, I’ll give Jaguar a bump and count all of its sales against all of Tesla’s sales.

Porsche Mission E (now Taycan)

Porsche electric Taycan

No sales yet.

BMW i4, i5, or iNext

No sales yet.

Lucid Air

No sales yet.

Faraday Future FF91

No sales yet.

Mercedes-Benz EQC

No sales yet.

Audi e-tron

Approximately 1,000 sales in December, its intro month, according to EV Volumes.

Volvo Polestar

No sales yet.

Clearly, we’re having some problems finding a Tesla killer that’s in production. So perhaps we should dig back further in time.

BMW i3 & i8

The BMW i3 and i8 were actually considered potential Tesla killers once upon a time. In fact, they may have been the first to be designated that title.

Official i8 sales have not been published globally, but it’s really a niche vehicle, so we can just leave it alone for now. The i3 is priced in the vicinity of a Model 3, but it was originally presented as a threat to Tesla when the Model 3 was the “Model E” and little more than a dream. So, let’s go ahead and throw its global sales up against both the Model S and the Model 3.

Want to give BMW an extra shot at this? How about comparing all of the German automaker’s plug-in vehicles to Tesla’s trio? They’ve probably all been called Tesla killers at one time or another. Again, we’re going global.

Well, not only are BMW plug-in vehicles not yet acting as Tesla killers, but Tesla handily outsells all of them combined.

The truth is, even the most popular Tesla killers are not a threat to Tesla. They are a threat to the gasoline and diesel arms of traditional automakers. All of them are working together to raise plug-in sales around the world. But even in the midst of that team effort, Tesla is the clear leader, so perhaps it’s best to retire the stale “Tesla killer” term. With approximately 2% global market share for all plug-in vehicles, there’s a ton of room for Tesla to grow as sales of other automakers’ electric cars grow.

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About the Author

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] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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