How does one mark success in the auto industry? While praise and awards are important, the difference between a good car and a successful car are sales. And while the Tesla Model S has plenty of awards, it also has the sales to back it up as well. In fact, the Tesla Model S is outselling more-established luxury vehicles from brands like Mercedes and BMW.
In the first quarter of 2013, 4,750 Tesla Model S sedans were registered in the U.S. The next-closest competitor in that price range ($70,000-ish) was the Mercedes S-Class, which starts at $72,000. There were 3,077 new Mercedes S-Class registrations in the U.S. in the first quarter, giving the Tesla a sizable advantage.
Then there is the BMW 7-series, which the Tesla outsold by an almost 2-to-1 margin, with just 2,338 new 7-series registrations. The Audi A8 sold just 1,462 units in the same time frame.
What does it all mean? Well in fairness to the Europeans, there is a pent-up demand for the Tesla Model S, with over 20,000 backorders at the beginning of 2013. The Tesla also has a $7,500 tax credit advantage over the traditional competitors as well.
Then again, there are far more Mercedes, BMW, and Audi dealerships than there are Tesla stores. The key here though is if Tesla can keep that momentum going. If this story stays the same by this time next year, then the luxury automakers may want to step back and figure out how they can compete on the same level.