Tesla Model S Outsells Mercedes, BMW, Audi, And Porsche In US


The Tesla Model S is only three years old, but already is is forging a reputation for quality among luxury car buyers. Overall, US sales of premium sedans like the Mercedes S Class, Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Porsche Panamera were down slightly in 2015, while Model S sales were up 51% over 2014.

Tesla sold 24,202 Model S sedans in the US during 2015. Mercedes sold 21,934 of its luxury S Class sedans. Tesla soundly trounced premium models from Jaguar and Lexus as well. That Tesla has been able to build a brand that appeals to luxury car shoppers in so little time is truly remarkable. Executives at those other companies have taken notice and are scrambling to add premium electric cars of their own.

Porsche, in particular, has committed $1.5 billion to build the Mission-E, an all electric 4 door sports car of its own. While the Porsche will be stunning, no doubt, it is not expected before 2020, which means Porsche has spotted the California upstart an 8 year head start in the marketplace.

Tesla Model S salesOne of Tesla’s most important accomplishments is eliminating range anxiety fears among its customers. While others stand around with their hands in their pockets waiting for governments or private interests to build the electric car recharging network that will make electric cars appeal to mainstream shoppers, Tesla has forged ahead with the construction of its own dedicated SuperCharger network.

Tesla plans to add 300 more charging locations in the US in 2016, bring the total to almost 900, according to Fortune. It also is promoting the installation of so-called destination chargers at upscale hotels, B&Bs, and shopping destinations. There will be nearly 2000 of those by the end of this year.

By comparison, Porsche is suggesting its new Mission-E may feature high power charging at up to 800 kW, but has no plans to build a network of those chargers for its customer. The SuperCharger network is an enormous marketing advantage for Tesla.

The company is also leading the way in autonomous driving systems, outpacing all competitors including tech giants Apple and Google. Elon Musk told shareholders at the Q4 press conference last week that total sales for 2016 are projected to be up more than 50% at 80,000 to 90,000, including both Model S and Model X cars. Those other guys will have to strain not to fall even further behind.

Image by Tesla Motors

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • John

    Not really apples to apples. The S Class, 7 series, and A8 are all more expensive vehicles than the Model S. Case in point is that the S class starts at 95K and a base lease is $1250.00 per month compared to the base Tesla which is $700.00 per month or $70,000.00. By the way, Mercedes makes money on their sales. So, if you want to sell at car at below cost (Significantly less) than I would hope you sell more. The Model S is more like a BMW 5 series or an E class Mercedes in terms of price. When you compare those cars against the Model S, BMW and Mercedes Crush Tesla.

    • Stephen Hodson

      Old school vs. New school. Some dig the past. Others dig the future.

      “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

    • Andrew

      You really need to compare “average sales price” if you want to try to make this about Tesla selling more (way more) only because it is cheaper.

    • AaronD12

      How much is a loaded Mercedes S-Class versus a loaded Tesla Model S? Both sets of buyers are well off, so they’re not going to get the “base” models of these vehicles.

      Comparing a V8 S-Class with similar options to a loaded Tesla Model S makes for a good comparison: $109K for the S-Class vs. $136K for the Model S. Of course the V12 S-Class is more (add $70K?!? holy fuck!) and I’m not even going to touch the AMG models.

      • Bill Denton

        The prices of the Model S vs Mercedes S Class not withstanding, let’s look at other comparisons. Such as the MS comfortably seating 5 like the S class but certainly not like the E class. The speed and performance of either Mercedes class can’t touch the P85 or P90 Model S. And back to price – you are much closer to $100,000 or more when you’ve finished pricing out the Model S then you are to $70,000 after options are added, and that is just for the Model S 85D. I speak from experience here as that is the model I purchased. So the Model S compares in price, physical size, interior space and somewhat on performance much more so to the Mercedes S class then the E class. Oh except in one of the most important factors – “A Safety Comparison”.

      • Ken

        Your numbers are off. A loaded Model S is actually about $140,000.

        • AaronD12

          I was comparing similar options. I didn’t include things like the rear-facing seats, special paint, etc.

          • Ken

            So was I. The cars are priced almost the same and sell for almost exactly the same average price.

            Losing rear facing seats and special paint brings the loaded Model S down to almost exactly $136K.

            They directly compete.

    • Ken

      Wrong. The Tesla sells for the same average price as the S Class and others. The average price of a Tesla is over $100,000.

      You are also completely wrong about Tesla selling their cars ‘below cost’. Tesla also makes one of the best profits in the business on every car they make. Their gross margin is at about 24% and is on track to rise to 30% this year.

      It is also completely wrong to compare the 5 Series against the Tesla. A $50,000 car does not compete against a $100,000 car. That is the most basic economics.

      The Tesla is the #1 selling car in its class in the US, easily beating the sales of Mercedes, BMW and Audi as many professional publications have stated.

    • Miles Harding

      wrong spot

  • Amao Agou

    You can ask Obama to give each Mercedes S sales a 6K rebate first, then come back to discuss this comparison later.

    • SkyHunter

      People spending $100,000 on an automobile, are not incentivised by q $7500 rebate.

      • albertG

        That’s the problem: Why are millionaires getting tax breaks on luxury cars? They’ve got the money – have them pay a luxury tax on the cars… (kidding about the tax… not about the tax break).

        • SkyHunter

          Because Tesla’s strategy was to start will high end luxury cars with great margins, in order to fund the mass market model’s technology and manufacturing infrastructure.

        • James Rowland

          I agree that’s a problem. It’s not a problem with Tesla though; they didn’t design the incentives.

          It just so happened that legislators were too thick to realise the EV transition could be a top-down disruption, though to be fair that’s partly because they were advised by incumbent car manufacturers who just wanted some costs shaved off compliance targets.

    • Ken

      Wrong. A $7500 rebate has no significant effect on the sales numbers of a $100,000+ car. $7500 is just the cost of a few options on either the Tesla or the Mercedes.

    • super390

      The US Energy Policy Act of 2005 created a $3400 rebate for some hybrid cars. Note the year. This didn’t start with Obama, but with Bush, which was only fair when he wasted a TRILLION dollars on Middle East wars in fulfillment of Cheney’s Project for a New American Century demand to install puppet regimes in Iraq and Iran. The fact that you name-check Obama says that you’re slinging “EVs = Moslem Commie Kenyan President” crap.

  • SkyHunter

    Sales of almost every luxury model was down last year, except Tesla. Tesla Y/Y sales increased by 50%.
    What more needs to be said?

  • MewCat100 .

    This is an odd article with odd numbers and odd comparisons. First, MB had its best year ever in the U.S. in 2015 with 380,461 total vehicles sold. That puts it up 3.8% for the year compared to 2014. Of the cars MB sold, 21,934 were S-Class sedans that sold for an average of $106,870. The Model S, on the other hand, has an average sale price of $79,570. The E class sells for an average of $64,318, putting it much closer to the MS than the S-Class. MB sold 49,736 E-Class cars in 2015, well above the Tesla figure of 25,202.

    • John

      Since Tesla sells cars worldwide, and so does Mercedes, the S class sold 100,000 units last year. The Model sold 50,000 cars. Plus, look up how many low mileage Teslas Model S Sedans are for sale at HUGE discounts, with very low mileage. Something is Very Wrong here:


      If you do a google search on this VIn, you’ll see a 2015 P85D with insane Mode, Sunroof, and all the goodies (Was at $141,000) for 114K. The car has 22 miles on it. Why is it being sold at a Nissan dealership? I believe there should be a SEC investigation regarding Tesla sales figures. It’s been for sale for 213 days. Not really constrained if you ask me.

      • Ken

        Wrong. You can’t compare worldwide sales since there are many countries where Tesla do not yet even sell cars, while Mercedes does. That proves any comparison completely meaningless.

        Tesla’s resale value has been proven to be one of the best in the entire industry and much higher than Mercedes.

        You can see how fast used Teslas are by Tesla’s extremely successful CPO program.

        Tesla sales grew by over 50% last year and are on track to grow by over 50% next year. There is still a waiting list for the Model S even after a major increase of production and almost 4 years of sales.

        The Model S has the highest Customer Satisfaction of any car in the history of Consumer Reports for multiple years in a row. It also easily out-rates and out-performs all the gasoline cars in its class. So it is no surprise that it would effortlessly outsell all of its competition.

        There is no credible entity questioning Tesla sales numbers.

    • Ken

      Wrong. The average price of a Model S is well above $100,000 and within a couple thousand of the Mercedes S Class, so they directly compete exactly as this and many other publications, including Forbes, have pointed out for years.

      Overall Mercedes sales are a meaningless comparison since they do not compete with the Tesla. It is the S Class that competes and Mercedes S Class sales were way down by double digits while Tesla sales were up by over 50%.

      You are also completely wrong comparing the E class. A $60,000 does not compete against a $100,000+ car. That is the most basic economics.

      Forbes and Gas2 are not wrong about which car competes with the Tesla – you are.

      • AaronD12

        Sorry… but a side note: You’re like the robot on Wall-E. “Wrong!”, when he sees painted lines on the floor that aren’t in the right place.

        My daughter loves that movie, so it just kinda popped in my head.

        • Ken

          You caught me! I am a robot. Must post accurate Tesla information.

    • lame

      U do realize the Tesla 3 series just sold more cars in 48 hours than Mercedes has sold for ALL models the ENTIRE 2015. That makes a pretty bold statement. Not to mention the Tesla cars are simply engineered better in almost every single way. German auto companies better get their lazy comfy ass off the couch and do something before they are a memory ten years from now.

  • Brettdrum

    Tesla are the company people love to hate because they are uncomfortable with change. Tesla are going to grow by 50% per year for 10 years …. can BMW or Mercedes do that ? They are already the only truly modern car and the Supercharger network , like googles server farms in the early days, makes them very hard to catch up with . Model X is the worlds most advanced car and will be sold like crazy when production gets up to speed . Gigafactory , via powerwall and other batteries are going to be in your home one way or other … Tesla are going to lead us all into the future of energy where we take it from all around us and release it back harmlessly. We are lucky Elon Musk is at the helm because his goals, like Steve Jobs are not just bottom line and stock price so he really will do something BIG .

    • super390

      Due to Lincoln’s latest failure to recapture its status, the aging Chrysler 300, and Cadillac’s underwhelming big front-drive sedan, the Model S has become by default the classic Big American Luxobarge for a brief while. At least to the extent that the Luxobarge as a category hasn’t been replaced by monster SUVs. Cadillac is rushing a rear-drive full-sizer into production (base price $55,000), but it might find reduced sales thanks to Tesla.

      Tesla is not going to maintain that growth rate for 10 years but it doesn’t have to. Each generation of affluent people has its own idea of what an upscale car brand should be. Part of Cadillac and Lincoln’s problem is their inability to sever their ties to the past and jump the gap to people born after 1964, who grew up with German status cars. It’s better to start from scratch like Lexus and Acura did, undercutting the Germans while matching them in certain areas that Americans like. Tesla is probably America’s Lexus and Acura, but angled more towards performance while those brands chose comfort.

  • Paul

    I think people shopping in this price bracket are able to move to a new vehicle much sooner than average consumers. Tesla is like the new restaurant in the neighborhood. Something to try. Will people still like it in a decade? Who knows. By hook or by crook, we’re all moving towards more efficient vehicles. That’s good. When you look at the history of every major automaker, not one of them doesn’t have a little blood on their hands. Tesla isn’t exempt. So while he’s responsible for some great cars, I’m not about to attend the church of Elon.

    • AaronD12

      Using the restaurant simile, we should all love McDonald’s because it’s been around for a long time!

    • super390

      Well, except that many of the other manufacturers have ACTUAL blood on their hands, like all the German ones. GM and Ford also were happy to do business with Hitler until he required the US board members of Opel and German Ford to be replaced with front men that Detroit was okay with. Only two of the Japanese brands are old enough to be tainted by fascism. Then there’s the matter of everybody’s apartheid-era South African operations, which ironically South African Musk was too young to be involved in. Musk hasn’t built any death camps yet.

  • super390

    I love all these people who assume that the E-Class is comparable to a Model S based on the price and no physical features. Remember Detroit’s first response to Mercedes’ success in 1975? The Ford Granada that Ford sold as “comparable” to a Mercedes at a third the cost since, hey, it has a V-8! And the Cadillac Seville, which took the opposite tack of costing more than an Eldorado on the grounds that a Nova with a $13,000 price tag must be as good as a $13,000 Mercedes.

    So is the value of a car in its hood ornament, its list of accessories, its 0-60 time, its highway range, its fit and finish, or what it says about the buyer? Maybe the E-Class is horribly overpriced because it’s a German car. Maybe we go back to the days when everything was determined by the size of the car, by which standard the Tesla crushes the E and 5-Series. Maybe all this is irrelevant because SUVs the size of nuclear aircraft carriers are now the carriage of choice for the American upper class, the restoration of the 8-seat town cars once built by Pierce-Arrow.

  • If it makes you feel better, we’re paying a lot more in subsidies to keep gas and diesel cheap enough to keep “the inbreeding belt” knee-deep in pickups and SUVs.