Tesla Model S Leads In US Luxury Car Sales


Large luxury cars don’t sell in huge numbers. BMW sells far more 3 Series cars than it does 7 Series sedans. Audi sells far more A3’s than it does A8’s. Mercedes sells far more E Class vehicles than it does its big S Class panzers. But when it comes to who sells the most large luxury cars in America, the answer is Tesla. In the third quarter, the sassy Silicon Valley start-up sold nearly twice as many of its largest luxury model, the Model S sedan, as Mercedes sold S Class cars — 9,156 to 4,921. Tesla third quarter Model S sales in the US are up 59% from the same quarter last year.

Model S tops US luxury car sales

How do we know all this? For the first time, Tesla has released quarterly US sales figures. Ordinarily it declines to break down sales data by country but changed its mind for the quarter that just ended. Whether that represents a one time thing or a new policy for the company is unknown. Tesla compiled the chart above. Among other things, it shows that the newly refreshed BMW 7 Series is seeing a boom in sales. The biggest Beemer sold more than twice as many copies as it did last year during the same period.

Also interesting to note is that sales of the Jaguar’s prestigious XJ luxury sedan are only a tenth those of the Model S. How embarrassing for Jaguar! All in all, sales of the Model S represented roughly one third of the total US market for large luxury cars in the third quarter. The fact that the Model S is an electric car is incidental. The S is simply the car of choice for many US buyers looking to purchase a large luxury car.

The upcoming Model 3, due out in 2018, will start at $35,000. Most analysts expect fully optioned versions to reach as high as $60,000 or more, which is far above the typical Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. When the Model 3 arrives, it will help make Tesla the brand of choice for all price points in the luxury car segment.

Tesla also delivered 5,428 of its luxurious Model X SUVs in the third quarter — 6% of the total luxury SUV market in the US for that time period. SUVs are far more popular than sedans, which may be why Elon Musk decided to deviate from his self-proclaimed Master Plan to build an SUV before making the Model 3 medium price car. Musk has said he expects Model X and Model S sales will be roughly equal going forward, now that the production issues that beset the X early on have been resolved.

Luxury car buyers aren’t quibbling about range anxiety or the inconvenience of having to plug their cars in. They simply want the best car money can buy and for many, a Tesla fills the bill perfectly.

Source: Bloomberg | Chart by CleanTechnica | Table 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.
  • tina

    WOW! An American car company on top of the list of all those foreign luxury car sales! It makes me feel all positive about US industry for a minute!

    • Steve Hanley

      Yeah, it’s been a while since Cadillac was “The Standard Of The World.” About 50 years, by my calculation.

  • Jim Smith

    Tesla is kicking rear ends everywhere and taking names. They need to keep the quality going up and crank up the Model 3 on time. What an amazing success story!

  • teralgoe

    Mmm… Steve, why the chart suspiciously left out the BMW 5 series, Audi A6, and Mercedes Bens E class?

    Because size?

    Are you aware of this?

    Tesla model S – L 4978 W 2960

    Jaguar XJ – L 5122 W 3032
    Audi A8 – L 5137 W 2992
    Mercedes Benz S class – L 5116 W 3035
    BMW 7 series – L 5098 W 3070

    These cars are larger than model S.
    On the other hand

    Mercedes Benz E class – L 4923 W 2939
    Audi A6 – L 4912 W 2912
    BMW 5 series (F10) – L 4899 W 2968

    As you can see these cars are more closely in size to the model S but where left out of the chart on purpose, why? Because the series 5 have sell about 28k units to date, and E class about 35k units to date outselling Tesla.

    You can argue that the Large car EPA size classification makes the model S contenders of the S class, 7 series, A8. But the classification is due to the passenger and storage space of the car, and the passenger space of the model S is the same or less than the series 5. Also the EPA classification criteria is flawed, they classified the 5240mm long 1998 Bentley continental T as compact.

    • eveplayer77

      Its the price see

    • Steve Hanley

      The Chart was prepared by Tesla. I suspect their intent was to shine a spotlight on how the Model S is outselling the luxo-barges the competition considers their “top of the line” models. I know that Mercedes is pretty darn chagrined that the Model S outsells the S Class in Germany!

      Thanks for your input.

      • teralgoe

        And how about Toyota Avalon selling 11,700 units last quarter, after all they consider their “top of the line”

        But would be great if you can update the chart with the models left out.

        5 series, 7,430 units las quarter.
        A6, 5,381 units last quarter.
        E class 13,758 units last quarter.

  • mb

    Way to go Tesla! Currently it seems Tesla can sell as much as they can produce. So these folks choosing Model S over Audi (diesels?) and Lexus are clearly showing the market’s appetite for luxury electric vehicles. I just read on Greencarreports the DoE energy-loan program is now turning a profit. Get those (US) kids a college degree so they can get a decent job in electric transportation and renewable energy. The best way to get/keep ahead while reducing our impact on the environment.

  • t_

    It is for a reason people buy the Tesla. There are enough luxury cars on the market, but none of them is electric.