The Car List, Part 2: Why is Tesla Ranked So Low?


I knew, long before I clicked the “Publish” button on August 25th, that The Car List was going to take heat for two things. The first being Honda at number 1 spot (more on that, later), and the second being Tesla at number 16. Sure enough, the first feedback I got was precisely that question: Why is Tesla ranked so low?

That’s a tough question for me to answer. I say that because, after staring at this list and “trying it out” dozens of time, I don’t think Tesla is ranked poorly, at all.


Tesla is the Highest Ranked Electric Carmaker

Let’s look at The Car List again, remembering that its purpose isn’t to tell someone what car they should want. Rather, its purpose is to help someone who doesn’t know about cars, or who is indecisive about what they want, make a good decision. So, instead of asking, “Why is Tesla ranked so low?”, try framing the question like this: I want a fast, powerful luxury sedan that makes a statement, and I’m fascinated by electric cars and new technology. What car should I buy?

Start at number 1 on the list, at Honda and Acura, and you’ll see that neither brand offers an electric vehicle that matches the needs of our pretend car shopper. So, we move on to number 2, Volvo. As of this writing, Volvo still doesn’t have a pure electric sedan on the market, so we keep going, all the way down the line- past Lexus, past Mazda, past Toyota, Lotus, Nissan, Infiniti, and more, until we get to number 16.

Once we get to Tesla, the story suddenly changes. You want fast? Here are 10 exotic sports cars the Model S will eat for breakfast. You want luxury? With outfitters like Unplugged Performance, the Model S can match any other car out there for luxury. You want to make a statement? Few cars on the road announce your presence like a Model S.

If you want a fast, powerful luxury sedan and are fascinated by electric cars and high technology, The Car List says you should buy a Tesla Model S.


But Tesla is Still Pretty Low on The Car List

Yes, it is. In fact, you’ll find that it’s ranked below most of the mainstream automakers. I did that because, as a tiny company without an established service network, Tesla can’t really compete with companies like Nissan when the comparison is apples-to-apples.

To its credit, however, Tesla has big dreams. They have also carefully avoided apples-to-apples comparisons by continuously offering products that are just a bit different. Take the Model X, for example. Is it a minivan? Is it an SUV? You think those unique, Falcon wing doors are a marketing gimmick, but let me tell you that they serve a real purpose: you can’t compare the quality of the door slam between a Model X and a Mercedes GLS.

Ol’ Musky is a smart dude. Really smart. He understands that Tesla might not always win a heads-up battle with the likes of a Mercedes-Benz Maybach, so he dips and dodges. The Model 3 has a starting price that’s a full $5000 higher than a Nissan Leaf, and the pricing chasm between the two cars only gets bigger from there.


If You Want a Tesla, You Should Get a Tesla

I know we covered this already a few paragraphs ago, but it’s worth repeating. If you already know you want a particular car, you should absolutely buy that particular car. In the first installment The Car List, I used a Mini as an example, but the same is true for the Tesla. If you want a Tesla, you should buy a Tesla.

You (probably) won’t regret it.


Original content from Gas 2.

About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.
  • Jonny_K

    Everything about this list is BS, not the ranking of Tesla. First, it’s not a list of cars, it’s a list of brands. There is great variation withing brands. Second, it is utterly opaque about the criteria. Third there is no evidence that the list is based on, well, evidence. Fourth, even it were, what are the weights given to the various attributes? Fifth how good has it been as predictor in the past.

    Come on man. Just get the April Consumers Reports issue. They actually buy and extensively test what they rate. They are completely transparent about their testing, criteria and weighting. They have extensive survey data about reliability. They even do surveys on buyer satisfaction.

  • Disqusor

    Stincky Koch´s…….

  • DeeAgeaux

    Tesla’s products are a bit different? Model 3 is $5k more than a Nissan LEAF?

    How does Nissan’s charging network compare to Tesla’s ? How does Nissan’s remote service network that comes to your house or office compare to Tesla’s ranger service? ROTFLMAO

    A C-Class is $10k more than a LEAF or $7k more than a Nissan Altima SL. So what?

    Cheap cars sell cheaply. Premium cars sell at a premium. If Nissan wants to compete with Tesla you start with a ground up all electric Infiniti Q50 that has at least 220 miles of EPA range that starts at no more than $35k.

    • The Nissan dealerships I’ve worked with (admittedly, through the GT-R side) have excellent vehicle drop off and delivery programs. That said, the Model 3 *starts* at $5000 more than the Leaf, and most sell for almost $50K, if what we’re being told is accurate. So, yeah- you are certainly correct in saying that premium products cost more, Tesla should be considered just that; a premium, niche product. It’s not a mainstream item like a Corolla or a Civic, and it shouldn’t be considered in the same class (for many reasons) as the Leaf.

  • Sadly, like so many other writers, you ignore the environmental argument for buying a Tesla. And you write for a website that survives on ad revenue from traditional auto makers, rendering your every word suspect. As for Volvos, they truly suck.