Tesla Is Gunning For BMW And Mercedes To Take The U.S. Luxury Crown

Illustration for article titled Tesla Is Gunning For BMW And Mercedes To Take The U.S. Luxury Crown
Photo: Tesla (Getty Images)

Mercedes and BMW have an annual contest in the U.S. in which they try to best each other in sales, because Cadillac is a sadness and the Germans — including Audi — have been on top for years now, in addition to Lexus. But it’s true also that Tesla is beginning to pose its own threat in the luxury race.

The simple fact is that Tesla is American luxury now. Cadillac delivered 129,495 cars in the U.S. last year, down 17 percent from 2019; Lincoln delivered 105,410 in the U.S. last year, down over six percent from 2019. And while Tesla only gives global sales figures, Experian crunched some registration data to conclude that over 200,000 Teslas were registered in the U.S. in 2020 — the actual sales number is likely around the same, or slightly lower.

Anyway, it was enough to surpass Audi and go fourth behind BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz.

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From Automotive News:

The electric vehicle maker registered 200,561 vehicles last year to grab the No. 4 spot from Audi, which registered 183,594 vehicles. A year earlier, Audi topped Tesla by almost 50,000.

Tesla was roughly 65,000 registrations behind third-place Mercedes-Benz. Experts say that’s a testament to the brand’s cachet among premium buyers and its ability to get ahead of the competition with appealing EVs.

It should be said that the top five are tight, because while 200,561 Teslas were registered and 183,594 Audis, Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus all were neck-and-neck between 265,600 and 287,259, according to the Experian data.

It’s easy to imagine a world, in other words, where Tesla takes the premium sales crown and, by recent automotive history standards, quite quickly, which wasn’t an impossible thing to imagine a year or two ago, but “taking down the Germans” is a thing every luxury automaker says they’re going to do just before they fail to do it. And it’s possible Tesla will fail, too, and this is a plateau, but ask all the people who bet against Tesla in recent years how that’s going.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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The simple fact is that Tesla is American luxury now.”

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Is this really the right description though?

Most people look at Tesla as a performance car. I don’t know of anyone who thinks “I want a Tesla for it’s luxury interior or great looking cutting-edge design”. I’m sure there are those people with those low ideals of quality, but most people I’m guessing who buy one are thinking “Speed, performance, toys” which isn’t necessarily luxury. Well, maybe “American luxury” as stated?

Just because the price points are generally reflective of what tradtional luxury brands are doesn’t mean it’s a luxury car or certainly the same customer base.

By the same measure, couldn’t you could put any new truck in the same luxury category vs these same cars?