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.
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.