Tesla Model S - The #1 "Large Luxury Car" Brand in America
by, 2013-03-30 at 10:18 AM (20119 Views)
toto_48313 - Tesla Motors Club
HybridCars.com recently published "Will Tesla Model S Be Americas Best-Selling Plug-in Car in March?" which basically argued that Tesla was on the verge of becoming the best selling plugin in America. For a long time now, this sort of story, which seeks to compare the Model S with cars like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, has generated a certain amount of consternation on my part because those cars are quite different from the Model S.
The base price of the entry level Model S is a full 50% higher than that of the Volt and more than twice what the Leaf now costs. The Model S is a much larger car, is much more luxurious and has far better performance. Other than the fact that all are capable of plugging into a wall, the cars have nothing in common with each other. You might as well compare a Nissan Versa with an Audi A8.
In fact, there are vehicles that are quite a bit like the Model S in virtually every respect other than being powered by gasoline. Depending on who is doing the classification the Model S could fit into a number of different categories, but the best fit is probably one that GoodCarBadCar.net defines as "Large Luxury Cars".
These are large luxury sedans priced in the $70,000+ range, and the segment is dominated by major players like the BMW 6 Series and 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S Class and Lexus LS. Other entries include the Porsche Panamera, Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ. For all practical purposes, these vehicles represent the cars and companies that the Model S is competing against, and having seen the report by HybridCars I was curious as to how well Tesla is doing compared to it's actual competition.
Of course you immediately run into the problem that HybridCar's (and others) have run into, which is that Tesla does not routinely report it's sales figures. Unlike major automakers, Tesla only provides that information when it releases its quarterly financial results. From those, we know that Tesla “sold” about 250 Model S’s in the third quarter, which ended on September 30th, and approximately 2,400 cars in the fourth quarter, which ended on December 31st. What is interesting about those numbers is that by averaging 800 cars per month in the fourth quarter of 2012 Tesla was carving out significant market share in the Large Luxury Car market.
Since December 31 we have received no official sales figures from Tesla. With the first quarter of 2013 about to end we are left to read various tea leaves to try and guesstimate sales for the Model S. HybridCars.com (using an unknown methodology) estimates that Tesla sold 1,000 vehicles in January and 1,400 in February. I’m not sure what brand of tea they were drinking but those numbers put Tesla Motors into an dogfight with BMW for 1st place in this market.
According to the sales estimate that they cited in their comparison with the Volt (and listed on their "Dashboard") the Tesla Model S is very close to matching the combined North American Sales of both the BMW 6 Series and 7 Series during the first two months of the year. In January BMW sold 1042 cars in this class, and upped that to 1,511 in February.
January 2013 Large Luxury Car Sales In America
January 2013 Large Luxury Car Sales In Canada
February 2013 Large Luxury Car Sales In America
February 2013 Large Luxury Car Sales In Canada
The only hole in this argument is that HybridCars is using a Tesla sales estimate of unknown origin and accuracy. Curious to find out whether this could possibly be true, I set out to find some tea leaves of my own to read. And as is commonly the case when dealing with the Model S, the go to source for information is our own Tesla Motors Club. Among the myriad types of data that we track on this site is a spreadsheet that contains the VIN numbers and actual delivery dates for hundreds of our members. Based on that document I created this graph, which is tracking actual delivered cars (as opposed to reservations).
There is a lot of data here, and the VIN number does not correlate 100% to sales because the company has produced a number of cars for testing, store displays and test drives. Furthermore, you can’t just look at the highest VIN delivered by a given date, because there are inevitably many cars in transit. Instead you have to look at the entire cluster (lowest to highest) and find the best fit to determine the likely number of delivered cars by a given date.
From this graph, and using these methods, we can infer that for the first two months of the year Tesla has delivered approximately 3025 cars. We know this because the data in late February is clustered around the trendline and strongly suggests ~5,800 total delivered cars of which 2,650 were delivered in 2012. I’ve arbitrarily assigned another 125 cars to company use, leaving 3025 delivered in 2013. Broken down by month we see ~1,325 sales in January and ~1,700 sales in February. These numbers are broadly consistent with publically reported Tesla production figures of 400+ cars per week which Tesla reached sometime in the middle of December (the factory took a week off in January to rest its workers).
The VIN data strongly suggests that Tesla is currently enjoying a sizable lead in the in the North American Large Luxury Car market. We'll obviously get some additional clarity at the next shareholders meeting, but from my seat it looks like Tesla, to this point in 2013, is sitting atop the most prestigious market segment of the most prestigious market in the world.
North American Large Luxury Car YTD – 9,179 (excluding Tesla); ~12,204 total
- Tesla Sales/Market Share YTD ~ 3,025/~24.8% (est.)
- BMW Sales/Market Share YTD – 2,553/~20.9%
- Daimler Sales/Market Share YTD – 1,912/~15.7%
- Lexus Sales/Market Share YTD – 1,903/~15.6%
North American Large Luxury Car January Sales – 4,656 (excluding Tesla); ~5,981 total
- Tesla Sales/Market Share January ~ 1,325/~22.1% (est.)
- Lexus Sales/Market Share January – 1,088/~18.2%
- BMW Sales/Market Share January – 1,042/~17.4%
- Daimler Sales/Market Share January – 964/~16.1%
North American Large Luxury Car February Sales – 4,523 (excluding Tesla); ~6,223 total
- Tesla Sales/Market Share February ~ 1,700/~27.3% (est.)
- BMW Sales/Market Share February – 1,511/~24.3%
- Daimler Sales/Market Share February – 948/~15.2%
- Lexus Sales/Market Share February – 815/~13.1%