Tesla closes in on established luxury leaders

Tesla Model 3 and Model Y. Image source: Tesla.

But they’ve also become more popular than the best-selling nameplates offered by any premium brand, including gasoline-powered mainstays such as the Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series.

According to Experian, 98,297 RX crossovers were registered through the first 10 months of the year, or about 12 percent fewer than the Model 3 and 27 percent fewer than the number of Model Y registrations for the period.

According to the Automotive News Research & Data Center, the RX was the second-best-selling vehicle by a premium brand in the U.S. in 2020, following the Model 3.

Experian’s registration data provides an accurate glimpse into Tesla’s performance in the U.S., since Tesla does not break down its quarterly sales by country.

The data reflects Tesla’s growing strength in the new-vehicle market. The manufacturer ranks No. 3 behind BMW and Lexus in the luxury-vehicle registrations race, and its vehicles accounted for 69 percent of all EVs sold through the first 10 months of the year.

So far, Tesla remains the brand that comes to mind for most people when they think of EVs, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive.

But time will tell if Tesla can remain dominant in both the EV and luxury segments as other automakers come to market with electric vehicles — especially electric crossovers and SUVs that can compete with the Model Y, she said.

“When you looked at all the EVs in the beginning — and I’m convinced this is one of the reasons for the slow up-take of EVs — they were cars,” Krebs said. “Something like 65 percent of all buyers shop for SUVs.”

New electric crossovers competing with the Model Y include the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Volkswagen ID4, which both rank among the five EVs with the most registrations this year.

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