Tesla ups the competition in the premium segment image

Rather surprisingly successful with its all-electric Model S, Tesla is starting to become a threat to the conventional premium manufacturers, as it gains wider attention and market share by the month.

Ok, we-re not talking here about big numbers, as Chevy would sell as much Tesla does in a year in about three days on a slow weekend, but an examination of sales data from across the U.S. and in California for the first half of 2013 paints a picture of its early success. Remember, we are talking about an all-electric sedan, with a hefty price tag and still rather limited availability and especially support.

While Tesla delivered right around 10,000 cars through two quarters, those sales appear to be coming at the expense of BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Porsche. And Tesla’s sales are remarkably — though perhaps not surprisingly — concentrated in California thus far, with nearly half winding up in the Golden State. As the automaker continues to open new sales and service locations across the country while simultaneously growing its network of high-speed Supercharger stations, things are likely to get a bit worse for the imports.

Five competitor vehicles are all down significantly against their 2012 sales numbers. Given that overall U.S. auto sales are up by 7.7%, and 12.5% in California, the performance of the Mercedes E-Class (-7%), the BMW 5-Series (-6.7%), and the Lexus GS (-18.1%) are especially disappointing. Though, most notably the Model S actually chops off market share from pricier cars, like the BMW 7-Series (-7.4%) and Porsche Panamera (-38.3%). The only premium automaker that still slips at night well is Audi, with A6 and A8 posting good improvements – +15.8% and +21.6%.

More than 4700 Model S registrations have been recorded in California and at least some are coming at the expense of the competition. Nationally, the Tesla has matched the total sales of the Lexus LS, Audi A8 and Panamera combined.
Still, there is a good news for everyone: even with Tesla’s plans to double production by the end of next year, the U.S. figures you see are about all the company is likely to be able to deliver for quite some time. The company plans on selling 21,000 vehicles this year, with most going to the U.S. By the time the production rate hits 40,000 late in 2014, it will be divided between three regions (Europe and Asia, as well as North America) and mostly two vehicles (as the Model X SUV gets introduced at the end of next year).