How Tesla Sales Stack Up Against Four Large Luxury Automakers

tesla model s burnoutThe Tesla Model S.

After smashing earnings and revenue expectations and earning the best Consumer Reports score ever for its all-electric Model S sedan, Tesla Motors is riding high.

Sending it even higher is the fact that it looks like it is actually beating out the big dogs in the luxury auto segment, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi.

CNN Money looked at sales figures for the first quarter of 2012  for Tesla and the three German automakers in the large luxury segment. Tesla is way ahead:

  • Tesla Model S: 4,750
  • Audi A8: 1,462
  • BMW 7-Series: 2,338
  • Mercedes-Benz S Class: 3,077

But as CNN Money notes (and John Voelcker at Green Car Reports pointed out last month), these numbers provide an incomplete picture.

Because Tesla sells only one car, the Model S, it competes in only one category, large luxury sedans. It succeeds there, but does not even have entries to compete with the many other models offered by its larger competitors.

Tesla isn’t outselling BMW, Audi, or Mercedes-Benz. The Model S is outselling the BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Tesla is doing very well with the Model S, but it’s still a small fish in a big pond.

We should also point out that Musk’s car did not win even win the large luxury sedan segment: It was beaten by Cadillac, which sold more than 7,000 units of its new, rather impressive XTS sedan between January and March.

For a fuller picture of the luxury auto market, here are the U.S. luxury sales figures for the same brands in 2012. For Tesla, which does not report exact sales figures, we’ve used its 2013 sales goal, 21,000 vehicles. (Click to enlarge.)

2012 us luxury car sales chart

Figures provided by Green Car Reports.

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