Tesla Model S is not the best-selling luxury luxury sedan

7-series, News | October 23rd, 2016 by 44
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Mention a BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Audi A8 within earshot of any Tesla fan and you’ll almost immediately hear a claim that the …

Mention a BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Audi A8 within earshot of any Tesla fan and you’ll almost immediately hear a claim that the Model S is the best-selling luxury car in America. Tesla itself likes to boast about the same so-called “fact”. However, that claim is technically false and the Tesla Model S is not the best selling luxury vehicle. The reason is that the Model S always has its sales figured compared with the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class, but the Model S is not a full-sized luxury car.

Doug Demuro, on his own new column, Oversteer on Autotrader, breaks it down for us.

Has the Model S outsold the 7 Series, S Class and A8 in America so far this year? Yes, no question. During the third quarter of 2016, Tesla sold 9,156 Model S’, which is more than the S-Class (4,921), 7 Series (3,634) and Audi A8 (1,030). However, the Model S does not compete in that segment.

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The length of a Tesla Model S? 196 inches. The BMW 7 Series? 205 inches. That means that the 7 Series is nearly 10 inches longer than the Model S. It also has significantly more legroom and headroom for its passengers and far more luxury. The Model S, as nice and impressive as it is, isn’t in the same class of car as the 7 Series, S Class or A8. The length of a BMW 5 Series? 196.8 inches. So even the BMW 5 Series is ever-so-slightly larger.

Then, there’s the price. Starting price of the BMW 7 Series is $82,500, while the Model S starts out at $66,000. The Model S tops out at $134,500 without extra options, while the 7 Series tops out at $138,000 (Alpina B7) without additional options. BMW 5 Series starting price? $50,000. So the Model S is closer to the 5er in price than the 7er.

In terms of size, luxury and pricing, the Tesla Model S does not compete with the BMW 7 Series, S-Class or any other full-sized luxury car. Instead, it actually competes with mid-size luxury cars, because that’s exactly what it is, a mid-size luxury car. In terms of size, pricing, equipment and luxury, the Tesla Model S is actually in line with the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6. And, if you compare its sales figures with those cars, the Model S is not the best-selling luxury car.

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At the moment, the Tesla Model S is the second-best selling mid-size luxury car, behind the first place Mercedes-Benz E-Class’ 14,672 units for the third quarter. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The aging F10-generation BMW 5 Series, which is due to be replaced sold 7,430 units and when the new G30 5er debuts, expect it to crest 15,000 in its first quarter, as that’s what the F10-en did when it first came out. According to Demuro, even the new Hyundai Genesis sells 2,500 units a month, which is closing in on the Model S quickly.

So, in no way is the Tesla Model S the best-selling luxury car in America, because the only class that it outsells is one it doesn’t compete in. And, the class that it competes in, it’s just barely in second place. So, as much as the Model S is a great car and an impressive one, the claim that it’s the best-selling luxury car in America is simply untrue.

[Source: AutoTrader]

44 responses to “Tesla Model S is not the best-selling luxury luxury sedan”

  1. Fritz says:

    I hope you didn’t order a Tesla, because if Musk reads this he will cancel your order! :D

  2. When you compare the total cost of the ownership, Model S is comparable to 5 Series and E Class too.

  3. dwinsmith says:

    The wheelbases are very comparable as are the prices. The interior space isn’t much different than a short wheelbase version of any of those not to mention the EPA and other organizations classify the Model S and 7-er as being the same, while the 5-er is in the lower midsize class.

  4. CDspeed says:

    I’ve never heard anyone claim that it’s the best selling luxury car, only that it outsells the flagship models from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. That much is true.

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      Really ? I typed it on Google exactly how it is and got results from Forbes, Autoblog, Carbuzz, the Tesla forums, Autoguide, Bloomberg… Maybe the DDoS attack is still affecting your internet i don’t know lmao

  5. MisterEman says:

    Agree. BMW 7, Mercedes S, and Audi 8 are not in the same class as Tesla Model S/X. Tesla is in a class of its own.

  6. Peter Matta says:

    Lol you’re joking right? 9 inches? How about actual numbers, cubic feet, of that head and legroom you’re boasting about?

    Plus it’s a actually a lot less than 66,000 if you subtract 2000 a year gas, 7500 tax credit, and if you live in Louisanna 8000 credit means Tesla competes with Toyota. Hahaha

    Ps. They’re still not producing at full capacity. Pps. We’ll see what you have to say when there’s as many charging stations as gas.

    • Surya Solanki says:

      Model S rear leg room: 35.4 inches. BMW 5 Series rear leg room: 35.3 inches. BMW 7 Series rear leg room: 44.4 inches

  7. Err0xx says:

    This buffoon of a writer forgets (or neglects to include) that Tesla is selling cars faster than it can make them while the other brands have an abundance of stock that you can walk off the car lot with.

    I recently ordered a P100D fully loaded and my wait time is right at 4-5 months. My Tesla was bought this year, but won’t be included in sales figures (not delivered) until next year. Once Tesla is at full production capacity, where it can make as many as it can sell, come talk to me about numbers. Right now, production limits are the main limit to sales figures. My brother in law recently got his Model S P90D and his wait was 3 months.

    Tesla bases its sales claims off the number of deliveries, not orders. Look at how many cars are ordered (whose deliveries don’t make the year cut-off) and its even farther ahead.

    Oh, and the EPA lists the Tesla Model S as a full size luxury car. If your definition clashes with theirs, sorry, but theirs has more merit- that’s the one I’m going with.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      This was an article put together by other media. So no need for personal attacks.

      • Err0xx says:

        If I’m a writer and I essentially spread BS because other writers wrote BS, I’m also taking part in the prolification of BS.

        We live in an age of Google. Fact check BS and when you see its BS don’t re-post it.

        Personal attack Fully warranted.

        • Ashley says:

          If a model is not comparable in size (nearly 10 inch difference in wheelbase), nor price, nor the amount of actual luxury in the vehicle, then its not really in the same segment. Furthermore, if you special order your 7 series or S class as every customer is welcome to do, they will experience similar wait times – and frequently do. Finally, any person who has been behind the wheel (or better yet in the back seat) of a model S, 7 series and S class would make the same argument – in leg room, head room and sheer luxury; model S, is just not in the same category. Model S in a fantastic car, you shouldn’t take this as a personal attack, but these vehicles do not compare.

    • Max says:

      Try to order a 7 and then we`ll talk again. Tesla has no dealer lots, so of course u have to wait..If people in the US would buy their cars like people in Germany u would also have 3-6 months waiting time, because ur car gets build just for u. And praising that Tesla is at its production limit just shows how bad they are..pushing out a model 3, but arent even ready with production for model S. I wonder how many orders of model 3 will be cancelled when people finally realise that this company is just playing with their customers and collecting their deposit money to move forward…By this time all other real premium manufacturers will have an answer anyway and then it gets dark ;)

    • Guillaume Perret says:

      Dude, I had to wait 6 month for a Audi A3 TDI …
      Does that mean it is better than the model S ? :D

    • Surya Solanki says:

      As Doug writes EPA’s large cars includes both the Tesla Model S and the Kia Forte5. So is Kia a S-Class competitor as well?

      Also: Model S rear leg room: 35.4 inches

      BMW 5 Series rear leg room: 35.3 inches

      BMW 7 Series rear leg room: 44.4 inches

      Okay, once Tesla is at full production, the numbers will be impressive but right now- no doubt about that but the points is that it’s not the highest selling full-size luxury sedan because it isn’t a full-size luxury sedan. Period. No one is saying that Tesla isn’t doing a good job but it’s not a competitor to 7 Series, S Class, etc.

      Also what are you? A freaking 5 year old, attacking people for saying something that you don’t think is right? You don’t like what this blog writes, don’t read it. Seeing your other comments, you have a habit of being a jackass.

    • My buffoonery aside, no one is arguing the volume of Teslas sold. In fact, we put the numbers in the article. So speaking of its supply/demand is irrelevant.

      The article was about how Tesla compares its sales figures to those of cars that don’t compete with its cars. The Model S doesn’t compete with the 7 Series or S-Class. And, if you want to go by the EPA’s definition of a “Large Car”, then the Model S’ sales figures will have to be compared to the Hyundai Sonata’s, BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s, Kia Optima’s and Kia Forte 5’s. The EPA categorizes its cars independently of the rest of the auto industry, so the Model S being categorizes as the same sized car as the S-Class by the EPA is irrelevant. https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byclass/Large_Cars2016.shtml

      Facts prove Doug Demuro, the original author of this topic, correct in that the Model S does not compete in the full-size luxury market, as it’s shorter by a large margin, has less passenger room, leg room, head room and luxury amenities than any other full-sized luxury sedan. Therefore its claims are invalid, misguided at best. You can insult me all you want. But facts do not lie.

    • Umar Khan says:

      You can walk off on the lot with one, but there are also months long waiting them when ordering. It won’t matter if your car isn’t included in sales figures, since in 2014 and 2015 the S Class sales figures were around the 107,000 mark, showing 214,000 sales. The highest recorded VIN of a Model S at the start of 2016 was 127,000, starting from 2012-start of 2016. The S Class is by far outselling the Model S, albeit it hasn’t got many dealers.

  8. jason bourne says:

    “Luxury luxury sedan”?

  9. Derek Kerton says:

    That’s funny, I don’t recall seeing any BMW 7 Series that are seven seaters.

    I don’t understand how Bumper to Bumper measurement is more relevant than usable space. The need for a big heavy engine makes for a longer Hood, which is not an advantage. How do they compare on interior space and storage space. How much can I fit in the frunk of a BMW 7?

    Plus, the article started with a straw man argument: “you’ll almost immediately hear a claim that the Model S is the best-selling luxury car in America.”

    • Guillaume Perret says:

      totally agree.
      Plus, they do quote the base price of the model S versus the high-end prices of other cars … doesn’t the P100D cost 130k$ ? I believe this is not a 5 series price…

      typical Tesla fanboy BS

      • Derek Kerton says:

        The P100D with Ludicrous is up to 150k.

        Although, I’n not sure that being super expensive is a virtue, or that the high price means that it’s a large car.

        I’m more convinced by the facts that the Model S has more cargo capacity, more passenger capacity, a frunk, and exclusive technology are what makes it a large luxury car.

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      Rear facing seats in the damn trunk, i’m glad European manufacturers don’t offer that lol

      • Derek Kerton says:

        Yeah. And silly purists were “happy” that BMW didn’t have cup holders… Until they did.

        As for rear seats, I have to draw straws to decide which kids win that seat. They love it, they fight over it, and they’re the ones that sit in it.

        And, the point remains. It’s not available in the so-called larger cars.

        Forgetting the seats which are more for kids, I’m also curious, can I put my adult bicycle inside that 750? Goes tidily into the “smaller” Model S.

        • Kaisuke971 says:

          If anything you’re just consolidating the fact that the Model S isn’t indeed in the same segments. The 7 and the S aren’t family cars, most people will only use two seats or even get chauffeured in them anyway.

          They aren’t family howlers where you’ll put 7 persons and a freakin’ bike, that’s not what they were built for.

          • Derek Kerton says:

            No, they are not the same kind of car. I agree with that.

            But my arguments are to establish that the Model S is “large”, and that bumper-to-bumper measurement is a myopic way of evaluating “large”. That is the debate at hand.

            Your argument that the 7 would only have two passengers, in this debate context, seems to put it in a category with the Smart ForTwo or Miata. Of course, it isn’t, but we’re talking “large”. Capacity, seating, headroom should be the things we evaluate.

    • By that regard, categorizing cars by their seats and usable cargo space, the Model S could be compared with SUVs instead. If it has all-wheel drive, seven seats and more cargo space than any sedan, it should be classified with all seven-passenger SUVs, right? (sarcasm)

      • Derek Kerton says:

        There’s no humor to your sarcasm. I’ll risk a “yes” to your final question. That’s what we get when a new kind of vehicle pulls together the features and benefits of what previously was thought to define only one specific category. In the arts, a triple threat is a good actress who can also sing and dance well. The Model S is a bit like that – it could be considered a good sports car, a good SUV, and a good large luxury sedan. And that has the author of this article and you flummoxed.

        But all this classification is just arbitrary. It so happens that the Model S is arbitrarily classified as a “large luxury sedan” by groups like the EPA. YOU guys (and the article author) are the ones complaining because it doesn’t fit on ONE simple measurement of bumper-to-bumper length.

        So, if you make the debate about size, then I, and others, respond that Model S has similar wheelbase, headroom, and interior size to the 7 series. Plus, it has more cargo capacity, and it has more seating capacity. If size is what you think is important for a car to fit in the “large luxury sedan” category, then the Model S has plenty of “large” qualifications.

        Yes, an argument could be made to put the Model S in the SUV category if “capacity” were the only criteria. But it isn’t. The facts remain: it is a sedan, it is luxurious, it has equal or better capacity as other large sedans, it has cutting edge technology, it is classified by the EPA as a “large lux sedan”. Who cares, and get over it.

  10. calboy says:

    The class size is determined by the EPA and is based on interior cabin size and luggage space. It is not based on length or price. It was not set by Tesla. Based on the interior cabin size plus trunk and frunk space, the model S is clearly considered full size sedan. Look up how car sizes are determined if you do not believe it. Because the Model S does not have an engine in front, it does not need to be as long as its competitors to have the same cabin size. With options, the model S can easily top the most expensive full size luxury sedans.

    • Umar Khan says:

      No it can’t. The S63, S65, S8 Plus, 760li and the 765li cost more than the highest priced Model S, with the only exception being a base S8 Plus.

      • calboy says:

        Okay, you are right. There are some large luxury sedans that are more expensive. But with a price between 70000 and 165000, the model S is well within range of the typical cost of a large luxury sedan and trying to equate it to a midsized sedan in price would be a disservice.

  11. christopher rudzuna says:

    So, say I manage to design a car that’s more luxurious than that 7 series junk, has more headroom and legroom, is more powerful and then sell it for a dollar. Ps. Due to superior design and better technology, its 50 inches shorter than the 7er which has to pack a 1920 style earth-suffocating furnace in front.

    Are you telling me then that it would cease to be called a full size luxury sedan?

    If so then $&#@ full-size luxury sedans!

    Who defines what luxury is? In my case a car that drives itself, gets OTA software updates, does not emit poisonous gases, has the best aerodynamics, runs for free for life (and after life), parks itself and comes when I summon it is the epitome of luxury. If yours is different then don’t hate on mine. Definitely length of a car and how overpriced it is are stupid metrics but hey, different strokes….

  12. droid1 says:

    The technology is interesting the car is not.

  13. pmc says:

    Hello writer of this post….i have only assignment for you. This assignment will make it clear to you that you trying hard to make a case for something you like rather than being factual. Assignment: find out how many S class, 7 series and A8 sold before and after the introduction of the model S till date. That’s where the truth is.

    • Even if 7 Series, S-Class or A8 owners are leaving their respective cars for Teslas, that still doesn’t place the Model S in that category of vehicle. Those owners are switching for the powertrain, not the size.

      • pmc says:

        so you are confidently saying that, someone is leaving his big ass 7 Series for a smaller car? So they do not care about the size of their car? Its OK to switch from a BMW 5 Series to Hyundai Accent because of whatever reason? Come on mhen, if they felt slightly uncomfortable in their Model S, they’d return to their S Class.

    • Umar Khan says:

      In 2014 the S Class sold 107,277 cars while in 2015 the S Class sold 107,336 cars. There has been an increase in sales. Both years they annihilate the Model S sales, and both of this years beat the combined Model S sales for 2012-2016.

      • pmc says:

        Dude seriously???? I had to add in the US? Come on, we are talking about US sales. Do you know how old Mercedes is? Do your research again, and focus only on the US. We are comparing Mercedes to a Tesla not a BMW. Come on…..!!!!

        • Umar Khan says:

          Thought I added albeit a lower dealership base. Mercedes doesn’t do too well in the US, it’s not their prime “hub” for sales, whereas it is for Tesla. Mercedes does 3/4 of their sales in the Chinese market for their high end cars, meaning it’s not fair to say that the S Class is declining in sales, and you did mention “till date”. The Tesla is doing fantastic but I still don’t understand how it’s being compared to the S Class, both of which are aimed at a different audience.
          Just look at the brand values though, Mercedes is worth 26 billion dollars while Tesla is worth of 30 billion dollars.

  14. Dan Morean says:

    Way off. Model S has 63 cubic feet of cargo capacity. BMW 7 series, Mercedes S, what about 15? And the BMW & Mercedes are painfully slow in comparison. Hit the gas in those things, wait for all that combustion and mechanical stuff to happen, and after a painfully boring delay, they start to go. I think the author’s confusion may have been caused by excessive exposure to all the redundant and confusing controls in those maintenance intense BMWs and Mercedes.

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