Find Out Why Bjørn Nyland Believes Tesla Isn’t A Luxury Car


Tesla vehicles may be expensive and offer many premiums, but that doesn’t mean they should be classified as luxury cars.

Governments and private organizations have various schemes for classifying vehicles. The EPA calls the Tesla Model S a luxury sedan, while the automaker refers to its own car as a premium sedan. Depending on which country you live in, as well as which publications you rely on, car classes can vary widely. For these reasons, it’s safe to say that vehicle categorization and classification is highly subjective.

Although Bjørn Nyland is a huge Tesla fan, he’s willing to admit that the vehicles have their flaws, and he’s also certain they’re not luxury cars. Nyland spends a good deal of time showing us exactly why he feels this way. This doesn’t mean Tesla vehicles are subpar or undesirable, it just means that each automaker may focus resources on different areas.

We think many may argue that the Tesla Model S is not a full-fledged luxury car like the BMW 7 Series. However, it’s a huge leap above most “affordable” cars. What makes a car luxurious? If we’re just looking at cabin quality, materials, and styling, that’s one thing. If we look at special features and uniqueness, that’s another.

With all of this being said, the Model S is generally referred to as a luxury car due to its high price and the fact that it has interior quality and features that aren’t found in most non-luxury vehicles. This surely doesn’t put it in the same category as a European flagship sedan. But, with gas cars, the mechanical side of production is much less expensive. These automakers can afford to splurge on exquisite accommodations while still maintaining healthy margins.

Electric cars are not cheap to produce. If Tesla dialed up the Model S interior to match the level of opulence found in a Mercedes or BMW, the already expensive all-electric vehicles would increase significantly in price.

It will be very telling to see if Mercedes and BMW can produce long-range all-electric vehicles with ultra-luxurious interiors while keeping them price-competitive with Tesla’s offerings. However, that prospect is still years away. Jaguar has proven it’s possible with the I-Pace, so we’ll see what the future brings.

Video Description via Bjørn Nyland on YouTube:

Many people have claimed that Model S and X are luxury cars. I disagree. In my opinion, luxury cars have top shelf interior like shown in this video. Tesla themselves call the Model S a premium sedan.

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73 Comments on "Find Out Why Bjørn Nyland Believes Tesla Isn’t A Luxury Car"

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Well, Bjorn is wrong.
The BMW 7 series has a gas engine and transmission, so it runs like high priced excrement compared to an electric or a Tesla.

The driving experience of an Electric is vastly superior.
Ultra smooth acceleration, instant responsiveness and torque, another level of quiet, and no exhaust stink in your garage. Interior materials can’t make up for a gas engine in the product.


The 7 series is most executive car I ever been in


You ever been in a Bentley?

Dan F.

Silly ideologue


More luxury = more to break down and go wrong.


Absolutely… and that matters how to people who don’t blink spending 100k + on a car…


I’ve no doubt it drives better, but that’s not exactly what he was talking about.


I’ve never read Tesla cars being described as luxury. Premium yes, luxury no.

David Green

I agree with Bjorn on Tesla not being a luxury car, Tesla’s just lack the features and comfort to be considered luxury.


David Green said: “…Tesla’s just lack the features and comfort to be considered luxury.

There is more than one style of “luxury”.

My take is that Tesla executes “Modern Luxury”… which I greatly prefer over traditional bling-bling car luxury.

What is Modern Luxury?

“Putting A Definition To Modern Luxury. …modern luxury space is centered on minimalism. There’s a blend of Scandinavian, German (Bauhaus), and Japanese design touch points that have combined to create a contemporary design language. It’s a vernacular which communicates that modern luxury firms are driven by functionality and simplicity, more than they are ornateness and surface-level frills…” source:

Bruce Sanders

Bjorn may enjoy the July 16 issue of BusinessWeek. Tesla is the cover story. Go to to read.

Very interesting, great photos of Model 3 production. Even a nice jab at GM from Musk. Never a dull moment in Freemont!!


Fremont, named after a person.

— that guy


Let’s see…perhaps because he actually drove one (a luxury car) and got a clue???

EV propulsion is superior to dino juice bangers in any car. There is more to ‘lux’ than just the powertrain.


The power train is a huge part of it though.


I guess you have not had the opportunity to drive a modern ICE car lately, above 10mph, even a well engineered Diesel, like Audi’s, is hard to tell apart from an EV


When it comes to diesel cars, what is “well engineered”? Would that be a model which has its Dieselgate pollution test rigging engineered so well that it hasn’t yet been discovered?

There is no such thing as a “well engineered” diesel car.

Dan F.

Foolish ideologue. Why should anyone read what you write.


The Tesla was in the shop last week. Got a BMW loaner, what a piece of crap ! Brakes were slipping, acceleration would only respond with a 1-2 second lag time, AC wasn’t sufficient, the vibration of the car was aggressive, the engine noise was deafening. I was tired and wet after a 20 minutes drive. I would have prefered a mitsu MIEV, would have had more luxury feel.


When the diesel meets limits, it’s a lot slower. This is why VW cheated in the first place — the software made the vehicles much slower on the road. Regardless there’s still a night and day difference in the feel of an EV versus even a well-engineered ICE.


Of the driving experience, yes. Of luxury? I don’t think so.

Tesla is a pretty unique package still. They’re fast, kind of high tech, innovative in some ways (like doing away with the start/stop button), and offer a lot of practicality. But they aren’t very luxurious.

And this is probably a smart way to go for Tesla. Manufacturing a luxury car is harder within a given budget. The EV powertrain means that, compared to ICE, it is much cheaper to offer lots of smooth power. Massaging rear seats won’t be any cheaper to put in an EV than an ICE.

When batteries become cheap enough and volume big enough, surely there will be EVs that have loads of luxury in addition to a huge battery pack, tons of power, and a lot of space. For now, it’s probably smarter to exploit the EV advantages and let them compensate for a bit less luxury. Teslas are pretty expensive as it is, and the market for $150k+ cars isn’t big enough to justify a version that would have to be built very differently from the others.


This should be news to no one. I posted this exact same opinion months ago after having rode in a friend’s new 7 series (several of my associates have Model S’s so I’m well familiar with those). It’s OK to recognize that Tesla spent their money on the parts they had to develop from scratch and thus cannot be expected to match other design elements of legacy vehicle manufacturers.


Right. Luxury is a subjective definition so some people will value the electric powertrain characteristics more highly on that front (lack of noise) but it is inarguable that a high end interior is part of luxury. Tesla focuses their energy elsewhere.

Electric cars are a different beast right now than their ICE counterparts, so it is tough to classify them. On the one hand they are dead quiet and smooth, hallmarks of luxury. But their interiors aren’t as opulent, so are they luxurious? Then they are insanely fast to 100km/h but aren’t as good around the track, so are they sports cars? Then they are very cheap to run but cost more up front, so are they budget cars? The answer to all is sort of. They are a new combination of attributes.


Years ago I had to rent a Honda minivan to drive from SF to LA. I had never driven a minivan before (or since actually). I was astounded at how smooth and quiet the thing was, it was like piloting an apartment down the road, not a vehicle. It was total isolation from the road.

That being said, I would not call it a luxury vehicle. I was driving an Audi at the time for my personal vehicle so I had a good comparison of “luxury” versus “utility”


Before jumping to conclusions it might be wise to actually compare the sound levels of the cabins at a 75 mile per hour Cruise. I wouldn’t be surprised if the BMW is quieter than the Tesla.


I’d be surprised if it isn’t.

According to Car and Driver’s reviews, at 70mph cruising: Mercedes Benz S550, 66dBA Lincoln Continental Reserve, 67dBA Cadillac CT6, 67dBA BMW 740i (2016), 68dBA Genesis G90, 68dBA Near Luxury or Entry luxury: Toyota Avalon, 67dBA Kia Cadenza, 68dBA Buick LaCrosse, 69dBA Nissan Maxima, 70dBA The only things I found on Car and Driver regarding Model S is 2015 P85D that has a dBA rating as low as 66dBA and as high as 73dBA. The difference is from initial testing and end of testing. Of course, keep in mind that testing condition (such as road condition and wind condition) impact the results greatly. So are equipment used. The other comparison is more valid in direct comparison tests. And according to U.S. News ranking, Model S is among the 12 quietest cars on the road which includes many of those models listed above. So, it is certainly one of the quietest cars out there. But it didn’t provide actual numbers so we can’t say if one is quieter than the other. But what we can say is that they are all pretty darn quiet and probably within 1 to 2 decibel of each other and depending on the road condition. Tesla will… Read more »
Warren M

isn’t it amazing that a 7 series took the trophy for quietest car. A diesel equipped one nonetheless. Shows that BMW knows how to engineer quiet luxury into their cars when they want to. They can also make the engine sounds part of the experience if they so desire. The point is, their engineering capabilities are higher than most of you give them credit for.


Where do you see the BMW 7-series taking the price as the quietest car?
The Mercedes S550 was 2 dB(A) quieter than the BMW 740i, The Lincoln and Cadillac was also quieter than the BMW. The lower the sound pressure level (SPL), here measured in dB(A), the quieter the car is and dB is a logarithmic scale, so just a few dB’s lower makes a big difference.
Even the Toyota was quieter than the BMW. Only Buick LaCrosse and Nissan Maxima were louder than the BMW of the car mentioned.

According to Car and Driver’s reviews, at 70mph cruising:
Mercedes Benz S550, 66dBA
Lincoln Continental Reserve, 67dBA
Cadillac CT6, 67dBA
BMW 740i (2016), 68dBA
Genesis G90, 68dBA

Near Luxury or Entry luxury:
Toyota Avalon, 67dBA
Kia Cadenza, 68dBA
Buick LaCrosse, 69dBA
Nissan Maxima, 70dBA


Not only is it impossible to argue that interior isn’t important for luxury. Engine noise and vibrating is also very well controlled in luxury cars. But it is much harder (more expensive) to achieve this in an ICE, of course.

In the long run EVs will be the best luxury cars too, but for now, the powertrain’s contribution to luxury or lack of it is actually much more relevant to more reasonably priced cars. I would argue that in a LEAF, the powertrain does contribute to a luxury feeling compared to similarly priced ICE cars.

Tesla compensates for lack of luxury, and it seems that they do far can sell as many as they can make. So it’s not a problem that they’re a bit less luxurious, but it is a fact that they are.


Which model S the early 2012-2016 which you had to replace the drivetrain twice before hitting 100k or 2016 to now where they are flawless and stying is more luxurious



Dan F.

Model s and x don’t really compete with the big BMW, Mercedes and Audi cars and SUVs but rather with the performance versions of the mid sized ones. The closest competitors to the S and X are probably the Porsche Panamera and Cayenne


It’s hard to argue the Tesla non-Luxury Car claim, presented by Bjorn Nyland, as he has proven, time and again, to be a Model X-pert.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Discussions over whether an interior is “luxurious” are the sort of stupid thing fat old men argue about.

Does the car go fast?


Then STFU. No one cares about the fact that the car has buttons made out of teak or whatever.

I may, however, be biased. One of the vehicles I lust after is the Ariel Atom.


Different cars for different applications. I have luxury wagon for long travel distances and a sports car. No point in throwing the wagon around corners. No point in using the sports car to travel 10 hours on the highway, unless I already have an appointment with my doctor to replace my shattered spine the week after anyways.


If and when fleet models become the norm, there really will be different cars for different applications. Within the ownership model, it’s one car for 99% of the time (and irrelevant what percentage of applications that represents).

(If you reckon people drive once a day on average, renting something for 1% of trips means renting four times per year. So 99% really is no exaggeration.)


You can lust for an atom all you want. You can even argue that luxury doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t matter to anyone. It doesn’t change the fact that Tesla doesn’t make luxury cars.


He never claimed they do?

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Luxury doesn’t really matter…to me.

I’m fully aware of the fact that there are people who really do stand around discussing the finer points of their corinthian leather seats and gas pedals with built in foot massagers or whatever.

It turns out that there’s all kinds.


That’s performance. Luxurious and performance are two different things


Ron, not everyone drives for speed and G-forces. Just because you don’t care about luxury, it doesn’t make people who want their journeys to be comfortable as possible count as ‘old men’. I know it’s the trendy thing these days to think anything we don’t care about should be irrelevant in general, but that’s not how opinions work.


I don’t really care about luxury either, but I’d probably put it higher on my list than a car that can go fast. It’s really a moot point to me if a car can go 0-60 in 4 seconds, or top out at 140 mph. I doubt I’ll ever break 85, if that, and that sort of acceleration has crossed the line to just being ridiculous. I’m not sure I’d even feel safe flooring it in a car that quick. 6 seconds is more than fast enough for me.


As long it is not running on fossil fuels I don’t care if it is luxury or not. But as a 2014 Leaf owner I would think of a Tesla as a luxury 😊


“But as a 2014 Leaf owner I would think of a Tesla as a luxury 😊”

Exactly! That just explains what kind of people would think Tesla as luxury, only those who drives a crappy Nissan beater electric. 🙂


Really. You seem to be the one that drives 130 mph in a 30 Darwin Award for you


I have never driven faster than 127mph anywhere on earth.

I certainly won’t drive faster than 50mph in a 30mph zone even if the 30mph is so artificially low. So, your comment is just a rant that are based on completely random lies. But feel free to join the fake news crowd these days, it is certainly popular.


Or he thinks Tesla is a luxury because it’s out of his price range. But no, you chose to be hostile and insulting instead. You’re a disgusting person. Do not disparage other people the vehicles they drive, for you do not know their circumstances or what preferences they have for a vehicle. As it stands, you sound like a snob.


From a Nissan Micra to the Leaf was a luxury upgrade! If you already drive a luxury car, then anything less isn’t going to cut it for you.
I read one post about massage back seats. So for the 1 percentile that’s important, for the test of us, we’re driving the car, who cares less if the is a massage in the back seat?


luxury is more than massaging backseat…


Massaging back seat is basically silly fluff. Yeah it’s “neat”. I wouldn’t pay more than about a hundred bucks for that feature though. Neat, but completely unnecessary.


With the Model 3 to take up the lower to mid-market, the Model S can become more focused and luxurious if Tesla chooses. If you go back to interviews from Musk showing the prototype, the Model S was originally design to target the 5 series and E-class in the $50-$60k USD starting price. They were probably amazed to find out they could push it to 7 series/S-Class price levels, but the car was not originally targeting those types of luxury car features.

To me, it’s like the difference between business class and first class. On many attributes they are very smilier, but the overall experience is elevated and have different target markets. Having a more diverse product line, will let them focus the models to specific audiences, instead of a one-size-fits all approach.


Obviously what is or isn’t a “luxury” car is subjective; there’s no objective test for “luxury”. Tesla has never claimed the label “luxury”, but rather “premium” for its Roadster, Model S, and Model X.

Bjørn Nyland has certainly earned the respect and admiration of a legion of Tesla fans, and I count myself among them. So no disrespect to Mr. Nyland, but when I took a test ride in a Model S, it certainly seemed luxurious to me!

David Green

Your assessment is not surprising, compared to your 1991 Toyota pickup just about anything is luxury.


“when I took a test ride in a Model S, it certainly seemed luxurious to me!”

That is generally the case, when one never owned a luxury car before.


I see both you and David Green have jumped to the conclusion that I have no exposure to driving or riding in any actual luxury car. Critical thinking is in short supply here. 🙁

I’ve also driven a Lincoln Continental. The Tesla Model S is, in my opinion, much more luxurious. But again, that’s subjective.

However, my 1991 Toyota Pickup was certainly more “luxurious” than the postwar Ford pickup I used when learning to drive! 🙂

Bill Howland

Haha! Must have been the Lincoln Continental Perry Mason used to drive. He had one of the more ‘
recent’ ones in the early 1960’s.

I don’t understand the reason for the whole article here actually. While I believe BJORN is accurate, it is more to the point that


Certainly if the manufacturer doesn’t say it, they are likely to be more familiar with their cars than most of the people here.


As Bjørn said in the intro, the cars are often described as luxury cars. Even if it’s not Tesla that describes them as such, what’s wrong with pointing out they’re not luxury cars??

One of the things people like about Bjørn is that he doesn’t have a agenda to make this or that car or manufacturer appear good or bad. He simply states his opinions and gives his reasons. Sometimes I agree with, sometimes I don’t. But I really appreciate that he is, unlike many regular commenters here, capable of a nuanced point of view, with good and bad to say about basically any car. To me it shows his interest is real; he is more concerned about what’s true than how it makes Tesla look.

If anything, he has been perhaps too forgiving, considering the more than a hundred work shop days his Teslas have had so far.

Bill Howland

My Tesla was in the shop for over 200 days, and nobody called me ‘forgiving’.


“I’ve also driven a Lincoln Continental. The Tesla Model S is, in my opinion, much more luxurious. But again, that’s subjective.”

Lincoln Continental from 2000 or current 2018 Continental.

If it is 2000, then sure that thing wasn’t really luxury anyway. That is why Lincoln was shrinking. But even that car even had a custom adjustable power seat that would allow easier exit/entry which Tesla only added recently after a fan complain on twitter…

2018 Continental is definitely a luxury car and certainly more luxury than the similar priced Model S for sure. Its seat is at least way better.

Neither is on par with the Mercedes Benz S class or BMW 7-series or Audi A7/A8 level.


Actually, after posting my claim of having driven a Lincoln Continental, I realized the car I drove a number of times didn’t have the rear “suicide doors” so couldn’t have been a Continental. Looking at online photos, I think it was a Lincoln Town Car. However, Wikipedia does call the Town Car a luxury car, so I think I’m safe in that claim.

But no, it wasn’t a 2000 era car; it was an older one, altho pretty new when I drove it. I’ve been driving since circa 1969, so my driving experience goes back a ways! 🙂


Which is a large number of people who are getting their first taste at the bottom range of luxury. Used to be leather seats differentiated the luxury model from the standard model. Cruise Control, ABS, electric mirrors, AC, all those and many more were the luxury definition when they first came out. Look at the 1980’s MB, would we say that is a luxury car today? Certainly was in 1980, but as people have commented, it’s all subjective.
One meaning of luxury is “a state of great comfort or elegance”. My Leaf gives me plenty of comfort, so to me that’s luxurious. For me it’s got comfortable seats I can sit in all day, is smooth and quiet which I find comfortable. It’s not particularly elegant, though 🙁
The MB ugly machine I see someone drivng near me (it’s some huge SUV with really sloping rear window) might be luxury, but to me it doesn’t look elegant, and so to me it doesn’t look luxurious. No doubt it is nice to drive. The Rolls Royce looks luxurious. So many ways to measure luxury.


Luxury means that the car won’t overheat immediately like Model S


Nice trolling from Mr Nyland


I Can’t think of anyone better in a Tesla to “Hammer it”!


So he’s trolling by basically providing accurate information? Reality check: Tesla have nice interiors IMO, but they lack even half the features that some fancy exec would wish for in a luxury vehicle.

Jim Whitehead

Back in 2013, Bjorn got his Model S and only had a few minor complaints like lack of a lighted makeup mirror in the front. Tesla listened and fixed them in the Model S refresh. Now he makes a good point that BMW type luxury features are missing from the Tesla back seat, So is Tesla now just a half-baked luxury car? Maybe they can upgrade the backseat to limo standards with the next refreshes, to get a fully baked car. (Insert your own marijuana joke here).


I rather doubt Tesla is going to replace the term “premium” with the term “half-baked luxury” in their advertising. 😉

But good to see your typeface again, Jim! 🙂


One of the odd difficulties that Tesla had in the Chinese market (besides the discriminatory tariffs against imported EVs) was that the rear seat experience of a Tesla was underwhelming. It’s “odd” because Tesla’s market research hadn’t focused on the fact that a large percentage of Chinese who would have the money to buy a Tesla would be in the back seat; their drivers might love the EV experience, but the owner in the back seat would be thinking they should have gotten a Mercedes.


“There’s no formal definition of “luxury car” within the industry. Based on price and platform, the Model S is generally considered part of the “Large Luxury” segment. All that really means is that it competes against other sedans that are similar in size and price.

Some people argue that Tesla doesn’t make luxury cars because of the minimalist interior design choices. Some people consider a luxury car to be one with ornate features. Others think of luxuries as anything that’s not a necessity and can include anything from performance to the ability of the car to park itself. Tesla makes cars that are loaded with features that aren’t standard on other cars, and are luxuries in the common sense of the word.

The bottom line is that if you go to any place from Wikipedia to Consumer Reports to KBB, you will find Tesla’s cars listed in the luxury segments. Countries with luxury taxes on cars will consider it a luxury car based on selling price alone.”

— Hagrinas Mivali, Quora


Anybody with a zero in their name isn’t worth the time and effort to be heard. You know what they say about opinions…


It’s not a zero, it’s Ø, or a norvegian ö. A letter, not a number.


Those are nice features on the BMW, but not all 7’s have them, so are they not luxury then either?

Paulo de Almeida

Totally agree ! I have been saying that for a long time.