Tesla’s vehicles have been outselling gas-powered competitors in their segments for years now, but the latest news has got to be keeping all but the most somnolent of legacy automaker execs awake at night. According to Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority, in September, Tesla’s Model 3 outsold mid-size sedans from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes in Germany.
Yes, the upstart American outsold all the theoretically comparable models from all three of Germany’s premium brands combined, in their home market.
Wirtschafts Woche reports (via CleanTechnica) that the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes C/CLA-Class sold a collective 6,100 units in September, while Model 3 sold an estimated 6,800. Model 3 was roughly tied with the VW Golf, a smaller and much cheaper vehicle that’s been one of the continent’s best-selling cars for decades.
Of course, it’s always perilous to predict trends based on one month’s sales data, and there are two caveats to consider here, pointing in opposite directions. The good news (for the German automakers) is that Tesla’s deliveries come in batches, so the full-year figures are unlikely to show such a total Tesla triumph. Furthermore, the Volkswagen Group is selling a lot of EVs across all of its major brands (Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Volkswagen). It’s the top EV-selling firm in Europe, far ahead of Tesla.
Above: Inside Tesla's German Gigafactory (YouTube: CNET Highlights)
The bad news for the Germans is that Tesla’s new Grünheide Gigafactory is going to start production very soon. Cars delivered from here will have far lower transport costs, and will incorporate several new cost-saving innovations. Kein Wunder that Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has sounded the red alert. He recently told his top managers that the company needs to completely revamp its factories for EV production, and took the unprecedented (and controversial) step of inviting Elon Musk to give them a pep talk.
The big picture is that fossil fuel vehicles are on their way out in Europe. Wirtschafts Woche tells us that German gas vehicle sales fell by 41 percent in September compared to the same month a year ago. Diesel sales dove by 54 percent, while sales of hybrids grew by 11 percent, PHEVs advanced 14 percent, and pure EVs added 59 percent.