There was a time when traditional automakers could have stymied Tesla's growth story. Is it possible they missed their window? Christiaan Hetzner at Fortune reports, "Try as they might, some of Tesla’s closest rivals are falling further and further behind Elon Musk’s pace even as they double sales of their electric-vehicle[s]."
Fortune focuses on Tesla's German rivals (VW, BMW, Mercedes, and Audi) to prove the point. "The quartet of German car brands are at the highest risk of seeing customers trade in their Bimmer or Benz for a Tesla. Until Elon Musk came around, they set the benchmark in automotive innovation for the well-heeled car buyer. Now all they can do is play catch-up," writes Hetzner, pointing to VW's sales data as a prime example.
"[VW] grew electric-vehicle sales faster than Tesla, expanding EV volumes by 96% last year versus 87% for its U.S. rival, yet it delivered only 263,000 cars to customers last year. By comparison, Musk sold 936,000 EVs in 2021," reports Hetzner. "That annual gap between Tesla and VW widened as a result to a yawning 673,000 vehicles over the nearly 366,000 from 2020. Tesla still outsells VW at a rate of more than 3.5 cars for each EV that Volkswagen ships."
“It's puzzling why VW is making such a big deal about their figures, because they’re not great once you compare them to Tesla,” said Matthias Schmidt, a Berlin-based analyst and publisher of a monthly report on Europe’s EV market.
Schmidt says the German automakers shouldn't boast about their EV sales. “It’s nothing they should be shouting about really because their gains are coming from low levels, so you would expect to see a huge rise,” Schmidt said. “It’s a bit of a joke to me, really.”
Meanwhile, "Elon Musk isn't standing still, either. With the number of Tesla assembly plants set to double to four this year, it’s very possible the charismatic CEO may soon sell more cars than Audi does across all its model lines and powertrains, and as many as Mercedes or BMW," reports Hetzner.
“By the second half of this year it will be a race to see who builds more cars in a quarter: Tesla or the German premium brands,” Schmidt said.