Tesla Sales Expected To Outpace BMW, Lexus


Tesla continues to prove it’s a solid contender in the luxury automotive market.

According to a forecast by TrueCar, Tesla will pass up Lexus and BMW in sales this January 2019. If the brand pulls it off, it will be the second highest premium brand in terms of sales, just behind Mercedes-Benz.

TrueCar is massive when it comes to car sales. The company holds a breakdown of Tesla sales as part of its research and insight into the luxury vehicle market. TrueCar believes that, despite a potential “bleak outlook for it shareholders,” Tesla will continue to prove itself as it pushes past rivals’ car sales.

TrueCar provided us with some interesting and valuable information, which we’ve attached below:

  • Eight-year-itch. Marking its 8th year of sales in the US, Tesla is on track to hit the 200k milestone now that Model 3 production is fully ramped up, fast outpacing other brands. For context, Mercedes first met this milestone in 2000 (year 53 of selling in the US market), with BMW (year 52) and Lexus (year 12) reaching it in 2001.
  • Challenging the status quo. Just as Honda capitalized on the hysteria of the late 70’s oil embargo to drive sales and establish brand strength among a new generation of buyers, Tesla can capitalize on fuel prices during the Great Recession to drive investment and awareness. The company has a chance to make an automotive statement against the status quo that is less about fuel efficiency and savings, and more about the advancements in technology and saving the environment on a global scale.
  • A post-waitlist world. It’s been 3 years since consumers plunked down $1,000 deposits en masse over the promise of a $35,000 car that still hasn’t arrived. As Tesla fills the backlog of orders, can it still maintain a strong customer pipeline as competitors begin to introduce new models with ranges comparable to the Model 3?
  • Testing price elasticity. Tesla dropped prices $2,000 on January 2, 2019 to soften the blow of phased out tax credits. This minimizes the impact of pricing disruption for now, but with thin margins, it will be interesting to see if Tesla is able to continue with further price reductions.

It’s truly incredible that Tesla has been able to pull off such notable successes in such a short time. Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Categories: BMW, Mercedes, Tesla

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45 Comments on "Tesla Sales Expected To Outpace BMW, Lexus"

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I guess you mean in the US, right? Did they pass them in December? I don’t think sales in January will be higher, than in December, but I’m not the expert on that.

I think all auto sales suffer in January, not just Tesla. Tesla might not set a new record in January, but it’s possible that the others will collapse more than Tesla does, giving Tesla the lead.

I doubt it. I think Jan will see Tesla sales of under 15K total….half of Dec….at best.

I think in the US Tesla sales will go down a lot, it’s not going to be the $2k discount pushing up sales. Year over year they will do very well because model 3 was basically non existent, but quarter over quarter I would be very surprised if they do better than 70% of Q4 – this is my very very very optimistic guess.

Sorry, TrueCar, but Tesla won’t be increasing its sales figures this January, either in the US or globally, much less racing past BMW or anyone else.

Half of its January production will still be on board various ships come the end of the month, so unless it’s doubled its production rate over last month (it hasn’t), then its sales figures will actually decrease.

They’ll pick back up again next month when the EU and China deliveries start kicking in, but counting Tesla’s sales figures month-on-month has always been a bad idea; the way they prioritise deliveries means that their monthly sales figures are usually as volatile as their stock price. The last six months have been an exception because they’ve only been shipping Model 3s to US, but as of this month its going back to wild swings in delivery numbers again. Good luck making specific monthly delivery number predictions any more!

Ah, one those shorters who always has a negative thing about Tesla.
Go ahead. Short more.

In fact I’m very much pro-Tesla. I just honestly don’t see how anyone can expect that Tesla’s January deliveries are going to be awesome, given that they’ve loaded so many cars onto ships which won’t arrive until February.

Being pro-Tesla doesn’t mean I believe something that is clearly not going to happen.

I’m perfectly confident to predict that Tesla will produce and deliver another record number of vehicles this *quarter*, and once again they’ll sell every car they can build, but deliveries in January specifically are going to be way down. Anyone who thinks otherwise has missed the boat.

More importantly, if your expectation is for more charts showing that Tesla is the best selling car in the US, then January is going to be a bad month for you. They’re shipping thousands of cars overseas, folks. That means they’re not going to be sold in the US.

“missed the boat”, I like that

Spudley didn’t say anything negative. You must not have read his comment carefully.

Spudley is entirely correct to say that January deliveries will be down significantly, as compared to December, partly or mostly because so much of the month’s Model 3 production will be on ships headed for distant overseas ports. That’s how it’s worked in the past with MS/MX sales, and that’s how it will be now with Model 3 sales.

Another Euro point of view

In case Tesla manages to sell USD 35k Tesla Model 3 at a profit yes. However I do not think Tesla can achieve that with current production facility in California. Really not the right place to squeeze costs sufficiently. Now Tesla has a window of opportunity of exactly a year, after this it will be too late. Tesla is a bit like the confederate army, the best soldiers and generals but still it lost the civil war against the industrialized north (Hyundai, VW, Audi, Volvo, GM, Nissan etc.). Tesla does not make sufficient profits to fuel the needed 2019 growth so it would need to raise capital. We will soon see if that is in the plans. If no solid funding in 2019 then my opinion is that Tesla is f…d and best would be for them to seek alliance with a big one.

Ah. Another MBA come to manage Tesla from the sideline.

I tend to agree with you (I can feel already the Tesla fanboys blaming the planet alignment for something 🙂 ).
I’ve been saying this for a long time, Tesla is having terrible problems achieving profits, in my opinion they need to share costs or start to make big profits really soon.
Others are making alliances for self driving r&d, battery production (Tesla too in this case), charging network, … Tesla as a small maker with tiny profits (or no profits) needs more money than others for too many things and money others have and Tesla doesn’t.

Nice try short boy – Tesla made a profit last quarter and will do so moving forward. Maybe you missed the news or choose to create your own fake news..https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/24/tech/tesla-earnings-profit-elon-musk/index.html

I’m sorry, but you don’t know for sure if I’m a boy or if I’m a shorter. And so as you are wrong on both you lost all credibility.
But are you trying to say Tesla made a huge profit during Q4 or 2018? If you are implying that, again you are being silly and reality will hit you soon…. do you want to bet? 🙂

Why do people make assumptions without knowledge?!!!

You are beating the same drum we have heard for years “they make a great product but they are not profitable and will fail” You guys move the goal posts. ” OK so they are dominating the segment and are profitable – but it wont last.” As far as the fanboy crap – let it rest – I am so sick of that derogatory term for anybody who supports the company.

“Others are making alliances for self driving r&d, battery production (Tesla too in this case), charging network, … Tesla as a small maker with tiny profits (or no profits) needs more money than others for too many things and money others have and Tesla doesn’t.”

Is a fancy way of saying yeah they are doing great but it wont last. What happened to all of you guys that said Apple would purchase Tesla?

You’re again making assumptions. That’s silly. You’re terrible at guessing so keep your comment about what I’ve written and not about what you think I’m thinking.
I didn’t say they’re going to fail and I’m pretty sure they’ll make alliances very soon.
What I’ve written in my comment it’s based on facts and also my opinion, facts are irrelevant to argue about them, if you don’t agree with my opinion you can say it or even have a polite discussing about it… I’ll be very happy to discuss my ideas with others.

And by the way I don’t think they’re are doing great, neither I said it.
They’ve done a lot of things right for sure.

Fact: They will post another profitable quarter.
Fact: They continue to outsell all other BEVs combined.

Those facts continue to irritate quite a few people for some reason mysterious to me.
Tesla is the target of constant attention and doubt. I guess the topic of slamming an innovative company that has redefined a whole market segment gets lots of clicks.

The results are out, I can tell you I was expecting more profits, so I wasn’t being pessimistic at all.

Clearly they’ve a profit making problem like I said. More cars, less profit, revenue better than estimates, profits well under estimates.

Pascal Abessolo Nguema

They have made a profit despite paying a $300M debt in november. What is wrong with you?

+$0.7B in free cash flow, to put it at $3.7B free cash.. Wow if they have a problem making profit, I hate to see when they will free the $0.9B debt due in march.

“Tesla is a bit like the confederate army, the best soldiers and generals but still it lost the civil war against the industrialized north (Hyundai, VW, Audi, Volvo, GM, Nissan etc.).”

Ah, it’s the tired old “A young upstart like Tesla has no chance against the established market leaders” argument.

One only has to look at the history of disruptive tech revolutions to see how wrong that argument is. The old market leaders are saddled with the dead weight of all they have invested in the old tech, while the new and fast-growing “young Turk” startups, not saddled by that dead weight, rise to challenge the old leaders. It’s inevitable that some of the current market leaders won’t survive the transition. The only real question is which ones.

Hyundai, VW, Audi et al have to contend with “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Tesla, Rivian and other startups do not. Of course, most startups fail, but Tesla is no longer a startup. Tesla’s long-term survival certainly isn’t guaranteed, but to say Tesla has a window of opportunity of only 1 year is either ignoring the evidence (and history) pretty firmly, or it’s deliberate Tesla bashing.


I don’t think January sales will be very good at all for Tesla. There was a big push at the end of the year by Tesla to sell the high end M3s before the tax credit got cut. They were able to deliver cars to people in very short times at year end. This must mean that the demand for $45,000 and up M3s must have been mostly met. I would imagine sales will be WAY down for all Teslas in the beginning of this year. Of course if they decide to sell the $35,000 M3, then sales would be way up again, but it seems that they don’t think they can be profitable selling $35,000 M3s.

Sales of all EVs go way down in January from the prior December. Given the tax credit changes and December push, I think US sales for the S and X will be the lowest in a long time in the first quarter. My guesses for US January sales:
Model S: 350
Model X: 400
Model 3: 5000

U are kidding about S/X in America. Right?
1/2? I can see it going down slightly, but I doubt that. I suspect it will be within 10% of last years

Not kidding. That’s my guess. I think most Tesla buyers are savvy shoppers. Why would they purchase in January if they could have saved themselves $3,500 by purchasing in December when Tesla was pushing them to buy. I would think January buyers are only those that were not planning on purchasing in December. I think that would be less than half of buyers. I could turn out to be way off, but that’s my guess.

Correcting myself. Savings were $3,750.

I think your reasoning it right.
If someone wanted a Tesla S or X for 2019, they’ve probably already bought it. It would be silly not to anticipate the acquisition, even more for the first half of 2019.
Model 3 will probably suffer from the same effect, but with the added effect of big backlog that is now empty, 2018 sales of model 3 were like 2 years equivalent of sales or more.
So half of the sales during first half of 2019 seems normal. But we should think about the EV market that is growing fast, but opposite to that the competition is growing too. But I think the EV competition will still be small so my number is 70% of sales – optimistic.

This isn’t reasoning, it’s just the same ol’ same ol’ Tesla bashing that y’all have been spouting for years.

Nudge the needle, dude. Your record is stuck.

When the numbers of Q1 are out we can discuss this again. But as for Q4 I can already say I was being optimistic.

No, I know many people on the fence about Tesla, largely because they are thinking about buying a $60k car from a company that could be “bankrupt tomorrow”. Once they see that Tesla is stable and the cars are reliable they will make the leap.

As Tesla introduces cheaper Model 3s they could go from maybe 200,000 per year to many more than that for just US alone. I think their market could be significantly larger than BMW 3 er for example.

I back off on what I said.
I forgot about the tax break. That is about 8% or so of the ‘base’ M3. That IS a fair amount of money. So, yeah, I agree. Ppl did their buying in Dec, not in Jan.

I have no doubt that TM3 will be back on target come end of feb. may be march.

“…the demand for $45,000 and up M3s must have been mostly met.”

Only in the American market, and only without a lease option. Since Tesla is now selling the Model 3 in multiple overseas markets, we can be sure there is a great deal of market potential for higher trim levels of the Model 3.

And if Tesla has a hard time generating enough demand for strong growth in sales this year, Tesla can always start offering leases on the Model 3.

They plan to produce as many Model 3 cars as possible going forward and higher sales than last year. I think they are around 6000/week production now and will edge up to 7000 by year end. If they are at 6000/week now and shipping 3000/week to Europe (but maybe they ship more initially). I suspect we will see closer to 8,000-12,000 sales in January.

I suspect Model S and X will be same as previous years, 700-900 range in January. Demand seems fairly flat and stable for those cars.

However, month by month sales are meaningless for Tesla. Maybe they ship 0 to US and ship 24,000 rest of the world, then in Mar they sell 50,000. I am exaggerating here for effect, but the point is you really should only look at quarterly numbers for Tesla since a high percentage of vehicles are in transit during Jan and Feb. I would suspect Q1 Model 3 deliveries around 65,000-78,000 give or take.

All this and Tesla spends zero dollars on advertising. Easier for great cars to sell themselves.

They spend/spent significant sums on advertising – the referral system is a form of advertising. They don’t have TV ads no, but that not the same as advertising in general.

Tesla spends very insignificant sums on its marketing, as compared to all those expensive TV ads paid for by larger auto makers.

supposedly, that is about to change.

Are you a normal reader of InsideEVs articles? What do you call the referral program?
InsideEVs delete negative polite comments about Tesla and they are not even the most terrible ones. There are a huge hoard of youtubers and different channels doing advertising – and it costs Tesla money…. But it’s cheaper and in my opinion a very good idea from Tesla.

Do you own an EV?

I think they also advertised on facebook for a while.

Not unless having a FaceBook page counts as “advertising”. It’s not like Tesla pays for banner ads on FB or other social media sites. That would be paid mass advertising, and Tesla doesn’t do that, period. At least not yet; I expect that to change someday.

Another Euro point of view

“Tesla spends zero dollars on advertising”

I am not sure about that at all.
On Cleantechnica there was not long ago an article about a Tesloop youtube video which really was walking and quacking like a du…advertisement. This shuttle company operates a fleet of Tesla in California. I have a hard time thinking that such video are made enterely because people at Tesloop have nothing better to do during their free time.
It tend to think that it goes like this for many publications. This not to speak about the referral system which was just scrapped.

Tesla has only 3 models while others have more than 10 models, so its still a far cry for Tesla to overtake them.
But in value, Tesla should have higher sales amount which is great.

It’s crazy that we even talk about it but Tesla just got to close to them. They definitely need more models.

I think Tesla is showing again that you don’t need different models if you have the right car. Manufacturers used to sell more of a single model. The 65 and 66 Mustang sold around 600,000 units each year, a much larger percentage of the market than any model today. I think Model 3 has that potential.

I am not sure what you are referring to. “Tesla has only 3 models while others have more than 10 models, so its still a far cry for Tesla to overtake them.”
Tesla has outsold all other luxury sedans with the model 3 and the entire line of BMW passenger cars this past August.: