Tesla closing-in on BMW in US sales race to be top luxury-car seller


Having already overtaken luxury brands Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, electric-car specialist Tesla has closed the sales gap to BMW in one of the world’s biggest automotive markets.

Joshua Dowling


Electric-car specialist Tesla is on the brink of one of its biggest achievements to date: toppling traditional luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz (the inventor of the motor car), Audi, Lexus, and BMW in the annual US sales charts.

Tesla has already outsold Audi, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz in the first 11 months of 2021 – according to US registration data to the end of November.

Now Tesla is also on track to also beat BMW in the final month of the year in the US.


The results won’t be known for a few weeks because Tesla does not supply its sales data in the US or any other country, so statisticians are waiting for registration information to come through.

If Tesla topples BMW for the calendar year 2021 in the US, it will be a major milestone.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW have traded the top luxury-car sales spot for the past decade; in the decade prior Toyota’s prestige brand Lexus dominated the segment.

Above: Tesla US registration data to the end of November 2021, as it appeared in Automotive News.

A report by Automotive News quoted data (pictured above) from statisticians Experian, which compares US registration data with sales claims made by manufacturers.

After revealing figures that illustrated Tesla’s epic sales trajectory in the US in the first 11 months, Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at major US auto website Edmunds, told Automotive News: “The numbers are too close to call at this moment, but it looks like there could be an upset.”

“Even if Tesla doesn’t take the top spot, it is remarkable that they have risen to the top in a short period of time, considering collapse seemed entirely possible a few years ago,” Caldwell told Automotive News.

As is the case in other countries, Tesla does not provide sales figures in Australia. But the firm is expected to have had another record year, based on estimates on the number of vehicles shipped here last year.

Joshua Dowling

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.

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