August 13, 2022

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Tesla could rattle 2021 luxury auto sales race

The 2022 outlook for Tesla is particularly promising since it will soon open new vehicle factories in Austin, Texas, and Berlin, which should help alleviate capacity constraints.

But long-term success is not guaranteed.

More-established automakers are looking to cash in on premium EVs, and some analysts see them turning the tables.

“The competition among luxury automakers is only going to get hotter, and while Tesla has the majority of the upscale EV market share, I don’t expect that to last long,” said Robby DeGraff, industry analyst at AutoPacific. “Tesla’s lineup is stale and continues to be plagued by inexcusable quality issues that consumers won’t likely find on products from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi or Lexus.”

Caldwell from Edmunds said that some of the smaller luxury brands have made big strides in recent years, a fact sometimes obscured by Tesla’s rapid rise.

“Since 2015, Volvo sales have shot up 75% while Porsche is up 34%. Genesis, a somewhat new brand, closed 2021 with nearly 50,000 units sold, which puts them precariously close to the more established Infiniti at 58,000,” she said.

“Of course, chip shortage woes can factor into some of these numbers,” Caldwell cautioned. “But they overall reflect the fluidity we are seeing in this space.”

Reported luxury-class sales and estimated sales for Tesla for 2021

BMW: 336,644
Tesla: 313,400*
Lexus: 304,475
Mercedes: 276,102
Audi: 196,038
*Automotive News Research & Data Center estimate

Urvaksh Karkaria and Laurence Iliff report for Automotive News.