Tesla’s quickly becoming the most popular luxury car in the US, now outselling Mercedes

Tesla Model S Plaid and Mercedes-Benz EQS
The Tesla Model S Plaid and Mercedes-Benz EQS.
  • Tesla surpassed Mercedes-Benz to become the third-best-selling luxury brand in the US.
  • Roughly 231,000 Teslas were registered in the US through September of 2021, according to Experian.
  • Tesla still lags behind BMW and Lexus in the US, but it's catching up quick.

So far in 2021, more people in the US are buying Teslas than Mercedes-Benzes. If you weren't convinced yet that there's something to this whole electric-car thing, there's another data point for you.

Elon Musk's automaker racked up 230,855 vehicle registrations in the US through September of this year, almost 20,000 more than Mercedes-Benz's 213,708, according to Experian data reported by Automotive News. It means that Tesla now ranks third among luxury brands in terms of US sales. It's still behind Lexus and BMW, which has the No.1 spot with 259,237 registrations for the first nine months of 2021.

Of course, the auto industry is far from normal right now. Car companies around the globe - Mercedes included - have had to cut production drastically due to a semiconductor shortage and other kinks in the supply chain. So it's not clear if Tesla has pulled ahead of the German stalwart temporarily or for good.

When you consider global sales, both Mercedes-Benz and BMW are way ahead of the electric startup. Each moved well over 2 million vehicles in 2020, compared with just under 500,000 for Tesla.

But Tesla's sales are growing quickly as it accelerates production and appetite for zero-emission vehicles picks up worldwide. It's on track to sell some 1 million vehicles this year - a huge feat for a company that sold one-tenth that in 2017. The way things are going, Tesla could very well blow past Germany's old-guard luxury brands before the end of the decade.

But Tesla may need to up the quality of its cars if it wants to compete with the likes of Audi, Porsche, BMW, and Benz over the long term. Those brands have spent decades perfecting the fit and finish of their vehicles, something Tesla struggles with. It may be tough for customers to justify buying from the upstart once there are more options to choose from.

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