Tesla can add another star to its belt of pride after Audi of America came out with a rather lame press statement concerning a report from CNN Money, which said Tesla sold more Model S sedans in U.S. during the first quarter of the year (4,750 examples) than Mercedes-Benz S-Class (3,077), BMW 7-Series (2,338) and Audi A8 (1,.462) sedans.
Audi took issue with the headline from CNN Money, which said "Tesla sales beating Mercedes, BMW and Audi", and which we will agree with Ingolstadt's people, was misleading, but the chart below and the article itself clearly stated that the numbers concerned the Tesla Model S and the big sedans from the three German premium brands.
For the record, when we reported the story last week, we used the title, "Tesla Model S Reportedly Outsold Mercedes S-Class in the U.S. in the First Quarter".
Audi continued saying that "Tesla's reported sales of 4,750 units of its Model S electric car in April were less than half of Audi of America sales of 13,157 vehicles in the month". Allow us to state here that Tesla's 4,750 sales weren't for April but for January through March.
Nevertheless, Audi (which has a full range of vehicles and a long presence in the market) saying that it sold X times as many cars in a month than a new brand with one model like Tesla in a quarter, says more about how far the California-based company has come in such a short time, and how little ground Audi has gained over the years, than anything else…
You can read Audi's full release below and tell us what you think in the comments area.
Update: It looks like Audi has removed the posting from its media website
Not so fast
Investors, press and a lot of front-runners are enthusing over the progress of Tesla in selling all-electric vehicles, and doing so profitably, when other EV brands are faltering. But some reports are giving Tesla too much credit.
A headline on CNNMoney.com this week, for instance, said “Tesla sales beating Mercedes, BMW and Audi.”
But the fact is that Tesla’s reported sales of 4,750 units of its Model S electric car in April were less than half of Audi of America sales of 13,157 vehicles in the month, which represented a 16-percent rise from a year earlier. BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold even more than that.
The story’s misleading headline came from the fact that Model S did outsell at least one of each of the German luxury brands’ models that are in the general price range of the Tesla vehicle. Audi A8 sold 1,462 units in the U.S. in April, for instance.
And while Model S is Tesla’s only nameplate at this point, the Audi A8 is the brand’s flagship model and is aimed at consumers in the most exclusive segment of the market. The demand for premium models including the Audi A6, A7 and A8 is growing but remains just one segment for Audi.
The CNNMoney.com story did mention that it wasn’t making a “perfect comparison,” noting that each of the German brands sells “a full range of cars and SUVs” and that pricing of the Tesla S and the comparison models wasn’t apples-to-apples.
To be sure, Tesla has been riding a boom in investor and consumer interest based on its apparent ability crack the code for EV sales with its $70,000-and-up Model S.
But while Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has raised Model S sales estimates for 2013 to 21,000 units, the brand faces a number of long-term issues that also were noted this week by American press.
“Tesla has to show it can be consistently profitable with a single product that is priced so high that most buyers can’t afford it,” as USA Today put it. “There are questions, too, about whether it can keep its order books full, or whether the number of people who crave electric cars is limited.”