Tesla is leaving its big luxury sedan rivals in the dust

Hot wheels.
Hot wheels.
Image: Reuters/Joe White
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Tesla is driving off with the US luxury sedan market.

The electric car-maker’s US sales of its Model S totaled 9,156 in the third quarter, a 59% jump from a year earlier, making up about a third of the large luxury sedans sold in the country in that period, according to Bloomberg News.

In comparison, sales of its closest competitor, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, fell 9% to 4,921 in the quarter from the year-earlier period, said the report, which used Tesla’s data on its own sales and those of its competitors. A host of smaller rivals, like the Audi A7, Lexus LS, and Porsche Panamera fell by double-digit percentages, it added.

It’s a remarkable rise in electric car sales, considering that gasoline has stayed cheap. Tesla has also been selling more cars even after driver deaths that have sparked concerns about the carmaker’s autopilot technology. (The company has said its autopilot system could prevent fatal car accidents, most of which are caused by human error.)

But it’s not all open road ahead for Tesla. One competitor gained a lot of ground in the third quarter: BMW. The report showed sales of the BMW 7-Series more than tripled in the third quarter, to 3,634. And sales of the BMW 6-Series rose 31% to 1,096. While that’s still far off from Tesla’s sales and it’s unclear if it can keep up the momentum, the German automaker is gaining ground.