Tesla’s Model Y could overtake BMW as the top-selling luxury model when its plant opens in Texas. The Model Y already outpaces the Mercedes GLE Coupe and the Lexus RX 350.
New vehicle registration data shows Tesla came close to grabbing BMW’s title as the luxury car sales leader. Now Tesla CEO Elon Musk promises a big volume increase with its opening of the company's new plant near Austin. Tesla Texas will produce the Model Y, its volume leader, with an innovative new battery pack using larger "4680" cylindrical cells.
"In Texas, we're building the Model Ys with the structural pack and the 4680 cells, and we'll start delivering after final certification of the vehicle, which should be fairly soon," Musk said on an earnings call last month.
U.S. vehicle registration data released last week by Experian shows BMW managed to hang as luxury vehicle sales leader in 2021. Tesla came in at No. 2, ahead of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.
Experian reported that BMW had 347,453 new vehicles registered in the U.S. in 2021, while Tesla had 342,412. Experian data shows Tesla registrations surged 71% over 2020, while BMW's grew 24 24.
Sales and registration numbers can vary month to month. Vehicles sold in one month can be registered in another. Also, some registration data may include estimates when exact numbers are unavailable, Experian noted.
“When the numbers are close, it's hard to declare a winner when you aren't always comparing apples to apples," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds. Registration data is often useful when analyzing numbers not made public by automakers, such as fleet sales, she said.
BMW sales data put deliveries last year at 336,644. Lexus said it sold 304,475 vehicles and Mercedes reported official deliveries of 276,102.
But ultimately, manufacturer sales data is the official record because of the guesswork that goes into calculating Tesla's numbers. A 2021 sales estimate from Cox Automotive estimated Tesla’s U.S. deliveries at 352,471.
"Tesla didn't only dominate the EV market, Tesla dominated the overall luxury market, outselling Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz in the U.S.," Cox said last month.
Musk predicts Tesla's global sales will rise by at least 50% in 2022 after the new factory in Texas and another in Berlin come online.