Well, it looks like the brash American upstart has overtaken the world’s oldest car company.
In the first half of 2022, sales of the Mercedes-Benz GLC were surpassed by the Tesla Model Y to become Europe’s best-selling premium midsize SUV, according to preliminary half-year data from Dataforce, first reported by Automotive News.
A strong showing
The numbers tell the story.
The Yankee newcomer sold 41,851 units across the pond, outselling the Mercedes-Benz GLC’s 40,554 units, despite a sales bump of 12% year-over-year. The Model Y also outsold the BMW X3 (31,138, down 7.5%), Volvo XC60 (27,836, down 18%), and the Audi Q5 (15,552, down 34%).
It also outsold two new models: the Audi Q5 Sportback (13,052), and the Audi Q4 E-Tron (11,182), as well as the Porsche Macan (9,798, up 36%), DS 7 Crossback (9,731, down 26%) and Audi E-Tron (9,470, down 3.5%).
Overall, the premium midsize segment rose 18% compared to the first half 2021 thanks to the no-so-ugly American, with volume of more than 250,000 units. And, for the first time, electric and diesel sales each grabbed 32% of the segment, followed by plug-in hybrids at 19%, gasoline at 15% and hybrids at 1.2%.
But the Model Y’s sales growth has been so robust, it may eventually beat the Audi A3 to become Europe’s top-selling premium model overall. To claim the European sales crown, Tesla has to beat the has to not only beat the Audi A3, but also overtake the BMW X1, Mercedes A-Class, BMW 3 Series and Mini Cooper. But a lot depends on the ability of Tesla Gigafactories to get up to speed.
The Model Y is supplied by both Tesla’s new plant near Berlin and its site in Shanghai, China. Currently, 20% of Europe’s Model Y comes from Gruenheide, Germany, manufacturing its higher-power Performance models, while Tesla’s Shanghai plant builds the remaining 80%: standard dual-motor cars.
Musk’s trip to the top of the charts hasn’t come easily.
In May, a parts shortage at its Shanghai Gigafactory forced production to grind to a near halt as the plant closed for three weeks.
The company’s $6.9 billion Gigafactory just outside Berlin experienced a series of delays in ramping up to production speed as Musk’s plans to unseat Volkswagen as the top seller of EVs in Europe. VW, which is spending more than $100 billion to convert all of its brands to EVs around the world, currently holds a 25% share of EV sales in Europe whereas Tesla is at about 13 percent.
CEO Elon Musk recently stated by the end of 2023, the German plant will be building 10,000 vehicles weekly, or as many as 500,000 units annually. It can’t happen quickly enough. Tesla’s new plants in Texas and Berlin, according to Musk, are “losing billions of dollars” as they try to raise production amid a battery shortage and problems with Chinese ports.
Why ask Y?
Yet Tesla’s sales success story is little different stateside, where the Tesla Model Y sold 108,000 units in the first half of 2022, soundly trouncing Mercedes-Benz GLC sales of 36,059 units. In fact, it nearly outsold its entire truck line of 134,091 vehicles.
Tesla’s Model Y also far outsells its other premium rivals stateside, including the BMW X3 (32,651), Audi Q5 (25,989), Lexus NX (19,615), Volvo XC60 (17,332), Acura RDX (14,329), Lincoln Corsair (14,038), Porsche Macan (10,682), Cadillac XT5 (7,514), Audi E-Tron (6,618), Alfa Romeo Stelvio (4,049), Land Rover Discovery Sport (2,982), Range Rover Velar (2,721), Jaguar F-Pace (1,852), and Jaguar I-Pace (276).
The Model Y’s popularity comes despite a Model Y Long Range price increase of 20% in March. The company increased prices for the most affordable versions of the Model Y about a dozen times last year in the United States due to “raw materials and logistics,” the company said.
Based on the Tesla Model 3, the Model Y entered production in January 2020, with sales starting shortly thereafter. It runs as far as 330 miles on a charge, with prices starting at $67,440 in the U.S.