Tesla Makes Noise; Nissan, Ford, Toyota Make Marketshare

It’s funny how things work some times. Usually an auto product drives successful marketshare on the basis of resonant marketing messages, good customer reviews and quality service. But, when it comes to the U.S. EV market, it appears that the big dog sets the table, while the little dogs get to eat.

This is true in the case of what’s going on with Tesla Motors’s sales numbers, versus its less expensive competitors in the form of Nissan, Toyota (believe it or not), and of all brands; Ford with its Energi product. Although on first blush, the share variance between the different electrified brands may appear to be based on price sensitivity alone, there are a couple of other issues at play as well.

First, just to put the price issue to bed at the outset; let’s face it, Tesla’s products are expensive and really not available to the ‘average’ middle-income buyer; and total units sold will always be the primary metric for a successful auto product. However, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, and his people are still working hard to translate the practical cost of, say, a Model S into real-world value on a daily basis. But in the end of the day, $95k versus $30k will always be a heavy lift for regular folks.

Tesla Model S

Then, there’s the matter of sales values driven by the leveraging of one or more, large national dealer networks; like those currently developed and operated by Nissan and other competitors. This approach always creates dividends since the more sales outlets available on a daily basis, the more brand-holders have an opportunity to execute face-to-face sales transactions based on practical demonstrations of the EV/PHEV value.

Finally, Tesla continues to be stuck in the middle of a series of rancorous domestic lawsuits with a host of states and commercial dealer organizations, and regardless of Mae West’s historical admonition suggesting that “Bad publicity is better than no publicity at all,” the constant white-noise damages Tesla’s ability to sell efficiently into its own country.

That said, while the people at San Carlos continue to fight the good fight, Tesla IS creating more and more market value in the EU along with emergent activity in the Asia-Pacific region, so no one is going to go hungry either way. However, it would be nice if an All-American brand could finally ascend to the top of the EV/PHEV pyramid for a change; even if for a moment.

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  1. Another article probably written by the owner of a car dealership. The little dogs are eating Tesla’s lunch? Tesla has been supply constrained since Day 1 of production. There is still a 30-40 day waiting period to buy a Tesla. Giving into to the demands of dealerships that Tesla’s be sold by them won’t change the fact that Tesla currently has too much demand and too little supply.

  2. The total number sold is not the benchmark that is looked at. The benchmark is how much a product is sold in the class it is in. Tesla is selling well for a car in its class, gas or electric. In US it was the #1 selling full sized premium sedan in the US.

    Kind of like, do you compare boxers in light weight class or heavy weight class?

    Tesla is anyways supply capped so there is only so much they can do.

    And at end of the day, the dealership network harms the other manufacturers. Look no further than the ELR where have the dealers declined to stock it. Those that do stock it Cadillac has to pay them 5k just to have people test drive it, not even buy it. The dealers on top of that know less than the person coming in to buy the car and often time drag you to the ICE car over the EV as it is easier for them to sell it. As for the legal battles, that is just free publicity for Tesla. Tesla can sell their car anywhere in the US regardless if they are banned in a state. It just a bit more of a hassle due to the round about process.

    Once the Gen 3 comes out, Tesla might sell more than all of them combined.


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