BMW barely passed its challenger Tesla in luxury registrations in the United States in 2021
You’re hereA surge in sales in recent months has made the EV maker a safe bet to overtake BMW become the leader in the luxury segment in 2021.
But according to recently released U.S. vehicle registration data from Experian, BMW managed to hold on to its crown for the year. Tesla came in at No. 2, ahead of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.
Tesla will get another shot to dethrone its legacy rivals for the top spot this year, as a new factory in Texas ramps up production of the popular Model Y crossover, Tesla’s best-selling model.
Experian said in a report this week that BMW had 347,453 new vehicles registered in the United States in 2021, while Tesla had 342,412, a difference of just 5,041 vehicles.
It was a passionate race.
Tesla registrations jumped 71% in 2020, while BMW’s were up 24% year-over-year, according to Experian. Those numbers suggest Tesla has significant momentum in 2022, though semiconductor shortages will likely play a big role in the race for luxury cars.
The 2021 registration data has been closely watched as Tesla does not separate US sales from its global delivery numbers.
Industry analysts look to state-by-state registration numbers for clues about where the EV leader stands against its rivals. Globally, Tesla sales rose 87% last year to 936,172 of its plants in California and China, the automaker said.
But the sales and registration figures do not follow perfectly for various reasons. Vehicles sold in one month may be registered in another, and some registration data may include estimates when exact figures are not available, analysts said. According to some industry estimates, Tesla’s sales are higher than BMW’s for 2021.
“When the numbers are close, it’s hard to declare a winner when you’re not always comparing apples to apples,” said Jessica Caldwell, chief information officer at Edmunds. Registration data is often useful when analyzing numbers not made public by automakers, such as fleet sales, she said.
BMW’s own sales data put deliveries last year at 336,644. Lexus said it sold 304,475 vehicles and Mercedes announced official deliveries of 276,102.
Ultimately, the manufacturer sales data is the official record, Caldwell said, due to the guesswork that goes into calculating Tesla’s numbers.
For example, a 2021 sales estimate from Cox Automotive gave Tesla the edge over BMW with 352,471 U.S. deliveries.
“Tesla hasn’t just led the EV market, Tesla has led the overall luxury market, overtaking Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz in the US,” Cox said last month.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has estimated that the company’s global sales will increase by at least 50% this year as factories in Berlin and Austin, Texas come online in the first part of 2022. The Texas plant will manufacture the Model Y first and likely the next. year the Cybertruck.
Other details from this week’s Experian registration report:
- The Model Y was the best-selling electric vehicle in the United States last year, with 169,325 registrations.
- The Tesla Model 3 sedan was No. 2 in electric vehicle sales, with 151,599 registrations.
- The Ford Mustang Mach-E was third, with 25,695, and the Chevrolet Bolt was fourth, with 23,078, Experian said.
- California was by far the top state for electric vehicle registrations, with 169,995 new registrations across all brands, an 80% increase from 2020.
- Texas, now home to Tesla’s headquarters after moving out of California last year, was far behind, with just 28,818 listings. Nonetheless, that was more than double the state’s 2020 number.