Model S September’s top-selling BEV in Western Europe. That’s the good news

Model S in Norway. Picture by Matthias Schmidt

AID, the must-have newsletter for people in need of unvarnished automobile sales data, has an explosive mix of good-news / bad-news for Tesla friends and foes alike. Tesla is racking up impressive sales gains in the world’s second-largest battery-electric EV market. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that if Elon Musk won’t act fast, the sudden gains are liable to evaporate, writes AID publisher Matthias Schmidt.

According to Schmidt’s sales analysis, “during the nine months to September this year, sales of Tesla’s highly successful Model S and X in Western Europe may still be trailing Renault’s ZOE in pole position, or for that matter the second and third placed BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, but in West Europe’s BEV car sales league the Tesla brand already ranks as Europe’s number two.”

Even more amazing, “according to provisional AID data, the Model S was September’s top-selling BEV in Western Europe. A chart-topping 2,400 were first registered in the region last month, followed by Renault’s Zoe as September’s runner-up.”

Some of Tesla’s biggest September sales gains came from Norway, Schmidt says. According to Norway’s transport statistics institute OFV, “Tesla’s sales this September more than doubled to just a touch over 2,000 sold units, bringing its nine months cumulative sales gain there to 88.7 per cent. That’s in a month that saw a 2.7 per cent drop in overall new car sales,” says Schmidt.

Apart from musing about the fact that Tesla once again racked up eye-watering results in the last month of a quarter, as it is wont to do usually, and elsewhere, Schmidt points to the fact that Tesla’s EU bonanza could come to a quick end.

Norway is strongly considering to enact a so-called “Tesla tax” that could diminish Tesla’s fortunes in the Nordic country. As a matter of fact, public discussion about the tax could have been behind the run on Tesla cars. Elsewhere, such as in Hong Kong and Denmark, these highs ended in crashes once the tax was in place.

Tesla’s success in Europe is extremely dependent on Norway. In September, nearly half of the 4,477 Tesla cars sold in Western Europe (provisional AID count) were sold in Norway, Schmidt says. In the first nine months of the year, out of 17,848 Tesla units sold in Western Europe, 4,717 went to Norway.

Tesla’s success in the world’s second-largest BEV market is even more dependent on legacy automakers not getting off their duffs, as Tesla’s many fans believe (hope?) they do. Fat chance. As a matter of fact, Tesla appears to be playing into the hands of EU automakers and their sudden affection for EVs. Writes Schmidt:

“For Tesla, other hurdles ahead include the Model 3 ramp-up problems, or best described as Elon Musk’s ‘production hell.’ This handicap is giving competitors added time to launch rival products aimed at Tesla’s slow to appear Model 3 range.”

If Tesla won’t consolidate and expand its EU bridgehead quick, the might of the European electric steamroller will throw it back in the North Sea.

Porsche and Audi alone already have running over 70 BEV test vehicles each in Germany, writes Schmidt after analyzing data of Germany’s KBA regulator. A little dry wit flows into Schmidt’s analysis:

“The combined figure of 146 is just 74 short of Tesla’s Model 3 total Q3 total deliveries, and these vehicles are just test models built presumably in slow labor intensive manner.”

AID has a website, but the hard data are in AID’s newsletter that should be in the inbox of every automotive analyst. Long or short, the $710 for an annual subscription is just bupkes. Tesla notoriously refuses to release monthly sales data broken out by region like most OEMs do, creating the need for independent services such as AID.