Tesla Finds Europe to Be a Very Different Market from the US as Sales Stall

Tesla Model S 1 photo
Photo: Tesla Motors
While Tesla is doing great over in the US, things aren't looking as promising on the Old Continent too. It's not that Europeans don't flock to buy the famous electric car the same way Americans do, it's almost as if they're not even aware of its existence.
We'll take for example Europe's largest car market and one of the leaders in electric cars sales in terms of overall volume - Germany. Over the first eight months of this year, Tesla managed to sell a very underwhelming total number of 958 Models S cars, the only Tesla model available there. The numbers are provided by motor vehicle office KBA and are quoted by Automotive News.

In Germany, the Tesla Model S has a starting price of 81,800 euros (about $92,000), which is about the same as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury limousine with a conventional engine. By comparison, the latter sold 5,149 units during the same timeframe, which is over five times the number of Tesla cars, even though in reality most S-Class cars end up costing a lot more than that.

What's more, the 958 units sold are also a far cry from Elon Musk's forecast of around 1,000 sales per month on the German market. What's causing this huge discrepancy between the Tesla expectancies and the reality of the European market?

Well, conservatism could be an explanation.

Europeans are very fond of their brands, and Germans more so than any others (well, maybe they're tied with the French). With almost every major European manufacturer announcing future full-electric or hybrid models, it makes sense that the faithful European customers will wait until their trusted brand comes up with such a car until making the switch.

Besides that, Tesla Motors doesn't have a Superchargers network there similar to that in the US. It's expanding, but it's more difficult since there are many more countries involved, and things are moving understandably slower.

The best proof for all this is the Norwegian market, a country with no tradition in car making and not that many ties with the automotive world whatsoever. Still, it's Europe's most important new EVs destination, with 2,674 Tesla Model S sold in the first six months of this year. And the Tesla isn't even the best-selling EV here, trailing Volkswagen's e-Golf. So the largest overall market doesn't necessarily make for the best EV market as well.

But Tesla is still optimistic and says that traditional carmakers jumping on the electric bandwagon is only doing them a service in the long term. "For us to achieve our long-term goal, which is to get people driving electric vehicles, we need the cooperation of traditional carmakers," said Ricardo Reyes, Tesla's spokesman. "When you hear companies like Porsche or BMW make very public commitments to this, it's a vindication of what we're trying to do."

What Tesla is really missing to make on the European markets is a more accessible model (the fact half the Teslas sold in the US are headed over to its home State of California says something about the buyer's profile). The car's huge range isn't such an important selling point in Europe, where distances are shorter, so cars like the e-Golf who cost half as much and come from the continent's biggest manufacturer are likely to keep outselling Tesla for the time being.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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