Tesla’s Latest Achievement Is Great News Even If You Hate Tesla

If you're at all interested in American manufacturing, at least

A Tesla factory worker in the EV company's Fremont, California factory. Elon Musk's company just became the luxury sales leader in the U.S. in 2022.
An American company is once again on top of the luxury car category.

If you only skimmed headlines and stock market numbers, you’d think that Tesla just had its worst year ever. On December 31, 2021, the share price for the electric car company was a little over $350; by December 30, 2022, it was a little over $120. That’s by no means good news, but if you look at the sales and growth numbers, you’ll get a very different picture. 

In 2022, Elon Musk’s EV company reported delivering 1.31 million vehicles to customers around the world, 40% more than they did the year before, and producing 1.37 million EVs, 47% more than in 2021. Meanwhile, the rest of the auto industry had its worst U.S. sales figures in a decade. The reason Tesla’s stock price is sliding despite trouncing other automakers is because the company didn’t meet the 50% growth goal they set for themselves, as The New York Times notes.

However, Tesla now has another accolade to show investors to prove that the company is still worth the hype: it’s the new U.S. luxury sales leader. According to estimates by Automotive News, the automaker not only sold more vehicles in the country than BMW, which has held the luxury sales crown here for the last three years, but Musk’s company became the first American brand to top the list in almost a quarter century. (The Automotive News Research & Data Center qualifies their Tesla numbers as an “estimate” because the automaker doesn’t “break out sales by region or country.”)

Here is the company’s breakdown of U.S. luxury car sales for 2022:

  • Tesla: 491,000
  • BMW: 332,388
  • Mercedes-Benz: 286,764
  • Lexus: 258,704
  • Audi: 186,875
  • Cadillac: 134,726
  • Acura: 102,306
  • Volvo:  102,038

Tesla didn’t just beat BMW by an inch, they beat them by a mile (or more accurately, in the ballpark of 158,612 vehicles, more than the annual sales from Cadillac, Acura and Volvo). The big asterisk, other than the fact that these are estimates at the moment, is that Tesla is considered a luxury automaker because of its price, but some buyers may not categorize the brand’s vehicles on the same level as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, not least of all because of quality issues that have plagued Tesla vehicles for years. 

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That’s a minor qualm, though, and Tesla is still categorized as luxury despite the complaints of some. Furthermore, there are always going to be people on the internet complaining about Tesla and its CEO, and for good reason. But even if you’re an anti-Tesla crusader, if you’re an American, this latest news is hard to hate on.

After years of being bested by the automotive concerns of other nations, Tesla has put the U.S. back on top in the luxury category. Not only that, but the vehicles that Tesla sells here in the U.S. are actually made in the U.S., at its factories in Fremont, California, and Austin, Texas. So it’s not just a case of an American company reigning supreme, it’s a case of American manufacturing making a comeback. And Tesla’s success is inspiring other automakers to do the same, as the country’s growing Battery Belt shows.

This could change in 2023, however, as Reuters reported that Tesla was considering selling some made-in-China vehicles in North America. Musk denied the claim, but we’ll wait and see how that shakes out. After all, Tesla’s Shanghai factory is its most productive, and the company is looking to get back on track for growth because, for them, growth does come first over American manufacturing. 

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