As we all know, Tesla is now a major player in the global automotive industry. With more than 1.3 million vehicles delivered last year, it was the 16th best-selling car brand in the world, ahead of Fiat and behind China’s Changan. Volume was up 40 percent from 2021, meaning it was the second-best performer in the global top 25, surpassed only by BYD, up 152 percent.
As the vehicles spread across the world, Tesla begins to find more and more rivals. The company is a relatively new brand compared to the traditional ones that have been producing cars for a century. However, with Tesla progressively gaining ground, it is inevitable to compare the cars of the US manufacturer with those of other brands. Some of them belong to the mainstream market, while others belong to the premium market. But are Teslas true premium cars? Let’s see together what falls into this definition and which characteristics, on the contrary, differ from it.
The main reason for placing Tesla in the premium segment is the positioning of its cars, which includes not only the price but also the way the company communicates its production to the public and the features it focuses on. As an early adopter, Elon Musk’s company has the advantage of being recognized as an innovative and avant-garde carmaker compared to others in terms of electric vehicle technology and efficiency.
This positioning and the image it enjoys among the public allow Tesla to price its cars at the same level as other premium car brands such as Mercedes or BMW. The Model 3’s main competitor in the internal combustion car market is not a Toyota Camry, but a Mercedes C-class, although Tesla is rather limited in terms of gadgets and interior details.
As an innovative and alternative choice for many consumers, Tesla can confidently play both sides of the industry, premium and mainstream. The fact that these cars present something truly new and better than most other EVs is a good reason to include Tesla’s lineup among premium vehicles.
On the other hand, there is a subjective definition of premium. A premium car is usually associated with the German trio of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, though there are certainly other brands that fit into this category. This trio generally sells cars at higher prices because they have better finishes, more advanced features, and simply because they are synonymous with exclusivity. Their success inspired many other automakers to hit this lucrative market with younger premium offshoots, not the least of which being Lexus, Acura, Infiniti, and Genesis.
Arguably speaking, the cockpit of a Tesla is not elegant. It can have many interesting driving and software solutions, but the interior is usually not as elegant as that of a regular premium car. The dashboard is not only simple (simple can be premium too) but sometimes poor in terms of quality. Some would argue even the seats are a step back from premium brands.
Of course, this is a subjective matter. The quality of a car is determined by many different factors which vary from driver to driver. The important part of the story is the happiness and satisfaction of driving a car.
The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an Automotive Industry Specialist at JATO Dynamics.