Europe has undoubtedly been Tesla’s most difficult market to penetrate. Tesla has accomplished the unthinkable by taking on the German automobile industry on its home turf. Making a variety of different types of history.
Europe is one of the most difficult markets to penetrate because it is home to household names such as BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Renault, and Volvo, all of which are respected and established names in the automotive industry with a strong presence in the European market.
No automaker from outside of Europe has ever been the month’s best-selling vehicle. Tesla has altered this dynamic in Europe, where the winner has always been “Made in Europe.” Tesla has accomplished the unthinkable by taking on the German automobile industry on their home soil. It has not been an easy assignment and has been a long and rough path, but Tesla was the best-selling car in Europe in September 2021, making all kinds of history.
Europe Market, third-largest globally
Largest automobile markets worldwide in 2020, based on new car registrations
Europe is the world’s third-largest market, and Germany is the largest market for new passenger vehicles in Europe. Tesla sold more electric vehicles in Germany in 2015 than any other automaker, and in 2016, the media began to pay attention to Tesla, writing “German automakers that previously laughed off Elon Musk are now beginning to worry.”
They should have been concerned at the time since Tesla was about to unveil the Tesla Model 3, a significantly more inexpensive EV with exceptional performance that could compete with practically any German ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) automobile.
Tesla’s Initial Move
When Tesla began delivering their model 3 to European customers in February of 2019, the BMW M3 Series was suddenly no longer the best-selling performance sedan in Europe. The Tesla Model 3 topped the BMW 3 series and the Audi A3 at the Golden Steering Wheel Award in Germany in 2020, a very important victory for Tesla in Europe’s largest vehicle market against some of the most well-known names in Germany, a drag strip, and a racetrack.
In 2020, Tesla was clearly doing well in Europe and Germany, and Tesla began construction of Europe’s largest automobile. This caused Volkswagen to announce the “Mission T” strategy for catching up to Tesla, but one year later, the Tesla Berlin facility was nearly complete, and Volkswagen had made no official modifications.
Volkswagen then convened multiple meetings to discuss the necessary changes to its factories in order to catch up to Tesla EVs. The CEO even took the unprecedented step of inviting Elon Musk to address 200 Volkswagen executives via video call (despite the possibility that the CEO would lose his job), but it appears that Volkswagen has realized that they cannot retrofit their old factories and expect to catch up to Tesla’s insane production speed (about 3 times faster today than Volkswagen).
Volkswagen intends to construct a completely new auto plant for their electric vehicles by 2026. This should enable Volkswagen to achieve what Tesla has today, but it’s difficult to envision what Tesla can accomplish in the next five years.
The Model 3 was the best-selling car in Europe in September 2021.
For the first time in history, a manufacturer based outside of Europe has surpassed European automakers to claim the top rank. Not even Ford, General Motors, Toyota, or Hyundai, the world’s most established automakers outside of Europe, have ever accomplished this.
I have to commend and confess that Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess was really courageous in inviting Elon Musk through video conference with some of his 200 colleagues. While Herbert is aware that this action will cost him his position in the company, he went ahead and took it nevertheless, as it is part of his job as CEO. The company’s interest is far more important than its own title and position.
Tesla has gone a long way, at least for now. Not only are European markets difficult to penetrate, but European consumers are spoiled for choice, as there are a greater number of respectable and established automakers in Europe than on other continents.
Consumers in Europe are definitely interested in purchasing an electric vehicle rather than an internal combustion engine vehicle at the moment, and Tesla is at the right place and at the right time.