Tesla Bests Mercedes-Benz in US Sales for First Time

The electric vehicle manufacturer outsold the established luxury car builder, according to third-party analysis.

Tesla might’ve hit one of its biggest milestones ever as a company -- outselling one of the automotive industry’s most formidable companies.

According to industry analysts at Atherton Research, Tesla has outsold Germany luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. The news broke at the end of the July-September sales period. Atherton Research’s principal analyst Jean Baptiste Su reported the sales in Forbes.

In the third quarter - July to September - of this year, the Silicon Valley automaker sold 69,925 Model 3, S and X while the German car giant sold 66,542 vehicles, excluding commercial vans (Freightliner, Metris, and Sprinter).”

Challenging industry heavyweights

But it’s not just Mercedes-Benz who’s sinking compared to Tesla’s rising sales. Another leading car manufacturer could be overshadowed by Elon Musk’s company soon, Su said.

For the same period, BMW sold 71,679 vehicles and in a note to clients, my company, Atherton Research expects Tesla to also outsell the Bavarian luxury carmaker during the last quarter of the year as the Palo Alto, California, company accelerates its production cadence,” he said in Forbes.

"When they were just producing the model S and X, they were a niche automaker that really didn’t strike fear into the hearts of automakers," said Jeremy Acevedo, manager of industry analysis for website Edmunds.com. "But now with the Model 3 hitting its production stride they are eating some of these manufacturers' lunch."

A bright spot in Tesla’s recent dark times

The news might be massively comforting to Tesla executives and investors, especially given the ups and downs of the last month.

Tesla has struggled with stability in recent months, a struggle widely attributed to a series of tweets CEO Musk fired off about taking the company private. The tweet caught the attention of millions of Musk’s followers, as well as investors and Tesla stakeholders who weren’t aware the company was anywhere close to going private.

Less than a week after Musk tweeted the now-infamous “funding secured” tweet, reports surfaced that the Securities and Exchange Commission was making inquiries into Tesla about the tweet.

During the months of the investigation, several executives within Tesla have left for a variety of reasons. Two Tesla investors also filed separate lawsuits accusing Musk of misleading investors as well as manipulating the company’s prices with his not-announcement announcement.

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The SEC has since completed its investigation, and Tesla submitted a joint filing supporting the settlement. Musk will step aside as Tesla’s chairman for three years and pay a $20 million fine. The company itself will accept a $20 million fine, but will not be charged with fraud.

Musk didn’t keep his thoughts quiet about the process. He took to Twitter last week, mocking the SEC’s role.

"Just want to that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work," Musk, a frequent critic of investors betting against the electric car company, wrote. "And the name change is so on point!"