Tesla Is Experiencing Tepid German, Danish Sales So Far; Netherlands Performance Faring Better

 @angeloyoung_a.young@ibtimes.com
on October 21 2013 10:44 AM
Tesla S 2012 Getty Images
The Model S. Getty Images

Norway is so far turning out to be the Northern European sales-volume outlier when it comes to demand for the Tesla Model S luxury sedan.

In the first two months that Tesla went full steam into the European marketplace, the Palo Alto-based electric vehicle maker delivered 801 of its critically acclaimed cars in Norway compared to 531 units for the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany combined, according to data compiled by each country’s automobile authorities.

Meanwhile, JP Morgan raised its TSLA price target on Monday from $83 to $93 with a neutral rating. Tesla's stock fell more than 3 percent in morning trading in New York in what could be the start of a market correction ahead of the company's quarterly earnings report, which is due out in two weeks. 

Germany, whose auto market is larger than the other three countries combined, is considered one of the more environmentally progressive countries in Europe. But in August and September, buyers there registered only 98 Model S cars, according to the country’s Federal Motor Transport Authority, known by its acronym, KBA.

“The American electric car maker Tesla's global expansion in Germany is making comparatively slow progress,” said the German-language Manager magazine in a report on Monday.

The electric car market is growing but still small in Europe as it is everywhere else. But unlike in Norway where the Tesla Model S was the best selling of any model last month beating out the gas-burning Volkswagen Golf, in Germany three other electric vehicles outsold the Tesla in September: the Smart EV by Daimler AG (146 units), the Renault Zoe (57 units) and the Nissan Leaf (55 vehicles). The Leaf is the No. 1 global EV on the market, having sold more than any EV in history.

Meanwhile, according to the automotive and bicycle authority of The Netherlands, known as Rai Vereniging, Tesla logged 348 Model S registrations in August and September, making it the second-strongest market in Northern Europe. Tesla set up an assembly plant in Tilburg, Holland, earlier this year, where it also houses its European headquarters. Meanwhile, in Denmark, with a population a little larger than Norway's, there were 85 Tesla Model S registrations, according to its auto authority.

Most certainly Tesla -- which boasts the longest range of any EV in history and is seeking a market different from the one that buys electric minis -- is working to fill back orders and is looking to expand showroom and staff in Europe. But this data suggest that early Tesla sales performance in Norway, with its small and moneyed population of 5 million people, is not going to extend to other environmentally progressive European countries.

Germany has reacted coolly to the Model S so far, and that doesn’t bode well for the car maker out of the gate, but it’s still too early to write off Tesla’s European expansion, as the auto market in Europe has been reeling. September saw a modest 2.5 percent rise in vehicle sales in Europe, the biggest jump in more than two years.

Norway has some of the most enticing incentives for buying electric cars -- including free parking, free ferry transit and tax incentives that price the Model S lower than comparable gas-burning luxury sedans -- so it made sense for Tesla to target the country heavily early in its global expansion.

Tesla will report its third quarter earnings on Nov. 5. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect $13 million in profit, or 11 cents per share, on $535 million of revenue. 

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