Audi Startled By Tesla Sales Success? Deleted Press Release Seems To Say So

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Grille - 2012 Audi Q7 quattro 4-door 3.0L TDI Premium

Grille - 2012 Audi Q7 quattro 4-door 3.0L TDI Premium

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It may be that short sellers and naysayers aren't the only ones a bit surprised these days at the positive press received by electric-car maker Tesla.

Yesterday, Germany luxury-car maker Audi issued a rather unusual press release in which it pointed out that it sells more cars than Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

That's not particularly a surprise; Audi has made millions of cars, Tesla roughly 10,000 to date.

The Audi release responded to articles on CNNmoney.com and elsewhere on a topic that Green Car Reports had covered a month earlier: Tesla outselling Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz in one specific category of vehicle, the large luxury sedan segment.

Audi argued, correctly, that Tesla was not outselling any of those three German makers in total vehicles. Which is entirely correct--but not what any of the articles had actually said.

The release also noted that Audi makes vehicles across many segments, also true. It goes on to say that Tesla "faces a number of long-term issues that were also noted this week by the American press."

But now an interesting thing has happened: When we went back to re-read the release on the Audi Progress blog this morning, it was gone. The link generated an error message.

Audi appears to have deleted their own press release (or blog post if you like).

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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Thankfully, AutoblogGreen has the entire release in a story they wrote yesterday noting the unusual tone of the Audi release.

So we're just going to print the entire release here.

Not so fast to put Tesla on that particular pedestal

Posted on May 17, 2013 2:38 PM

Not so fast

Investors, press and a lot of front-runners are enthusing over the progress of Tesla in selling all-electric vehicles, and doing so profitably, when other EV brands are faltering. But some reports are giving Tesla too much credit.

A headline on CNNMoney.com this week, for instance, said "Tesla sales beating Mercedes, BMW and Audi."

But the fact is that Tesla's reported sales of 4,750 units of its Model S electric car in April were less than half of Audi of America sales of 13,157 vehicles in the month, which represented a 16-percent rise from a year earlier. BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold even more than that.

The story's misleading headline came from the fact that Model S did outsell at least one of each of the German luxury brands' models that are in the general price range of the Tesla vehicle. Audi A8 sold 1,462 units in the U.S. in April, for instance.

And while Model S is Tesla's only nameplate at this point, the Audi A8 is the brand's flagship model and is aimed at consumers in the most exclusive segment of the market. The demand for premium models including the Audi A6, A7 and A8 is growing but remains just one segment for Audi.

The CNNMoney.com story did mention that it wasn't making a "perfect comparison," noting that each of the German brands sells "a full range of cars and SUVs" and that pricing of the Tesla S and the comparison models wasn't apples-to-apples.

To be sure, Tesla has been riding a boom in investor and consumer interest based on its apparent ability crack the code for EV sales with its $70,000-and-up Model S.

But while Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has raised Model S sales estimates for 2013 to 21,000 units, the brand faces a number of long-term issues that also were noted this week by American press.

"Tesla has to show it can be consistently profitable with a single product that is priced so high that most buyers can't afford it," as USA Today put it. "There are questions, too, about whether it can keep its order books full, or whether the number of people who crave electric cars is limited."

OK, readers, weigh in: What do you think of Audi's argument ... and of the company's removing the release from its own website?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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