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 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 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 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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Comments (29)
  1. Wasn't it Audi's Johan de Nysschen that called the Volt a car for idiots? or at least implied that. Guess there are more "idiots" than Audi expected. Now isn't Johan at Infiniti delaying the Infiniti EV? Hmmm>

    On a technical point, does the press release say 4,750 Model S sold in April? Isn't that wrong? Should be January to April.

    Actually, Audi's reaction was the same as a lot of people's reaction. The Headline overstates the case, even if the body text makes it more clear.

  2. @John: The "more than 4,750" sales figure was issued by Tesla on Apr 1, referring to Q1 sales. It was updated in the SEC Q1 financial report to 4,900 deliveries.

    The fact that whoever wrote the Audi release didn't know the first figure had been superseded indicates how little the company seems to know about Tesla. Which I find interesting.

    At least one German high-end brand got a Model S onto their test track and spent a whole day wringing it out. Reportedly they were so astounded at the smoothness + power of all-electric drive that they're considering a direct Model S competitor--because they realized they have nothing that delivers the same experience.

    That brand was not Audi.

  3. I think the Model S is causing something of an epiphany on Audi's home front. German reporters from Manager-Magazine tested the Model S and seemed utterly flabbergasted by what they experienced. They called it a wake up call for Germany's car industry that had somehow managed to be caught with its pants down by this American newcomer insisting that EVs are for short range city use only. For those who read German (or Google translate):,2828,897186,00.html

    There is a reason Audi is loosing its nerve here.

  4. @Chris...I especially liked this statement in the article..
    "Tesla's Model S is like a spaceship landed from the future in Germany - and it has found an inhospitable planet. The car is currently too good for Germany."

  5. Has the auto giant Audi become nervous and skittish due to a tiny little American start-up that only sells electric cars?

  6. Hmm, they sound thretend. Probably they realized this and removed it..

  7. Deleting that error invested press release was the only sensible move Audi made in this whole affair. ABG readers had a field day with it and it was widely interpreted as Audi starting to feel the pressure of Tesla's current sales blitz.

    And maybe it should, first quarter Model S handily outsold Audi's two closest competitors within its range, A7 and A8. In fact it sold better than the two of them combined, ouch!

    Sounds like sour grapes to me.

  8. Audi is probably angry that they must have spent millions in product placement advertisement for "Iron Man 3" while Elon Musk is more closely associated with Iron Man without spending any money.

    There were probably more conspicuously-placed Audis in the Iron Man 3 movie than what you can find in an Audi dealership. Yet there was more press about how Elon Musk is the inspiration for the Tony Spark character and nobody was talking about the cars.

  9. Audi had so many problems with the release.

    1. Attributed 4750 to April sales for Tesla. This was actually Q1

    2. Audi A8 sold 1,462 units in the U.S. in the Q1 2013, not April 2013.

    Audi is a hot mess for making this release. Someone probably got fire today.

  10. With respect to EVs, Audi is clueless.

  11. Well, to be fair, Audi makes some beautiful concept EVs. It's also very good at talking about what it's going to bring to market for EVs. With regard to actually bring something to market, however, you're correct, of course.

    I think the good side of Audi's stupidity here is that Tesla may have finally woken the company up. But we'll see. Audi is doing so well overall that it may just be too complacent here, which is a shame for a brand that is innovative in other ways.

  12. The fact is that all germans luxury cars today looks like "ultimate high-tech typewriters".

  13. This is fantastic news, I knew if Tesla delivered on their promises with the Model S that bigger manufacturers would start to sweat. This news is particularly good because Audi seemed to be backing away from their own EV efforts due to the usual fear of selling EVs. Sounds like Audi might be rethinking things, the Tesla ripple effect has begun. Thank you Elon Musk and Tesla Motors engineers your doing it!!

  14. factually, they are correct. no car maker which makes only one car can survive for very long and the number of customers for such a narrow niche, 70K plus luxxury sedan with under 5 second 0-60 accelration cannot be very large. However, the model S is proof of concept that a 200 mile range sedan can crack the range anxiety devil, or at least diminish it so that the wish to travel sans pollution can be fulfilled. Hopefully Tesla will go for batt-swap, and for a 30K car pre-battery, and a cross-over, and then we shall see whether Audi will survive

  15. Agree that swap, Model X, Supercharging and GenIII are needed before any major manufacturer will be facing real competition, however, the path they are on right now sure looks like it will work.

    Audi doesn't have a mass-market electric car available for 3-5 years. That doesn't bode well.

  16. Someone with corporate power looked at that release and had the good sense to put a stop to it. Perhaps that individual was up to date on the Tesla, or maybe they just didn't want Audi to look like a crybaby.

  17. Sounds like 2008 all over again. Audi said there was no future in the electric car and six month later showed the etron that went through successive iteration to be left where it is today... in no man's land. Not surprising, although to be fair, Audi has spent the last decades catching up with BMW. It must suck to get to the party only to find out the costumed changed...

  18. I would be interested to see how much the Model S has affected the sales of the A6, A7 & A8, since it was released. I would bet Tesla has taken a big share of Audi's customers.

    I don't think we can criticize BMW, along with Audi and Mercedes. They have been working on producing EVs for many years. They will have some solid products with the i Series later this year. Audi will have a lot of catching up to do.

  19. Audi should be focused on making the headlines with amazing EVs that live up to its 'vorsprung durch technik'[Advantage through technique] moto. Instead they are making fools of themselves with this shady communications management.

  20. Isn't this the company that stole Chrysler's "Made in Detroit" superbowl ad and used it in Germany? When their cars were unintendingly accelerating in the eighties their reply was that "Americans just don't know how to drive.

  21. Uh, Richard, are you blissfully unaware that the alleged "unintended acceleration" thing was a scam by 60 Minutes which was quickly debunked? Audi is 100% wrong here about Tesla Motors, IMO, but seriously, how about a little fact checking? There are many sources for this, here are two of many. Come on here...

    Or, a better summary:

  22. Well, those luxury German automakers should be worried. I think I have said this already in the previous article comment. Young techies love Tesla. Just talk to all the young people in the SF Bay Area, they are NOT focusing on Mercedez, BMW or Audi. They are talking about Tesla. That is NOT good for those luxury car makers. The last thing they need is to lose all the future younger buyers.

    I am willing to bet that the average Tesla S buyer is younger than those high end German luxury car buyers in the similar price range.

    BMW has at least responded with its i3 and i8 cars (not enough to beat Tesla S, but at least 1 step forward). Audi/VW group and MB has been very slow on the other hand.

  23. Xiaolong, exactly. Audi has continue to do decently for a while with its existing customer base and growth in other markets, which is very good right now. But it will continue to lose interest until it stops showing attractive concept EVs and talking about bring them to market, and then following up by... Nothing, of course. As someone who sold my A4 to get a Volt and was very interested in a future Audi EV, even I'm done with Audi, at least for now.

    As always, once BMW comes out with the i3 and i8, Audi will eventually follow.

  24. on the "broder re-creation run" in february, washington, DC (rockville, maryland) to Connecticut and back in Tesla's there was a young couple who looked to be in their early 20's who took their Tesla along for almost a lark it seemed. (fun)

  25. "But the fact is that Tesla's reported sales of 4,750 units of its Model S electric car in April "

    Tesla sold 4900 (not 4750) in Q1 (not April).

    Agree that this sounds like whining and they are doing Tesla a big favor by responding to these headlines.

  26. Come on Tesla! Give me another $50k car and you can have all of my money! $79k is too rich for me, alas.

  27. buy some of their stock and at whats happening now in a while you may be easily able to make up the differance. there is almost a frenzy at the moment

  28. This is a great quote from that German magazine article:
    Tesla's Model S is like a spaceship landed from the future in Germany - and it has found an inhospitable planet. The car is currently too good for Germany.

  29. Amazing. Elon Musk has done it. Now he needs to take some of that cash being generated by the Tesla Model S and invest it in the Model E. I am looking forward to Tesla coming out with a prototype Model E. The Model S prototype was nearly identical to the production Model S so I expect Tesla to be true to their word in designing an affordable 200 mile range midsize yet stylish EV Sedan.

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