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FULL ARTICLE | EDITORIAL 
Tesla’s fast-track prestige sector membership 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 20th October 2017 15:37:08 GMT
 

Tesla Model Geneva Motor Show 2015 AID


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Entry qualifications for permanent membership of the global prestige car sector probably rank among the toughest in the business. Just ask Lexus, Infiniti or Volvo, who so far have tried in vain for even associated European membership status. 

The rule book for membership, drawn up mainly by German founding members Mercedes, BMW and Audi, makes it exceptionally difficult for anyone to join. 

Volvo for one has been knocking on the door for years, but thus far, it has little to show for its efforts. 

In Europe at least, the same goes for Lexus and Infiniti. 

Of late there was just one single exception. 

Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover division, thanks chiefly to their tradition-laden pedigree, were granted full member status. 

Given these uphill, rocky tracks to the high margin sunlit uplands of prestige sector land, who in this business has ever heard of a Fast-Track entry from a total newcomer?

More baffling still, Tesla is a complete novice to this game. Least plausible of all, as a totally new US start-up it is without even the faintest whiff of aristocratic breeding. 

As if all that weren’t enough, and in a segment where the first call for a prospective customer is to one of today’s almost palatial prestige brand dealerships, in Europe Tesla has chosen to do without them. 

Failing on almost all counts in Europe’s prestige sector rule book, including the Holy Grail - top-notch product quality and cut above the rest customer servicing and repairs - today Tesla still attracts the same or similar big-wallet customers as Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche. 

In all, Tesla has quickly become the latest driveway prestige symbol.

In much of Western Europe today, for many well-heeled professionals, a Tesla oozes the same or even more car park or golf club credibility than a high-priced top-range Mercedes or Porsche. 

Today Tesla’s high-priced Model S and Model X compete in the same price bracket as Mercedes S-Class luxo-barge. 

Fact is also, here in Western Europe at least Teslas sell in similar numbers. 

Last month, in Norway, Tesla sold some 1,007 Model S plus a similar 996 Model X, bringing Tesla’s total haul for September to 2,003. 

How come? 

One likelihood, said one Norwegian commentator, is that a shipload of Teslas has just docked in Europe. 

Underlying demand is such that the lot were probably snapped up by willing Norwegian buyers. 

Now, whether fact or fiction, these simply astonishing figures are just part of a much bigger jigsaw for Tesla Europe.

The present major headache for Tesla executives is the source of genuine envy in much of today’s global autoindustry: A massive order book backed up by cash deposits and the well-publicised difficulty of obtaining enough vehicles from their already overstretched car assembly lines.

Today Tesla stands out as a front-runner in what is widely expected to evolve in just a few years from now into the world's fastest growing new car segment. 

The combination of its undeniable marketing know-how, today’s still towering, unquestioned technical domination of the closely watched electric car scene, add up to a winning hand of aces and a matching high class image. 

Prestige sector snobs and their love-affair with status-symbols has rarely been rational.

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