Tesla is hotter than Porsche in California

Its electric Model S is now the third-best-selling luxury brand in the country's most car-crazy state.

By Bruce Kennedy Aug 27, 2013 3:30PM

Tesla Model S sedans outside of the Tesla Factory on August 16, 2013 in Fremont, Calif. (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)What's the latest rolling status symbol in California? Apparently it's driving a Tesla (TSLA) electric car.

The company's Model S, with a base price of $62,400, including the $7,500 federal tax credit, has become the third-best-selling luxury cars in car-crazy California.

According to the latest report from the state's New Car Dealers Association, Tesla sales in California are ahead of such mainstay luxury names as Porsche, Land Rover, Jaguar -- both owned by India's Tata Motors (TTM) -- Volvo (VOLVY) or Ford's (F) Lincoln. Only the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW's 5-Series have better sales in the Golden State.

Admitedly, California doesn't accurately reflect the national car market. Treehugger.com reports that Toyota's (TM) Prius hybrids are the state's top-selling models, followed by the Honda (HMC) Accord and Civic. But the Golden State is certainly a trend-setter, and it has a tradition of introducing innovative cars to the rest of the nation.

Lots of other factors are behind Tesla's growing popularity, besides the smug factor of driving an upscale electric car. The company has been in news a lot lately. Its second-quarter earnings, reported earlier this month, far exceeded Wall Street expectations. And earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk's aggressive push-back against a scathing review by a New York Times reporter, following a long-range driving test, gave the Model S some unexpected, high-profile publicity.

And just last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Tesla Model S a 5-star safety rating -- "not just overall," as the company press release proudly noted, "but in every subcategory without exception. Approximately one percent of all cars tested by the federal government achieve 5 stars across the board."

Noted Will Oremus in a recent Slate article: "For all its virtues -- performance, safety, comfort, potential fossil-fuel savings -- the Tesla Model S is still dismissed by many critics as a toy for the 1%." But the new sales figures out of California, he said, "may surprise those who doubt electric vehicles' mainstream appeal."

More on moneyNOW

Aug 27, 2013 4:17PM
The Model S starts at $70k.  By any definition that's a car for the rich.  Tesla has promised a car in 2016 that will be half that price.  At that point a Tesla would be a mainstream car, but not now.
Aug 27, 2013 5:10PM

well the only competition is the Panamera "spelling' and that's not the prettiest car ever XD



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