Shortly after the Daimler chairman unveiled Mercedes-Benz’s concept electric SUV at the Paris Motor Show Thursday, CNBC asked if the German automaker was fighting back against Tesla and its growing hold on the luxury electric car market.
“If you want to interpret it that way it’s fine,” Zetsche told CNBC. “Tesla is a successful electric automotive company…[but] we want to be No. 1 by latest 2025 in the electric premium segment.”
Make no mistake: Mercedes, BMW, Audi and practically every other luxury automaker is gunning for Tesla with a slew of high-end electric vehicles scheduled to come out over the next several years.
Mercedes, for instance, plans to release 10 new electric models. BMW says it will introduce an electric version of every model it sells. And Audi plans for 25 percent of its sales by 2025 to come from electric vehicles.
“Tesla is highly likely to lose its dominant position,” UBS told investors last week, describing the coming wave of electric cars from established luxury brands as a “tsunami.”
Stephanie Brinley, senior auto analyst for IHS Markit, agrees Tesla will feel some pressure.
“The mainstream luxury brands can really reach beyond the early adopters in a way Tesla cannot,” he said. “They have the dealer network, strong brand recognition and strong customer loyalty.”