BMW’s Electric Car Crushes Tesla on the Sales Charts

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- That was fast! It took only three months.

On the fourth month of BMW selling its all-new, from-the-ground-up electric car, the numbers show sales of BMW's i3 are 70% higher than Tesla's (TSLA) in the U.S. market. According to industry authority insideevs' best estimates, Tesla sold 600 cars in the U.S. in August compared to BMW i3 sales of 1,025.

Part of this story is not just BMW's sharp increase in electric car sales but Tesla's spectacular collapse in U.S. sales this year. Tesla's August number represented a 54% decline over last year.

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Tesla's U.S. sales collapse was even worse in July -- a 72% decline from last year. What about the first half of 2014 as a whole? Tesla's U.S. sales fell from 10,050 cars in 2013 to 7,400 in 2014. That's a 26% decline.

Over the last year Tesla has been shipping more cars abroad, preventing overall sales from declining. First, it was Norway, then Holland, then Norway again. Now it's going to be China this quarter. We shall see how that goes.

Actually, now that I think of it, let's look at some of those international sales numbers, to the extent that they are available since Tesla does not disclose monthly figures. Let's start with Tesla's flagship country, Norway. Tesla sold 183 cars there in August, but BMW has passed Tesla there, too, with sales of 202.

Meanwhile, in some other European countries, according to their monthly auto registration statistics, Tesla's August sales numbers practically round to zero:

Finland: 8

Spain: 1

Italy: 4

Estonia: 4

Belgium: 26

Holland: 70

Austria: 9

If Tesla's spectacular sales collapse in 2014 doesn't reverse itself dramatically in September and beyond, it will miss this year's 35,000-unit sales guidance.

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Typically, in an extreme momentum story where the multiples paid for the stock are on the order of 10 times greater than the best of the competition, one expects that only massive beats/raises will do in order to keep the stock at a premium multiple. One does not look at U.S. sales declines of 54%, 72% and 26% (August, July and first half 2014) and say "Wow, this company is really growing fast!"

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