It began as a trickle.
In July 2012, just a dozen units of the Tesla Roadster, a 100,000-euro electric two-seat sports car based on the Lotus Elise, were registered in Europe.
Fast forward to 2021. Tesla is neck-and-neck with Volkswagen as the No. 1 electric vehicle brand in Europe, with sales of 131,801 through November, an increase of 85 percent on the same period last year, according to figures from JATO Dynamics, and the Model 3 is the leading EV.
Elon Musk's brand has profoundly shaped the way consumers perceive EVs, and the way automakers build and sell them.
Along the way, Tesla has carved out market share by outselling iconic models from premium automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, first with the Model S luxury sedan, then with the Model 3 midsize sedan.
Now, in lower-level trim tailored to local incentives, the Model 3 is encroaching on the turf of top-tier volume brands such as Peugeot and Volkswagen, analysts say.
Looking further into the future, Musk has mused about moving down-market with a smaller car where volume brands such as Renault, Citroen, Hyundai and Kia play.
"Everybody at the upper-mid segment is going to be feeling some pressure from Tesla," said Philippe Houchois of Jefferies, referring to vehicles that sell in a price range of 45,000 to 60,000 euros. He noted that the just-launched Model Y midsize SUV will go up against EVs such as the BMW iX3, Mercedes EQC and Volvo XC40 Recharge.
"VW [Audi], Volvo, BMW and Mercedes are still feeling the brunt of Tesla," said Houchois, who has set a price target of $1,400 on Tesla shares, one of the highest among analysts. "If Tesla's average price point continues to go down, then you get a bit of relief from the pressure on BMW/Mercedes, but you get more pressure on Toyota, Stellantis and VW."