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Game of (leather) thrones: Tesla Model S is the king of luxury sedans

Its Q3 2016 sales nearly double that of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

2016 Tesla Model S 60
Emme Hall/Roadshow

If I asked you to think of a car that would top the large luxury segment, what would your guess be? Mercedes-Benz S-Class? BMW 7 Series? Audi A8? Close, but you're way off. The current king of the luxo-barge segment is actually the Tesla Model S.

In the last quarter, Tesla sold 9,156 examples of the Model S, Bloomberg reports. Mercedes sold just 4,921 S-Classes, and the BMW 7 Series came in third with 3,634 units sold. That puts Tesla's share of the segment, which includes 12 different vehicles, at 32 percent. It's by and large the king of this segment, helped by a 59 percent year-over-year improvement.

The Model S is but a small chunk of the segment experiencing sales growth year-over-year. Tesla's 59-percent jump is chump change compared with BMW's 219 percent leap, but that is likely due to the brand-new 7 Series that debuted last year. Other models, like the Audi A7, Lexus LS and Jaguar XJ are all down by double digits.

Tesla's sales might not seem impressive on their own, delivering a couple dozen thousand vehicles per quarter, but it's important to realize that Tesla only sells two cars. Mercedes, BMW and Audi all sell a whole brand's worth of models each. Thus, nearly every single Tesla sale goes directly into this segment, although that's slowly changing with the introduction of the Model X.

Speaking of the Model X, its sales are good, but it's firmly midpack in its own segment. It outsold offerings from Land Rover and Porsche, but it was stuck in the shadow of several models from automakers like Volvo, Lexus, Mercedes, Cadillac and BMW.

The automaker is currently in the midst of a push to deliver as many vehicles to customers as possible. It wants to make its next two quarters as profitable as humanly possible ahead of any future fundraising efforts to build out the supply chain for its forthcoming Model 3 sedan. Musk recently admonished some of its retail outlets for discounting cars, which is a practice the California-based automaker avoids.

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