Tesla vehicle registrations totaled 230,855 through the first three quarters of the year, passing Mercedes with 213,708, Experian data showed. Lexus was in second place with 245,864 and BMW was leading the market with 259,237 in the nine-month period.
But Tesla surged in September. While new BMW registrations rose 22,990 for the month, and Lexus added 22,908, Tesla registrations increased by 36,690 vehicles, according to Experian.
Tesla was more than 40,000 vehicles behind the luxury market leader in June. It's now just 28,382 behind.
The question on the minds of many right now: Is Tesla simply an unstoppable juggernaut? Or is all this merely a reflection of the temporary global chaos of not enough microchips to go around?
"It might be a bit early to say Tesla is surpassing Mercedes in sales permanently, but the fact that it's managed to do so with a much more limited product line is impressive," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds.
"Given where we are with the chip shortage, it's probably premature to make any sweeping long-term declarations as automakers are grappling with varying degrees of difficulty, but it does show the strength of Tesla," Caldwell said.
Tesla doesn't release U.S. sales figures. As a result, registration counts provide the most-comprehensive view of the market battleground. Registration data generaly align with sales totals.