Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is one of the companies cherished by those interested in environmental protection, and with good reason. Despite some criticism, the company has been incredibly successful in recent months, heading towards its first profitable quarter in the next earnings report, and promising to pay back its DOE loan early.

Tesla Motors

Now it looks like the company might be ahead of the old names in the luxury car industry, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) (ETR:BMW) and  Mercedes. The heavy lifting on numbers was done by TeslaMotorsClub.com, a site dedicated to discussing the luxury electric car.

How does a new company like Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) come out ahead of those big names? It all depends on how you count car sales. If you looks at the “large luxury” segment of the auto market in the United States, Tesla is ahead of its competitors, including the German luxury car manufacturers.

In the first quarter of 2013, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) delivered more than 4,750 Model S vehicles in the United States according to the company’s own numbers. In the same vehicle category, none of the more traditional luxury car brands came even close.

The Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) (ETR:BMW) 7-Series sold 2,338 models in the first quarter, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sold 3,077 in the same three months. Other competitors also came in behind Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) in the “large luxury” segment. The Audi A8 sold 1,462 and the Lexus sold 2,860.

Tesla has been on a roll recently, particularly since a New York Times review of the Tesla Model S bashed the car and the internet came to the company’s defense. Revelations about the way the test was conducted caused uproar and did a great deal to spread the Tesla brand.

The classification of the Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S as a luxury car is accurate because of its size and price, but it has something that its competitors do not. The Tesla can claim, quite truthfully, to be much better for the environment than other cars. That extra layer of attraction enhances demand and leads to the car becoming the most popular in the segment.

Tesla is not , however, outselling Mercedes and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) (ETR:BMW) overall, as those manufacturers offer multiple different models. The objective of outselling those brands totally is one best consigned to the future, but Tesla fans and owners can bask in this victory while they wait.