Tesla humbled the established German luxury automakers by leading the way for electric cars, but the rest of the industry is catching up, BMW's chief executive believes.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Tesla's 2020 deliveries were up nearly 36% from 2019, at just under 500,000 cars, the automaker said in its year-end financial results call. Tesla is also expanding, with new factories in Germany and Texas scheduled to come online, alongside its existing California and China plants, in 2021.

"It won't be easy for Tesla to continue at that speed because the rest of the industry is moving ahead big time," BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told Bloomberg Monday during the DLD All Stars tech conference, a gathering of tech visionaries.

Established automakers were not prepared for the Tesla Model S when it launched in 2012, and they are still struggling to match Tesla, which is now planning to launch a version of the Model S with more than 500 miles of range. Most German luxury brands are just beginning to roll out high-volume EVs and they are struggling to hit 300 miles of range.

Incoming BMW CEO Oliver Zipse

Incoming BMW CEO Oliver Zipse

The Texas factory will build the Cybertruck, targeting the most popular vehicle segment in the U.S., and CEO Elon Musk has teased an entry-level $25,000 EV as well.

However, German automakers are finally beginning to ramp up production of EVs. BMW has several new models in the works, including the iX SUV, i4 sedan, and an electric version of the next-generation 7-Series. They'll join the iX3 (which isn't sold in the U.S.) and Mini Cooper SE, both of which debuted last year. The automaker plans to launch 25 electrified models by 2023, with more than half all-electric.

Mercedes-Benz plans to have eight EVs under its new EQ sub-brand by 2022. That includes the EQC crossover and EQV minivan already on sale in Europe, the upcoming EQA and EQB compact crossovers, as well as larger EQE and EQS models—each in sedan an SUV body styles. The EQS sedan starts production in Sindelfingen, Germany, later this year, while the SUV version, along with the EQE SUV, will be built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, starting in 2022.

The Volkswagen Group may already be ahead of Tesla in Europe at least. It sold more EVs than Tesla in that market last year, and delivered 231,600 globally—more than triple its 2019 total. VW is adding the ID.4 crossover to its lineup in both Europe and the U.S. this year. Audi will get its own version, dubbed Q4 E-Tron, along with the Porsche Taycan-based E-Tron GT this year.