There was more than the usual market chatter about Tesla Motors (TSLA -0.32%) on Tuesday, following the airing of an analyst's opinion that the company will soon be lapped by a big rival in the electric vehicle (EV) segment.

Gordon Johnson, who keeps tabs on Tesla for GLJ Research, said Volkswagen (VWAGY -1.64%) will overtake the company in terms of EV unit sales this year. Volkswagen stated on Tuesday that it aims to deliver 1 million EVs over the course of 2021. By contrast, Johnson pointed out, Tesla has said it anticipates a 50% rise in its deliveries, however that lands the company at a floor of nearly 750,000 units for the year. 

A Tesla Model Y riding along a road.

Image source: Tesla Motors.

Volkswagen is clearly determined to be as much of a global EV powerhouse as it has been on the internal combustion engine (ICE) market for many years. In fact, on Tuesday it also stated a goal of being the world's top EV maker by 2025 at the latest. As that is only a few short years away, we can expect the company to charge as hard as possible to fulfill this ambition.

Whether it can do so at Tesla's expense is an open question, as Volkswagen hasn't been nearly as prominent in the U.S. as in some of its other locations. Also, Tesla EVs still have cachet as higher-end automobiles, while Volkswagen is more focused on the mass market and thus has a less "cool" lineup of models, for the most part.

Neither Tesla nor its outspoken CEO Elon Musk has yet responded to Volkswagen's latest pronouncements. 

Investors might consider the Germany-based company to be a growing threat, though. On Tuesday, Tesla shares fell by 4.4%, against the only marginal decline of the S&P 500 index.