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Is Tesla Model 3 Already Eating Massively Into Premium Gas Car Sales?

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Originally published on EV Obsession.


There’s no doubt about it — 400,000 reservations for a single model is a big deal. For several months (since last year, even), we’ve discussed how this could be (likely is) decreasing Nissan LEAF, BMW i3, and other pure-electric car sales. However, that market doesn’t seem to be affected to the tune of ~400,000 cars — the entire global EV market was just 540,000 in 2015, and it continues to grow in 2016.

It seems likely that the bigger effect will be seen in the premium gasoline & diesel car market. Questions about how these markets have been doing recently came up on the TMC forum. One proactive member, RubberToe, subsequently shared the following table, which shows the change in sales for a variety of potential Model 3 competitors — March 2016 vs March 2015, April 2016 vs April 2015, May 2016 vs May 2015, and 2016 through May vs 2015 through May. As you can see, almost every car on the list took a significant hit to sales:

Tesla Model 3 Competitors

Since those numbers didn’t include June, I just tallied up the June totals as well as a supplement, but removed the Toyota Prius (since I’m not sure how much of a competitor that is, and I’m more interested in examining the small to medium luxury sedan market) and added the Audi A3, Audi A4, BMW 4 Series, Mercedes CLA Class, and Acura ILX (a huge thanks to Viktor Irle of EV-Volumes for the guidance). Here’s the table:

Model 3 Competitors 4

Nothing to write home about for these automakers, and that’s amidst an overall increase in the US car market.

Naturally, there are a variety of factors at play here. However, I’m not thinking up any significant, across-the-market influences that could be driving a considerable drop in demand/sales … other than the Model 3. Any ideas? [Edit: Viktor Irle and commenter Adrian have noted that premium-class CUVs and SUVs are selling well, which could be a significant part of the explanation as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone is prepared to do a regression analysis to tease out an unequivocal answer here.]

And let’s recognize that we’re still well over a year away from the start of deliveries, if everything goes as scheduled. That 35,000-car drop across the models in the table could swell as we come closer to the Model 3 rollout. Hold onto your seats, people!


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Tesla Sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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