Putting 47,100 Tesla Deliveries In H1 2017 Into Perspective

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A couple of days ago, Tesla announced its 2nd quarter sales and production totals. There were a few particularly noteworthy points. One was that Model S and Model X sales (deliveries) increased 53% compared to the 2nd quarter of 2016. Another one was that production was approximately 40% below demand due to a manufacturing bottleneck, which led to lower than expected sales (deliveries). You can guess which point the TSLA shorts jumped on and which one the Tesla enthusiasts jumped on.

Related: Tesla Model S Crushes Large Luxury Car Competition (H1 2017 US Sales)

The trend is obvious. A hiccup is a hiccup. But more interesting than looking at Tesla sales in isolation is looking at Tesla sales compared to the sales of other cars in its market. “Its market” could be various things, though. The three main markets I’m curious about are 1) the US electric car market, 2) the US large premium sedan market, and 3) the US large premium SUV market. The European versions of these would be interesting too, but it’s hard to get comprehensive data for them, especially this early after the close of the quarter.

If you assume 50% of Tesla’s sales are in the US, that means 23,550 Model S & X sales in the first half of 2017. I just reported on the monthly and year-to-date US sales of 11 plug-in cars (the plug-in cars for which US automakers share monthly sales data). Those 11 models saw 53,198 sales in the first half of 2017. Add the Model S & X to those numbers and you can see that Tesla’s two models accounted for 30% of all those sales. Furthermore, they’re presumably the two best-selling plug-in cars in the United States, edging out the Chevy Volt extended-range electric car (10,932 sales) and the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid (9,692 sales). Or perhaps the Model S is far in the lead and the Model X was a bit below one or both of those models. We don’t have specific enough numbers from Tesla to know.

Either way, though, a rather important if obvious series of points is: Tesla’s vehicles are much more expensive than these other models, expensive cars typically sell in lower volumes than average-priced cars, and Tesla’s spot at the top of the charts is thus more dramatic than it first appears. That leads into the final takeaway message.

Tesla’s vehicles, as we’ve reported numerous times before, compete with their gasoline counterparts on all fronts. Frankly, they beat the socks off the competition in multiple important ways. I would argue that the Nissan LEAF is better (from a consumer perspective alone, not taking into account emissions) than gas cars in its price range, that the Chevy Volt also is, and that even the BMW i3 and other electric models are better choices for consumers than their gas counterparts. But there are range, charging, and size limitations (as well as poor sales tactics) that do limit these models’ sales relative to the sales of gas cars in their classes. That’s not really the case with Tesla’s models.

Here’s a quick look at estimated Tesla Model S US sales & the sales of top gasoline-powered large premium sedans:

  1. Tesla Model S — 12,550
  2. Audi A6 — 7,969
  3. Mercedes S-Class — 7,583
  4. BMW 7 Series — 4,255
  5. Porsche Panamera — 3,001
  6. Audi A7 — 2,290
  7. Jaguar XF — 2,255
  8. Lexus LS — 1,855
  9. Audi A8 — 1,601
  10. BMW 6 Series — 1,479
  11. Acura RLX — 555

Here’s a look at estimated Tesla Model X US sales & other large premium SUV sales:

  1. BMW X5 — 24,159
  2. Mercedes-Benz GLS — 15,530
  3. Volvo XC90 — 12,031
  4. Tesla Model X — 11,000
  5. Lexus GX — 10,897
  6. Porsche Cayenne — 7,060
  7. BMW X6 — 3,253
  8. Lexus LX — 2,697

In actuality, US Model X sales are probably well over 50% of global Model X sales since the US is such a big Tesla & SUV market, but without official numbers from Tesla, we’ll stick with a 50% estimate.

I’ll publish a closer look at these markets shortly, but I think the point is quite clear already. Sure, a Tesla production hiccup in Q2 isn’t good news. But looking at Tesla’s place in the market as a whole over the past couple of years, Tesla demand has been growing fast and Tesla offers some of the most competitive vehicles in the categories in which it competes.

Tesla Model 3 is next, and that’s a much bigger market it is going to be competing in.


  1. 20 Gasmobiles Tesla Model 3 Will Body Slam
  2. How Does The Chevy Bolt Compare To The Tesla Model 3?
  3. Tesla Model 3 vs Audi A3, Audi A4, Audi A5, Audi S3
  4. Tesla Model 3 vs BMW 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, & i3
  5. Tesla Model 3 vs Acura ILX, Acura TLX, & Acura RLX
  6. Tesla Model 3 vs Mercedes 300, Mercedes 350e, Mercedes AMG
  7. Tesla Model 3 vs Lexus ES (& ES Hybrid), Lexus IS, Lexus GS (& GS Hybrid), & Lexus CT Hybrid
  8. BMW USA Sales Down Dramatically — Tesla Model 3 Hitting Already?
  9. How Far Behind Tesla Is Big Auto? How Long Till It Catches Up?
  10. What Now, Tesla Naysayers?
  11. Tesla Won … Sort Of

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Zachary Shahan

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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