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Published on April 6th, 2018 | by Zachary Shahan


Tesla Model 3 = #1 In Q1 2018 US Electric Car Sales

April 6th, 2018 by  

The Tesla Model 3 appears to have been the top selling fully electric car in the United States in the first quarter of 2018. If you believe my estimates (see more on those below), #2 and #3 on the list were the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X.

The Model 3 had almost double the deliveries of the highest selling fully electric car from another automaker — the Chevy Bolt. The Toyota Prius Prime did slip in considerably higher than the Bolt, but it is, of course, a plug-in hybrid with quite limited electric range. The Model S and Model X also rank considerably higher than the Bolt, straddling Prius Prime sales (if my estimates are to be believed).

As you can see, though, the Toyota Prius Prime was King of the Hill in March, and the Chevy Volt actually beat the Chevy Bolt. Nissan LEAF sales are still picking up and somehow landed on an even 1,500 in March.

As usual, I’ll try to clarify my Tesla estimation methodology here, especially since I changed it up a bit this month.

It has been a long time since we got even a general statement from Tesla on how its sales are split between the United States and other countries. In years past, CEO Elon Musk has stated that US sales account for approximately half or a bit more than half of global sales. For a long time, I’ve just kept it simple and estimated US sales as 50% of total sales, with the presumption that growing sales in other markets moved the non-US share from a bit less than half to half of Tesla sales.

However, I spent a lot of extra time this month looking through historical sales data for Tesla in Europe (the next CleanTechnica sales report is coming tomorrow or Saturday), China, and Canada. Comparing those numbers to the quarterly global sales figures just released by Tesla and taking into account some additional smaller markets (Japan, Australia, Canada, UAE), I estimated that US sales actually represent more than 50% of Tesla Model S and Model X sales these days. (Of course, estimating the Model 3 numbers is easy at this point, since Tesla is prioritizing US deliveries, but it’s going to get really difficult by this time next year.)

As always, I’m happy to hear about other points of view on this topic if anyone has some.

Clicking through January, February, and then March in the interactive chart above, it’s fun to watch Prius Prime sales rising. If the vast majority of Prime driving is on battery power, that’s a lot of electric driving. Given that EV/PHEV production capacity and sales are quite limited across companies and regions but Prius Prime availability and sales have stood above the crowd, I’m curious how high Toyota could/would bring production if consumer demand kept growing. As it is right now, the Prime is a gangster good deal for someone going into a dealership for a Prius. It’s also just a great car overall. With a bit of word of mouth momentum, how high could sales go?

The beginning of the year is generally weak for car sales, and electrics are no different, so you can see sales grow for several models going from January to February and then to March. However, it’s a little harder to notice and get excited about when they don’t break 2,000 sales a month.

Jump into the numbers yourself and let us know what jumps out to you.

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About the Author

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] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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