Tesla Model 3 = #1 Top Selling Luxury Car in USA in October

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This may have been the longest I’ve ever taken to create a monthly US sales report, and it may have also been the most difficult. We had a strong sense of how Tesla Model 3 production and deliveries were ramping up through the 3rd quarter, but due to the intense push to get Model 3s out the door and into customers’ hands by the end of the quarter, it has been hard to estimate output in subsequent weeks — much of October.

The problem, already looking daunting, was compounded by the fact that Elon Musk noted on November 1st that we should keep in mind that the company produces cars for the US East Coast and overseas deliveries in the first half of the quarter. Fine and dandy for the Model S and Model X, but what does that mean for the Model 3? Is Tesla already producing a significant number of Model 3s for other markets? The assumption has been that it won’t start doing so until the 1st quarter of 2019, but it’s hard to know without more insight into consumer demand for the trims Tesla is currently producing.

Based on evidence of only a handful of Model 3s going abroad and Tesla’s introduction of the Model 3 Mid Range, which presumably stimulated a decent number of new orders in the US, we’re assuming that the Model 3 will still be sold only in the US and Canada in the 4th quarter.

All in all, we’re presuming there was a reduction in deliveries in October compared to November — for staff time off and to build up the delivery pipelines again — but we haven’t concluded that there was a massive reduction.

There’s much more to note about our estimate, including a perusal of figures from Bloomberg and Teslike (and consideration of how Teslike’s survey population has changed relative to Tesla’s customer base), but let’s leave the meta discussion at that and jump into the numbers, which almost entirely come from automakers themselves. (Side note: Tesla sales trends versus the competition for January through October were published in a separate article, “Tesla Model 3 = 18% of Small + Midsize Luxury Car Sales in First 10 Months of 2018.”)

To kick things off, you can see that according to this month’s estimates, the Tesla Model 3 was the 7th best selling car in the United States in October.

If we were a tad more aggressive with our estimate, the Model 3 would have been #6. And if we were significantly more pessimistic, it could have been #8. It seems unlikely that it was higher than #6 or lower than #8, but both are a possibility.

Just looking at small & midsize luxury car sales, the bar chart looks very different, as the Model 3 absolutely crushes the competition.

The pie chart follows up with a better visualization of the Model 3’s impressive 30% share of the pie.

To make it more fair and I think useful, I grouped together all of the sales of small & midsize cars for each of the automakers in this class. The Model 3 was still clearly in the lead.

(Note: Jaguar and Alfa Romeo cars are not included here because those automakers don’t report model-by-model sales, but they’d both fall somewhere near the bottom of the chart.)

Looking at luxury car sales as a whole (but ignoring SUV/truck sales), Tesla took the top spot again. To clarify, this competition is between the Model 3 + Model S and all cars sold by each of the other luxury car brands in the USA.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz used to have a good continuous race for the top spot in this class, but Tesla has now shot right past them. Overall, based on our Tesla estimates, Tesla took 28% of the pie, BMW 23%, and Mercedes-Benz 20% in October.

As far as overall luxury auto brand sales (cars + SUVs and crossovers), with just three models on the market, Tesla sat in the #4 spot in October. Though, a slightly more aggressive estimate would have put it on the podium.

We expect Tesla to have a similar showing in November, and then another blowout sales month in December. All combined, it could be a tight race for the #1 spot in this market in the 4th quarter. Will Tesla take home the gold, the silver, or the bronze?

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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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