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Published on November 18th, 2018 | by Zachary Shahan


CleanTechnica Forecast: Tesla Model 3 Will Be #10 Best Selling Car In USA In 2018

November 18th, 2018 by  

According to our October sales estimates and official numbers from automakers, the Tesla Model 3 was the 12th best selling car in the United States from January through October of this year (SUVs and pickup trucks excluded). It was approximately 9,000 sales behind the #11 Ford Focus and approximately 21,000 behind our estimate for the #10 Chevy Malibu.

For the individual months of September and October, though, the Model 3 soared solidly into the top 10, well above the Focus and the Malibu. The midsized electric sports sedan from Tesla has been climbing the ranks for months as production has ramped up, and the gaps between it and the cars in the top 10 in the year-to-date ranking have been closing fast.

Naturally, the Toyota and Honda giants at the top of the table have nothing to worry about … this year. However, it seems likely that the Model 3 will pass up a couple more models in this hyper-competitive market before the year is out.

The Ford Focus has had declining sales and has a relatively low edge on the Model 3, so it seems certain the Model 3 will pass it up. The bigger question concerns the #9 and #10 positions, where the Malibu and Cruze have cushions of approximately 20,000 sales each. Making forecasts extra difficult, GM (like Tesla) only reports quarterly sales, so we don’t yet have guidance as far as where Malibu and Cruze sales are headed in the fourth quarter.

Based on what we know so far, though, I am jumping in and forecasting that the Model 3 will land in the #10 position at the end of the year*.

Breaking into the US top 10 would be a dramatic milestone for Tesla and for the electric car industry as a whole. It is something the average person probably would not have predicted for years to come, but it is on the verge of happening. It is the kind of milestone that makes you think, “electric cars have really arrived.” The high sales also mean that many more consumers in the middle of the market will all of a sudden discover Tesla and be turned onto the appeal of electric cars.

So, don’t expect electric car growth to step back now. The industry is just heating up. Tesla is pushing ahead with full torque, and other automakers are moving more quickly to transition to EVs thanks to Tesla’s ongoing nudge. Furthermore, it can’t be missed that the Model 3 is joining cars half its price on the top 10 list, and even on the top 20 list. Given sensitivity to price at this level, this shouldn’t be a close race. But it is. The reason such an expensive car is so high on the list is because consumers are thirsting for compelling electric cars. That thirst will only grow. (And don’t forget that the Model 3 is cost-competitive with some of these cars if you take all costs into account, something few buyers know today but more will learn.)

Check in again in early January to see if CleanTechnica‘s forecast for the Model 3’s place on the 2018 list of top selling US cars comes true.

Have a different forecast for 2018 sales and where the Tesla Model 3 will end up? Chime in below and put your own reputation on the line!

If you’re looking to buy a Tesla, appreciate my work, and need a referral code, here you go: http://ts.la/tomasz7234

*Interestingly, this forecast reminded me of a survey we conducted in 2013 — yes, 2013 — about when the world would first see an electric car break into the top 10. The largest block of voters, 25% of them, voted for the year 2018. They weren’t right — no electric car will break into the global top 10 this year — but it seems they might be right if you consider the US to be the world (something we don’t advise doing) and only stuck to cars (not all passenger automobiles). Either way, though, this is quite a feat. 

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. 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, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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