Tesla Model 3 = #11 Best Selling Car in USA in 2018

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The Tesla Model 3, adored by millions of Tesla fans from day one (March 31, 2016), was a lighting bolt in the US car market in 2018. The Model 3 has shown why any remaining Tesla critics should really stop doubting the 21st century car company out of Silicon Valley.

The Model 3 is completely out of its element in the list of top selling cars in the USA — it’s the only luxury car in the top 19. It costs considerably more than every car in its vicinity, demonstrating how much consumers want it in their garage or parking spot.

Go to any Supercharger station and you’re likely to find a Model 3 driver before long. Ask them if they ever expected to buy a car in the Model 3’s class. Many of them, even if they could comfortably afford such a car for years, would say no. Many of them came from Honda Accords, Honda Civics, Toyota Camries (Camrys?), and the like, previously content with such cars and not feeling any need to show their bling. Then Tesla came along, offering a zero-emissions car that happens to also be the safest car on the market and the quickest car at its price point. It’s like an iPhone on wheels, as many commenters have said — a whole new generation of car.

As reported this morning, the Model 3 was the 4th best selling car in the USA in December (by our educated estimates) and the 5th best selling car in the 4th quarter.

Because the Model 3 was not produced in super high quantities until approximately the middle of the year, the Model 3 didn’t break into the top 10 for the full year of 2018. It just barely missed that distinction (despite my forecast), falling only ~3,000 sales behind the Chevy Cruze and ~5,000 behind the Chevy Malibu, both of which had strong end-of-year results relative to the rest of 2018.

In December, the Tesla Model 3 was just ~1,000 sales shy of the #3 spot, ~3,000 shy of the #2 spot, and ~3,500 shy of the #1 spot. That’s approximately a few days of production separating the Model 3 from the gold medal.

As far as quarterly sales, the Model 3 was ~8,000 sales short of the #4 position in the 4th quarter, ~10,000 short of #3, ~15,000 short of #2, and ~20,000 short of #1.

December Ranking Car December Sales Q4 Sales 2018 Sales
1 Toyota Camry 29,093 80,552 343,439
2 Honda Accord 28,627 75,772 291,071
3 Honda Civic 26,384 70,724 325,760
4 Tesla Model 3 25,570 60,570 139,730
5 Toyota Corolla 25,439 68,564 303,732
6 Chevy Malibu 17,884 37,084 144,542
7 Nissan Sentra 17,567 47,899 213,046
8 Nissan Altima 17,064 42,547 209,146
9 Ford Fusion 16,052 48,636 173,600
10 Hyundai Elantra 15,076 51,536 200,415
11 Chevy Cruze 13,055 32,955 142,617
12 Volkswagen Jetta 10,261 29,616 90,785
13 Kia Soul 10,128 26,821 104,709
14 Hyundai Sonata 8,705 24,143 106,389
15 Kia Optima 7,809 21,758 101,603
16 Kia Forte 7,709 27,002 101,890
17 Dodge Charger 7,293 20,918 80,226
18 Mercedes CLA-Class 6,799 18,157 60,410
19 Nissan Versa 6,735 17,726 75,809
20 Toyota Prius 6,351 18,665 87,590

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The Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Toyota Corolla held onto their market-leading positions for another year. But what will 2019 bring? Bulls expect another record year for Tesla at home, bears think the demand has all dried up between the Atlantic and Pacific. For now, we’ll see Tesla start shipping Model 3s to Europe and China in order to fulfill the hugely pent-up demand there, while not shutting off US deliveries completely and potentially even seeing much stronger demand throughout the year as word-of-mouth sales and store walk-ins bring hundreds of thousands of more people into the Tesla ownership community.

Oh yeah, and then there’s leasing and numerous other demand levers Tesla could pull if it wanted to stimulate more consumer sales.

For now, it appears to me that Tesla fans had their dreams fulfilled in 2018. Despite almost nonstop hyperventilation by anti-Tesla trolls for approximately ¾ of the year, Tesla crushed record after record in one of the most awe-inspiring feats in automotive history.

The smack talk should really stop in 2018, but when have Tesla successes and critic face-plants ever stopped the Tesla haters and shorts from dreaming up a new “sky is falling” thesis?

If you would like to buy a Tesla and want the benefits that come with a referral, feel free to use my referral code — http://ts.la/tomasz7234 — or not.

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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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