30 Nasty Tesla Charts

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With our US large luxury car sales report, US small & midsize luxury car sales reportUS electric vehicle sales report, and other Tesla-related sales reports recently completed, it’s time for another edition of Nasty Tesla Charts!

The number of charts keeps growing. All in all, the sales charts show Tesla’s dramatic rise in the US and globally in 2018, its dominance of a few segments of the market, and why it’s finally being treated quite seriously by executives of other major auto firms.

Given the high number of charts and the fact that we’ve written about all of them before, the rest of this article doesn’t include much text — just short notes highlighting the takeaway points of each chart. Enjoy.

(Note that on several charts, there’s an option to click between different vehicles or timeframes.)

This first chart shows Tesla’s dramatic rise over the past ~6 years. The company rose from 2,400 exciting, exhilarating, groundbreaking deliveries in Q4 2012 to a mere 90,700 in Q4 2016.

Okay, that’s not too shabby. I’m sure you could have done better, but hey, cut Elon some slack.

Somehow, the record 90,700 deliveries disappointed already bearish analysts on Wall Street, but that’s another story that we’re not digging into here.

Splitting out that sales growth by model over the past couple of years, it’s clear who the big dog is. It’s the littlest dog. The Model 3 unveiling shocked the world on March 31, 2016, both because it received over 100,000 reservation before it was even shown to the public and because those reservations poured in faster after the reveal. Many onlookers remained skeptical. Would those reservations really convert to sales? Well, apparently, many of them did and Tesla also started pulling in higher numbers of non-reservation sales. Score for Tesla.

This interactive chart uses the same data as the line graph above. This time, however, you can more blatantly drool over pointedly examine Tesla Model 3 sales growth.

By the way, I’ll take an opportunity here to note: If you would like to cut pollution and go electric by buying a Tesla, feel free to use my referral code — http://ts.la/tomasz7234 — to get 6 months of free Supercharging (or 9 months if you don’t bother to test drive the car). If you would like to cut pollution by getting a Tesla Energy rooftop solar or solar + Powerwall system, you can also use our referral code to get an extended 5-year warranty. The deadline to use a referral code for the above benefits is February 1, 2019.

Exiting Tesla world and looking at how the Tesla Model 3 compares to the top selling cars in the United States is different kind of fun. The shocking thing here is that the Model 3 is in the vicinity of these Toyotas and Hondas despite its much higher average selling price.

Although, the thing is: the Model 3’s low operational costs mean its total cost of ownership is closer to those non-luxury models than you’d think at first glance. Also, the Model 3 is much safer, much quicker, and much more high tech. And it’s 100% electric, which means it’s clean. The extra value from those benefits exceeds any extra upfront cost for hundreds of thousands of people.

This is another interactive chart. You can click from December to Q4 to 2018 to get deeper perspective on how Model 3 sales compared to these Honda & Toyota sales. Model 3 production was ramping up throughout the year, so we’ll have to work our way through 2019 before we see how the Model 3 compares in a “normal” production year and without a backlog of reservations. (I’m bullish, but this article is about looking backwards, not forecasting.)

Looking at the sales changes from year to year (2017 to 2018) for these top 5 models, it’s hard to not get the impression that Model 3 sales are eating into Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, and Honda Civic sales. Indeed, despite the trend toward crossovers and SUVs, we do know that many Model 3 buyers come from the Accord, Civic, Toyota Prius, BMW 3 Series, and Nissan LEAF.

Here’s just one more fun way to compare these 5 vehicles’ 2018 sales versus 2017 sales. Again, click through each model to see all the charts. Note: the last one is the most fun.

In this chart, I start breaking down the full list of America’s 20 most popular cars. (To be clear, this doesn’t include SUVs, crossovers, and pickup trucks, which are in other vehicle classes.)

In this chart, we’re just looking at December 2018. The Model 3 number is a CleanTechnica estimate, but it’s based on official Tesla numbers for the quarter and common assumptions about Tesla’s delivery patterns.

Yet again, the staggering thing is that there isn’t another luxury car anywhere close to the Model 3. The only other luxury car on this list is the Mercedes CLA-Class, which is way down at #18.

The Model 3 ranks similarly for the full quarter, just a tad behind the #4 Toyota Corolla to sit comfortably in the #5 spot.

Naturally, no matter how excited Tesla buyers and fans are about this nearly impossible ranking for such a young company in such a niche segment, Tesla critics remain steadfast in their claims that it isn’t enough and the whole success story will implode any day. The thing I find useful to remember is that some of these people have been making this claims for approximately a decade, every notable milestone along the way.

Cognitive dissonance is a bitch.

Largely due to the Model 3’s relative low production at the beginning of 2018, when you look at full year sales, Tesla’s 4th production vehicle landed in the #11 spot.

Admittedly, it was a bit disappointing to not see the Model 3 break into the top 10, but #11 is still a mind-boggling 2018 ranking, the more so when you consider all that Tesla and its tens of thousands of employees went through over the past 7 years.

Okay, this is where the charts really start to get a bit nasty. No offense to Porsche and Jaguar here, both of which seem to now be aiming for electric leadership themselves, but I find that this chart really helps to put Tesla into some useful perspective in the broader global auto market.

Tesla was ~14,000 units short of matching Porsche’s global sales and Jaguar’s global sales combined in the 4th quarter.

If you click through to the 2018 tab, Tesla was ~11,000 sales short of reaching Porsche. One more quarter and Tesla will surely have a higher running 12 month total. Meanwhile, Tesla is already ~75,000 sales above Jaguar.

I didn’t initially intend to include this chart or the next two, but then I was inspired to write a piece comparing the sales of some previously labeled “Tesla killers” to Tesla vehicles.

The Chevy Bolt, a solid car that we have praised many times, simply doesn’t compete with the Model 3 in a handful of ways that matter to many consumers — safety, acceleration, superfast charging access, autonomous driving tech, and the cleantech chops of the parent company, for example. The result, combined with factors related to auto dealerships and regulations, is the chart you see above.

Long before the Chevy Bolt was portrayed in the media as a Tesla killer, there was the BMW i3. I drive an i3. I love the i3. But the i3 is no Tesla and that’s why it doesn’t sell like one. Tesla’s Model S and Model 3 offer several advantages — just like they do compared to the Bolt — that make most people heavily favor buying one of them over an i3. Actually, the i3 just has one core selling point over a Tesla, as far as I can tell — it’s tiny.

With superfast charging, more range, something comparable to Tesla Autopilot, quicker acceleration, some restyling, and a higher safety rating, perhaps the i3 (or a bigger i4 or i5) could see 10× more sales. What do you think?

BMW has several plug-in hybrids to complement the i3 in its “electrified vehicle” lineup. Many have argued that plug-in hybrids are more practical and consumer friendly at this stage of the rEVolution, so I figured it could be more interesting to compare Tesla sales to BMW & MINI electrified vehicle sales. It turns out Tesla still had a 100,000+ lead in 2018 globally.

Perhaps BMW should really try to deliver an i4 or i5 with comparable specs, features, and pricing to a Tesla Model 3. Of course, it needed to start on that ~5 years ago, but one can hope.

This is perhaps the nastiest Tesla chart of all. Clearly, the Model 3 is “the one that doesn’t belong” here. It looks like something is wrong with this one, and I even had to question my work for a moment. The Model 3 is showing that it’s not just competitive in the midsize luxury car class — it’s in a class of its own.

Looking at full year sales doesn’t help much to even out the playing field. The Model 3 is still more than twice as competitive as the next best luxury car, if you base competitiveness on sales.

Months ago, it hit me that it would be more fair to compare the Model 3 to model combinations from the other automakers. Tesla doesn’t have multiple midsize luxury cars to choose from, and doesn’t have any small luxury cars to choose from. So, it seems more sensible to combined the other luxury automakers midsize cars (and I think even their small cars) when comparing sales data.

Nonetheless, Tesla still dominates the market, with nearly twice as many sales in December as Mercedes-Benz’s fleet in these categories and taking a whopping 32% of the market.

Looking at the full year is where you finally get a chart that makes the market look competitive. Of course, even with low production levels in the first half of the year and minimal word-of-mouth or in-store sales, the Model 3 ended up king of the hill.

The two interactive charts above are two of my favorites. I love clicking from month to month and watching the Model 3’s sales rise. I’ll admit that I sometimes do it more than once in the same sitting, mesmerized by the colorful bars and all that they represent.

Ah, the big old Tesla Model S. It was once the hype of the auto market, the talk of the town, the cutting-edge, award-gobbling car shocking the world. With the Model 3 here and dominating sales, the Model S hardly gets a mention. Nonetheless, it continues to dominate the large luxury car class in the same way that the Model 3 dominates the midsize luxury car class (+ small luxury car class). It’s still hard to believe, especially when you consider how low overall public awareness of Tesla and its products is.

This month is the first time I created the above multi-quarter interactive chart for the Model S and its gasmobile competitors. Quite different from similar charts for the Model 3, the Model S shows steady dominance quarter after quarter. Is this what we can expect from the Model 3 in 2019 or 2020?

The Model X is the only Tesla to not yet rise to the top of its automotive segment. It was #3 in the 4th quarter and #2 across the year, according to our estimates. Still an admirable showing, and I’m sure automakers below it would love that spot, but it seems the Model X needs a little bit of a booster to knock the Cadillac Escalade off of its ginormous, flashy throne.

Combining all luxury car sales (not SUVs and crossovers), Tesla didn’t come close to breaking a sweat on its way to #1 in December. However, it “only” logged the silver medal for the full year, approximately 24,000 sales behind BMW. Is BMW sweating about 2019? Well, you have to think so, but who knows?

When you combine all luxury vehicles, Tesla finally doesn’t rank #1 in December. Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW still have popular crossovers and SUVs that log tens of thousands of sales a month. Tesla was at the bottom of a dominating top 4 in December, and right around the middle of the pack in all of 2018. Expect it to easily pass Buick and Audi in 2019, but we’ll see about Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW.

Once a fascinating monthly and yearly race between top selling options, US electric vehicle sales reports now communicate the bipolar status of the market. Tesla Model 3 sales are exciting and through the roof, and the Model X and Model S (as we’ve already shown) do ver well for their prices. On the other hand, no one else is stepping up with an electric vehicle that sees anywhere close to 10,000 sales a quarter, let alone 10,000–25,000 sales a month.

I updated this automaker market cap chart on Thursday and hoped it would be fine to use despite being the night before the last trading day of the week. Oy. It turned out that Tesla published news about layoffs and financials at the end of the week that spooked some shareholders.

So, I updated it again this weekend and Tesla [TSLA] moved from #4, right behind Daimler, to #7. Naturally, the stock market is volatile. Who knows where TSLA will be on Monday, next Friday, or a year from now.

We don’t provide investment advice, but it’s fun to track Tesla’s position on the market, where its market cap is connected to its auto sales in a very different way than other automakers.

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Hopefully you enjoyed this January edition of Nasty Tesla Charts. Stay tuned for future editions, which I have to admit are going to be much more difficult to create since Tesla doesn’t split out sales by country (or by month) and is now shipping Model 3s to Europe and China. Please, help me!

Again, if you too would like to cut pollution and buy a Tesla, feel free to use my referral code — http://ts.la/tomasz7234 — to get 6 months of free Supercharging (or 9 months if you don’t bother to test drive the car). The deadline to using such referral codes is February 1, 2019.

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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.

Zachary Shahan has 7344 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan