The Tesla Model 3 has popped into numerous headlines for its various sales records and titles. It was the #1 luxury car in the USA in Q1 2019, the #1 small or midsize luxury car in 2018, the #1 electric vehicle in the USA in Q1 2019 and all of 2018, the #1 top selling car in California in the second half of 2018, the 11th best selling car in the USA in 2018 and the 13th best selling car in Q1 2019, the #1 best selling car in the US in terms of revenue in Q4 2018, the #1 best selling car from an American car company in the second half of 2018, and together with the Model S accounted for 20% of US luxury car sales in 2018.
Still, despite those accomplishments and more, the recent news out of three European countries was quite shocking — or, two of them were.
Tesla wasn’t just the #1 electric vehicle or #1 small or midsize luxury vehicle or #1 luxury vehicle in these three countries. It was the #1 top selling vehicle in March.
We’ve reported on the countries individually, but had yet to tie them all together to highlight that the Model 3 was #1 in three countries. The car was #1 in Norway, and Tesla accounted for a whopping 31% of Norway’s total passenger auto sales. The car was #1 in the Netherlands. The car was #1 in Switzerland. Below are the charts of plug-in vehicle sales in these three countries.
As far as the Model 3 versus other top sellers (of all fuel types), these were the top two vehicles for each of these markets in March (+ registration totals):
- Tesla Model 3 — 5,315
- VW e-Golf — 894
- Tesla Model 3 — 2,195
- Ford Focus — 1,187
- Tesla Model 3 — 1,094
- Skoda Octavio — 801
I know, I know — March was a month of enormously high deliveries because of pent-up demand and Tesla’s quarterly shipping practices.
That said, this is even before the much lower cost Tesla Model 3 trims were available to Europe (or the US, for that matter) and we will happily report quarterly and annual numbers when we collect them.
Also worth remembering is that the vast majority of consumers either don’t know Tesla at all or think Teslas are all wickedly expensive. They certainly don’t yet know that a Model 3 can be cheaper than a Toyota Camry (or pretty much any other top selling car) if you look at total cost of ownership. Those linked analyses are for the US, but the situation can be even rosier in Europe, where fuel costs for gas/diesel cars are higher than in the US. (For example, see: “Tesla Model 3 vs. BMW 3 Series in Germany — ~3× Better Model 3 Could Save Owner €10,000 in 5 Years.”)
Will the Tesla Model 3 land in #1 in these markets again? I presume so. Will the Model 3 be #1 for all of 2019? In Norway, almost definitely. In the Netherlands and Switzerland, that’s much less likely, but we need to see how the
chips cars fall once the lower priced versions of the Model 3 are available.
The funny thing is, objectively, the Model 3 should be the top selling car in these and other markets. Outside of Norway, it probably won’t be, due to lack of awareness and experience, but word of mouth will grow over time, more people will learn to do the math, new features (provided via over-the-air software updates) will attract more eyeballs, and demand for this unique model should actually grow.
I wouldn’t make a bet on 2019, but I do think the Model 3 will be the best selling car in the Netherlands and Switzerland in 2020. Stay tuned.
Data via EV Volumes.