Tesla Model 3 = 3rd Best Selling Vehicle In California In 1st Quarter

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The Tesla Model 3 is a lot like the Buick Regal. Actually, no, not really. They do have a similar starting price, but the Model 3 is approximately three worlds better and also has a much lower cost of ownership.

Simply put, the Model 3 is safer, is quicker, has more advanced tech, and has better driving-assist features than any of its premium-class competitors. It also gets improved over time (via over-the-air software updates). Despite all of that, it’s expected to have a much lower cost of ownership than any of those premium-class competitors.

In fact, the Model 3’s expected resale value and low operational costs probably make the Model 3 cheaper than any Toyota Camry or Honda Accord! These benefits probably make a Model 3 approximately half the cost of a BMW 3 Series!

So, with that intro out of the way, it’s probably not surprising to you that the Tesla Model 3 was the 3rd best selling car in California in the first quarter of 2019.

Actually, California isn’t so truck and SUV crazy as other US states, so the Model 3 was the 3rd best selling passenger vehicle of any class in the first quarter.

That may seem shocking to some people who still can’t digest the points I mentioned in the first three paragraphs of this article, but the more shocking thing, objectively, is that more people bought Honda Civics and Toyota Camrys than Model 3s in the first quarter. For that matter, it’s a bit shocking that more than a handful of people buy any of the other sedans on the market, all of which are less safe, slower, lower tech, and have worse handling and a rougher ride — and most of which cost more within a handful of years.

But, anyway, let’s jump into the sales numbers.

This first chart is quite striking. You’ve got four multi-decade heavyweights — the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Toyota Corolla — and the Tesla Model 3 right in between them.

Remember, also, this was a “bad” quarter for Tesla. Due to the US federal tax credit for electric vehicles being cut in half for Tesla buyers and Tesla prioritizing shipments abroad for the first time, sales dropped considerably compared to Q4 2018.

I have to say, the Tesla Model 3 bar looks pretty good by most objective standards.

The only thing, though, is what I’ll repeat for the umpteenth time — you have to be completely clueless to buy a Camry, Fusion, Elantra, C-Class, or almost anything else on this list instead of the Model 3. You are most likely paying more for a much worse car if you do so — all because of lack of awareness or fear of change. Arguably, a low-cost Civic or Corolla could make sense, but even that is not true in many cases. Furthermore, if a relatively small difference in price is that important to a buyer, buying new makes no sense anyway.

For some history, note that the Model 3 was the best selling car in California in the second half of 2018, the 7th best selling car in the Golden State in the first half of 2018, and the 4th best selling car in California for 2018 as a whole.

Looking at all vehicles (not only cars), the Model 3 held the same position in the first quarter. As it turns out, California is not Texas and the top 5 passenger vehicles in the state are also the top five cars.

Though, that wasn’t the case in 2018, when the 4th and 5th best selling vehicles were the Ford F-Series and Toyota RAV4, respectively. In the second half of 2018, however, the trend toward cars had already started, with the top 4 vehicles also being the top 4 cars.

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After looking at the charts for the top selling cars and top selling passenger vehicles in California, it’s a little funny to bother with a chart for the Tesla Model 3’s more precise vehicle segment, but funny can be interesting and fun, too.

Based essential on price and features, the Model 3 gets shuffled into the “Near Luxury” class in California. That pits it against iconic luxury cars such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series & 4 Series, and Lexus ES. The thing is, California buyers are largely clued into the superiority of the Model 3 and its lower cost of ownership. So, for nearly 16,000 Californian car buyers in the first quarter of this year, the choice was obvious — buy a Model 3 and graduate into the 21st century.

Any more thoughts on the 1st quarter numbers from California? Also, how long till Florida shows a similar breakdown? How long till Iowa shows a similar breakdown? We could use a lot more solar-powered and wind-powered electric cars in those states and many more if we want to cut air pollution, lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, premature death, global heating, climate catastrophe, and much more.

Car 1Q 2019 2018 Sales 2H 2018 1H 2018
Honda Civic 18,728 80,190 36,333 43,857
Toyota Camry 15,891 61,553 30,057 31,496
Tesla Model 3 15,805 51,293 38,619 12,674
Honda Accord 14,300 59,591 31,390 28,201
Toyota Corolla 14,075 48,180 22,269 25,911
Ford Fusion 6,233 20,871 9,664 11,207
Nissan Sentra 5,808 30,469 10,917 19,552
Mercedes C-Class 4,120 17,065 8,457 8,608
Hyundai Elantra 4,091 18,906 8,664 10,242
Nissan Altima 4,011 18,203 7,178 11,025
Toyota Prius 3,745 32,781 15,926 16,855

Interested in buying a Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X? Need a referral code to get 5,000 miles of free Supercharging? Use ours by May 27: http://ts.la/tomasz7234 (or use someone else’s if they helped you more).

Related story: Tesla Model 3 Was #1 Top Selling Car In California In 2nd Half Of 2018 — #CleanTechnica Report

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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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