We won’t have US sales figures for Tesla, Ford, and GM for another month — and even then we’ll have to estimate how they were split out across the quarter — but we know one thing for sure: Tesla’s sales are up heavily compared to the same period in 2018. For other automakers, not so much.
I spent the day looking through US sales data from Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lexus, Mercedes, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo. Of those automakers, 8 had sales rise January–May and 6 had sales drop (see title), but the net effect was a 45,200 drop in automobile sales. (I can’t get detailed information from Jaguar Land Rover, but it reports that its sales are up 3,689 for the period, which brings the net drop to 41,511.)
Interestingly, it’s almost a certainty that Tesla’s US sales (deliveries) were considerably higher than 41,511 from January through May — perhaps 55,000 or so. In that case, despite much chatter about US auto sales dropping, they are actually up as long as Ford and GM sales haven’t dropped too significantly.
There’s another view I explored as well, though. I also took a look purely at car sales from the 14 companies above. Tesla has two high-end models and one mass-market model, the Model 3 sedan. Its mass-market crossover, the Model Y, won’t be on the market for another year and a half or so. Some car buyers are certainly changing brands to go electric with Tesla and some are surely just switching to crossovers and SUVs. The end result is thus a double whammy that means car sales from conventional automakers are getting demolished.
Again, those result exclude Ford and GM, but seeing the writing on the wall, Ford and GM are more or less bailing on cars anyway, so the numbers would look even much worse with them included!
The staggering figure of 189,020 fewer car sales in January–May 2019 compared to January–May 2018 is a whopper, though. The only non-Tesla automaker with car sales up, ironically, was Volkswagen. There’s a specific story there, but in the end, its sales are relatively tiny, so we’ll leave VW alone today.
Unfortunately the two big trends in the auto market are not both good for human health and our climate. The shift to larger SUVs and CUVs generally means a shift to less efficient vehicles, which means more pollution. The world really needs automakers to electrify their SUVs and CUVs. There are a handful of plug-in options, but not nearly enough.
Again, we don’t know how many gasoline SUV/CUV sales the Tesla Model Y will eliminate, but just as we looked forward to the Model 3 eagerly back in 2015, anticipation for the Y is almost palpable That may also be why there’s so much illogical fear-mongering regarding Tesla among Wall Street, “auto industry experts,” and the financial/business press that relies on their own favorite analysts for insight. If Tesla takes a chunk out of the gasoline SUV/CUV market in 2020 or 2021 and onward, the “Tesla effect” will probably be seen in much more dramatic and far-reaching ways than the one we’re seeing from the Model 3.
What are your thoughts on the May and January–May numbers?