Those of us very tied into Tesla news sometimes forget that 9 out of 10 people on the street know close to nothing about Tesla. Additionally, if anything comes to mind when they are asked about Tesla, it is probably misleading FUD that originated from a Tesla smear campaign. On the other hand, practically everyone in the US knows the marketed image of the Ford Mustang and BMW 3 Series. The Mustang is America’s most iconic “muscle car,” a relatively fast and sporty car with “cool dude” or “cool chick” written all over it. The BMW 3 Series is a sporty premium-class sedan from the German engineering geniuses over at BMW that professionals love to love. Both the Mustang and the 3 Series are widely regarded as highly successful vehicles.
Yes, many Tesla fans might find this comparison with the Mustang and 3 Series boring. The Tesla Model 3, an American car, is now so popular that it’s the top selling automobile in the Netherlands and Norway — the top selling automobile, not just the top selling electric automobile or top selling car. It’s so popular here in the United States that we’re often pitting it against best sellers like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Many, many Tesla owners actually expect the Model 3 to pass up those cars in time and become the top selling car in the country. However, I dare you to go survey people at Target and ask them which has more monthly sales, the Tesla Model 3 or the Ford Mustang (or Tesla Model 3 or BMW 3 Series). I think you can guess what the result would be. (Note: I am now inspired to go test my hypothesis out!)
Before I get into the numbers, though, it’s important to note that there are no official figures out there for US Tesla sales. Tesla reports quarterly sales and does not break them out by country or region. Eventually, we get registration data from Europe, China (educated estimates at least), and Canada and can then make a more solid estimate of US sales for the quarter, as well as monthly sales estimates. However, it’s a bit early for all of that since we don’t have September numbers from most countries yet. Even our data-loving friend and contributor Jose Pontes of EV Volumes didn’t want to venture out too far on a limb and provide an early estimate that he might have to walk back. That said, looking at previous months’ data, September figures from the Netherlands and Norway, and deeper historical data, I feel comfortable estimating Model 3 sales between 40,000 and 50,000 in the US in the third quarter. For this report, I’ve settled on 43,000.
With 9 months of Tesla US sales data collected and estimated, I thought it was a good time to revisit Model 3 vs. Mustang and Model 3 vs. 3 Series sales comparisons. As the title indicates, the Model 3 wins, but have a look:.
Note that the last chart above is interactive. You can click between Tesla Model 3 and Ford Mustang 2019 sales.
Note that the last chart above is interactive. You can click between Tesla Model 3 and BMW 3 Series 2019 sales.
As you can see in the charts, the Model 3 seems to have found its way to twice as many homes as either the Mustang or 3 Series in the first 3 quarters of the year. Even if my Model 3 estimate for Q3 is several thousand units off, the result is basically the same. The Model 3 has either seen twice as many sales, a bit more than twice as many sales, or a bit less than twice as many sales as the iconic Ford Mustang and BMW 3 Series.
Perhaps the most important question is: Why are people still buying new Mustangs and 3 Series? Honestly, why would you spend more money to get less? Why would you buy an inferior product in practically every regard that is similarly priced “at the register” but costs much more to operate and maintain? (Note that the Mustang base price is considerably lower than the Model 3 base price, but its operational costs as well as something that could very easily make it more expensive or even much more expensive than the Model 3.)
You know the answer: inertia and lack of awareness. If people are just in the habit of buying Mustangs and 3 Series, they may not give much thought to other options when it’s time for a new ride. If they’re buying one of these cars for the first time, they probably dreamt about it for years or decades beforehand, and had the inertia of that desire plaguing their mind. Furthermore, if they have no idea a Model 3 exists, have no idea it can cost less than $40,000 (or less than $70,000 for that matter), have no idea that it has huge driving quality and acceleration benefits, have no idea that it has the best NHTSA safety score in history, have no idea that you can watch Netflix, Hulu and YouTube in the car, don’t know anything about Autopilot, heard that Teslas catch fire and the company is on the verge of collapsing, or have simply never ridden in or driven a Tesla, they may just think the 3 Series or Mustang is a better vehicle.
No matter the cause of 100,000+ US sales of the Mustang + 3 Series, the news of the day is that the Model 3 now solidly outsells both of those models, and each car that gets into the hands of a new owner can reach many more mass-market consumers and show them why the Model 3 is such a compelling product even at $40,000+.
If you’d like to buy a Tesla — not a Mustang or 3 Series — and get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging in the process, feel free to use my referral code: https://ts.la/zachary63404. Or not.