A little while after I published articles about Tesla’s US 1st quarter sales earlier this month, I discovered that our estimates for foreign sales had been too pessimistic. Sales abroad were much higher in the 1st quarter than we initially thought — most notably, in Europe, South Korea, and China. That meant that US Tesla sales estimates were too high. So, I think for the first time in my history of doing this, I had to pull some sales reports and wait for a bit more data before publishing updates. (Next quarter we will simply wait longer to publish our reports.) Below is the first updated article regarding 1st quarter Tesla sales in the US.
A few things to remember here are that 1) Tesla ships cars overseas in the first half of the quarter so that they arrive in customers’ hands by quarter end, 2) a “sale” is really a delivery (we don’t know how many people confirmed order of a Tesla but didn’t receive it by end of quarter), and 3) the coronavirus pandemic was hitting by the end of March and must have limited vehicle deliveries in the US and elsewhere to some extent.
According to our estimates, the Model 3 ended up being the 8th best selling car in the United States in the first quarter*. That’s up from 9th in 2019 as a whole, up from 13th in the 1st quarter of 2019, and one rung down from 7th in the 4th quarter of 2019.
|*Note: This is based on official figures from other automakers but an estimate for the Model 3. Tesla only reports global sales, without splitting them out by country or region, and has also started combining Model 3 and Model Y sales/deliveries. Special thanks to EV Volumes and some Tesla Motors Club members for assistance with this.|
As usual, the stunning thing about the Model 3’s high ranking is that its base price is much higher than the base MSRP of the other vehicles on this list, which are typically ~$15,000 cheaper on the low end. Furthermore, most Model 3 buyers add features or buy higher-trim, longer-range, higher-cost versions of the Model 3.
That said, for most people very familiar with the Model 3, including owners like myself, the Model 3 gets much closer in cost and can even beat the cost of these other models when you look at total cost of ownership. The Model 3’s most notable benefits in those analyses are low operational costs, low maintenance costs, and high resale value.
Additionally, the value for the money is very high with the Model 3, helping to explain how it ranks so highly in sales comparisons. There is no car on the market with a higher value for the money as far as I’ve seen. Tesla Model 3 owners are happier with their cars than owners of any other vehicle, and here are 70 reasons why.
If the Model 3’s base price was lower, making the car accessible to many more people who would like to buy it, it’s likely that it would be the top selling car in the country quarter after quarter.
Note that the above ranking is just for cars. If you compare with all passenger vehicle models — SUVs and pickup trucks included — the Model 3 falls in the rankings, to slightly outside the top 20.
As I wrote earlier this month, US vehicle sales are dominated by SUVs and pickup trucks. That makes it very likely Tesla Model Y sales will surpass Tesla Model 3 sales once production capacity is high enough (and once the COVID-19 crisis passes or at least gets more moderate). The biggest question regards how high Model Y sales can go. Another big question is whether Tesla will start splitting out Model 3 and Model Y delivery figures. If Tesla doesn’t, it is going to get very hard to estimate numbers for the two models.
Getting back to the Model 3, I think a few independent rankings and findings help to explain why the Model 3 is such a top seller:
- Kelley Blue Book expects the Model 3 to have the best resale value of any car on the market.
- Capital One research indicates that the resale values of its premium-class competitors have been tanking since the Model 3 hit the market.
- Last month, iSeeCars reported that the Model 3 has been holding its value dramatically better than any other vehicle on the market.
- Consumer Reports found that Tesla Model 3 owners are more satisfied with their vehicles than the owners of any other cars. For more on why that is, see: “70 Reasons Why Tesla Model 3 Is Most Loved Car.”
- The Model 3 achieved the best NHTSA safety score in history, beating out the #2 Model S and #3 Model X by a wide margin.
You can also see me and some other owners talking about the benefits of the Model 3 here:
Want to buy a Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X? Feel free to use my referral code to get some free Supercharging miles with your purchase: https://ts.la/zachary63404. You can also get a $250 discount on Tesla solar with that code.