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Tesla Model Y Is #1 Top Selling Car In China & Top Selling EV In Europe — Why?

Without a doubt, the Tesla Model Y is in high demand. It’s similar to the Model 3 in a lot of ways, but a bit bigger, falling into that much loved “crossover” category that adds a bit of bump in the trunk and a higher seating position (with easier human entry and exit).

One might think that there’s only so much demand for two similarly designed models from new American automaker Tesla, and that the Model 3 and Model Y would have to split the pie, especially abroad in Europe and China. As it turns out, there’s so much demand for both models that the Model 3 has continued to sell well while the Model Y has shot to the top of the charts in the European EV market and in the overall Chinese auto market. Granted, the #1 position in China was just for the month of June, and the Model Y was just 3rd in the EV market in China in the first half of the year. However, the model does hold the #1 position in the European EV market for the whole first half of the year, and the Model 3 holds the #2 position.

 

With so many other electric vehicles, including electric crossovers, on the market now, what makes the Model Y (and Model 3) so compelling? Why is the Model Y on track for perhaps 300,000+ sales in China this year and 100,000+ in Europe?

For sure, the Model Y performs well in safety tests, provides ample cargo space and seating for passengers, and looks good. On top of that, the vehicle comes with good range for the price, great infotainment, and world-famous acceleration. Any of those benefits could be critical buying factors for many buyers. However, everything mentioned so far could simply be put in the “checks the box” category — basic requirements for many buyers but not deciding factors. What really separates the Model Y from the pack and gets it such a high number of sales are a few other things, in my opinion.

#1 — Supercharging

Year after year, going back several years, our EV driver surveys showed that a very large portion of drivers expected their next EV to have access to the Tesla Supercharger network or a comparable superfast charging network. There is still no competing with Tesla on this topic, and buyers know it. I’ve talked to numerous Tesla owners who have indicated they’d buy another EV if it wasn’t for the gap in long-distance charging capability. Tesla Superchargers offer much greater connectivity in many regions, offer superb reliability that I think is still unmatched across the industry, and offer an extremely convenient way of charging — you just plug in (and make sure you have a payment method set up in your Tesla app).

Interestingly, Tesla is beginning to open up its Superchargers in parts of Europe (and the United States) to other brands. It will be fascinating to study the effects of this on consumers of various sorts and different brands.

#2 — Tesla’s Tech Leadership Overall

“Tech” was covered in various ways above, but my point here is that the Tesla brand is now strongly emblazoned as a tech leader worldwide — not just in the auto market, but broadly. Buying a Tesla vehicle means buying cool, advanced tech — and you know it will continuously get better with over-the-air software updates, too! Whether it’s really all the specific tech features of a Tesla that sell a person on Tesla, or simply the aura that comes from buying a “tech leader Tesla” product, I believe this Silicon Valley DNA is a big reason why so many people want a Tesla. Just anecdotally, I know people who don’t really care about anything else in this article but have a Tesla Model X because it’s a cool piece of tech to have.

#3 — Tesla’s Role in the EV Revolution

This next point is similar, but a bit deeper and broader. It seems that in any conversation that comes up about electric vehicles, Tesla is there. Everyone knows Tesla and has at least a few concepts in their mind about Tesla. Even people who don’t realize Tesla sells only 100% electric vehicles have a few thoughts about Tesla! But one of the basic things that I think most people know about Tesla is in fact that it sells cars that are fully electric. Without a doubt, electric vehicles are catching people’s attention more and more as commercial after commercial is about some automaker’s new electric car. Super Bowl car commercials have been dominated by electric vehicle ads for a couple of years. On that topic, we all know that Tesla doesn’t advertise, but it does get a good bump in interest on Google during Superbowl weekend/week anyway. Because everyone knows Tesla is the leader in the EV industry. Tesla is the benchmark.

When it comes time to purchase, some buyers go with a new Volkswagen ID.4 (my sister is in that group), a cool Ford Mustang Mach-E (I’m seeing more and more of these in my area), a Kia EV6 or Hyundai IONIQ 5 (these look so futuristic and cool and I love that I’m already seeing them on a regular basis here in Florida), but a large portion of the buying public wants an electric car from the electric car industry leader. Especially if they subscribe to the concept of an “EV revolution,” they want something from a top revolutionary general, not a vehicle from the old guard. It’s basic logic.

Naturally, all this talk of the Super Bowl and what EVs I’m seeing pop up around me are relevant here where I live and not in Europe or China, but it’s basically the same story in those places. While many buyers will indeed choose a non-Tesla EV, a good portion of them will want a revolutionary Tesla.

#4 — PRODUCTION CAPACITY (Batteries!)

Yes, you’ve still got a long wait list to sit on when buying a Tesla, but find me an automaker with greater EV production capacity. There’s no denying that you can’t sell what you can’t produce, and it’s Tesla’s higher production capacity (and battery supply) that allows Tesla to sell so many EVs each quarter in Europe and China as well as the United States and elsewhere. Higher production capacity also brings down some of the company’s per-unit costs, which helps to make Tesla vehicles more competitive and helps Tesla to bring in more profit margin … which can then be invested in innovation, better charging infrastructure, more features, and growth.

There are various production limiters, including wiring harnesses built in Ukraine and now infamous automotive chips, but the greatest limiter to production capacity in the EV industry is batteries. Tesla has done a better job in the long term of securing batteries, and anyone who wants to take down the reigning global giant and remain champion for long will have to do the same.

Those are my thoughts on why the Tesla Model Y is seeing so many sales — whether in Europe, China, or the USA. Have some of your own?

 
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Written By

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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