Tesla is doing quite well in California, the largest auto market in the United States. As reported earlier today, the Tesla Model Y was the best selling automobile in California in the first half of 2022 and the Tesla Model 3 was the second best selling model. In the largest state in the country, Tesla took home gold and silver.
Without a doubt, those are impressive achievements, but as many have pointed out before me, it’s clear that Tesla doesn’t have a full, mature, built-out vehicle lineup. In some ways, it can be easier to have a top selling model if you don’t have other similar models to compete against it. Whereas BMW has the 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, and 7 Series, Tesla has just the Model 3 and Model S as far as sedans go. We see this most notably with Tesla in Europe and China, where the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y are often at the top of the sales chart but Tesla itself is not close to #1 among auto brands or auto groups. So, how is Tesla doing as an overall auto brand in California?
Oh, well, you saw the headline and the chart above, so you know how it’s doing — it was the 2nd highest selling auto brand in California in the first half of the year. Without a doubt, that’s a phenomenal result, especially when considering how young Tesla is and also what price categories it sells in. (Naturally, Californians can afford more expensive cars, whereas not so much of the population in Kentucky or Wyoming would be able to.) As phenomenal as that result is — and it is phenomenal — when you look at how decisively the Model 3 and Model Y won in the model rankings and even more so in their respective vehicle classes, you have to think that Tesla could do better if it had more models on offer.
As mind boggling as it is that Tesla has already risen to #2 in the California auto market, one has to wonder, where could it be with 4 or 5 more models? Where will it be in 2032? Of course, the bigger question is whether or not Tesla can achieve such high results in other markets (where people aren’t so rich or progressive)? Tesla accounts for a whopping 10.7% of the auto market in California. Elon Musk’s long-term goal for Tesla was to have it account for 10% of global auto sales.
Notably, this 10.7% market share is a big leap from the 3.3% California auto market share Tesla had last year!
Part of Tesla’s rise in market share comes from the fact that the overall California auto market was down 16.4%. However, a bigger part of it came from the fact that Tesla registrations were up 82.2%.
Tesla’s big rise in the market has been a long-term trend, not just a year-over-year trend, and has also contributed greatly to a steady and strong rise in overall electric vehicle market share in the state. Pure electric vehicles now account for approximately 15% of new auto sales in California. Plugin hybrids account for nearly 3% more, which would bring plugin vehicles overall to nearly 18%. That means that California is actually beating Europe in terms of BEV share of the auto market (Europe’s at 12% BEV share) and is just behind Europe in plugin vehicle share of the market (Europe’s at 20% plugin vehicle share). For all the hype around Europe (which is definitely deserved), California’s clear leadership is often forgotten or glossed over these days. It is still a big dog in the fight to decarbonize and clean up transportation. And, without any room for debate, that is largely because of Tesla’s leadership. Much of Tesla’s auto production still occurs in California, and the state gobbles up its homemade electric cars more than electric cars from every other brand combined.
Of all of the stats and charts in this article, though, it is perhaps the next two that stand out the most to me. Tesla took a whopping 47.9% of the luxury car market in California, and 31.4% of the luxury light truck (including SUV) market. It absolutely dominated the luxury vehicle market that had been led by Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus for decades. Breaking into a market like that is not easy or simple, and hardly believable.
Do you have any other big takeaways from the above California data and charts?
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