Tesla Sales Still Tracking Ahead Of Ford Model T


This nifty graphic shows that Tesla sales are actually still ahead of the Ford Model T on a years-after-launch basis.

Tesla Model 3 Spy Photo

Visual Capitalist recently released a graphic showing how Tesla sales track early Ford Model T production.

As you can see, Tesla is still slightly outpacing the Model T, though 2017 may well be the year that the Model T jumps out in front.

As Visual Capitalist notes:

“When automobiles first debuted in the United States, they faced a classic “chicken and egg” problem. On one hand, autos were custom-made luxury items, affordable only to a niche market of affluent individuals. On the other hand, there was little incentive for most people to buy automobiles in the first place, as the system of roads in America was woefully underdeveloped.”

“Henry Ford managed to solve the “chicken and egg” problem with the Model T, the first product of its kind to reach the mass market. But today, there’s also another auto industry visionary facing a similar challenge in the 21st century: Elon Musk and his company, Tesla.”

It remains to be seen if the Tesla Model 3 will be the raging success that Tesla predicts, but if it is, then it could well be as revolutionary as the Ford Model T.

Tesla is getting the charging infrastructure in place to support mass adoption of the Model 3, but sales have yet to begin, so we can’t quite say that Tesla has cracked out of the niche and into the mass market just yet.

Source: Visual Capitalist

Categories: Sales, Tesla

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22 Comments on "Tesla Sales Still Tracking Ahead Of Ford Model T"

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Brilliant. Thank you for sharing your research.

I’d say Ford had 3 eggs:
1. Vehicle cost
2. Lack of roads
3. Lack of “charging stations” (gas stations)

Tesla 3 eggs (2 1/2):
1. Vehicle cost
2. Lack of charging stations — which is really only a 1/2 obstacle, home charging exists and “the grid” is well developed (i.e. charging stations could proliferate in a few short months if the demand was there)
3. Competition from existing gas cars — Ford faced no such completion from existing horses/mules

bottom line: take care of number 1 (like Ford did) and the rest of the eggs will take care of themselves

What was the US driving age population in 1907-1912? I’m not sure of the numbers, but it was likely FAR less than today, making this a borderline meaningless comparison.

Remove the borderline and I would agree 😀

really nice graph, agree on population factor in favor of Tesla

other eggs for Tesla:
– ICE cars/ competing old technology
– lack of battery mass production (in progress)

First year of Ford Mustang production was 121,000 second year was 559,000 third year 607,000 (numbers rounded down)

Interesting comparison! EVs really are a revolutionary new market but Tesla can’t rely on mass manufacturing and assembly lines to slash costs like Ford did because they are largely already doing that.

He’s got a tougher task since he needs to automate more, streamline the supplier market, vertically integrate battery manufacturing, and simplify car design to achieve cost reductions. That’s a tall order.

“…Tesla can’t rely on mass manufacturing and assembly lines to slash costs like Ford did because they are largely already doing that.”

I agree, but Elon seems to think he can do just that. Read what he has to say about increasing the output of factories by 5x or even 10x, due to what he calls “basic physics equations”, by which he apparently means greatly speeding up the production lines by removing human workers and having the machines work at maximum speed.

I think Elon Musk really does want to make the Tesla Model 3 the “Model T” for this generation. How successful he’s going to be at that… well, history will judge. Personally, I don’t think that’s possible. The Model T Ford had a more or less wide-open market to exploit. Sure, there were other auto makers, but their cars cost far too much for the average person to afford. And much as we EV advocates like to talk about EVs being an entirely new, almost untapped market, the reality is that the average person sees them as just another kind of car, and thus competing with gasmobiles.

Favoring Tesla: U.S. population in 2017 more than three times as high as in 1913.

U.S. Population
1913: 97.2 million
2017: 326.5 million

Favoring Ford: No significant competition from other auto makers. The Model T was competing mainly with horses and horse-drawn vehicles.

It’s an amusing comparison, but not a particularly meaningful one.

Interesting that Ford didn’t install his main claim to fame – the moving chassis assembly line – until late 1913. Early 1913 he was building cars at a 100k+/year rate, faster than Tesla today, without an assembly line. Wow.

Ha ha, just showing Tesla is barely a match for Ford 100 years ago, let alone the Ford of today.

Is that the intended message?


Tesla is in for a rude Awakening once EV adoption is a real number and not miniscule <1%. They will be small fries in every aspect, especially power providing for chargers lol. Utilities will destroy them with their massive bank tolls if Tesla does not play nice.

Well, well. Another new username posting anti-Tesla FUD.

I wonder which cowardly existing username this is?

Model T was introduced Oct. 1908 not 1907, why are there 2 empty years for the T? Tesla Roadster was introduced 2008. If you count all Teslas together against just the Model T, what’s with the Roadster? As well it was much harder to produce and sell cars back than. This story is no story.

precisely. This comp is garbage.

“If you count all Teslas together against just the Model T, what’s with the Roadster?”

Ford made and sold multiple models before the Model T: Models A* thru K, Model N, and Model S, all before the Model T. I don’t know if the sales numbers of any of those are comparable to the Tesla Roadster, but they were all aimed at a higher market than the Model T, just like the Tesla Roadster was aimed at a higher market than Tesla’s later cars. So perhaps there’s more of a parallel there than you realize.

However, you certainly do have a point about this article lumping together sales of the Model S and the Model X. This so-called comparison by Visual Capitalist required liberal use of a large shoehorn, and reminds me of the saying “They achieved victory by redefining it.” 😉

*Not to be confused with the later and much more popular Model A, a successor to the Model T.

You can scale any two triangles (or exponential growth curves) such that they appear to coincide. This is just silly.

“You can scale any two triangles… such that they appear to coincide.”

I see that just like trying to bash Tesla, geometry isn’t your forte.

Ha ha! Can’t tell his Isosceles from his Right Angle, nor his Scalene from his Equilateral.

Please normalize this data to, say, number of adults of new car buying age (say, 25-65)

This a very bias article. Model T was but before the assembly line was defacto and sales sky rocketed when he sold it for $300 ($18000 in todays money) and when he paid workers wages that they could buy his car and libe off their wages

Any idea where to get historical auto sales data?