Tesla Model 3 Was #1 Selling Luxury Car In U.S. In 2018


Now, there’s absolutely no question about the incredible success of the Tesla Model 3 in the U.S. market.

We’ve gone round and round about U.S. Tesla sales numbers and its dominance in not only the EV market, but the automotive market as a whole. Yes, there have been some discrepancies regarding which brands the automaker has beaten, and under which specific circumstances. However, none of this matters now as the Tesla Model 3 has trumped all other rival U.S. luxury automakers with its incredible sales for a single model.

The Tesla Model 3 has moved up the ranks to become the best-selling premium car in the U.S. for 2018. Accordingly, Tesla reported such in its recent sales report. Interestingly, Tesla was so confident about its Model 3 sales, it reported this information even before most other brands had publicized U.S. sales. In addition, Tesla doesn’t even fully disclose its U.S. sales figures, though since the Model 3 has only been sold in volume is the U.S. (along with a small percentage going out to customers in Canada) the numbers are quite clear. Tesla shared:

Additionally, 2018 was the first time in decades that an American car – the Model 3 – was the best-selling premium vehicle in the U.S. for the full year, with U.S. sales of Model 3 roughly double those of the runner up.

Tesla did reveal that it delivered some 145,846 Model 3 sedans globally in 2018. Based on our extensive research, about 139,782 of those cars made their way to U.S. customers.

So, what’s that runner-up?

Based on Toyota’s official sales report, Lexus delivered 111,641 copies of its RX crossover in the U.S. in 2018. It’s even more crazy to see that the Model 3 beat an SUV for U.S. sales. However, it would be unfair not to disclose that the Model 3 did not “roughly double” Lexus RX sales. Still, we are wowed as all automakers and buyers should be.

As most of you are already aware, Tesla Model 3 sales for 2018 are ridiculously impressive to say the least. Even crazier was Wall Street’s disappointment with Tesla’s fourth-quarter sales report, and the company’s stock dropped notably. However, the truth is in the details and thus the share price has risen back up accordingly.

Source: CNBC


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49 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Was #1 Selling Luxury Car In U.S. In 2018"

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Globally, the best selling luxury vehicle is the Mercedes C-Class, which manages about 40K/month globally.

It fell by about 24% in the US Y/Y between 2017 and 2018, but globally it only fell 4%. Strongly suggests that Tesla is taking a pretty massive bite out of it and that it could fall to about 30K/month globally in 2019. Couple that with Tesla growing Model 3 production in 2019 and I think there’s a good chance that Tesla will have a few months where they have the best selling luxury model globally in 2019, not just in the US. Hard to say if they’ll win for the year as the whole right now… I expect quarterly production growth to be minimal for Tesla in Q1 and most of Q2… have to wait for the standard battery + Gigafactory 3 before I expect to see production start to have some crazy growth again.

@Taylor Marks said: “… It [Mercedes C-Class] fell by about 24% in the US Y/Y between 2017 and 2018, but globally it only fell 4%. Strongly suggests that Tesla is taking a pretty massive bite out of it and that it could fall to about 30K/month globally in 2019….”

As Tesla Model 3 deliveries to Western Europe crank up this year some of those deliveries will certainly eat into Mercedes Model C-Class sales both consumer sales and taxi/Uber fleet sales.

Tesla has stated that Telsa will be during 2019 significantly expanding the already extensive Western Europe Tesla Supercharger network in anticipation of significant Model 3 sales which in turn an increasingly robust Tesla fast charge network further drives up Model 3 sales.

While true, the C-Class was also transitioning in 2018 towards the face-lifted 2019 model. At least in the US, they stopped making the 2018 model in July, but didn’t start delivering 2019 models until November. There was a big chunk of time in there where dealerships were stuck without much new product. Furthermore, most of the C-Class’ sales are being cannibalized by the GLC crossover if you talk to dealers. So yeah, the Model 3 kicked a$# and stole sales from everyone, but it’s more complicated than a simple direct comparison can show.

I don’t think the Model 3 is a Luxury car. More like a upscale midsize like a loaded Camary lol

It is more like Acura. Mercedes/BMW/Audi/Volvo are still a step or two higher in terms of quality. But price wise Tesla is firmly a luxury car, and that is the main factor when comparing sale numbers.

So, in your opinion Tesla can sell a “lower quality” car for more than Mercedes/BMW/Audi/Volvo. That is an even bigger problem for Mercedes/BMW/Audi/Volvo.

And receive higher customer satisfaction:)

esp since Tesla’s quality continues to improve, while other car makers are a decade away from decent EVs.

If so, that only makes the achievement more impressive. It is the best selling “luxury priced” car, even if it doesn’t deliver “luxury” as you say. That means that some other aspect of the car makes it so valuable to consumers. Wow.

Yes, it is a premium car. Not a luxury car.
People are paying premium price for a longer range EV with tech features that no other company offers.
tech feature and brand image/awareness is $$$$$.
Even my 15 y.o. is asking for a Tesla for her first car.

My 11 y.o. Is asking for a Tesla as his first car. Tesla is setting the expectations for the next generation of car buyers.

let me guess. You do not consider BMW 3 series, MB C or E class, Tesla Model S or Lexus to be luxury either?

It is a tech car, different from labels like Luxury and Upscale Camry, It will have appeal across all types of vehicles. This is evident in the minimal trade in data they have shared showing people are trading in everything from Toyotas, Hondas, and BMWs. There are quite a few wealthy people that buy basic cars as they are not car people, I think Tesla is taking a bite into that market, as well as the luxury market, as well as premium but not really luxury market, etc.

It is closer to interior passenger volume of a Toyota Corolla.

Deceiving, all 3 are within about 2% of each other and range from 97 cu-ft Model 3 to 100 cu-ft Camry.

The Model 3 is closer in size to Camry (wheelbase and width). Especially looking at rear hip room, the Model 3 is much better than Corolla.

Model 3 has more luggage space than Camry. So even though it is shorter than a Camry, it has more usable space (short hood and no combustion engine). The Camry is slightly larger inside. Rear legroom is not a meaningful spec as it only implies how far the seat in the front goes forward (it might be meaningful if you uber).

Luxury – An inessential, desirable item which is expensive or difficult to obtain.

Yeah, a Model 3 is not luxury because it is essential for sustainable transportation. The rest of the definition fits succinctly.

Im sorry but the Model 3 is not a luxury car. It is a $35,000 car that they sell for $50,000. The only thing premium is the price tag.

huh. and what do you consider the BMW 3 series esp the BMW M3?

pieces of german junk

dying dinosaur

Although not a “luxury” car, it is a tech car, and will decimate sales of traditional autos given time. It is a disruptor showing what people used to like in cars is not necessarily what they (or new car buying market) will like going forward.

It does have premium performance and technology which is about half of what a typical “luxury” car has.

If Tesla can add a luxurious interior, then it would fully qualify as Luxury.

“It does have premium performance and technology which is about half of what a typical “luxury” car has.

If Tesla can add a luxurious interior, then it would fully qualify as Luxury.”

Why on Earth would Tesla spend the extra dough if they can sell all they can make with cheaper interiors? If true, that is a massive advantage.

So, Tesla can sell a “non-luxury” car for prices higher than other firms? That is a pretty big problem for other firms selling luxury cars since they must include more costly content to sell at the same prices. That would be a much worse problem than simply being outsold by a better vehicle.

Well that is the dumbest post I’ve read all day. Seriously, how is not “luxury”? Because it lacks some Corinthian leather or Chrome fins?

All those ICE cars are noisy, belch out toxic smelly emissions that can kill you, they vibrate, they all have these lurching transmissions, you gotta go to the gas station with all the proletariat to fill it up with fuel, you gotta hassle with oil changes, etc.

IMHO, absolutely no ICE car can be considered a luxury car now that EVs are available.

Man are you behind the times….. My nephew just rented a Ford Fusion and it was much quieter than my BOLT ev when both of our cars were preheating. I couldn’t believe how smooth and quiet the engine is.

I suppose for TELLING THE TRUTH here I’ll get 20 demerits.

Can’t help but notice how all the voices predicting Tesla’s bankruptcy and demise have grown silent these past few months.

They’re here. Any article with the word “luxury” in it draws them out. 🙂

or profits.

New serial anti-Tesla troll username “Kongo” is emblematic of this trolling phenomena you described.

Those critics were easily silenced when Tesla turned a profit.

This just proves that Elon was unnecessary getting all crazy over the shorts. Once you continue to deliver on results, those shorts will be burned on their own over time.

That is what Mark Cuban said about Elon’s trouble with SEC, just let the critics talk and let the shorts burn. Just continue to deliver and don’t need to publicly fight over it. Amazon was once most shorted stock and it is one of the biggest market cap today…

Those guys, many on this forum, still did incredible damage to Tesla’s and Elon’s reputations.

Mostly short term, but reputation for low quality can take many years to overcome.

Is this the end of the road UNTIL they drop the $5K PUP requirement, allow leasing and/or release the SR version? They’re already focusing on global deliveries…

Back in Q2 2018 Tesla announced they would be start EU deliveries in early 2019. Now they are doing it.

You aren’t one of those ignorant fools suggesting a decision made in Q2 2018 somehow has anything to do with demand? You wouldn’t be that stupid right?

In October, Tesla unexpectedly announced the mid-range 3…Why didn’t they announce that earlier?

Why didn’t you answer Nix’s question instead of pivoting?

How many car/truck/SUV models had a global annual sales total of more than 100,000 in 2019?

If there was a top-100 list. Where would the Tesla Model 3 be on that list?

Tesla doesn’t start global sales until this year. We will have to wait until 2020 to see a valid comparison for global sales.

Otherwise it is apples v oranges

2018 obviously.

2019 is the current year.


Just because folks are choosing a Tesla Model 3 over a BMW 3-series, doesn’t make the Model 3 a luxury car.

The Model 3 is great, but it doesn’t have the plushness of a luxury car. Not everyone wants that plushness (and that’s fine!) but that is really what luxury is all about.

BMW’s have a reputation for sportiness, not plushness.

Plushness is Lexus or Cadillac.

A harbinger of things to come. With the Model 3 Tesla has stood forth and thrown down the gauntlet.
So far we have only heard mutterings, exclamations and threats from the nobles assembled that they can or will pick up
that gage, but so far, none have. –The Chronicles of Musk.

I’d call the Model 3 an overpriced sports sedan. It doesn’t offer the luxuries expected of a premium luxury sedan.

Yeah its not Tesla’s fault here. The problem is with the Headline, but that seems just included to start a false argument.

Tesla never claims ANY of its vehicles are Luxury cars, or, at least haven’t in the past. But I am a bit curious about the Tesla Website. The ‘3’ is selling so well that they tell almost NOTHING about it on the website. You learn more by just going through the options to ‘build’ one.

So the website is curious in the fact that they say almost nothing about the car that they make, yet tell quite a bit about supposed specifications for the car that they don’t make, namely the next roadster, which very few will be able to afford. While I could afford the last Roadster, this one is too rich for my blood.

A Luxury car traditionally meant a very well executed interior with accoutrements. Its not up for discussion that the ‘3’ is Spartan.

Now if the editors here want to redefine the language to mean a high priced car automatically is a luxury car, well, good luck.

Tesla may not call it a luxury car but most websites and automotive publications/reviewers and rating agencies group it with other luxury cars. This is not our wording, it’s just the reality of the situation. It’s not any different than saying an Acura is not nearly as luxurious as a Mercedes, but for practical purposes, both are ranked in the same segment.

I agree. Tesla provides the least amount of luxury for the price in the price range.

These forums are an echo chamber that always repeat the same stuff and the same advertisements. No surprise to me that they all say the same thing.

That is excellent news, If you want the best performance car with long range capability you cannot do better than the Tesla Model 3. Hopefully all the Teslas will soon have the improved battery chemistry and battery warranties like the 3. Just make sure the EV you select has twice the range of your daily commute, you need that range for heat, AC, and extra errands.

This is a massive achievement, but I personally think it’s sales in 2019 are going to be a fraction of what they were in 2018 (in the USA). These kinds of sales numbers are not sustainable in this auto market. This was an anomaly driven by pent-up demand. Having said that, I think the Model 3 will remain a very strong seller for years to come.