Tesla Model 3 Sales Down In October 2018: Still #1 In U.S. For Month


Tesla’s Model 3 sales streak takes a breather.

It had been a recurring theme here when it comes to Tesla Model 3 sales of late.

In both May and June, Tesla Model 3 sales exceeded 6,000 units, but that’s tiny compared to the explosion of sales in July, which amounted to 14,250. Think that’s a big number? Well…it was. That is, until August when it shot up to 17,800. Then, September came with a real blast as sales hit 22,250 units.

Eventually, though, we knew this trend just couldn’t hold. The Q3 end-of-quarter push was epic, but it’s just not repeatable month after month.

So now, for the first time since June 2018 when sales fell to 5,902 (compared to 6,000 Model 3 sold in May) we get to report that Model 3 sales have taken a downturn.

Our initial estimates, which will be updated once again later today, peg Tesla Model 3 sales at 17,750 in the U.S. in October (*this figure doesn’t include Canada). That is still the third-best sales result ever for the Model 3 in the U.S. and with this being the first month of the new quarter, we didn’t expect a new record. The focus of late has been on introducing the Mid Range Model 3 and the big V9 software update. Additionally, more cars shipped out to areas of the country not in close proximity to Tesla’s headquarters. This takes additional time. And some European homologation is underway for the Model 3, which means some small batch of cars made the trek overseas.

If we look at year-over-year for the Model 3, the gains are ridiculous. In October 2017, Tesla sold 145 Model 3. Compare that to last month’s 17,750 and you’ll notice it’s over 122 times the amount from last year.

The Model 3 stands alone as one atop the sales chart for the year with no other plug-in electric car capable of catching it. The YTD tally so far stands at 95,822. An untouchable figure that’s oh so close to 100,000.

The highest previous volume of sales ever for an electric car in a single year was back in 2014 when LEAF sales hit 30,200.

Moving on to the Tesla Model S and Model X...

These two plug-ins were outdone by Model 3, but that’s expected.

For October, we estimate the following for sales of these two Teslas:

  • Tesla Model S – 1,350 units in October
  • Tesla Model X  – 1,225 units in October

Both of those figures are well below September’s results when our estimates put both cars at a volume of 3,750 for the Model S and 3,975 for the Model X.

Tesla holds a commanding lead in plug-in electric car sales for the year and will not be challenged by any other automaker for the YTD win. Our tally puts the automaker at a combined total of 134,427 sold (Model 3, S & X) in the U.S. through the first 10 months of 2018. In other words, Tesla is #1 in U.S. plug-in electric car sales for 2018 and the margin just continues to grow as the year progresses.


33 photos
2. Tesla Model 3
Range: 310 miles; 136/123 mpg-e. Still maintaining a long waiting list as production ramps up slowly, the new compact Tesla Model 3 sedan is a smaller and cheaper, but no less stylish, alternative, to the fledgling automaker’s popular Model S. This estimate is for a Model 3 with the “optional” (at $9,000) long-range battery, which is as of this writing still the only configuration available. The standard battery, which is expected to become available later in 2018, is estimated to run for 220 miles on a charge. Tesla Model 3 charge port (U.S.) Tesla Model 3 front seats Tesla Model 3 at Atascadero, CA Supercharging station (via Mark F!) Tesla Model 3 Tesla Model 3 The Tesla Model 3 is not hiding anymore! Tesla Model 3 (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs) Tesla Model 3 Inside the Tesla Model 3 Tesla Model 3 rear seats Tesla Model 3 Road Trip arrives in Tallahassee Tesla Model 3 charges in Tallahassee, trunk open.


Tesla Model 3 Performance - Dual Motor Badge
10 photos
Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance - Midnight Silver Tarmac Motion (wallpaper 2,560x – click to enlarge) Tesla Model 3 Performance - White Interior - Wide Tesla Model 3 Performance - White Interior - Touchscreen

Categories: Sales, Tesla

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

92 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Sales Down In October 2018: Still #1 In U.S. For Month"

newest oldest most voted

Here we go, up the down staircase…

This is cracking me up. Can anyone explain why they voted this comment up OR down?

I have a theory :).
The comment it’s a bit confusion, is it up or down? Some Tesla fans think it’s bad about Tesla – down voted, others think it’s good about Tesla – up voted.

The good news is that as I write this there are 9 confused fans/trolls who liked it and 9 confused fans/trolls who didn’t. I’ve achieved maximum confusion!

It’s just one person’s opinion of your post, no more and no less for each thumb action.

If I had to take a side, it would be thumbs down for not being a relevant comment, and comes across more like spam.

You should run for office

It was 26 vs. 25 when I saw this, so I voted to balance it out at 26 all.

I added an up vote to balance again. Nice comment!

Many probably don’t get the reference. It is a 1967 film, and a pretty good one too.

It’s a second level reference, actually. A few years back I read a description of the climate record that certain folks were cherry picking to “prove” that climate change is not real as “up the down stair case”. So they were making a reference to the book/play/film. But the graph they provided to put context to the actual record showed years of cyclical declines in temperature readings along an upward secular trajectory. Certain Tesla bears point to any evidence that Tesla didn’t beat every other prior month as evidence that the products are in decline. So this result is slightly below the result from two months ago, but substantially up YOY and the third best result to date. Expect a lot more growth going forward and the occasional month/quarter where sales are off for one reason or another and the usual suspects to chime in with their predictable gloom and doom.

For a very clean example of this sort of thing see the Keeling Curve.

1. The scientific community uses falsifiability as the hallmark of scientific theories; the bad news is the generally accepted “Climate Theory” has holes in it.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability (Nassim Taleb made this concept popular in his seminal book “Fooled by Randomness”).

2. Based on evidence to date, Tesla likes to “back-end” sales at fiscal quarter month so each monthly sales is not meaningful. Tesla was clearly managing sales to maximum the timing of the Federal tax benefits in the US. It’s silly to use data points and draw references from them when people suspect a blow-out sale at end of year (this my assertion and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tesla was in fact building stock for year-end sales).

If my assertion proves true then the Keeling Curve is rather meaningless when applied to Tesla sales.

Tired old canard of climate denial.

That would only work on the trigger, no advantage to holding back, just makes delivery at the end harder. The only advantage is to build as much as they can as fast as they can and deliver as much as they can to get the rebate to as many people as possible.

That’s interesting with the explanation — but posting such an obscure reference originally without any explanation whatsoever was kinda unhelpful…


I did not see the film and beside the OP being unctuous, perhaps ffbj could enlighten us to the connection of the film and the article about Tesla. I, too, am curious as to the nexus of things since wiki was not helpful.

Re “Up the Down Staircase”: At a large metropolitan high school, there is so much foot traffic in the halls that there are twin staircases, one used for walking up and the other for walking down. A young, idealistic, newly assigned teacher makes the mistake of “swimming against the tide” by walking up on the “down” staircase, which is a metaphor for her attempts to buck the system and give her students an improved educational experience.

Trying to make that into a metaphor for Tesla’s business performance, seems to me to be rather tortured. I didn’t give the OP any up- or down-vote; if there was a third “Why were electrons inconvenienced for this comment?” button, I would have clicked on that. 😉

read it as “going down” when, realistically, for month #1 of a quarter, it really is not.

So in the last three months Tesla have sold over 19,266 Model 3’s every month.
Not bad in anyone’s books.

I gave you a thumbs up. “Up the down escalator” reminds me of this video from the NYC subway of a rat trying to go up the down escalator. In this context, the rat would be a metaphor for Tesla/Elon, and the people going down the escalator would be a metaphor for automakers feeling threatened by Tesla/Elon.



I can’t wait to see what Dec brings with the push for tax credits 🙂

This is about what I expected given last month push. Do we know how many they shipped to Canada?

Yep basically what we expected as well going into the month, although a bit lower than hoped since many vehicles in transit to the East coast did not move in time for October. Production has stabalized and international sales have not yet begun.

For Canada: several hundred at least. As many as 1,000 between Oct and mid-November. We don’t track Canada closely though so could be higher.

I estimated 18k for October. This puts them on track for 20k in November and a strong December. I still say 60-65k for Q4, tilting more toward 65k.

First month of a quarter means that most of these sales are from vehicles already in the delivery pipeline. The factory’s output is mostly on trains heading to the east coast.

The Model 3 results show a pretty strong 1st month of quarter which is a 25% gain QoQ. Bodes well for a very strong Q4. The Model S/X is essentially flat QoQ, which is great given how much was delivered last quarter. If they do end up 25% higher than last quarter, that’s 70,000 Model 3’s in Q4.

Agreed, our takeaway as well.

The first week I witnessed a big breather, which I think others saw at other delivery centers. Last night was humming, with at least 2-3 dozen M3s on the lot, undelivered.

It would be extraordinary for Tesla to deliver cars at a flat rate, for a whole quarter. Always a ramp, with everything but lighting fixtures moved out on the last day.

There were officially only ~8,000 Model 3 in the delivery pipeline at the end of September… So quite some October production has been delivered in October as well. (More than half of it.)

I see a really big November as they begin to deliver the mid-range model.

Model 3 will top this list every month until the Model Y is in full production. But for a while there will likely be huge fluctuations as production ramps but deliveries are slated for other markets.

Participants asking “when 10k/week” was one of the Q3 call’s biggest subjects. Must be tough ramming a fist of supply into demand, and I understand Musk’s going with ~7k targeting. A lot of the pricing, and maybe the flatter pace(?), seems aimed at smoothing away the tax-credit, before materially lowering price.

My understanding is that the noncommittal stance regarding ramping beyond 7,000 per week in Fremont is based on the assumption that none of that production will go to China with the ongoing trade war, and they are accelerating Shanghai plans to cover that market instead.

When you push really hard to deliver all those end of quarter cars, you have much less carry over to deliver in the beginning of the next quarter. This is peak valley pretty common for the last month of quarter and first month of the following quarter. Q3 benefited at both ends, When you combine thend of Q3 push with the opposite approach for the prior quarter (lots of cars carried over so that 200k would not be crossed until q3, the result is a one time high., so I would not be surprised to see Q4 numbers that are flat. If they can scale batteries in November, December might be a great month.

This seems to be an ineffiecient way to deliver cars. When will Tesla change to a more constant delivery model that is more profitable?

They said they were going to do it 6 months ago. The problem is it will cause a quarter that looks bad on paper – reduced revenue and less cash on hand. So once the quarter is underway they look at the numbers and think “hmmm, we’ll do it next quarter”.

That does seem to be the case. I know that Elon has said at least a couple of times over the past two years or so that they plan to smooth out operations in the then-coming quarter or two, but clearly Tesla has never followed through on such plans. I don’t see that happening in the current (4th) quarter, either. Maybe sometime next year?

It was rather eye-opening to read that Elon said (or tweeted) that one of the reasons he hoped to take Tesla private was so they could get off the hamster wheel (my metaphor, not his) of this three-month cycle, and smooth out production. I thought Tesla was using this cycle because Elon wanted to do it that way!

1) Short Version.

They are in fact constrained by volume and hence limited to trying to fill the most egregious needs for product. The squeaky wheel gets the grease – until there are enough grease guns for all the wheels needed.

2) Long Version. Of the short version, without context.

Though I imagine they looked at relative production volume and the ability to consistently fill the delivery pipeline vs actual demand. And concluded that although its a really great idea to smooth out deliveries. But “pointless until we raise the volume” enough to consistently fill the retail pipeline to a level that at least supplies volumes the pipeline can now hold, let alone fills the most urgent, emergent and constantly changing demand needs.

Soon there being less external factors (200k limit) will help.

Fundamentally you just can’t smooth over deliveries until production levels smooth out. Keep in mind that in June they delivered 6,000 M3’s and July was 14,000, August 18,000 September 22,000. So they were still ramping production at least until the end of August. October would be the first month they could even take a breath because it is the first month where production at the end of the month looked a lot like production at the beginning of the month.

I expect to see production and sales level out at around 18,000 cars/month for rest of the quarter and into 1Q19 which should allow vehicles in transit to equalize. Right up until the first month of 1Q19 or 1st month of 2Q19 when cars start shipping to Europe. They will start shipping to Europe the first week of a quarter in order to show those cars as delivered in the same quarter, though it may depress month to month sales (transit time to the EU will be at least 3 weeks).

Hi , isn’t there a typo here ? :
For September, we estimate the following for sales of these two Teslas:

Tesla Model S – 1,350 units in October
Tesla Model X – 1,225 units in October

Q4 2018 is going to be a great quarter regarding to Tesla Model 3 sales/deliveries in the US.

But what about Q1 2019? And first of all, what about January 2019?

A substantial number of Tesla Model 3 production will be on transport to Europe.

How should we define “a substantial number”?

50% of total production in January 2019 (say about first two weeks of January)?

Remember, production will be higher in January as well, my hunch is standard Model will come when US demand is stable or starting to drop and they will add production to keep a steady or slightly increasing demand.

January production will be 90% Europe, IMHO. They have to get those cars on boats so they can be delivered by March 31.

That would mean that only about 2,000 Tesla Model 3 cars will be delivered to customers in the US in January 2019?

They’ll have cars in transit at end of Q4. At least 5k. They pulled out all the stops in Q3 and Model 3 in-transit was still 8k.

Maybe not 90% but a large number for sure.

Yeah, I think 90% is an exaggeration, but undoubtedly most of the January Model 3 production will go overseas; not just to Europe, but more distant destinations too. S. Korea and other Asian destinations, perhaps? I’d say Australia, but I don’t think Tesla will be ready to produce right-hand-drive units as early as January.

They said on the earnings call that APAC deliveries will come a little later, quite possibly slip into Q2. I don’t think shipping actually takes significantly longer — so presumably that means production for these destinations will start later?

Shipping does take substantially longer to Asia vs Europe. Just as an example, the air route distance from NYC to London is about 3,500nm, from San Diego to Hong Kong is 7,300nm. Travel time across the US would be by train, which is another 3,000nm, but trains travel about three times the speed of a RoRo ship.

Customs into Asia also tends towards being slower and more difficult than clearing into Europe, so expect longer delays there as well.

As for RHD, they reiterated mid 2019.

I wonder how the Model 3 sales globally compare to the other top-tier BEV manufacturers. It sounds like Tesla is about even with Nissan when sales in all geographies are counted.

Except that Teslas cost twice on average. Once they open more factories and the $35-$40k model is produced, Tesla’s sale will double.

One estimate, from Forbes, in 2014 had the N. America / Europe / China market split at about 50 / 30 / 20. Presumably the China split will increase once the Shanghai Gigafactory is running and producing Model 3’s, which will avoid the Chinese import tariffs there. But quantity production likely won’t happen there until late 2020 or early 2021, or at the earliest mid-2020.

According to the accelerated plans, it will happen in 2019 — except it will only be parts of production, not the entire process.

Shanghai won’t avoid all import tariffs. It’s in the free trade zone, which is designed for re-export. Shipping to the rest of China is still considered to be importing. I think only the foreign-sourced portion gets the tariff, but don’t quote me on that.

I believe it was stated that building in the free trade zone limits them to a 15% tariff on the finished product.

Ever since deliveries picked up in July, Model 3 easily beats Leaf globally. (September was a record month for Leaf with still <10,000 units.)

Do you think they can sell significantly more if price will be $7K less?

Presumably they could sell significantly more even at the current price, once they decide to open leases… The limiting factor is production, not demand.

Tapering off demand with the forced $5K PUP LR, so they made the MR still with the forced $5K PUP…First SR deliveries will surely be with the same forced $5K PUP…

Nobody is forced to buy a new car. If the demand for glass roofs diminishes then the steel roof will be made and sold.

The opening is for the robots to build. Also, it is a very rigid structure because Tesla has its own standard for glass. I am not convinced it would be as simple as bolting on a steel plate. Besides, I think the glass roof is standard.

Rear glass roof is standard. Glass roof over the driver compartment is part of the PUP.

Yup. The “steel roof” option will still leave about 75% of the roof glass. Just a steel spacer between two very large glass windows!

If demand was the primary issue, they could have started leases and/or international deliveries. Offering a somewhat cheaper version now is because they *wanted* to do that, not because they had to…

So any bets on yearly total for Tesla? My guess is 200k for all 3 models in 2018, which means they beat the entire plug-in US total from 2017. They only need ~65,500 more to make it.

Normally, 200K overall would be an excellent result, as would the associated 100K for the Model 3 in its first full year of production (no EV has ever come close to that, AFAIK).
Problem is, that, as good asthat is in absolute terms, it might still be problematic in EC terms, because Tesla’s guidance and Elon’s PR said 500K (all models) in 2018. 200K is 40% of that…

200,000 Model 3 in 2018 is not possible at this point — nor has it been a realistic possibility for quite some time…

My estimate has been ~150,000 for a while now — which still seems plausible, depending on how fast they ramp production in the coming weeks.

The Model 3 continues to break records, but your piece is missing an important one. Global sales (US + Canada) passsed the 100,000 unit sold milestone in October!
As per Tesla quarter reports, total deliveries totaled 84,460 units up until 3Q 2018. Add up the 17,750 you guys are reporting just for the US and voilà, cum Model 3 sales stand at 102,210 units plus the ones delivered in October in Canada, if any.
Thus, the Model 3 becomes the seventh all-electric car to achieve the 100,000th milestone, joining the Leaf, Model S, Model X, BMW i3, Zoe and BAIC EC-Series, or the 11th plug-in car (the Volt, Outlander, PiP and BYD Qin already sold +100K). And BTW, Tesla is the only carmaker with all models having achieved that milestone!
I am guessing the Model 3 was the faster plug-in to achieve the 100K milestone. Can you guys check it out?

Its awesome and also sad that on Tesla’s “slow” month, they are still selling more Model 3’s in one month than the Bolt or Leaf has sold over the past 12 months combined

Their third best month would be the fourth best annual haul to date.


Bmw, MB, Audi, VW, Porsche, et al heave a sigh of relief

Don’t forget that one Jaguar i-pace for you list! I don’t see it yet!

Terrible title for an article. Sales are not down for a month. This is why Tesla won’t provide you help on monthly numbers.

Tesla 3 sales were higher in September than the they were in October. Don’t over-think this.

Anyone know how many were sent out of the US, or is this the entire production/deliveries of M3?

See Wade’s comment: Canadian deliveries might be about 1,000. (There are no other deliveries outside U.S., aside from maybe a couple dozens for European homologation…)

Tesla is battery constrained at GF, but now they are producing the mid range they should be able to produce roughly 20% more model3’s over the next couple of months. maybe 23-25k each month. After that new Panasonic lines will be up and pack lines so Q1 next year should start to accelerate production significantly.

“Tesla is battery constrained at GF…”

At least one, if not more, Tesla spokesman has said that’s no longer the case. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the Tesla bashers from repeating it as one of their Big Lies.

Musk and Straubel both said it.

I hear “cell constrained” from bulls. Bears say demand constrained.

At the last earnings call, they more or less refuted the theory that the mid-range model was because of cell supply: they said that they were cell-constrained only for about a week. (Which is somewhat surprising, considering that at the previous earnings call they stressed cell production as the main growth constraint…)

With the first of the three new cell lines apparently in operation now, they should be able to increase production even without accounting for mid-range cell savings.

Elon Musk Verified account @elonmusk
Replying to @InsideEVs @Tesla
#’s r wrong, but 🐻 in 🧠 Tesla makes 🚘s 4 overseas & East Coast in 1st half of quarter

Estimates cannot be ‘right’. By no definition is an estimate exact unless by pure coincidence. He was most likely just prefacing the second half of the statement by not confirming our estimates. He can’t provide that information to us or anyone else unless Tesla changes their policy on reporting.

But Elons point was that the reason for lower deliveries early in the quarter is because they focus on producing for overseas and east coast.

Which is something we are quite aware of. We have said it for years. 🙂 It is the reason beginning of quarter numbers are lower almost every time. Now that model 3 production is more stable we are seeing it happen with the 3 as well. Nothing to be alarmed about.

If we are a little low in our estimates and Tesla beats them then great! But we will stick with our estimates for now.

I suggest we track Model 3 production by the hour. No, wait, by the minute.

Kinda ridiculous this daily reporting on VOLUME and innaccurate reporting of VIN #s. Theres a lot of. real news to follow. The daily up/down of M3s out the factory floor seems the obsession of the shorter and detractors.

Torture numbers long enough and they will tell you whatever you’d like them to say. (Say the shorters and Tesla haters)

More to the point: Even YTD Tesla share is >50%.

The best comparison is October 2018 to July 2018 since they are both first months of the quarter. Model 3 and Model S are up and Model X is down. Overall they are up.

So, what happens to Tesla sales when the federal tax credit is gone and the competition is offering over a dozen long-range EV’s at lower prices? It’s more a matter of who will actually buy a Tesla, not who is on the waiting list.

You mean what happens to legacy car companies when they subsidize growing EV sales with ICE sales that are decreasing?

Next year the Tesla Model 3 will be the first EV model that will achieve the milestone of 100,000 deliveries in Europe in a single calendar year.

Wade (or anyone), do you have any insights on this IHS Markit registration data? Ignore the biased commentary, I’m just interested in the raw numbers. Is the ~25k Model 3s registered in Q3 even remotely correct? Thanks!

Just bought a Tesla Model 3 Performance in September and could not be happier. I test drove multiple electric cars and the Model 3 won me over based on range, performance, handling, style, and creature comforts. I was also pleasantly surprised by the rapid delivery. Ordered on 03-Sep and it was ready for delivery in less than 2 weeks! If passing a gas station doesn’t make me smile, stepping on the accelerator definitely does. I wish Tesla and Elon Musk success in the year ahead.

Congratulations! They are great cars. Be careful with that accelerator 🙂