Tesla Model 3 = 7th Best Selling Car In USA*


Published on January 19th, 2020 | by Zachary Shahan

January 19th, 2020 by  

The Tesla Model 3 ended up being the 7th best selling car in the United States in the 4th quarter of 2019 and the 9th best selling car across the whole year*. (Note that the numbers and rankings in this article are only for cars, not SUVs or light-duty trucks.) The Model 3 was actually the #1 best selling car in the country in December, based on our estimates as well as official figures from automakers, but Tesla has an unbalanced delivery process in which the bulk of US deliveries are made at the end of the quarter, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare or highlight December sales.

Being the 7th or 9th best selling car doesn’t necessarily sound like a stunning result — and some of us did expect the Model 3 to be the #1 best selling car in the United States by now — the #7 or #9 ranking puts it well ahead of any other premium-class cars or SUVs. Every other car in the top 10 has a much lower base selling price. That said, at just under $40,000, the Model 3’s base price is not much different from the upper-trim options of some of the most popular models (like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord), despite having much better features and specs.

As “Full Self Driving” rolls out, as more consumers learn about the Model 3’s safety and performance benefits, as consumers learn more about the infotainment options on the big center screen (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Beach Buggy, Caraoke, Chess, Backgammon, Spotify, TRAX, etc.), and as more consumers learn about the Model 3’s surprisingly low cost of ownership, Model 3 sales still have plenty of potential to rise.

Other cars on the top 10 list probably have a similar cost of ownership for many Americans, yet much worse quality. So, consumers in this segment of the market aren’t left with the hardest decision in the world — you can get a 20th century gasoline car or you can get more benefits and a much better consumer experience for essentially the same cost (a bit more or a bit less depending on your circumstances and various assumptions). The Model 3 is thus a pretty solid deal in many people’s eyes, which explains how the Model 3 consistently ends up in the top 10 among lower-class cars. Tens of thousands of Americans a quarter are choosing a quicker car that isn’t smelly, doesn’t need gassing up, needs little maintenance, has various fun Easter eggs, has top-of-the-industry driving assistance features, and is safer.

In addition to the static charts above, here’s an interactive chart on full-year and quarterly 2019 sales (if it doesn’t show correctly on your phone, I recommend using a computer that doesn’t fit in your sock):

For more on the Model 3 and why so many people are buying it, see our long-term Tesla Model 3 reviews (7 of our writers have a Model 3 and occasionally contribute review articles about the car) or other Tesla Model 3 news and analysis articles.

Also see our other recent Tesla sales or EV sales stories.

*Tesla’s sales estimates are based on multiple sources. They are certainly not official, but we think they are close enough to reality to publish them. Tesla only reports global sales by quarter, so we have to estimate which portion of those are in the US.

If you’d like to buy a Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X and get some free Supercharging miles, feel free to use my special, magical, unicorn-blessed referral code: https://ts.la/zachary63404. You can also get a $100 discount on Tesla solar with that code. There is currently no use for a referral code when putting down a reservation for a Cybertruck or Model Y. 

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About the Author

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] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.