Tesla Model 3 Beats SUVs To Become America’s Best-Selling Premium Car In 2018

Let that sink in for a moment: an electric vehicle built by a company that only started making cars ten years ago, sold in much higher numbers than models from luxury car giants.

That’s a great achievement, particularly since the Model 3 launched at a much higher price than initially advertised. It would appear then that Tesla has really nailed it with the Model 3, and its introduction to China and Europe in February 2019 is likely to send sales through the roof even more.

Earlier this year, Tesla announced it sold almost as many vehicles globally in 2018 (245,240) as it did in every previous year combined — going back to the company’s founding in 2003. A big contribution to that fantastic growth was the fact that the Model 3 became the best-selling premium vehicle in the United States.

Tesla’s smallest car made up more than half of total sales, with 145,846 units reaching customers worldwide. The automaker didn’t release U.S. sales figures for the Model 3, but it is known that the bulk of deliveries stayed in the United States. InsideEVs‘ research points to Tesla selling about 139,782 Model 3s to American customers.

The next best-selling luxury car, the Lexus RX, was left far behind, with 111,641 units sold. The list also includes premium SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz GLC (62,435 units) and Audi Q5 (61,835 units). So not only did the Model 3 sell better than vehicles from established luxury automakers, but it also beat SUVs, the hottest market segment right now.

Furthermore, Model 3 sales accelerated in the second half of last year as production setbacks got solved. In the third quarter of 2018 alone, Tesla sold over 55,000 Model 3 units, with the number growing to 63,000 in the fourth quarter. Currently, the Model 3 starts at $42,950 for the Dual-Motor All-Wheel-Drive version. However, the much-anticipated Rear-Wheel Drive version with a standard battery that will be priced at $35,960 isn’t expected to go on sale until at least February.

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  • Six_Tymes

    Well, congratulations are in order to Tesla for that! To Elon, your next task is, put down the weed and get QC up to par constantly, so your customer base will grow.

  • designer_dick

    Congratulations to Tesla, but it’s still just one car in one market. Let’s not get carried away.

    • lagunas3ca

      lol one market.

      • designer_dick

        Yeah, one market. 140,000 Model 3s were sold in the US, with no more than a few thousand making their way overseas. Also, shifting 245,000 units worldwide sounds impressive, until you realise that means they’re still slightly less than half the size of Jaguar Land Rover (592,708 vehicles sold in 2018), which is itself a minnow on the world stage.

        • lagunas3ca

          That’s my point – one market. FYI it was only available in one market until just recently (Europe, China). Wait until the China plant is completed. After all, China is only expected to sell 35 million cars within the next year… then we’ll see who dominates the world stage.

  • Toronado_II

    With all the new stuff on the market, the next years will be decisives !

  • Matteo Tommasi

    The only premium thing in a Tesla is the price

  • LJ

    Next is a Tesla that people can actually afford.

  • TheToadPrince..~~ToadSquad

    damn good job tesla.

  • getoffme

    Charging a premium does not equate a premium product.

    • lagunas3ca

      When it has the most up-to-date and highest level technology, including safety features that are not standard in all cars, then yes, it is premium.

    • THE 2018 BOLT IS $37,495 – $41,780. ELECTRICS ALL COST MORE.

  • PhilMcGraw

    The only problem I have with Tesla’s reported sales is that you have to remember that a lot of those “sales” were deliveries to customers that preordered since 2016.

    So it’s hard to compare it to a typical vehicle sale that happens in any given month with someone who goes to a car lot and purchases an already available vehicle. And the question becomes once they fulfill their backlog of preorders, will there still be a demand left?

    • TheBelltower

      I agree that it’s very different. Tesla doesn’t do leases on the 3, and they don’t have nearly the size of service center as other automakers. But simply looking at the “sales” as being when customers part with their money and take delivery, it counts. If all brands could manage to generate enough interest in an unbuilt car to get a paid preorder list six-figures long, they would also. Tesla might be able to maintain this title for a year or so, and perhaps even longer once the Model Y are opened up. Unlike other so-called “luxury brands,” Tesla is more interested in keeping the average transaction price as high as they can, so I’m not sure that “best selling premium car” is an award Tesla is interested in long-term.

  • Jørn-tommy Skjellnes

    Tesla isn`t Premium, and if they are then Ford, Volvo, Jeep, vw,peugeot and Mazda also Premium brands

    • Dude

      Lmao what? Volvo is absolutely a premium brand and Mazda is moving in that direction. If Peugeot sold cars in the US they’d probably be considered premium too

    • TheBelltower

      Why don’t you tell us the average transaction prices and average HHI for those brands versus Tesla, and then you can reevaluate your opinion. It’s considered premium, not “luxury.” Tesla most certainly is premium, and doesn’t even negotiate pricing or offer leasing options for the 3.

      • Jørn-tommy Skjellnes

        well its alittle wrong for u to tell the prices, because taxes is so high in my country, A Tesla model 3 long range awd cost 54183 dollar, a Ford Mondeo Vignale 240 hp aut cost 65017 dollar , Volvo S60 T6 R-design AWD cost 70645 dollar, A VW Arteon 2, 0 272 hp R-line cost 74429 dollar, a Peugeot 508 1,6 225 hp cost 57450 dollar , A Mazda 6 2,5 194hk Optimum Signature aut cost 55465. So my opinion is that tesla only sell on price in my homeland.

        • TheBelltower

          I get your point. The prices for a base long-range AWD Model 3 are about the same in the US after taxes. But you’re comparing the fully-loaded models of some of those brands’ most expensive sedans with the entry-spec of the 3. A fully optioned Model 3 is over $70k before taxes. The 3 is Tesla’s entry level model, while the Modeo Vignale and VW Arteon R-line are their most expensive sedans.

          • Jørn-tommy Skjellnes

            oki, then i give u the bace price of some of the cars,
            Ford Mondeo 2,0 titanium hybrid 41523 dollar
            Volvo s60 T3 152 hp Momentum 43788 dollar
            Vw Aerton 1,5 tfsi 150 hp R-line 59365 dollar
            Peugeot 508 1,5 diesel 130 hp 38767 dollar
            Mazda 6 2,0 aut vision 165 HP 45306 dollar

            Can give others examples
            Lexus is300hybrid Comfort 50783 dollar
            Bmw 320d 190 hp base verson 48401 dollar
            Audi A4 1,4 tfsi 150 hp 42399 dollar
            Honda civic 1,5 elegance sedan 40460 dollar
            A bace Hyundai Tusion 1,6d fwd 49627 dollar
            Mercedes C180 aut 156 hp 55088 dollar

            So still my tought tesla only sell on price.


    Tesla. Premium. Choose one.

  • Subi-Rubicon1

    Congrats to Tesla. Far from perfect, but it has shaken the auto industry to the core and has been the poster child for EV’s. Success is the best FU to all the haters!

  • Triggapaylyn

    I’m waiting on the “premium-feel” OTA update…

  • Axiom Ethos

    The dual motor price does not “start” at $42,950. You must pay $51k up front, have enough liability for the $3750 tax credit, and then the rest is merely estimated “potential” gas savings with Tesla’s own biased calculations. The standard battery was supposed to be priced at $35,000 not $35,960 as well, before savings, though nothings official till its online. You’re listing oranges and apples pricing figures with no explanations mister Dan M.

  • alexxx

    I don’t consider tesla to be premium nor luxury…saying that … Very happy electric cars finally arriving… Give us more…and affordable ones…

  • kDawg

    The cool factor and hype of Tesla will be gone when everyone can afford one.

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