Tesla Model 3 officially becomes best-selling premium vehicle in the US

When Tesla announced its record deliveries of 90,700 cars during Q4 last week, the automaker first made the claim:

“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.”

At the time, not all other automakers had reported their 2018 numbers.

Now a week later, they have and it confirms Tesla’s claim – or at least partly.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla confirmed having delivered 145,846 Model 3 vehicles in 2018. That’s not only in the US, it also includes some Canadian deliveries.

The automaker doesn’t breakdown its deliveries per market like most other automakers.

That said, Canadian deliveries are expected to be fewer than 5,000 based on registration data from previous quarters.

It would mean that Tesla easily delivered over 140,000 Model 3 vehicles in the US last year.

The Rest of the Premium Market

The best-selling premium vehicle behind the Model 3 was the Lexus RX with 111,641 deliveries in 2018, according to Toyota.

It’s clear that the Model 3 beat it, but Tesla’s claim of “roughly double [the sales of] those of the runner up” is a bit of an exaggeration.

Note that Tesla claimed “the best-selling premium vehicle” and not just “premium sedan”.

The Lexus RX is a SUV and all other vehicles on the top of the list are also SUVs, like the Mercedes-Benz GLC (62,435 units in 2018) and the Audi Q5 (61,835 units in 2018).

If we are comparing with the sedans, Tesla’s claim of “roughly double [the sales of] those of the runner up” becomes more accurate.

Electrek’s Take

There are a few things that are quite crazy about this accomplishment.

First of all, it’s crazy that Model 3 is even beating premium SUVs in the US because we know how much Americans love their SUVs.

Secondly, Tesla achieved that without even the base version of the Model 3 being available at $35,000+ and with production being constrained during the first half of 2018.

That version is expected to be the most popular one by a wide margin. Tesla’s base sale price for the Model 3 in 2018 was $46,000 and the average sale price was likely closer to $55,000.

In comparison, the Lexus RX starts at $43,000.

At this point, Model 3 volumes are even competitive with less expensive sedans like the Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, and Honda Civic.

If anything, this is showing just how strong the demand is for electric vehicles in the US. All automakers have to do is release compelling vehicles.

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