Tesla Model 3 recognized as the United States’ best-selling luxury car in 2018

The Tesla might still have a number of critics who question the vehicle’s demand, but the electric sedan has practically dominated in 2018 nonetheless. By selling a total of 145,846 units over the course of the past year, the Model 3 has established itself as the United States’ best-selling luxury vehicle, far outpacing its closest competitor.

After the Tesla Model 3, the second in the past year’s luxury vehicle rankings is the Lexus RX, which sold 111,641 units in 2018. Following the Toyota-made Lexus RX are more luxury SUVs from legacy carmakers from Germany, such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC, which sold 62,435 units, and the Audi Q5, which sold 61,835 over the year, as noted in a report from CNBC Make It.

The Model 3’s place at the top of the US’ luxury vehicles list is a notable feat for the electric sedan, especially considering Tesla’s challenges with the vehicle’s production ramp. In the first quarter of 2018, for example, Tesla was only able to produce 9,766 Model 3. During this time, Tesla was struggling to hit a milestone of producing 2,500 Model 3 per week.

After adopting unorthodox strategies such as the construction of another assembly line inside a massive sprung structure on the grounds of the Fremont factory, Tesla’s second quarter proved to be an improvement over Q1, with the company producing 28,578 Model 3 from April to June 2018. Q2 was also the first time production of the Model 3 exceeded the numbers of the Model S and X.

Tesla’s breakthrough with Model 3 production came in the third quarter when the company doubled its Q2 volume and produced 53,239 units of the vehicle. Despite what Elon Musk described as “delivery logistics hell,” Tesla was able to deliver a total of 55,840 Model 3 to customers before the quarter ended. These efforts ultimately allowed Tesla to surprise Wall Street and prove its naysayers wrong by posting $6.8 billion in revenue and beating earnings estimates with a GAAP profit of $312 million.

The Model 3 continued to be produced in mass quantities in the fourth quarter, with the company producing 61,394 Model 3. Deliveries for the vehicle also hit 63,150 in Q4, signifying a 13% growth over the vehicle’s already impressive figures in Q3 2018. Over the course of the year, Tesla ultimately delivered a total of 245,240 vehicles, 145,846 of them being the Model 3. That’s nearly as many cars the company sold in all previous years combined.

Inasmuch as the Model 3 is already being recognized as a success in the US luxury car market, the electric sedan is yet to start its push into international markets. So far, Tesla is already laying the foundations for the Model 3’s push in two large global markets — Europe and China. The company is reportedly looking to send 3,000 Model 3 per week to Europe by February. To prepare for the influx of Model 3, Tesla has begun rolling out Superchargers that are equipped with both a Type 2 and a CCS plug, which matches the port on Model 3 that are produced for the region.

Elon Musk has noted that deliveries of the Model 3 could begin as early as March in China. This, however, is but the tip of the iceberg for the company’s plans for the Model 3 in the country. Earlier this week, Elon Musk attended the groundbreaking event for Gigafactory 3, which will be tasked to produce affordable versions of the Model 3 and the Model Y for the Chinese market. In true Tesla fashion, the company has an aggressive timetable for the upcoming factory, with Musk stating that the first China-made Model 3 could roll out of Gigafactory 3 by the end of 2019.  

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