Tesla Model 3 was the most sold electric car in the world in 2018, according to computer-controlled JATO Dynamics. JATO says Silicon Valley automaker sold about 138,000 model 3's, which knock out competitors like the flagship EV of state-owned Chinese automaker BAIC (92,000) and Nissan Leaf (85,000). In total, Tesla sold more EVs than any other automaker in 2018, JATO reports.
The news comes at the same time as Tesla is Model 3 deliveries in China start the largest market in the world for electric cars. Tesla has also recently started delivering model 3s in Europe for the first time ever. Adding the new markets for model 3 will help Tesla increase sales of the car by more than 1
Tesla releases sales and production numbers every quarter, and it has previously asked Model 3's popularity compared to other mid-sized sedans from automakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. But as Bertel Schmitt points out, The Drive JATO generates its characters using vehicle records, giving the numbers a more solid baseline.
While Tesla is planning to double model 3 production in 2019, the path to the top selling point can be more challenging this year than it was in 2018. (Which says something, considering the 2018 year of "production hell" and "delivery logistics hell.") New markets such as China and Europe will boost sales. But some analysts are cautious that the demand for model 3 dries up in the US, because Tesla cars are no longer eligible for the entire $ 7,500 electricity tax, and the company still hasn't started the production of the $ 35,000 "standard" version.
Tesla also breaks quality issues and service issues that seem to be directly linked to its massive ramp up in Model 3 production and sales.
Tesla will face more all-electric competition this year too, although it can't come from the most famous names. Audi has been working on a slow roll-out of its E-Tron SUV, and Jaguar has experienced similar games with I-Pace. Mercedes-Benz is trying to delay the initial deliveries of its own electric SUV, the EQC, too.
Instead, Tesla's biggest threat to the EV throne is likely to come from China, including some of the companies that are already sipping their heels. China's largest car manufacturers, such as BAIC, also make smaller electric cars that are far more affordable than anything Tesla sells, and they have their own manufacturing facilities in China. Tesla needs to get its Shanghai Gigafactory up and running to make and sell Model 3s that can avoid the country's 25 percent import tax and it won't happen before the end of this year early.
At the same time, Chinese EV launches sold NIO 11,000 cars in their first months production last year. The company has set its sights on giving customers a Tesla style experience, from their technology-driven cars, to building sleek stores where they are sold. NIO has great ambitions – it recently became public in the US – and will announce production and sales targets for 2019 in two weeks.
Nevertheless, Tesla has more than model 3. The company's model S-sedan came in fifth on JATO's list of 48,000 sold last year. The company completed the year with approximately 230,000 total electric cars sold, well above BAIC's second sales of 152,000. Warren Buffett-backed automaker BYD came in third with 95,000 EVs sold last year, just in front of Nissan, which sold 92,000 total electric vehicles.
Tesla is also planning to reveal the model Y crossover SUV later this year (potentially in China), with full volume production scheduled for 2020. At that time, Volkswagen, Porsche and even Ford will have their first serious electric motors in production as well.