Tesla Model 3 Beats BMW 3 Series to Top 2018 Luxury Car Sales Charts

Tesla's least expensive offering also beat out another premium market stalwart—the Lexus RX.

James Lipman/Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 has reportedly ended 2018 as the bestselling vehicle in the premium segment within the United States.

Tesla Motors announced Jan. 2 that it produced 145,846 Model 3s across 2018, of which Automotive News claims 138,000 were sold to customers in the United States. The next-best seller in the premium vehicle segment was the Lexus RX crossover, which put together 111,636 sales last year, or just over 80 percent the volume that the Model 3 did. A distant third are the combined U.S. sales of the BMW 3 and 4 Series, which with 75,957 together managed 55 percent of the Model 3's sales volume.

As a company, Tesla says its 2018 numbers exceeded the sum of its sales between its founding in 2003 and 2017 combined. This involved a 280 percent growth year-over-year from 2017 to 2018, swelling from approximately 48,000 vehicles sold worldwide in 2017 to about 182,400 in 2018. This growth was largely driven by accelerated production of the Model 3, which entered initial production in July of 2017, though fewer than 2,000 cars were delivered that same year as Tesla had production issues that needed resolution.

The Model 3's production problems have been partially resolved, permitting the manufacture of approximately 63,500 in Q4, but distribution and registration snafus have started to hold back the number of cars delivered to customers. Tesla faced a severe enough shortage of car carrier trailers in September that it began construction of its own, while Seeking Alpha reports that Tesla customers face abnormally long waits to have their vehicles titled, sometimes upwards of two months.