The Tesla Model 3 Is One of the Top Ten Best Selling Cars in America

Thanks to a production surge, the Model 3 is now the highest-selling domestic car on the market.

byKyle Cheromcha|


To say it's been an eventful summer for Tesla would be an understatement, with the company finally reaching its long-promised goal of building 5,000 Model 3s per week amid swirling questions about the car's build quality, Tesla's overall financial health, and the unfiltered tweets of CEO Elon Musk. But Musk's smooth performance on the recent earnings call seems to have settled the waters for investors a bit, and this latest bit of data is sure to please (and infuriate some in equal measure): the Tesla Model 3 is officially one of the top ten best selling passenger cars in America.

This from the data mavens at GoodCarBadCar, a site that tracks monthly sales numbers across the industry and breaks them down by brand, segment, price point, and even body style. Looking at every single passenger car—that is, non-pickup/crossover/SUV—sold in the U.S. in July, the Tesla Model 3 stands at seventh with 14,250 units. These are full-price sales and deliveries, not deposits or reservations, and the Model 3 outranks a wide range of luminaries like the Ford Mustang; the Toyota Prius; and the BMW 3, 4, and 5-Series combined.

This strong July stands as the biggest sales month ever for an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, makes it the best-selling car from an American manufacturer for the month, and puts the Model 3 on track for a record EV year as well. Tesla only sold around 6,000 Model 3s in June, good enough for 23rd place on the list. It should be noted that although July's tally doesn't include any vehicles from General Motors (the company switched to a quarterly reporting system earlier this year), June's numbers indicate their inclusion wouldn't have lowered the Model 3's current ranking. 

A Lincoln Continental and a Tesla Model 3 in Thousand Oaks, California., Kyle Cheromcha

There are still a lot of open-ended questions about the long-term viability of the Model 3, the leadership of Elon Musk, as well as the future of Tesla and its pipeline of radically ambitious products. The class-beating, dual-motor, $64,000 Model 3 Performance Edition has been thrilling automotive journalists (and a few owners, presumably) since it first rolled off the line in June; the much-ballyhooed $35,000 version is still nowhere in sight. Musk actually apologized for his erratic behavior on call last week and didn't make any splashy promises; yesterday, he hinted at developing a Tesla mini-car as the company prepares to push the Semi, new Roadster, and Model Y towards production. And the company still has yet to make a profit.

That said, this is undeniably a watershed moment, one of the first concrete signs that the mass market is willing to open up to an electric vehicle. It would be remarkable if any company released a sedan in today's SUV-crazed world and saw it shoot up in the charts like this. The fact that it's a battery-powered, controversy-clouded, relatively expensive product makes it even more notable. Tesla recently revealed the top five cars traded in for a Model 3 so far, and while an eco-minded individual giving up their Toyota Prius or Nissan Leaf won't surprise you, the fact that the eternally-popular Honda Civic and Honda Accord also appear on the list shows how the ground is moving.

And it's not an outlier. Tesla mostly sustained its 5,000-per-week production goal for the Model 3 in July, and the combination of a huge reservation backlog plus a newly-open ordering system suggests the sales numbers won't be shrinking anytime soon. 

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