Auto sales figures are sort of fuzzy numbers, no matter how you slice them and no matter which manufacturer you’re talking about. Unless you’re specifically tracking vehicle registrations, automakers generally self-report the figures. So, you have to trust that they aren’t doing anything too tricky. Plus, not every sale is equal, as some are logged as dealership loaners or demo models, some go to fleets (like to a rental car agency), and still others are, of course, bought by traditional customers looking for a new daily driver.
With that preamble out of the way, when we saw a tweet from Tesla claiming that the all-electric Model 3 is the best-selling midsize premium sedan in America, our interest was piqued. According to Tesla, market share of the Model 3 has just surpassed the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which had up until now led the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Lexus IS as the best-selling sedan in its class. Note that the graph from Tesla below is, we think, specific to four-door models.
So, is it true? Judging by the numbers we can find, including some from Bloomberg, which has a running chart to track Model 3 registrations, the answer is… probably. We don’t know exactly how many Model 3 sedans Tesla is currently cranking out, but Bloomberg estimates production at about 2,560 units per week, and total sales for 2018 at 34,414. We know the number is increasing regularly, though, and Elon Musk has said most recently production sits around 500 units per day, which, on a seven-day cycle, would be 3,500 per week.
Perhaps the most important factoid worth remembering is that Tesla has a massive backlog of Model 3 orders to work through, and even if a quarter of the 450,000 reservations back out – a number that’s been reported but we can’t confirm – that’s a waiting line that any of Tesla’s competitors would love to see at the door to its virtual showroom.
Put simply, production of the Model 3 will very likely continue to ramp up, and the vehicle will indeed outsell rivals like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, and Lexus IS by the end of the year. And probably by a significant margin.