Tesla no longer a boutique car maker, is outselling major manufacturers like Porsche

In May 2014 I asked “what happens when Tesla Motors’ sales equals that of major traditional car makers like Porsche?”  At the time I saw a Porsche press release with quarterly sales numbers where Porsche had sold 55,000 cars worldwide for Q1 2014, for an annualized sales rate of 165,000 cars.  In 2013, Tesla sold 23,000 cars worldwide, and in Q1 2014 Tesla sold enough cars for a 25,000 annualized yearly sales rate.  By then Tesla’s plans were clear, that Tesla would be rapidly increasing manufacturing and sales especially when the “high volume affordable EV” went on sale (what’s now called the Model 3).  The question occurred – how long before Tesla’s sales would exceed the sales of a company like Porsche, and what would be the significance?

In that May 2014 article I reported on a Nissan representative at a conference I’d attended obliquely dismissing Tesla as a boutique car manufacturer.   Tesla’s relatively low 2013-14 sales rate, about 25,000 per year, made it easy for a mainstream car maker like Nissan to laugh at Tesla’s pretention.

It’s four years later and Tesla is now outselling Porsche, one of the venerable car brands of the world.

Tesla is climbing the ranks of the auto industry and is starting to outsell major players.  What is the significance of achieving this threshold?

As you see in the numbers below, Tesla is rapidly growing Model 3 sales, and it is very likely Tesla can completely outsell Porsche’s worldwide sales with just the Tesla Model 3.

This data is validated by a piece published yesterday by Inside EV’s who summarized a stock analyst report after that analyst visited Gigafactory 1 in Reno.  That analyst came away very impressed, and expressed a belief that Tesla can easily expand to 8,000 Model 3 battery packs per week, which annualizes to a 400,000 Model 3/year production rate.  The key is new manufacturing machines that will “alleviate” the production bottleneck.  It’s predicted that in Q3 2018 Tesla will make 50,000-55,000 Model 3’s for an annualized rate over 200,000.  In Q4 the new machines will be fully on-line allowing a big bump in manufacturing.  The machines will also enable Tesla to lower battery pack cost to the predicted $100/kWh level by the end of 2018.

Tesla can no longer be dismissed as a minor player in the automotive industry.

Tesla does have a ways to go before ranking as a top 20 automaker.  According to Wikipedia, in 2016 the #20 vehicle maker was Great Wall (China) with just over 1 million vehicles sold.  To exceed that threshold Tesla will require more factories.

In January 2015, Elon Musk predicted that by 2025 Tesla will be selling a few million cars per year.  Numbers scratched on the back of a napkin said Tesla would need 10+ vehicle factories and maybe as many battery gigafactories.  A “few million” cars per year would put Tesla on equal footing with companies like Honda and Ford.

Repeat after me:  Tesla can no longer be dismissed as a minor player in the automotive industry.

Sales numbers

Going by the InsideEV’s plug-in vehicle sales chart for USA, for January-August 2018 Tesla has sold 55,882 Model 3’s, 14,645 Model S’s, and 13,600 Model X’s for 84,127 cars total in 2018.

For 2017, Porsche broke their North American sales record by selling 55,420 vehicles.  It was the 8th consecutive year of increased sales at Porsche North America.  Worldwide, Porsche sold around 246,000 vehicles in 2017, again setting a new record for Porsche, beating their 2016 sales which itself was an all-time record for Porsche worldwide sales.

  • Tesla USA: Jan-Aug 2018, 84,127 cars sold
  • Porsche North America: 2017, 55,420 cars sold

Tesla (USA) is outselling Porsche North American by a big margin.

What about Porsche’s worldwide sales?  Is Tesla beating the threshold of 246,000 worldwide sales?  Consider the growth rate for Tesla Model 3 sales: January 1875, February 2485, March 3820, April 3750, May 6000, June 5902, July 14240, August 17800.  This means Tesla Model 3 sales are ballooning rapidly.  It’s likely Tesla will grow the manufacturing rate over the rest of the year.  Even if Tesla plateaus at the current rate, 17,800 Model 3 sales in August annualizes to over 213,600 Model 3’s per year in the USA.

Yes it’s risky to annualize a one-month sales number to an entire year because obviously sales can swing up and down.  But, Tesla is consistently growing Model 3 production and there is strong demand for that car.  It’s a safe prediction for Tesla to keep up this trend.

What it means is Tesla is on the cusp of outselling Porsche’s entire worldwide sales with just the Tesla Model 3 sales in the USA.

Annualizing Tesla’s Model S and Model X USA sales you see a total of 42,367 for the USA in 2018.  That by itself is close to, but not exceeding, Porsche’s North American sales. (Model S, Jan-Aug 2018, 14,645; Model X, Jan-Aug 2018, 13,600)

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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