This month Tesla sold its 100,000th Model S just three years and six months after the vehicle’s June 2012 launch.
A phenomenon within a yet-limited market, the Model S is the world’s third best-selling plug-in electrified vehicle by cumulative sales, and achieved its first 100,000 sales close to 1.5 years quicker than did the Chevy Volt, and just five months longer than it took Nissan’s Leaf.
The Volt and Leaf were launched December 2010, and Volt did it October this year, after four years, 11 months, and the Leaf crossed 100,000 sales January 2014 requiring just over three years, and leads the world now with around 200,000 as of this month.
The Model S, priced from the 70s and running to double that has captured and defined a niche luxury plug-in segment. It has in turn been rewarded with success to a greater degree than the ostensibly mass-marketed extended-range Chevy, and all-electric Nissan, both priced around the 30s.
But Tesla did not announce the 100,000th Model S sale this month with a press release. The figures are actually based on conservative estimates and the exact day of the milestone crossing is not known.
Through November, the carmaker had sold around 99,350 to 99,650. Now 15 days into December, and considering it is pushing toward a year-end goal of 50,000 total sales for 2015 alone, it has without a doubt sold more than one-thousand more, and is already over 100,000 total.
Tesla’s biggest markets are the U.S., and cumulatively it accounts for 61 percent of the global total, or about 60,720 sales through November. Other top markets are Norway, China, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland according to global sales tracker Mario R. Duran.
Last month the Model S sold 3,100 estimated just in the U.S. – one of its best months ever – but as has been reported numerous times, Tesla which likes to do things differently, does not report precise monthly sales.
What it will report soon enough however will be its fourth quarter sales, and by the end of this month it will need around 107,000 cumulative total including Model X to have hit its minimum target of 50,000 sales for calendar year 2015.
Through the third quarter of this year, Tesla reported 33,174 worldwide sales, or an average of about 3,700 per month.
Needed for this month, according to Duran, will be between 7,100 and 7,400 sales depending on counts in certain countries.
In other words, it is crunch time for Tesla, and it’s just as probable that it did not announce 100,000 Model S sales as 1) it’s too busy making hay while the sun is shining, and 2) it might not want to tip its hand as to how close or far it is from its year-end guidance.
Tesla previously said it was shooting for as many as 55,000 sales this year including Model X. It since updated the guidance to 50,000-52,000. The Model X pipeline is opening with a trickle, only an estimated 15 sales were accomplished in November, and unknown is how many sales will contribute this month.
In any case, the Model S has been the top-selling plug-in car this year. The company’s contrarian stance has aided its marketability by doing things like 1) offering over-the-air updates ongoing to existing cars on the road, keeping existing owners relatively happy, and 2) not strictly holding to model years, though technically it does for DOT purposes.
The Model S technically is the same design as it was when launched June 2012, Tesla has not said when to expect a complete model redesign as its hands are full with Model X, Gigafactory, Model 3, and more.
That said, it basically has refreshed the car under the sheet metal, adding all–wheel drive and “insane” as well as “ludicrous” speed options, Autopilot semi-autonomous cruise control, and this has kept the line looking still quite relevant to buyers.
Contrast that to the traditional business model of Chevrolet and Nissan which did minor updates but nothing so exciting, and sales this year and last have tapered off as buyers have sat back waiting for the next-generation Volt and Leaf.
Not so for Tesla. It has managed to make a three-and-a-half year-old car look fresher than ever, and its sales could be the highest this month and this year that they ever have been.