Tesla Model S Was World’s Best-Selling Plug-in Car in 2015

While more eyes may have been on Tesla’s just making its 50,000-52,000 global 2015 sales target, even if it had fallen well short, last year the Model S significantly outsold every other plug-in electrified vehicle in the world.

With its 50,366 sales for the calendar year, the luxury performance S model was the number-one best selling PEV eclipsing the second-place Nissan Leaf which accounted for about 43,000 global sales.

The Model S is also the cumulative second-best seller with 107,148 sales since its mid-2012 launch – behind the Nissan Leaf which had a 1.5 year head start from Dec. 2010 and ahead of GM’s Volt/Ampera also released Dec. 2010 and now credited with 106,000 sales.

Tesla’s 2015 Model S sales tally was also a sizable jump from 2014 when it sold 31,655 units and held down the second-best seller position.

SEE ALSO: 2014’s Top-10 Global Best-Selling Plug-in Cars

All told it has defied odds as it continues to set new records.

Third in line for 2015 was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV with about 39,000 sales thanks to overseas markets as it has been delayed and not yet brought to the U.S.

Fourth was the BYD Qin PHEV with 31,898 units just in China in 2015, and fifth was the BMW i3 with 24,057 worldwide sales in 2015 according to sales tracker Mario R. Duran.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Model S Crossed 100,000 Sales Milestone This Month

In all, the world market absorbed about half a million PEVs in 2015 meaning Tesla accounted for around 10 percent.

Its biggest market cumulatively to date has been its home country, the U.S., which has spoken for about 60 percent of Model S production since launch.

Norway has been second with around 9.4 percent, and other countries of note include in order: China, Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark.

Surfing The Wave

Entering the fourth quarter of 2015, Tesla did have a long way to go with just 33,151 units sold worldwide, and the carmaker wound up reporting 17,400 more cars from Sept. 1-Dec. 31 of which just 208 were its Model X crossover.

This by the way, did not make Tesla the world’s best-selling PEV manufacturer, as accounting for all models sold, BYD ended 2015 with 58,728 units in China ahead of Tesla’s global 50,580 including Model X.

SEE ALSO: Why Europe (and China) Passed the US As Number One In Plug-in Electrified Vehicles

As it is, Tesla’s S has again put a feather in its cap demonstrating how the market is rewarding a car costing 2-4 times more than plug-in sales competitors.

Speaking of which, Nissan and Chevrolet were perceptibly long in the tooth and sales were down last year for the five-year-old Leaf and Volt while Tesla kept its face fresh and had increased opportunities to shine.

Chevy Bolt.

Not in the same class, but offering 200 miles range for $37,500, the Chevy Bolt due this year is an indicator of competition coming down market.

It should be noted also that the plug-in market is still a small sliver of the general passenger vehicle market.

Tesla Motors is being rewarded for its perceived take-no-prisoners stance of EV-or-die – no plug-in hybrids for this company, let alone anything that relies on internal combustion at all.

Also not hurting its market perception is Tesla has been the newcomer without a history such as the legacy of existing major automakers that has included products and service that may have left bad memories along with any good.

Tesla’s cars are also being purchased because they deliver range, design and performance on par with or beating existing internal combustion cars at their own game.

In short, Model S has been a perceptibly cool product, but as the market looks to expand, what the actual future holds no one knows.

Known is regulations in the U.S., Europe, and Asia are driving carmakers to keep developing plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars and this game is just beginning.

Another key advantage for Tesla is it growing Supercharger network of very fast DC quick chargers.

Another key advantage for Tesla is it growing Supercharger network of very fast DC quick chargers.

Most major automakers are – if too slowly for some observers – ramping up to stay in step with regulations and projected competition this decade and next.

It’s a market Tesla has said it wanted to spur into being, and its “disruptive” Model S has helped do just that.

This year eyes will be on further sales growth projected along with the Model X roll-out beginning in earnest as well as Model 3’s reveal and more.