Tesla may have just announced the quickest 0-60 sedan, but just as notable is how Model S has sprinted from 0-50 – thousand sales that is – as it’s on track for 50,000 globally by the end of October.

Estimated sales through the end of September are 46,928 according to various reports and Tesla’s quarterly shareholder letters through June. It’s believed the automaker will have delivered as many as 51,300-plus units before November 1, although there is room for error in the actual count.

That notwithstanding, it won’t be long now, and this shows the electric luxury performance sedan has grown its global market and maintained popular interest to accelerate sales on par with a far-cheaper Nissan Leaf.

It took established Nissan around two years, two months from December 2010 through its mid-February 2013 announcement of its 50,000th Leaf sale worldwide. The Model S costing two-four times more, could cross that milestone in only around one extra month.


The Model S was launched June 22, 2012 and it will have been around two years, three months when the approximately $72,000-$133,000 car – depending on configuration – equals the Leaf’s earlier sales tally.

The Leaf did struggle during 2012 and sales picked up after a 2013 price cut, and it’s now close to 150,000 after setting sales records all last year and this year. But Tesla actually raised its prices while other plug-in cars – including Chevy Volt, Mitsu i-MiEV, and Ford Focus Electric – have all been significantly slashed.

Remarkable also is Tesla only sold 200 Model S units to start with in its third quarter of 2012 because it was taking great care with production quality control, and sold just 2,450 in its next full quarter. Since then it sold around the 5,000-unit range the next three quarters, the 6,000 range two quarters after that, and nearly 7,600 units in the second quarter of this year.

Wiggle Room

As everyone following this space knows, Tesla does not quote monthly sales, so the quarterly statements are where it divulges deliveries. These through June 2014 and various news reports for 15 countries counting sales and registrations were used to get the total.

Confirmed by Tesla through June were 39,128 Model S deliveries, and outstanding is its report on third quarter 2014 sales for July, August, and September.


The company estimated it would sell 7,800 units for Q3 which would make for 46,928 through the end of September. Reports – cross checked where possible – place the actual Q3 estimate at 8,098 according to Brazil-based alternative energy enthusiast, plug-in car statistician, and HybridCars.com reader, Mario R. Duran.

If so, Tesla may have sold as many as 51,316 units by end of this month, and the exact day of 50,000 may go by otherwise undocumented.

Tesla’s largest market is the U.S., and the HybridCars.com Dashboard estimates 11,900 sales for Q3. Tiny Norway is second place and accounts for 3,535 according to reports. A question hangs over third-place China which the LA Times reported on Sept. 26 at 2,800 but with registrations not nearly lining up – only 432.

Tesla acknowledged to the Times the huge discrepancy, and it could have to do with not up-to-date registration records, and/or “scalpers” buying up new Model S sedans and stockpiling them to resell, thus they are not being registered.

Fourth place is the Netherlands with 958, fifth is Germany with 576, sixth is Canada at 467, seventh is Belgium at 361. Beyond this, we count: Switzerland: 346; UK: 350; Denmark: 302; France: 218; Sweden: 169; Austria: 101; Italy: 35; Spain: 16.

China is the biggest outstanding mystery, but another source which routinely tracks plug-in sales also placed it at over 2,800 Q3 sales, so the imminent 50,000 milestone we believe is a safe, if not precise, call.

Bottom Line

In January 2014, we reported Tesla had sold its 25,000th Model S, so indeed things are speeding up.

Assuming published reports are close to accurate, it’s believed Tesla will have sold its 50,000th Model S as soon as one week from now, and may even have quietly crossed 50,000 already. But while people like to commemorate anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and milestones, Tesla’s latest special date may be viewed as one more way marker toward a larger goal.


Tesla does not even see fit to put itself too closely under the microscope as other automakers do and report its month-by-month sales, but it is otherwise talking with its sales performance and loud and clear is its zero-emissions agenda.

Every Model S sold displaces one more gas-burning car that could have been on the road instead.

This month CEO Elon Musk tweeted Teslas had globally traveled a cumulative estimate of half a billion miles.

At the rate these 100-percent electric cars are proliferating – with Model X due next along with “D” models of the S, and Model 3 to follow – fuel savings and emissions elimination are accelerating quickly, just like the cars do themselves.