Tesla Model S sales surprise.

Tesla Model S Sales Surprise

As Tesla's Model 3 flounders, the Model S shines.

The Tesla Model S has just had its second-best-ever U.S. sales month. With 4,860 units being projected by Inside EVs*, only December of 2016 was larger. What is fascinating about this high volume of sales for Tesla's oldest model now for sale, is that it came in the same month that Tesla completely dropped the ball regarding its over-hyped Model 3.

To put the Model S sales into some perspective, we must look at other cars, though none are exactly what the Model S is. Let's start with the near-premium brand Buick. Buick makes four car models. Every one of them is down more than 30% for the year. Buick's highest volume car, the LaCrosse, was outsold by the Model S by more than 4 to 1 in September. Lexus is the volume leader in the U.S. premium vehicle market. The large, five-passenger ES is Lexus' top-selling car model. The Tesla Model S even surpassed this car, beating it by about 600 cars. Don't assume Tesla sells the most vehicles among luxury automakers. The Lexus RX is still the top-selling premium vehicle with over 9,000 units per month heading to owners in a given month. Nor is the Model S the top-selling green car. The Prius also sells well into the 9,000 unit mark each month and the Toyota RAV4 hybrid out-sold the Model S in September as well.

Tesla's Model X crossover/minivan also had its second best month of sales at 3,120 units estimated by Inside EVs*. That puts the Model X in a virtual 3-way tie with the Toyota Prius Prime and Chevy Volt for second place overall in U.S. electric vehicle sales year to date. The Chevy Bolt is in fourth.

The Tesla Model 3 meanwhile is stalled at the starting line. Like the Model S and Model X before it, the Model 3 was prematurely hyped by Tesla and the media. The Model 3 may well end up a game changer, but for now, it is another foul ball by Tesla who always swings for the fences.

*Tesla does not report monthly sales like every other automaker. So instead of a sales report from Tesla, we rely upon the decidedly pro-EV website Inside EV's and its excellent staff for estimates on Tesla sales.

Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.

Share this content.