Delivery Chart - Tesla vs. Toyota by John Goreham
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Tesla’s US Deliveries Remain Nearly Flat As Toyota Hybrids Grow By 37%

Since 2018, Toyota’s American-market green vehicle deliveries have outpaced Tesla’s by a remarkable amount. Here is a detailed at look at why.
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At the end of 2018, Tesla and Toyota both had about the same volume of deliveries of green vehicles in America. Since that time, Tesla’s US deliveries have barely crept up, while Toyota’s green vehicle deliveries have grown by more than a third.

Tesla’s US Deliveries Stagnate
According to Clean Technica’s January 1st, 2021 report, Tesla delivered approximately 204,274 vehicles in America in 2020. Clean Technica’s analysis has proven accurate in the past to within about 3-4% accuracy. If this estimate is correct, Tesla’s US deliveries increased from the 192,250 reported by Inside EVs for calendar 2019. A growth rate of about 6%.

This is not far off the volume of deliveries in America Tesla had in 2018 which Inside EVs reported on January 3rd, 2019 as being 191,627. The stalled pace of US Tesla vehicle deliveries over the past two years is usually attributed to Tesla focusing on its expansion of business outside of the United States, specifically in China and targeted European markets. One notable difference related to Tesla’s performance this year is that the state and local governments of California played a role in limiting Tesla’s deliveries. Of course, every automaker faced similar or greater challenges. So, an increase of 6% is commendable given the circumstances. Assuming the estimate is correct.

Delivery Data - Tesla vs. Toyota by John Goreham

Toyota’s Green Vehicle Deliveries Increase Steadily
By contrast to Tesla’s basically flat growth, Toyota’s American-market green vehicle deliveries have grown by 37% over the same period. Toyota’s two brands’ US green vehicle deliveries totaled 337,036 according to Toyota’s year-end report. That represents an increase for 2020 of just under 23% compared to 2019’s total of 274,572 and an increase of 37% compared to Toyota’s 2018 green vehicle deliveries of 213,354.

2020 Toyota hybrid deliveries chart courtesy of Toyota

As you can see from Toyota’s green vehicle delivery chart above, every possible detail is shown. Toyota has provided this type of data for years. Unlike Tesla and many other brands, Toyota does not try to hide its delivery data by model, market, or segment. It puts the facts on the table. Literally.

Toyota’s Hybrid Vehicle Popularity Grows - Toyota Makes Hybrid Powertrains Standard On Updated Models
Uninformed automotive publications often infer from the decline in Prius sales that the popularity of Toyota hybrid vehicles has waned. The opposite is actually true. Small cars like the Prius have fallen in popularity across all brands, all markets, and across nearly all segments. Shoppers have shifted their buying to crossovers, and Toyota’s rapidly-growing green vehicle sales reflect just how perfectly Toyota saw the market changes coming. The RAV4 Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid both outsell the Prius by a significant amount. The all-new Venza and Sienna, both of which are only available now with hybrid powertrains, also topped the Prius in December. All Toyota green crossovers and minivans have standard or optional all-wheel drive. In another example of Toyota adapting to changing customer preferences, Toyota also now offers AWD on the Prius.

Toyota Adds Green Models
Another way that Toyota Hybrids have been expanded is with regard to models. Toyota now offers a total of 18 green vehicles, including the plug-in hybrid-electric Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime. Toyota offers small cars, midsize cars, large cars, small crossovers, compact crossovers, midsize crossovers, midsize premium cars, large luxury cars, small premium crossovers, compact premium crossovers, midsize premium crossovers, and large luxury sports cars with green powertrains. No other automaker has a breadth of green products that can compare to Toyota.

Related Story: Tesla's Model Y Is Now Outselling Every Crossover Model At These Major Brands

Toyota’s Long History of Electrified Vehicle Sales In America
It should be no surprise that Toyota remains the leader in green vehicle sales in America. Toyota had a production battery-electric RAV4 EV crossover in California five years before Tesla was founded. During its three decades of sales, the Prius has been the best-selling car - among all cars - not just green cars, in such notable markets as California. Toyota’s newest green flagship, the third-generation electrified RAV4 Prime, is presently selling at or above MSRP. By contrast, Tesla has resorted to using sales promotion gimmicks such as free FSD, free Supercharger access, and outright new vehicle discounting to help boost deliveries during quarter-end pushes. Perhaps the most extreme example of the disparity in how shoppers value Toyota’s green vehicles versus other brands’ is the Chevy Bolt BEV being given away by GM at a loss with five-figure discounts.

Toyota’s Green Vehicle Future
There is a meaningful chance that successful lobbying by EVangelist groups and by automakers such as Tesla will result in battery-electric mandates in America that will eliminate all other green vehicle technologies in a future decade. It will be very interesting to see how Toyota will respond, should that come to pass. More importantly, how will automakers with so much less experience creating successful green cars fare in such a market?

Source Note: Torque News would prefer to use data supplied directly by Tesla. However, our focus is the U.S. market in this story, and Tesla does not supply a breakdown of its sales in the American market. Tesla also does not have a public relations department that responds to media requests. However, we did still reach out to [email protected] to request US delivery data. Lacking data fromTesla directly, we selected two electric vehicle advocacy publications as our sources of estimated Tesla US delivery numbers. Inside EVs stopped tracking US EV sales when it became apparent that US battery-electric sales had stopped growing in 2019, or we would have used that source for all of our Tesla numbers. We are aware that GoodCarBadCar makes Tesla estimates, but that publication has not updated its Tesla data and we are entering the third week of January. Having spoken with GoodCarBadCar's content creator, we are also a bit suspect of the accuracy of its Tesla data. The chart below from Tesla’s public webpage shows the company’s global delivery information. For reference, Toyota delivers more than 20X this number of vehicles each year.

Our Invitation To Tesla To Supply US Delivery Data: Here is part of the email we sent to Tesla’s PR contact in advance of publication: “I will be going to press with a story related to Tesla's US market deliveries in 2020. I'd like to ensure my data is as accurate as possible in order to present the clearest picture possible. If you would like to provide the total US-market deliveries for 2020 that would be very helpful. Also helpful would be that same data point for 2019 and 2018. If you wish to provide a model-line breakdown that would also help add clarity. To be clear, I am already in possession of the global deliveries. I need US-market Tesla deliveries for my story. Any help is much appreciated.”

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin


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Comments

I always wonder what are your motivations for trying to make Tesla look comparatively bad all the time. You have doing this for years now. Nobody else could reasonably view Tesla's unrivaled success as a failure, the way that you paint it by revealing only part of the information. Toyota (like VW, GM, Ford, Hyundai) sells millions of vehicles. And now they are offering more of their best selling vehicles with a hybrid option, and for a couple models, a plug-in hybrid version, but still not one full electric model in the U.S. Tesla, on the other hand has always only sold BEVs. Toyota (like many legacy automakers) has been making excuses why they cannot build BEVs competitively. As opposed to engineering a way around the shortcomings of electric vehicles, as Tesla is doing. Actually, considering Toyota's typical Japanese corporate conservatism, they are moving quickly and boldly into electrified vehicles. And I have always praised Toyota relative to other legacy automakers like Chrysler who produce NO EVs, but have only one PHEV and nothing else yet. It is better to offer a fleet of hybrids rather than one single EV model, sold in low volumes. Ironically, all of the legacy Japanese automakers are going to be driven to produce EVs by 2030-35 when a ban on the sale of polluting vehicles in Japan begins. Toyota President Akio Toyoda said that if Japan banned gasoline-powered cars, and moved to electric vehicles too hastily, “the current business model of the car industry is going to collapse.” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pointed to a different portion of Mr. Toyoda’s comments in which the Toyota chief said he backed the government’s goal of making Japan carbon-neutral by 2050. Reducing carbon emissions “should be tackled as a strategy for growth, not as a limitation on growth,” Mr. Suga said. And I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Suga.
My motivations to cover green vehicles go all the way back to the 1990s. I studied green vehicles and participated in an EV build as my fifth-year project in my engineering program. Unlike some green vehicle enthusiasts, I don't have one preferred technology. My primary interest is in cars that are practical, affordable to mainstream buyers, and which bring joy to their owner. So many publications pander to Tesla. Do I really need to help with that? Unlike the top writers and the owners of many green vehicle publications, I don't have a financial stake in any of the companies I cover. So, I am not motivated by personal investments in my coverage. Look closely at my work on balance and you will see that I cover all aspects of the automotive world. I highlight Toyota's recent reliability challenges and that brings me great traffic. Few question my motivations writing those stories. One of my evergreen stories was a story about a popular Ford model being branded a lemon. When the RAV4 was failing an important safety test, I covered that topic. Why are only the Tesla fans surprised when someone writes anything other than a fawning love letter? I guess the easiet answer is I'm not an advocate. I'm just a person writing about vehicles who likes to create content few others dare to. Sometimes. Most of my work is very similar to my peers.
Sorry John. Your history of stories does not prove your ideal of being objective. Generally about 90% of your EVs stories frame Tesla negatively, or comparatively poor. That is not the same as being objective.