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.
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.
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.
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