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Toyota Prius Prime Will Outsell Tesla Model 3 for 2017

The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is half-way to finishing in the top-three among all electric vehicles this year in the U.S. market. It is hard to see how it can be passed, even by Tesla's Model 3.


The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is half-way to finishing in the top-three among all electric vehicles sold in the U.S. this year. It is hard to see how any other car will pass it to challenge the 2017 Chevrolet Volt and Tesla Model S for the calendar year. The Prius Prime has already racked up 9,692 unit sales in just six months of 2017 and dealers and customers are screaming for more inventory. Until now, we had held off on projecting how the Prius Prime would finish, but we pretty much know now.
- See our earlier EV sales predictions for 2017 here. How are we doing so far?

Tesla Model 3 Projected Sales
Elon Musk tickled the fancy of Tesla owners by announcing (tweeting) that the Model 3 "would be early." This despite no firm schedule with which to draw that conclusion. Tesla is "expecting" the first will be built this Friday. That does not necessarily mean it will be sold on Friday, but hey, with Tesla and sales, nobody ever really knows the details, right? Our favorite expert source for Tesla sales is Inside EVs, who count vehicle registrations to come up with a count between SEC filings by Tesla.

Musk says that his company will build 100 in August and then ramp up to about 1,500 in September, the rate that the Prius Prime now sells at. By December Musk tweets that the company should be building at a rate of 20,000 per month. A little quick math and we come up with about 15,000 to 17,000 Tesla Model 3's will be delivered in the calendar year globally. If Toyota continues to sell at its pace, it will surpass 19,000 units sold just in the U.S. Tesla fans should pay close attention to the "build" versus "deliver" or "sell" wording that Musk uses. Who cares how many cars Tesla builds? It is the number delivered to customers that automakers, owners, and investors count. Read Musk's tweets in full here.

Tesla Model X and Model S

Tesla could conceivably build and sell enough Model X cars to pass the Prius Prime this year, but with all eyes on the Model 3, we suspect the Model X will fade in U.S. sales, not grow from here forward. The Prius Prime might even pass the Model S. In three of the first six months of 2017 the Prime already proved it could outsell the S.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Toyota Prius Prime Future Years
Pretty much any Tesla fan would assume the Toyota Prius Prime will be soundly trounced by the Tesla Model 3 in future years' sales. It's hard to argue that they are wrong, but we don't remember EV publications predicting the Prius Prime's success for 2017.

Image courtesy of Jesse Rudavsky