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Tesla Model Y Outsells Most Popular Luxury SUVs In China

Tesla Model Y is crushing the competition in China’s high-end SUV market, with the BEV crossover model having sold 23,117 units in November, a very good number indeed in the world´s biggest electric car market. This basically placed the Model Y outselling Audi Q5 and BMW X3, two very popular luxury SUVs that normally sell well in the Chinese market.

"The Model Y’s gap from its rivals in China’s high-end SUV market is substantial, as the second place, the Lixiang ONE, only sold 13,485 units last month, or just about 58% of the Tesla crossover’s sales. The Mercedes-Benz GLC is in a distant third place with 12,269 units sold in November. Other German SUVs were further down, such as the Audi Q5, which sold 11,411 units last month, and the BMW X3, which sold 10,436.", as per the latest report from, citing data from @Dkurac:

The businessblog article also states that " … with its feat in November, the Tesla Model Y has effectively topped the country’s premium high-end SUV rankings two months in a row. The Model Y also saw a 74% month-over-month increase in local vehicle sales, though this is most likely due to the fact that Tesla exported a large amount of the vehicles produced in Giga Shanghai to foreign territories in October."

Going back in time, on June 5th 2020 Tesla launched Model Y Online design studio for the Chinese Market, allowing customers in China to place orders for the (at the time) upcoming Made-in-China Model Y. First delivery of the model was made on January 18th 2021, and initial production of the "MIC" Model Y begun in mid-December 2020, with 250,000 Model Y expected (again, at the time) to be produced in 2021 in China alone.

An interesting thing happened in September 2020, when Volkswagen Group Chairperson of the Board of Management, Herbert Diess, wrote about the Model Y: "… This car is for us in many aspects (not in all!) a reference: user experience, updatability, driving features, performance of the top of the range models, charging network, range. Big advantage: Model Y was/is thought through as an electric car – as is the ID.3. Many of our competitors still using their ICE platforms. The result: They aren’t getting the best EVs".

Model Y Dashboard, image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Then, in October 2020, Elon Musk tweeted that Giga Berlin Model Y would get single-piece rear and front frame cast, structural battery pack, and new 4680 cells. On January 1st 2021, Tesla started selling the Model Y in China, and it sold out planned production (an unknown quantity) for Q1-2021 within 6 days. On January 7th 2021 Tesla released the Standard Range Rear Wheel Drive Model Y as well as the optional 7-seat, third-row seating configuration.

By July 2021, Elon Musk revealed that Tesla was planning to release an updated design for the Model Y by the end of 2021. In addition, Tesla was planning to implement their new structural battery pack to improve range. These new cars would be manufactured by the two new Tesla production facilities in Austin, Texas and Berlin, Germany. If Tesla is not able to roll out the new 4680 battery cells by the end of 2021 (which is apparently the case, at this point), they will use the standard battery cells until the 4680's are ready.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Another interesting comparison, and a sort of future prediction, later came from Musk himself: “ … The BMW 3 Series was for the longest time the best-selling premium sedan, and it has been exceeded by the Tesla Model 3. And this is only three and a half years into production and was just two factories. For Model 3 to be outselling its combustion engine competitors, I think, is quite remarkable… When it comes to Model Y, we think Model Y will be the best-selling car or vehicle of any kind in the world and probably next year. So I’m not 100% certain next year, but I think it’s quite likely. I’d say more likely than not that in 2022, Model Y (would be) the best-selling car or truck of any kind in the world” were Elon Musks' exact words during Tesla Q1 2021 earnings call.

What do you think? Will the Model Y become the best-selling vehicle in the world? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.