Why the Tesla Model 3 Outselling All Major Rivals Combined Looks Like the Beginning of an EV Monopoly
Tesla's Model 3 has dominated EV sales charts for the past year, quickly putting "production hell" in the rearview mirror and accelerating onto the highway of "market dominance."
No other automaker came close to Tesla's numbers in the first half of the year, leaving those of us with a keen interest in non-Tesla electric vehicles to wonder whether any established automaker has the ability, let alone the willingness, to catch up with Elon Musk's all-electric future.
Tesla's market dominance when it comes to fully electric vehicles can be summed up in one stat: during the first six months of this year, Tesla put more Model 3s on US driveways than all other electric vehicle sales combined.
Here's more on the Chevy Bolt EV's sales figures from Q2 2019.
The Competition Aren't Even Close
It says something that the next closest competitor to the Tesla Model 3 from January through June 2019 was, well, another Tesla. The $80,000+ Tesla Model X, to be precise, which beat out the third-placed Chevy Bolt EV by more than 700 units.
To further emphasize just how one-sided this competition appears to be, here's how the top ten all-electric vehicles list looks for the first half of 2019:
POSITION | MODEL | UNITS SOLD
1. Tesla Model 3 - 67,650
2. Tesla Model X - 9,000
3. Chevy Bolt EV - 8,281
4. Tesla Model S - 7,225
5. Nissan LEAF - 6,008
6. BMW i3 (inc. REx) - 2,207
7. Volkswagen e-Golf - 1,893
8. Audi e-tron - 1,835
9. Jaguar I-Pace - 1,309
10. smart ED - 496
Discover the best-selling electric cars of 2019 so far in this video. (Please subscribe to Torque News YouTube Channel for daily automotive news and analysis).
Firstly, note that we can't even present ten regular all-electric vehicles with more than 1,000 units sold over six months.
The impressive Jaguar I-Pace barely squeaks into four-figure sales and the list has to be rounded out by the niche smart ED, which is limited to short-range travel and doesn't sit comfortably with the more capable EVs above it. This should change as Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric sales start to gather pace in the United States, but it highlights the paucity of options on offer for BEV buyers in North America today.
This is where Tesla comes into its own, because it is the only automaker 100% committed to full battery electric vehicles. If they fail, it fails.
Established automakers have a different dilemma. They can see the all-electric future coming, but still make the vast majority of their money on sales of combustion engine vehicles.
While they need to take steps to convince efficiency-minded buyers that they're moving towards electric vehicles - or at least an electrified fleet of vehicles - they can't simply abandon the very models that make them successful here and now.
This is plain for all to see in today's all-electric options.
General Motors manufactures a highly capable all-electric car in the Chevy Bolt EV, then fails to actively sell or market the vehicle in any meaningful way.
Nissan builds a promising lead with the first-generation Nissan Leaf, then fails to keep up with the competition with its second-gen update.
Kia and Hyundai create compelling electric versions of existing CUVs with great range and full tax credit allowance but limit these models to certain states.
Elsewhere, both BMW and Toyota have a base to build from with popular electric and low-emission cars. Each of these manufacturers has also moved up their electrification plans by two years, from 2025 to 2023. Neither company has concrete plans for the near-term, however, and it's hard to see them quickly shifting the focus to all-electric vehicles.
Throw in the challenge of Peak Battery, highlighted recently by Torque News' John Goreham, and neither is likely to bring a high-volume all-electric model to market that can gain rapid popularity in the mainstream over the next few years.
All of this leaves the marketplace wide open for Tesla, who have their own battery production plans and new models due in key vehicle categories over the next couple of years.
Does the Model Y Seal the Deal?
Despite a lackluster reception at its unveiling earlier this year - not least from Elon Musk himself, who spent more time talking about Tesla's past achievements than the brand's next big thing - the Model Y stands to move Tesla into the mainstream.
What the Tesla Model 3 sedan has done to convert more budget-conscious EV enthusiasts, the Model Y's SUV/CUV styling could do to bring families and everyday drivers into the fold.
The Tesla Model Y is due in late 2020, but rumors of increased production capacity could see it come to market even earlier. The constraints that plagued the Tesla Model 3's ramp-up are also unlikely to be present, meaning that Tesla looks willing and able to clean up in another key vehicle category.
If the brand can also bring an attractive all-electric pickup truck to market by 2021, it will leave established automakers fighting over scraps in the EV market, which is surely not where any of them want to be.
Do you see any threat at all to Tesla in the market for all-electric vehicles? If so, let us know in the comments which brand(s) you think will raise their game!