Tesla beats Toyota and Honda as Model 3 becomes top selling car in California

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 has become the best selling car across all passenger segments in California, outranking popular Japanese mainstays including Toyota’s Camry and Corolla and Honda’s Civic and Accord.

The landmark result for Tesla was revealed data released by the California New Car Dealers Association, which showed almost 19,000 Tesla Model 3s were sold in the first three months of the year, beating the usual chart-toppers Civic and Corolla, even though it is listed in the “near luxury segment”.

TOP SELLING MODELS IN EACH SEGMENT – NEW LIGHT VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS (YTD MARCH 2020). SOURCE: CALIFORNIA AUTO OUTLOOK

It’s a result that presses home the success of the Model 3 in its home market, and its continuing success on a broader global scale (as The Driven reported on Wednesday, the Tesla Model 3 remained leader in global electric vehicle sales in April even after a 75% downturn due to the Covid-19 pandemic).

As with the broader auto market, sales slumped towards the end of March as US states took measures to help contain the virus. Car  factories closed, and many staff were furloughed by auto makers including Tesla.

Auto plants are now opening again, with Tesla’s battle to reopen its Fremont factory in Alameda County, California, drawing much attention.

Tesla is now getting on with making electric cars again, which will include the Model Y electric crossover, which commenced production in early 2020 and began deliveries to customers shortly before the pandemic hit.

The California Auto Outlook reports: “The California new vehicle market got off to a good start in the first two months of this year, and then the bottom fell out when the Covid-19 crisis took hold in March.”

It notes that while new vehicle registrations in the state declined by less than 10 percent compared to the same period in 2019, reporting of registrations lags actual sales at dealerships.

For this reason, Auto Outlook says it estimates that California’s new vehicle market actually fell by 24 percent when also taking April sales into account, compared to the same period in 2019.

It predicts that for the entire year, auto sales will fall 26 per cent compared to 2019, although this depends on a range of factors such as how well the virus is contained. This is no doubt of concern when taking other current political and social factors, in particular the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd

It will be interesting to see then, how Tesla fares as a global recession threatens. The success of its Model 3 electric sedan means it is already in good stead, and with rave reviews of the Model Y – such as from veteran engineer Sandy Munro who says it is “worth every penny”  – it is likely it will also fare well despite numerous negative market forces.

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