Tesla: The bestselling vehicle on the planet is an EV

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Tesla on Wednesday affirmed that it delivered more than 1.2 million of its Model Y electric SUVs in 2023—making it the top-selling vehicle in the world, car or truck, electric or not. 

As Tesla put it, “the best-selling vehicle on the planet is an EV.”

The Model Y is made in the U.S., in Fremont, California, and Austin, Texas; in China, at Tesla’s Shanghai plant; and in Germany, at its Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, in Grünheide. 

The declaration of sales dominance jumps the finish line somewhat. Toyota hasn’t yet released a 2023 global sales total for the runner-up (and long-time sales champ), the Corolla. But with the Corolla at about 1.12 million for 2022, it’s likely the Model Y got there. 

In its Q4 2023 presentation deck for shareholders, released Wednesday, Tesla also touted the output of its Fremont factory that’s one of those Model Y assembly locations. 

Tesla factory, Fremont, California

“Before Tesla purchased the Fremont factory, the record output of the previous owner was nearly 430,000 vehicles made in a single year,” Tesla said in its shareholder update. “In 2023, the Tesla Fremont factory produced nearly 560,000 vehicles thanks to our ~20,000 Fremont-based employees.”

“What would have been a run-down strip mall is the highest productivity car factory in the Americas,” added Musk. “It was derelict when we got it, and now it’s the most productive plant in this entire part of the world.”

To add a zing to that statement, the Fremont plant, a joint effort between Toyota and GM, used to assemble Toyota Corolla models, and a Toyota Corolla was the last model assembled when the plant closed in 2010.

While the Model Y numbers stood as a Tesla triumph, its deliveries weren’t much more than the 1.8 million vehicles that it had anticipated earlier in the year—conservatively, Musk had inferred at the time. Tesla’s total for 2023 amounted to 1,808,581 deliveries and 1,845,985 vehicles produced, including a period through which it cut prices significantly. All said, that was a 38% gain in deliveries and a 35% gain in production, both year-over-year—barely enough to offset the acceleration of China’s BYD in Q4 EV sales. 

$25,000 Tesla teased for 2023 - Battery Day

$25,000 Tesla teased for 2023 – Battery Day

Musk didn’t discuss the $25,000 Tesla EV that had been reported earlier in the day, but he did provide a bit more background on how the company might be able to keep growing—including with vehicles built on that next-generation platform. 

“It’s worth noting that if you look at the average selling price of the other top-selling vehicles in the world, they are much lower-priced than the Model Y,” said Musk, referring to the Toyota RAV4 and Corolla, and the Honda Civic. “So people are really stretching their wallets to be able to afford a Tesla.”

The company’s next-generation, cost-cutting platform, is set to go into production the second half of 2025 with a “revolutionary new manufacturing line at Giga Texas,” according to Musk. 

“It will be head-and-shoulders above any other manufacturing technology that exists anywhere in the world,” added Musk. “It’s next-level.”

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