Currently reading: Tesla Model Y becomes first EV to top global sales charts
More than 1.2 million examples of electric crossover were sold in 2023; dethrones Toyota RAV4

The Tesla Model Y has become the first EV to be crowned the world’s best-selling car, after more than 1.2 million examples were sold worldwide in 2023.

The American crossover dethroned the Toyota RAV4, confining it to second place despite a rise in sales to 1.07 million in 2023. Its Toyota Corolla sibling placed third with 1.01m.

“Today the best-selling vehicle on the planet is an EV,” Tesla said during its fourth-quarter earnings call.

The Model Y led sales in both Europe and China, the world’s two largest electric car markets – partly thanks to Tesla slashing prices by as much as £8000 last January across all of its markets.

This priced the Model Y 18% and 23% lower than the average cost of an EV in Germany and the US respectively, data firm Jato Dynamics has revealed.

“The price cuts over the course of the year, combined with Tesla’s reputation as a reliable and competitive EV manufacturer, helped to fuel already high demand,” said its global analyst, Felipe Munoz. “As a result, Tesla is front of mind for many consumers looking to purchase an EV.”

Overall, more than 456,000 Model Ys were sold in China in 2023 (a 45% rise on 2022) and more than 255,000 in Europe (19,000 more than second-placed Dacia Sandero), where it led the best-sellers list every month bar October.

It accounted for two in every three Tesla deliveries in 2023.

Munoz labelled this rise in global sales as “unprecedented”, adding: “What Tesla has been able to achieve with the Model Y in such a short space of time is simply remarkable.”

To match demand, Tesla expanded production at its Berlin plant – where it solely makes the Model Y – to 375,000.

Production also grew at its Shanghai factory, with almost a million Model Ys and Tesla Model 3 saloons rolling off production lines.

Although Tesla will look to continue this sales push, production in Europe will be impacted from next week, with shipping issues in the Red Sea (caused by boat attacks by the Houthi militia) forcing it to suspend “most” work in Germany between 29 January and 11 February.


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Will Rimell

Will Rimell
Title: Deputy news editor

Will is a journalist with more than eight years experience in roles that range from news reporter to editor. He joined Autocar in 2022 as deputy news editor, moving from a local news background.

In his current role as deputy news editor, Will’s focus is with Autocar and Autocar Business; he also manages Haymarket's aftermarket publication CAT.

Writing is, of course, a big part of his role too. Stories come in many forms, from interviewing top executives, reporting from car launches, and unearthing exclusives.

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