For the first time ever, an all-electric vehicle — specifically the Tesla Model Y — is now the world’s bestselling car. According to analyst data from Jato Dynamics (published by Motor1), the Tesla Model Y has surpassed Toyota’s RAV4 and Corolla models to top global sales rankings in the first quarter of 2023. That’s especially impressive given pricing for the 2023 Model Y starts at $47,490, considerably more than the 2023 Corolla ($21,550) and RAV4 ($27,575).
The figures reported by Jato Dynamics reveal that the Tesla Model Y sold 267,200 units globally in Q1, compared to the 256,400 Corolla and 214,700 RAV4 units sold during the same period. That’s approximately a 69 percent year-on-year increase for the Model Y — a figure that Tesla’s meme-lord CEO, Elon Musk, will no doubt approve of. Musk has been confident about the Model Y’s success even before it launched, estimating back in 2016 that it would draw demand “in the 500k to 1 million unit per year level.”
While this is a milestone for Tesla, the Model Y’s victory isn’t especially surprising. Tesla doesn’t provide an exact breakdown of sales, but it reported that over 400,000 Model Y and Model 3 vehicles had been delivered to customers in the first quarter of 2023. Electric vehicle development by competing car manufacturers also remains slow, allowing Tesla to continue to dominate the EV market. And Tesla has frequently slashed the price of most of its lineup over the last few years, including the Model Y, which may have contributed to the increase in sales.
We should note that while a Tesla EV is currently the world’s bestselling vehicle, the company certainly isn’t the biggest global automaker overall. Volkswagen, Toyota, General Motors, and Ford all report higher revenue and unit sales by comparison. And according to Car Logos, Tesla doesn’t even rank in the top 10 biggest global car manufacturers, sneaking in at 19th place for 2022.
Musk has previously predicted that the Model Y would claim the top spot, telling investors in 2021: “We think Model Y will be the best selling car or vehicle of any kind in the world. Probably next year. I’m not 100 percent certain next year, but I think it’s quite likely... more likely than not, that 2022 Model Y is best selling car or truck... in the world.”
It didn’t achieve that goal, but it did place third in the overall global rankings for 2022, breaking into sixth place on America’s list of the top 10 bestselling cars, despite fierce competition from trucks and full-size SUVs. Last year, it also became the bestselling vehicle in both Europe and California and the fourth bestselling in China after jumping 15 places from the previous year. And that’s despite China’s crackdown on Tesla ownership and various recalls over safety concerns.