What Ford, GM Can Learn From Tesla Model Y Sales in Q1

What Ford, GM Can Learn From Tesla Model Y Sales in Q1

The Tesla Model Y became a global sales leader in the first quarter of the year, notably surpassing top sellers like the Toyota Corolla and the Volkswagen Golf, according to CEO Elon Musk. While the accomplishment is significant on its own as the first time an electric vehicle has topped global sales, it also represents an important milestone for Tesla in a competitive emerging EV market.

Above: A Tesla Model Y (Image: Casey Murphy / EVANNEX).

Tesla has reached an important global sales milestone with the Model Y, and Barron’s suggests that the SUV topping Q1 sales could hold a significant lesson for Ford and GM. For one, the publication writes that the traditional automakers will need to go from selling tens of thousands of EVs to hundreds of thousands, as Tesla has now done with two of its models.

“Model Y became the best-selling vehicle of any kind globally in Q1, surpassing the likes of Corolla and Golf,” Musk said during Tesla’s second-quarter conference call. “This was, I think, an incredible achievement by the Tesla team, and just a huge thank you to our customers for their support.”

Still, it’s difficult to calculate auto numbers by quarter, and not every automaker reports global sales figures, as Barron’s points out. There are organizations dedicated to inspecting global registration data that can help give a general picture of sales, however. Additionally, it is possible to verify that Musk is right in saying that the Model Y was the best seller in Europe and the top non-pickup sold in the U.S.

Across all of 2022, the Toyota Corolla was the best-selling car with around 1.1 million units sold, according to automotive data outlet Focus2Move. Tesla’s Model Y was the fourth best-selling car in the world during the same year, falling behind Ford's F-Series trucks in third and the Toyota RAV4 in second.

In Focus2Move’s data for this year through May, the Model Y leads with about 428,000 units sold, representing an 85-percent jump from the same period in 2022. Following the Model Y is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Toyota Corolla with around 411,000 units sold for a 7-percent drop from last year.

As a company, Tesla reports Model 3 and Model Y sales together, recently reporting 860,000 sales of both vehicles combined globally in the first half of this year. You can find data for the first half of the year for U.S. data alone, showing that Tesla has sold just under 201,000 Model Y units and as many as 113,000 Model 3 units — easily enough to make the Model Y the best-selling non-pickup in the U.S.

As for the top three sellers in the U.S. in the first half of the year, these were the Ford F-150, the Chevy Silverado and the Dodge Ram pickup. However, sales of the F-150 Lightning, Ford’s electric F-series pickup, peaked in October 2022 at just 2,400 units, representing around 30,000 per year, if annualized. Battery production defects and plant upgrades have kept Ford from producing enough of the vehicle, and the company recent dropped prices on the pickup.

GM is expected to unveil its EV versions of the Chevy Silverado and Blazer this year, along with an electric Equinox in 2024. The Blazer is expected to sell around 70,000 units this year, according to Barron’s, while the gas Equinox may be slated for around 200,000 units. Thus, the outlet explains, the upcoming Equinox EV could be the hit GM needs to compete with Tesla.

The news comes as Tesla prepares to debut its Cybertruck, its first venture into the pickup segment of the auto market. It also comes as Tesla shares are trading at around 55 times the company’s estimated 2024 earnings, while GM and Ford are trading at just six and eight times their next-year earnings, respectively.


Sources: Barron’s / Focus2Move / Focus2Move