Model 3 US-Sales Start Hurting German Automakers

Two years ago we forecast how Tesla’s Model 3 could influence sales numbers of German automakers. Back then the Model 3 per-orders were opened and Tesla was taken by surprise, as was everyone else. 400,000 pre-orders within a few weeks was mind-boggling for everyone. Because there is quite an overlap with with Model 3 buyers and German cars , we did a calculation of how the numbers in such a shift could be. Now with the production rate that Tesla sustains, we see those forecasts in the U.S. coming true. And the news for Germans makers won’t be good, once the Model 3 arrives in Europe.

Tesla Model 3 US-Sales

In August Tesla delivered 17,800 Model 3 in the U.S. to customers. The Mercedes C-class managed to sell 4,071 cars, BMW 3 in total 3,751, Audi’s A4 exactly 3,768 and Volkswagen with the Jetta and Passat each 10,597 and 3,873 cars.

Makes & Models Sales
August 2018
Model 3 17,800
BMW 3 3,751
Audi A4 3,768
Mercedes C 4,071
VW Jetta 10,957
VW Passat 3,873

Even if we are tally all BMW 2, 3, i3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, then that’s still ‘only’ 10,963 vehicles. All Audis including A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, and TT account for 8,950 cars. Only Volkswagen with the Beetle, Jetta, Passat, Golf, and TT has a higher number, a total of 19,524 vehicles. The small car maker Tesla sold in the U.S. with the Model S and 3 a total of 20,300 cars, almost half the numbers of the cars that the same classes of the four German brands are selling together with 44,103 vehicles.

Makes & Models Sales
August 2018
Model 3 17,800
BMW 2, 3, i3, 4, 5, 6, 7 10,963
Audi A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, TT 8.950
Mercedes C 4,071
VW Käfer, Jetta, Passat, Golf, TT 19,524

That’s the statistics, which even increase meaning when we look at past years data. Here most of the cars saw decreases between 4 to 89 percent in the same month, on average 23 percent fewer cars. A total of 11,458 cars fewer for the Germans in those classes.. Some decrease may be due to facelifts and new models coming out, but not all of them. The August numbers give a hint that Tesla specifically is successful withe same customers that otherwise would by German cars. And those customer who had pre-ordered, did this before they had a chance to test drive the car. Now that the Model 3 is now getting widely available and more people are exposed to it, it’s to be expected that a wave of further pre-orders may come in. The Model 3 is not ‘going to disappear’, as some may like to happen. It;s not just a ‘hype’. It’s will stay, and those reactions are similar to the iPhone, and will wreak havoc with makers of combustion engine cars.

Makes & Models Sales Change between
August 2017 and August 2018
Sales Change between
August 2017 and August 2018
Model 3 17,800 +100%
BMW 2, 3, i3, 4, 5, 6, 7 -3,711 -25%
Audi A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, TT -661 -7%
Mercedes C -1,233 -23%
VW Käfer, Jetta, Passat, Golf, TT -5,881 -23%

Facts don’t lie, and however you may twist and turn the data, you can’t ‘explain it away’. The Model 3 has managed to get from nowhere to a top position and is showing off to the German makers. And that all despite the ‘production problems’, the ‘escapades’ of Elon Musk, and other bad news. Those who come late are being punished by life.

This article has also been published in German.


  1. So curious whether the Germans will accept that car at all. For me it seems like a total success or failure is both possible. The panel gaps should be OK by then. 😉 And I cant see how any german car testing magazine could possible find too many negatives either. So I hope it’s not going into the “Tesla is destroying our jobs” direction or let’s buy german…. :-/ Maybe until then Tesla is even creating more good jobs in Germany.


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