Tesla bucks trend as best-seller in October
For most automakers, passenger-car sales are plunging while sales of SUVs, crossovers and pickups have been more resilient.
American preferences have shifted toward larger vehicles amid fuel economy improvements and low gasoline prices.
The shift has had a significant effect on the mix of sales at the major automakers. Nearly two-thirds of vehicles sold in October by Toyota, for example, were pickups, SUVs and crossovers. The Japanese automaker known for its stalwart sedans is increasingly becoming an SUV and truck brand in the U.S.
Other automakers have chosen to become one. Ford, for example, recently announced it would discontinue most of its passenger cars. And Fiat Chrysler has already done so. But there’s at least one car that’s bucking the trend. And it’s No. 1 on our list of the hottest vehicles in the U.S. in October. To be sure, this list is not based purely on volume. If it was, the Ford F-series pickup would be No. 1 since it’s the industry’s perennial best-seller. Instead, this list is based on a subjective but analytical assessment of sales volume, buzz and momentum:
❚ 1. Tesla Model 3: It’s getting harder to deny that the Tesla Model 3 is become a disruptive force in the auto industry.
While Tesla does not report sales on a monthly basis, the company sold 55,840 Model 3 cars in the third quarter, which covered July, August and September.
With only three models for sale, Tesla outsold luxury rival Mercedes-Benz in the third quarter in the U.S.
During that period, the Model 3 electric sedan was the third-best-selling car in the U.S., Tesla CEO Elon Musk said. With the average price starting at $49,000 in the third quarter, that’s stunning.
❚ 2. Toyota Highlander: Toyota’s pivot from passenger cars to SUVs and pickups has been striking for a brand that capitalized on the American auto industry’s lack of small cars in the past.
But it’s a sign of Toyota’s adaptability that nearly two in three of its vehicles sold to Americans in October were crossovers, SUVs or pickups.
The Highlander is a perfect example. It posted its best-ever October sales at 20,548, up 17.7 percent from a year earlier. It was the brand’s fourth-bestseller for the month.
❚ 3. Toyota Tacoma: This midsize pickup is racking up sales while the industry awaits the arrival of a fierce competitor: the return of the once-dead Ford Ranger. Sales of the Tacoma rose 24.9 percent in October to 20,534 units. It was no fluke. The Tacoma is up 25.3 percent for the year.
❚ 4. Subaru Forester: Subaru may be the hottest automotive brand in the U.S., given its 83 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth.
In October, the brand’s recently redesigned Forester SUV delivered a 19 percent increase to 15,981. Sales of the new model and the outgoing version combined to make it the brand’s best-seller in October, surpassing the Outback.
❚ 5. Volkswagen Atlas: This large SUV has come to VW’s rescue since it hit showrooms in spring 2017. While VW could still use more SUVs, the Atlas has given dealers something to sell in an increasingly popular segment.
The Atlas passed the Passat as the VW brand’s third-best-selling vehicle for the month, behind only the Jetta and the Tiguan. VW sold 4,725 Atlas vehicles for the month, up 29 percent from a year earlier.
Tesla sold 55,840 Model 3 cars in Q3.