8 Dec 23

The world's best-selling car: What makes Tesla Model Y so successful?

August 2023 marks a unique time in the automotive industry, as an all-electric car, the Tesla Model Y, became the top-selling car globally across over 160 countries. Moreover, Tesla has retained the momentum gained with Model Y as strategic price cuts continue to boost sales. 

Tesla Model Y has a distinct impact on consumers around the world. Out of hundreds of EV models worldwide today, it is always under the spotlight as the most optimum choice; it also draws early adaptors in new markets such as Thailand and Turkey like magnet. But how? 

After releasing the Tesla Roadster in 2009 with promising success, Tesla continued with premium models. First, the Model S was launched in 2012, and the Model X was established in 2015 with overwhelming success. By 2017, sales of the two models were over 100,000, enough for Tesla to cling to the best premium EV maker status. 

Nevertheless, things were about to change. Following the release of Model X, CEO Elon Musk underlined the goal of delivering an EV with a price tag of around $35,000 and answering the expectations for an affordable car as cool and sophisticated as its predecessors. The answer was the five-seat sedan Model 3, announced in 2016 and produced on a third-generation platform. Tesla Model S received over 130,000 reservations in the first 24 hours, and shipments began in July 2017, cracking the throne of Model S and X. 

In 2018, the shifting balance towards Model 3 became apparent, holding a mirror for the future. Out of 245,240 vehicles Tesla delivered that year, 145,846 were Model 3s, and 99,394 were Model Ss and Xs.  

The profit equation represented by the three models was satisfactory, but the explosive attention to Model 3 called for more. Finally, in March 2019, Tesla announced Model Y, the perfect alchemy of the premium and affordable EVs Tesla offers. 

Conquering three main regions 

Tesla is most robust in three regions, North America, Europe and China, thanks to its solid Supercharger network, which accounts for 5,832 Superchargers with over 50,000 connectors worldwide. As of December 2023, there are 1,102 Superchargers in Europe, 2,317 in North America and 1,907 in China.

Not surprisingly, Tesla is becoming even more dominant in these top regions with the affordable Model 3 and Y. 

  • According to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), China-made Tesla vehicles reached 82,432 units in November, while Model 3 and Model Y deliveries rose 14.3% from October. 
  • In the North American market, Tesla registrations exploded from January to April 2023, with the Model Y crossover witnessing a 99% increase in sales, followed by the Model 3 sedan with 28%. Tesla grabbed a 60.8% share of the all-electric segment in the North American region, with Model Y and Model 3 sales reaching 127,541 and 72,259, respectively. 
  • In Europe, Model Y became the first all-electric car to be the top seller over six months, with sales tripling in the first half of the year and reaching 125,144 compared to the same period in 2022. The rapid expansion through the charging network paid off, as Tesla Model Y firmly moved towards becoming the best-selling car in the continent, reaching 209,000 registrations between January and October 2023. According to JATO Dynamics, registrations of Tesla Model Y represented 13% of all EV sales in Europe in the same period. 
  • According to the UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Tesla Model Y is the fifth top-selling car with a total unit sales of 30,087 

Overall, China accounted for 35% of all Model Y sales in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023, while 31% in the US. Sales of the model grew 26% in China while surged 68% in the US, thanks to significant price cuts. In the same period, Tesla sold 267,171 model Ys, 94,469 in China, 83,664 in the US, and 71,114 in Europe, making the US the top market for the model. 

Active Tesla Superchargers in Europe.


The global listing by the end of 2022
Toyota Corolla 1,120,000
Toyota RAV4  870,000
Ford F-Series 787,000
Tesla Model Y  786,000
Toyota Camry  675,000
Honda CR-V 601,000
Tesla Model 3  596,000
Chevy Silverado 592,000
Toyota Hilux   564,000
Hyundai Tucson  564,000


The global listing by August 2023 
Tesla 427,524
Toyota Corolla   410,732
Ford F-Series 358,945
Toyota RAV4 324,061
Chevrolet Silverado 252,545
Honda CR-V 249,184
Hyundai Tucson 245,863
Toyota Camry 245,066
Toyota Hilux 231,784
Tesla Model 3 226,049


The price cuts

Having captured the hearts of EV enthusiasts and reached high-profit levels, Tesla was confident in making a strategic move and cutting the prices of several models. The primary aim of this move appeared to shake its rivals, mainly BYD, in China, and it worked well. 

  • In January 2023, the prices of Tesla models dropped to $9,760 in the UK and up to $9,100 in Germany. Model 3 and Model Y witnessed the most significant drops, with Model 3 prices shrinking to around £6,500 in the UK and up to €6,000 in Germany. This strategy was reversed in Sweden and Norway, the most electrified countries in Europe, where prices went up between $1,300 and $2,200.
  • The North American consumers were the luckiest, as the Model Y long-range AWD (All-wheel drive) and Model Y Performance witnessed cuts up to $13,000 and $9,000, respectively. Model 3 Standard Range RWD (Rear wheel drive) follows with a $3,000 drop. At its launch, Model Y's price tag of $67,440 now shrunk to $49,380, inevitably tempting all consumers dreaming about an EV. 
  • In China, Tesla dropped the Model Y Long Range prices by 4.5% and Model Y Performance by 3.8%. The cuts stretched to Model S and X cars the same month, up to a 6.9% drop, to satisfy the consumers of the largest EV market in the world.  
The price range of top Tesla Models (November 2023)
Tesla Model X $81,380-$96,380
Tesla Model 3 $40,380-$52,380
Tesla Model S $74,990-$89,990
Tesla Model Y $45,380-$53,880

What makes Model Y so tempting?

The timeline of the Model S, X and three has demonstrated Tesla's ability to produce premium vehicles with cool specs, followed by a more affordable version. Tesla Model Y was the best model of this evolution, being much more affordable than X and S and a little larger than Model 3 with similar specs (53 cubic feet more rated cargo volume than Model 3). 

Model Y is the second Tesla model to offer seating for seven. This specification was not fulfilled in the initial deliveries but became available in 2021. 

The versions of Model Y is also essential in reaching a wide range of customers, with the two dual motor AWD model offering Long Range and Performance, both powered by a 75 kWh battery pack. 

  • Model Y Long Range version has a range of 326 miles (525 km) and reaches a top speed of 135 mph (217 km/h).
  • Model Y Performance version has a range of 303 miles (487 km) and reaches a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).  

With the opening of Giga Berlin in March 2022, Tesla Model Y had a design update through Tesla's Giga Press, a series of high-pressure aluminium die-casting machines inject molten aluminium into casting moulds, thus allowing Tesla to combine the front and the rear structures of the Model Y frame. 

The Giga Press tech is crucial for Tesla. By mastering this tech, the vast presses apply 6,000 to 9,000 tons of pressure to the mould in Model Y production, cutting production costs remarkably, according to Reuters. 

The interior of Tesla Model Y, courtesy of Tesla.


What's next for Model Y? 

With the might of the Giga Press, expanding manufacturing capacity with the gigafactories in Berlin and Texas strengthened with recovering supply chains worldwide, Model Y now seeks a new target with high potential. Two of them are India and Turkey.

According to media reports, Tesla entered the Turkish market in April 2023 and delivered 5,000 Model Ys by the end of August, surpassing many rivals, including the domestic build TOGG. Analysts believe Tesla will reach 10,000 deliveries by the end of October; official numbers are still to be released. In his visit to Turkey in September, Elon Musk discussed the possibility of a gigafactory in Turkey. 

India, the most populated country in the world, has a distinct potential for Tesla as the country is interested in something other than Chinese EVs. In July, Tesla had talks with the Indian government to set up a gigafactory to offer $24,000 cars. Another candidate is Mexico, the rising star of the global EV market. 

All destinations look perfect for Tesla's growing influence in the developing regions and may turn Model Y into a colossus in the global EV market. 

The main photo shows the Tesla Model Y, courtesy of Tesla. 

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen