Tesla Model Y beats Toyota RAV4 as world's best-selling car of 2023

Jet Sanchez
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2023 has been a landmark year for electric vehicles (EVs).

According to automotive business intelligence firm JATO Dynamics, the Tesla Model Y has emerged as the best-selling car in 2023, marking a historic moment for the global auto industry.

With an impressive 64 per cent growth in sales, Tesla delivered a total of 1.23 million Model Ys globally, surpassing the sales of traditional combustion-engine leaders like Toyota's RAV4.

Dominance in key markets

Tesla Model Y New Zealand

Tesla's success was particularly evident in Europe and China, the two largest EV markets. 

In Europe, the Model Y became the best-selling vehicle while outselling popular models like the Dacia Sandero, Peugeot 208, and Volkswagen T-Roc. 

In China, Tesla delivered more than 456,000 units of the Model Y​​, demonstrating the brand's strong appeal in diverse markets.

Pricing strategy

Tesla Model Y New Zealand

Tesla's competitive pricing played a crucial role in the Model Y's success. 

Felipe Munoz, a global analyst at JATO Dynamics, highlighted that the Model Y was priced 18 per cent and 23 per cent lower than the average EV in Germany and the USA, respectively. 

This aggressive pricing strategy, combined with Tesla's reputation for EV reliability, significantly boosted the Model Y's demand.

Comparing sales figures with Toyota

Toyota RAV4 Adventure New Zealand

Tesla's aggressive pricing led to a 64 per cent year-on-year increase in Model Y sales, meaning it accounted for about two-thirds of Tesla's total global sales. 

Jato Dynamics estimates Toyota sold 1.07 million RAV4s and 1.01 million Corollas, making the Model Y's lead potentially significant. 

While Toyota has yet to confirm its 2023 production figures, Jato Dynamics believes the Model Y's lead is "unassailable."

Notably, the RAV4 remained the best-selling new vehicle in New Zealand with 8757 sales. The Mitsubishi Outlander took second (4058), while Tesla's Model Y settled for third place (3936).

Future outlook

The Model Y's sales performance in 2023 is not just a win for Tesla but a pivotal moment for the EV industry. 

Munoz described the increase in global sales of the Model Y as "unprecedented," especially for a vehicle in the top ten best-sellers. 

Tesla's success with the Model Y is a testament to the growing acceptance and demand for EVs, signalling a shift in consumer preferences and a potential new era in the automotive landscape.

Tesla is also preparing a brand-new entry-level small SUV - set for 2025 - under a secretive project codenamed 'Redwood'. 

Analysts see the move as a response to the rise of China, which not only surpassed Japan as the world's top auto exporter but also overtook Tesla (via BYD) as the world's top EV maker in 2023.


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