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Tesla Vehicle Registrations Rise 63% in California in the Final Quarter of 2020 on Brisk Sales of the Model Y

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【Summary】New Tesla vehicle registrations in California spiked nearly 63% during the fourth quarter compared with last year, largely due to brisk sales of the company's Model Y crossover. The company’s Chief Executive Elon Musk said in the past that the more affordable Model Y has the potential to outsell all of Tesla’s other vehicles combined.

Eric Walz    Jan 21, 2021 10:40 AM PT
Tesla Vehicle Registrations Rise 63% in California in the Final Quarter of 2020 on Brisk Sales of the Model Y
Tesla's Model Y crossover is a big hit with EV buyers, especially in California.

Electric automaker Tesla is experiencing growing sales in California thanks in part to the new Model Y crossover, which is not too surprising. The company's Chief Executive Elon Musk said in the past that the more affordable Model Y has the potential to outsell all of Tesla's other vehicles combined and he appears to be right in his prediction.

New Tesla vehicle registrations in California spiked nearly 63% during the fourth quarter compared with last year, largely due to brisk sales of the company's Model Y crossover, according to data from Cross-Sell here, a research firm that collates title and registration data.

Although the Model Y is a hit with customers, Tesla was already having a strong sales year in 2020, despite the impact the global pandemic had on global auto sales in the second and third quarter of the year.

Tesla closed out 2020 with a record number of vehicle deliveries and production numbers, just missing its self imposed target of 500,000 vehicles. The figure represents the highest number in the company's history. Tesla's share price also hit record highs in 2020, as investors pour money into the EV sector and related stocks.

Tesla delivered a total of 499,550 electric vehicles in 2020. The Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover accounted for the bulk of Tesla's total sales numbers with 442,511 units delivered. Tesla sold 57,039 units of the more expensive Model X SUV and its flagship Model S sedan. Tesla does not break down individual sales of each model.

As the home of Tesla, California has always been a key market for the electric car maker, which has risen to become the world's most valuable automaker with a market cap of over $800 billion. California also leads the nation in electric vehicle sales.

The report released on Wednesday showed that Tesla vehicle registrations in California for the last three months of 2020 rose to 22,177 from 16,200 vehicles in Q3. Roughly 11,417 of those registrations were for the Model Y, which is now outselling the Tesla' mass-market Model 3.

Tesla started delivering the new Model Y to customers in March 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Prices start at $41,990 for the Standard Range rear-wheel-drive version.

Tesla's fourth-quarter vehicle registrations in the 23 states where data was collected reached 44,749 vehicles, with Model Y accounting for nearly half the registrations. California registrations for the Model 3 sedan fell 34% on a yearly basis to 7,044.

The strong sales of the Model Y reflects consumer preferences in the U.S., as compact crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks are popular categories with consumers, making up around half of all vehicles sales. 

The most popular model is the Toyota RAV4 SUV, which is probably Tesla's biggest competitor in the segment. Toyota sold 430,387 of them in the U.S. alone in 2020, according to recent sales figures. However, Toyota does not offer a fully-electric RAV4 to directly compete with the Model Y. Instead the automaker offers the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid (PHV).

It's important to remember that registration figures do not always reflect the actual number of vehicle deliveries during the quarter as registrations in the U.S. typically take about 30 days to process from the time of sale.

Tesla's future potential has not been realized yet. In 2020, EVs accounted for around 2% of all vehicle sales in the U.S., with the majority of them being Tesla vehicles. However EV adoption globally is expected to rise significantly over the next decade.

According to BloombergNEF's annual Electric Vehicle Outlook, electric vehicles will account for 10% of global passenger vehicle sales in 2025, with that number rising to 28% in 2030.

With its recently opened factory in Shanghai and another under construction in Berlin, Tesla is positioning itself to meet the growing demand for EVs on a global scale, not just in the U.S. 

Tesla expected to report its fourth-quarter results after the trading day ends on Wed, Jan 27.

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