Earlier this week we reported the Model 3 is possibly the fifth best-selling car in the U.S., based on Tesla’s update on deliveries.
These Model 3 numbers released Tuesday are likely an anomaly; they’re based on a coordinated surge in U.S. deliveries in September. But also to be fair, we missed one other distinction: The Tesla Model 3 was, pending confirmation from a wide range of sources—also in September—the best-selling passenger car from a U.S. automaker.
The website GoodCarBadCar.net, which analyzes data from several sources, including vehicle registrations, estimated that there were 22,250 Model 3 sedans sold in September. Automotive News, in its September sales results, estimated 18,000 Model 3 sales.
Tesla doesn’t release monthly sales data, but given its delivery push, September was certainly record-breaking. It did report earlier this week that it had delivered 55,840 Model 3 sedans in the third quarter of the year, which it said was twice as many as all previous quarters combined. Tesla’s numbers aren’t for the U.S. specifically.
If we go with the higher estimate for September sales, it might have outsold a perennial bestseller and the model that holds the title for best-selling nameplate ever, the Toyota Corolla. Perhaps it’s fitting that Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant used to assemble the Corolla, among other models.
Passenger cars that still outsold the Model 3 include the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Honda Civic—all models that are assembled in the U.S. and routinely top lists with high domestic (U.S. and Canadian) content.
Although Honda and Toyota are companies based overseas, they also typically point out the level of U.S. investment. Honda, for instance, notes that it has made $20.2 billion in cumulative capital investments in America and $980 million in U.S. R&D operations, with 75 U.S. facilities. Toyota plans to invest $10 billion in U.S. operations in the next five years alone.
Full-size pickups and small crossovers easily outpaced the Model 3—even with its higher rate of deliveries in September. If Tesla ever has any hope of chasing those sales numbers, even for any month-long burst, it will probably need to look ahead to Model Y.