Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been claiming exponential growth for Tesla for years. And it’s happening.
The U.S. automaker announced Saturday that it has produced its 5 millionth vehicle globally.
To put this into perspective, Tesla celebrated its 1 millionth vehicle just three and a half years ago, in March 2020. And just this March 1 it reported making 4 million cumulative vehicles.
This week, we produced our 5 millionth car—thank you Tesla owners for your ongoing support!
— Tesla (@Tesla) September 16, 2023
Tesla passed a million annual EV sales in 2022, buoyed by production ramps in Germany and Texas. It’s been targeting 1.8 to 2 million for 2023, aided by those facilities.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts 14 million EV sales globally in 2023—a 35% year-over-year improvement. If that’s the case, Tesla could amount to one of every seven EVs sold globally.
2023 Tesla Model Y – Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
No other automaker approaches Tesla’s numbers based on EVs alone. While last year many had predicted VW to overtake Tesla in 2024, Tesla now has even more of a lead versus the German automaker—and the Model Y remains the top-selling EV on its home turf, outselling the VW ID.4 and ID.3 combined in Europe.
China’s BYD has been the closest rival in this race to accelerate EV production on a global scale, but it includes an asterisk. BYD claimed to have hit 5 million cumulative “new energy vehicle” sales in August—a figure that includes plug-in hybrids, which BYD has pushed out to South American markets, for instance.
If getting people to plug in and drive electric locally is the priority, in sheer production of plug-in vehicles, BYD remains in the lead. It claimed to produce more than 1.5 million plug-in vehicles in the first half of 2023 and be on track for 3 million for this year alone.
Few other automakers can yet claim the exponential growth of Tesla and BYD in EVs. Nissan reported earlier this summer that it had surpassed one million global EV sales—a milestone it took 12 years to achieve.
Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE sedan at Tesla Supercharger station
EV production wasn’t the only big milestone Tesla has reported in the past month. In September it reached 50,000 Superchargers globally. According to data from the DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center about 21,000 of those are in the U.S.. With deals recently inked with a broad swath of automakers for Supercharger access and the adoption of Tesla’s NACS charge port, that network’s growth will also need to accelerate to keep pace with Tesla’s vehicle sales.