TESLA’S Model 3 was the third most popular new car in the UK in August – the first time an electric car has appeared in the top 10 best-selling car charts.
The Model 3 was listed as ‘other’ in third place behind the Ford Fiesta (3,978 registrations) and the VW Golf (3,439 registrations).
Tesla registered 2,082 Model 3s in August after what is likely to have been a huge delivery from America.
The car has been thwarted by numerous delays in production after Elon Musk’s firm struggled to ramp up manufacturing to cope with demand for its baby model.
Most of the UK Model 3 buyers would have placed £1,000 deposits for the car when Tesla put it on sale back in March 2016. By August 2017 there had been more than 450,000 reservations worldwide.
Tesla does not officially register its sales data with the UK’s official body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), and as such its registrations are still listed under ‘other imports’.
However, a spokesperson for the SMMT confirmed the anomaly in the data was due to a ‘recently launched electric car in the UK’.
A spokesperson for Tesla confirmed the number related to the Model 3 but added: ‘Tesla does not comment on sales figures.’
‘An abnormal blip’
It is the first time an all-electric car has appeared in the list of the top 10 most popular new cars for a month and caused EV sales to rise by a whopping 377.5 per cent – jumping from 659 to 3,147 registrations.
James Baggott, founder of Car Dealer Magazine, said the rise in EV registrations was an ‘abnormal blip’.
He said: ‘It’s worth noting that the SMMT registration figures relate to cars registered, not sold, in the month. Most Tesla Model 3 buyers put down their deposits years ago, so this is simply Tesla finally delivering a car they promised back in 2016.
‘This was effectively the first full month of deliveries for the Model 3 in the UK.
‘It has also caused an abnormal blip in the SMMT stats – electric cars are up considerably, but it’s unlikely to be something that will continue.’
Tesla has had a number of well-publicised problems with Model 3 production and UK customers have had to wait more than three years to get their hands on their cars. Model 3 deliveries first began in America in July 2018.
Baggott added: ‘Interestingly, so many Model 3 buyers chose to have their cars delivered in August – on a 19 plate – rather than wait for the new 69 plate that came along on September 1. That clearly demonstrates just how desperate they were to get their hands on this new car.’
Despite the rising popularity of EVs, overall new vehicle registrations continued to fall in August. The summer months are typically the UK’s quietest for new car sales, especially as they lead up to the September plate change.
In total, 94,094 new cars were registered in August – a decline of 1.6 per cent.