Are Tesla sales slowing in California?

California has always been the strongest market for Tesla Motors. The company is based in Palo Alto, and the all-electric vehicle has proven to be wildly popular in both Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. The car is a top seller in tiny, tony Atherton.

According to the California New Car Dealers Association, Tesla delivered 8,347 Model S sedans in California in 2013. If you assume that Tesla sold at least 23,000 cars for the year, that makes California responsible for 36 percent of  the company’s sales in 2013.

In January, Tesla pre-announced Q4 earnings and said 6,900 vehicles were sold and delivered. According to the CNCDA, 1,793 vehicles were sold in California in Q4, or 26 percent.

The CNCDA data is based on Polk, which draws from data provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles. So it’s counting deliveries instead of just sales.

But quarter-over-quarter, Tesla sales in the Golden State appear to have  slowed a bit:



2013 Tesla Sales in California

(as reported in each Quarterly Auto Outlook)











* Q4 Auto Outlook shows 8,347 for 2013, so some minor adjustments were made based on updated Polk data.

It could be that more cars are being allocated to other regions to feed growing demand from Europe and China. And Tesla now has sales in all 50 states, including three (!) deliveries in Mississippi.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Tesla doesn’t want to be seen as a company that only makes cars for rich Hollywood stars and Silicon Valley tech moguls. And it’s not. Though the Model S price tag is out of reach for most Americans, the first person to drive the Model S coast-to-coast using the company’s network of free Superchargers was John Glenney of Lexington, Ky.

“As Tesla continues to expand their roll-out both domestic and abroad, there will be less supply for California – their first market,” said Jessica Caldwell of

Tesla will report 4Q earnings on Feb. 19. Analysts are eager to hear about sales in Germany and China, plans for building a “gigafactory” for batteries, progress on the Model X and Gen III and guidance for 2014.

Photo: Model S sedans sit in Tesla Motors’ expanded showroom at Santana Row in San Jose on April, 4, 2013. (Dai Sugano/Mercury News)



Dana Hull Dana Hull (252 Posts)

Dana Hull covers clean technology and energy policy for the San Jose Mercury News. She often writes about electric vehicles, the smart grid, the solar industry and California energy policy, from RPS goals to Gov. Jerry Brown's big dreams for distributed generation.