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Tesla Model Y muscles out Toyota RAV4 to become world’s best-selling car

Tesla sold over 1.2 million Model Ys in 2023, making the SUV the first EV to be crowned as the world’s top seller for a calendar year

Tesla Model Y

It’s confirmed: the Tesla Model Y was the world’s best-selling car in 2023, marking the first time an EV has topped the global car sales charts.

The Model Y, which has been on sale since 2022, has spearheaded the continued success of Elon Musk’s EV firm, occupying the spot as the UK’s best-selling electric car for two years running and picking up from where the Tesla Model 3 saloon left off in 2021.

With over 1.2 million units sold last year, Tesla’s electric family SUV beat long-time global bestsellers such as the hybrid Toyota RAV4 SUV – 2022’s chart topper – as well the historical best-selling car of all time, the Toyota Corolla

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This data has been compiled by automotive industry intelligence firm, Jato Dynamics. In total, 78.32 million new cars were sold last year across 151 countries, with SUVs accounting for almost half of global sales.

Most notable was the fact the Model Y managed to secure its top spot, despite Tesla’s lack of presence in many emerging markets. Jato Dynamic’s senior analyst, Felipe Munroz, dubbed Tesla as “a brand made for the developed world”. 

“While it cannot currently target these markets, there is potential for emerging markets to be explored as an additional source of growth in the future.”

Things look a little less peachy for the Tesla Model Y when you look exclusively at the UK market, though; the last time the Tesla made it into the top 10 monthly sellers was all the way back in March, with no bespoke EVs currently on the list of the UK’s best-selling cars as of June 2024.

That said, while Elon Musk recently ruled out the arrival of an updated version of the Model Y before the end of this year, it’s possible the refreshed car, codenamed ‘Juniper’, could land early next year, featuring the same upgrades as the facelifted Tesla Model 3.

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Consumer reporter

Tom is Auto Express' Consumer reporter, meaning he spends his time investigating the stories that matter to all motorists - enthusiasts or otherwise. An ex-BBC journalist and Multimedia Journalism graduate, Tom previously wrote for partner sites Carbuyer and DrivingElectric and you may also spot him throwing away his dignity by filming videos for the Auto Express social media channels.

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