Five years ago, most people would have thought that an electric vehicle (EV) would be the best-selling vehicle throughout the entire continent; that kind of thing would happen in 2043, not 2023. However, Tesla and the Model Y have succeeded in achieving just that. Although final statistics are still pending, Dataforce’s preliminary data indicates that the Model Y easily defeated the entry-level Dacia Sandero to take the top place as Europe’s most popular new car last year.
Both Dacia and Tesla sold 235,893 Sanderos and 254,822 Model Ys, respectively, with both models outperforming 2022. While sales of the winning car from last year, the Dacia, increased by 17.5% from 200,736, Tesla’s sales skyrocketed by 85% from 2022’s total of 137,608 units. Seven of the twelve months it was the top seller, with the Sandero claiming four and VW’s T-Roc, which came in third place overall with 206,438 units, adding another month to its tally.
The fact that Tesla wasn’t riding on a wave of EV demand that sent battery-powered cars from all manufacturers crashing the sales charts makes this accomplishment all the more amazing. There were no additional EV-only vehicles in the top 30, despite the fact that some of the other vehicles in the ranking, such as the Peugeot 2008 and Opel Corsa, had EV powertrain options. Actually, the Model Y was followed in the chart by another Tesla, the Model 3, which came in at number 33 with 99,552 sales.
The Model Y has more distinction than just being the first electric vehicle to ever lead Europe’s sales chart for a whole year. According to Autonews, this is the first midsize car, premium car, and non-European vehicle to reach the top step of the podium in the modern era. Value played a major role in its 2023 success. When Tesla announced steep price cuts at the start of the year, competitors and the auto industry as a whole went into meltdown.
Another example of how much the automotive industry has evolved is the VW Golf, which in the 1990s and 2000s won multiple races in a row, but could only finish eighth.