Tesla Won 2016 but Failed to Break EV Sales Record

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 05: A Tesla model S sits parked in a new Tesla showroom and service center in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July 5, 2016 in New York City. The electric car company and its CEO and founder Elon Musk have come under increasing scrutiny following a crash of one of its electric cars while using the controversial autopilot service. Joshua Brown crashed and died in Florida on May 7 in a Tesla car that was operating on autopilot, which means that Brown's hands were not on the steering wheel.

Tesla sales were the company’s best to date but failed to break the US record for electric cars | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The 2016 electric car sales are in, and Tesla had its best year to date. For the second straight year, Model S was America’s best-selling plug-in car with 29,421 deliveries, according to InsideEVs. Model X placed third in the segment with 18,223 sales. Altogether, the Palo Alto-based electric vehicle company smashed its total from 2015 (25,416) by nearly 90% with over 47,000 sales. If there was a cherry missing from the sundae, it was coming up short of the annual sales record Nissan Leaf set in 2014.

Tesla reported mostly good news in its fourth-quarter production and delivery note. Besides producing 83,992 automobiles (62% better, year over year), the automaker only barely missed its sales target (80,000) with 76,230 global deliveries. In a company statement, Tesla cited the complications with Autopilot for late-year production challenges. Demand remained strong, so we expect few to dwell on the sales miss.

No automaker besides Nissan ever broke 30,000 before, so Tesla easily crushed the all-time U.S. mark with its two vehicles combined. (Globally, China’s BYD holds the annual EV sales mark.) Model S also broke its own record for monthly sales with 5,850 in December. The only EV record left standing in America is the single-vehicle annual sales total Leaf managed in a different era for plug-ins.

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