Tesla Model Y makes history as best-selling car in the world in 2023

Throughout the history of the motorcar (which goes back to 1886), the bestselling model each year has had an internal combustion engine. In 2023, for the first time ever, the car which sold in the highest numbers worldwide did not have a combustion engine. It had an electric motor and it was the Tesla Model Y.

Though complete data on sales globally have not been finalised, figures compiled by JATO Dynamics indicate that the model will become the first electric vehicle to be the world’s bestseller. The company, which compiles and analyses market intelligence on the auto industry, has put a preliminary figure of 1.23 million units for the Model Y, overtaking the Toyota RAV4 (1.07 million units) and Corolla (1.01 million units) which had topped the annual list in recent years.

Tesla Model Y [2023]

‘Youngster’ beats long-established carmakers
The achievement by Tesla is amazing, considering that the carmaker only began business 20 years ago, a ‘youngster’ in an industry that is over 130 years old. It does reflect the market trend vividly though, as sales of EVs accelerate.

“The 64% increase in global sales of the Model Y is unprecedented, particularly for a vehicle in the top ten best-sellers. What Tesla has been able to achieve with the Model Y in such a short space of time is simply remarkable,” said Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics.

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The Model Y led the way for sales in both Europe and China, the world’s two largest EV markets. “The average retail price of a Tesla Model Y in November 2023 was 18% and 23% lower than the average cost of an EV in Germany and USA respectively. The price cuts over the course of the year combined with Tesla’s reputation as a reliable and competitive EV manufacturer, helped to fuel already high demand. As a result, Tesla is front of mind for many consumers looking to purchase an EV,” added Munoz.

Toyota RAV4 [2023]

Jato Dynamics expects the second placing for the RAV4 (above) to also be certain. Its volume of 1.07 million units was up from 1.02 million units in 2022 when it was in No.1 position. With all body types included, the Corolla occupied third place in the rankings, according to the preliminary data which is from major markets around the world.

Toyota Corolla GR Sport [2023]

Toyota models slip without BEV options
“Toyota has a strong presence worldwide, with the RAV4 (an SUV) and the Corolla (a compact car) making the brand attractive with a diverse offering. However, both models lack pure electric options, and only offer hybrid alternatives. While Toyota still experienced a strong year in 2023, the RAV4 and Corolla are simply unable to compete in the electric car market, which is becoming increasingly established and important across Europe and China,” observed Munoz.

Made in 4 factories
The Model Y is made in Tesla’s factories in America (two sites), Germany and China. Production began in January 2020, initially in the US factory before starting up in the other countries later the same year.


It was introduced in Malaysia in July 2023 when Tesla made its official entry into the market, with first deliveries to take place in early 2024. The model, from the China factory, is imported and sold tax-free as the government allows exemption to promote EVs, allowing it to be priced at RM199,000.

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