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With the pandemic and chip shortage raging on, almost every automaker is struggling to produce new cars, whether they’re electric or not. And the new cars that are produced have higher price tags than ever. But Tesla sales have defied all odds, creating a business practice that’s survived these difficult times. While they aren’t selling as many cars as other major brands, their production hasn’t decreased either.

Tesla logo written out in white on a black background.
Tesla | Getty Images

Tesla’s third-quarter sales were higher than anticipated

Tesla released their quarterly sales report, which stated that the company sold 241,300 electric cars. For context, The Wall Street Journal had predicted the company would sell 227,000 cars. The chip shortage and lower demand in China certainly played a part in the automaker’s sales, but they still managed to beat the estimates, and are on track for an “eye-popping growth trajectory” according to Daniel Ives, an analyst for Wedbush.

Not only that, Tesla has far exceeded vehicle sales this year than they did last year, which means they’re recovering from the pandemic. In the third quarter of 2020, with COVID-19 canceling summer plans, Tesla sold roughly 140,000 electric cars. But this year, they nearly doubled that number.

And so far, Tesla has sold 627,000 cars, whereas, in 2020, they sold just shy of 300,000 units. When comparing that to other major automakers, Tesla clearly has the upper hand.

Amidst the chip shortage, major automakers are struggling to keep up

GM logo on a sign against a white background framed with black
GM logo | Getty Images

Using data provided by GoodCarBadCar, and company press releases, we can see just how other major brands have weathered the storm. General Motors sold 446,997 cars for the third quarter of 2021. And while that’s just over 200k units more than Tesla, that number is down from last year. In the third quarter of 2020, GM sold 665,192 cars. That drop indicates that, while Tesla is projecting growth, GM is still on the decline.

The same is true for Honda, which managed to sell 378,433 cars in the third quarter of 2020 and 307,359 cars in the third quarter of 2021. And most automakers, such as Stellantis, were hit even harder. FCA only managed to sell 410,917 vehicles in the third quarter of 2021 compared with 507,351 for 2020.

Then there’s Toyota, who maintained a strong supply chain throughout these shortages. In the third quarter of last year, the brand sold 558,449 cars. And this year, they managed to crack that at 566,005 vehicle sales. But just because the company is steady doesn’t mean sales are at their best. In 2019, before any of the car market chaos, the company sold 627,194 vehicles.

So while some automakers have suffered lower sales from last year, none of the major players are where they want to be. That is, except Tesla. Not only do their electric car sales surpass that of any other automaker, but their projected growth is stronger heading into the holiday season.

Which electric cars are people buying?

a blue Tesla Model 3 electric car similar to the vehicle from the Tesla Model 3 crash report in Florida
Tesla Model 3 electric car in blue | Tesla Motors

First There’s a Shortage of New Cars, Now There’s a Shortage of Car Parts

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Of the 241,300 electric cars sold in the third quarter of 2021, 232,025 of them were either Model 3s or Model Ys. Being the more affordable entries, it makes sense they’re the most popular. But the high performance, high-priced Model X and Model S didn’t even manage 10,000 units sold. Considering the brand is talking about producing the Tesla Roadster, which will cost over $100k, it seems the market is in favor of refined, but cheap EVs.

But that doesn’t mean Tesla wasn’t affected by the shortages. Approximately 40,000 units are estimated to have been lost according to Star Advertiser. But in comparison to the big hits other automakers have been taking, Tesla seems to be in a decent spot.