While the California-based EV maker still doesn't disclose monthly figures, it did confirm Friday that it sold 9,156 Model S sedans and 5,428 Model X SUVs in the third quarter. Divide those numbers by three, and Tesla appeared to have more than doubled its September sales from 2015 to almost 4,900 units.
How does that impact US green-vehicle sales? Well, we now have September's hybrid, diesel, and plug-in vehicle sales rising 0.4 percent instead of being down 1 percent. Factoring in only plug-ins, though, and the change becomes far more obvious: US plug-in vehicle sales rose 42 percent (!) from a year earlier to more than 12,000 units. Our previous estimate had plug-in sales rising 13 percent to almost 10,000 units. That's the difference between a steady climb and an outright surge, and should make green-vehicle advocates pretty happy.
The new numbers also bode well for a plug-in vehicle that appears poised for further big gains. That's because General Motors' Chevrolet Bolt EV will hit US streets by the end of the year. Nissan is prepping the next-generation version of the Leaf EV, and, as shown by demand for the new-generation Volt extended-range plug-in, that should goose sales for that model as well. And when Tesla's relatively lower-priced Model 3 debuts next year, the numbers will just keep on going up.