Tesla Model S Is Top-Selling Electric Car in U.S. (Report)

Tesla Model S

The Model S outsold the perennial leader, the Nissan Leaf, during the first quarter of 2015.

The Tesla Model S outsold the Nissan Leaf to become the best-selling electric car in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2015, according to Green Car Reports.

According to data from auto industry analyst IHS Automotive, Tesla is estimated to have delivered at least 4,085 Model S sedans in the U.S. from January through March 2015, or 40 percent of the 10,030 cars Tesla says it delivered globally during the first quarter, a 55 percent increase over 2014. Tesla said it delivered a record 11,500 cars during the second quarter of 2015.

The Nissan Leaf is the world's best-selling electric car. More than 82,000 have been delivered in the U.S. and close to 200,000 worldwide since 2010, according to Green Car Reports. 

Unlike other car manufacturers, Tesla does not release monthly sales figures or break down its sales by country or, in the U.S., by state.

According to the California New Car Dealers Association, 2,535 new Teslas were registered in California during the first quarter of 2015, a 65.4 percent increase over 2014 representing more than half of Tesla’s U.S. sales during the quarter.

Since Tesla's first car, the discontinued Roadster, went on sale in 2008, the company's cars have sold strongly in California. The Model S, introduced in 2012, gained its first foothold of popularity in Southern California as Hollywood’s elite embraced it as an eco-status symbol. Model S drivers have included Steven SpielbergDon Cheadle, James Cameron and Zooey Deschanel.

Electric cars still represent an infinitesimal market in the U.S., accounting for 0.8 percent of new cars registered in the first quarter, a 0.2 percent increase over 2014. But the luxury segment is heating up, with new electric models due from Tesla — the $70,000 Model X SUV, to be unveiled later this year, has more than 20,000 preorders — BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

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