Nine out of 10 Tesla electric car sales in Australia in 2020 are Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Tesla has shipped more than 2,000 electric cars to Australians in 2020 to date, new figures reveal.

As the third quarter of 2020 reaches an end, the new data reveals that the Californian electric car maker has outsold the electric sales of all other car makers combined by a factor of two to one in Australia, another landslide achievement.

Tesla does not share local sales figures with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ Vfacts data, despite being a member of the industry body. However, thanks to shipping tracker Vedaprime we can get a pretty decent picture of the demand for Tesla electric cars in Australia.

According to the shipping data, 2,072 Tesla cars have been imported into Australia in the last nine months. With the exception of the odd cancellation leading to shop inventory, and media/test vehicles imported to Australia by Tesla, the majority of these are to fulfill orders.

And unsurprisingly, it is the Tesla Model 3 that is driving demand. Of the 2,000 or so Tesla vehicles imported this year by Tesla, shipping data indicates that 90% (1,852) are Model 3s.

The remainder were 110 Model S electric sedans and 120 Model X electric SUVs (we will update these figures on our monthly EV sales chart when Vfacts are released next week).

The figures also indicate Tesla’s return to pre-Covid-19 shipping levels for Australia. While the first quarter saw a little less than 1,000 Tesla vehicles imported to Australia, the second quarter saw shipping drop right off.

In the third quarter of 2020, Tesla has seen a return to first quarter figures with 935 units, 200 or so of which are due to arrive tomorrow, having been delayed by Port Botany industrial action.

Data source: Vedaprime shipping tracker

Added to Tesla’s 2014-2019 sales figures of more than 7,000 units, this means there are nearly 10,000 Tesla electric cars in Australia.

While electric cars account for only 0.6 per cent of automotive sales in Australia, the continued growth of the market is in stark contrast to more than two years of declining combustion engine sales.

But it could – and should – be even better. Policy and sales targets geared to help accelerate adoption of electric vehicles has not been embraced by the federal government despite a shift to such policies in overseas markets including the US, Europe, and China including bans of new combustion car sales from 2030-2035 depending on the country.

Because electric vehicles are more expensive than combustion engine cars due to the current cost of batteries, targets are needed to guide policy formation including offering financial incentives and removing fees such as stamp duty and the luxury car tax to make buying electric vehicles more affordable for the average Australian.

A national electric vehicle policy was expected to be released in mid-2020 but has now been delayed until the end of 2020, announced as a footnote in an email from the department of energy and emissions reduction.

There may be a light at the end of the combustion engine tunnel however, with states, and the federal government’s future fuels fund, indicating support for fleet uptake to assist turnover of more electric vehicles into the secondhand market and engender certainty in car makers to import more EV models to Australia.

However, it may be too late for 2020 to beat 2019’s EV sales record of 6,718 vehicles as reported by the Electric Vehicle Council.

Electric vehicle sales in 2019 were somewhat inflated due to the arrival of the Tesla Model 3 as Tesla strived to meet a bank of pre-orders, some of which had been standing for three years.

If Tesla matches its Q1 and Q3 shipping numbers, and EV sales by other car makers retain their current projectory, we can expect total 2020 EV sales in Australia to reach around approximately 4,300 units.

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