Tesla Model 3 Nearly Outsells the Toyota Camry (in Australia)

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Update (editor’s note): There was apparently some misreporting that led to the news report below. It was initially reported that Tesla delivered 15,054 units of the Tesla Model 3 in Australia in 2021, but that was apparently based on false information provided by Tesla. The actual total was 12,094 according to official government registration data. That put it second behind the Toyota Camry in the midsized sedan category, not breaking the Camry’s 28-year win streak atop the podium. It is not clear why Tesla’s data was a few thousand vehicles above Australia’s official tally. Perhaps Tesla logs sales prior to registration and it takes some time to go from receiving the keys (well, there aren’t really keys with a Tesla) and registering a vehicle. —Zachary Shahan

Yesterday, Johnna Crider brought us the welcome news that EVs accounted for 2.4% of new car sales in Australia last year, with Tesla leading all other EV brands by a wide margin. Today, we learned there is more to the story. Tesla does not normally share its sales data by country, but it agreed to work with Australia’s Electric Vehicle Council. The data show that Tesla sold 15,054 Model 3 sedans in that country last year.

Okay, what does that mean? Take a gander at the sales numbers for other manufacturers Down Under last year:

  • Camry — 13,081
  • Skoda — 9,185 cars across seven models
  • Lexus — 9,290 cars across 11 models
  • Volvo — 9,028 cars across six models
  • Jeep — 7,762 cars across five models
  • Land Rover — 6,459 cars across seven models

In addition, sales of the Model 3 last year were in shouting distance of the sales of several well known global brands:

  • Honda — 17,562
  • Suzuki — 17,468
  • Audi — 16,003

The numbers show the Tesla Model 3 is the best selling car of all in the medium size sedan segment and is within a few thousand sales of shoving aside the likes of Audi and Honda. People don’t want electric cars in Australia, ScoMo? What are you smoking? You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you in the … ankle.

The Driven says this is the first time Tesla has has been able to claim a position on the top 20 auto sales list. Tesla is only a decade old, spends no money on advertising, has only one vehicle for sale in Australia, and did not import any of its premium Model S and Model X in 2021. The refreshed Model S is due to make an appearance in Australia later this year or early in 2023.

Behyad Jafari, who heads the Electric Vehicle Council, tells The Driven the problem is not that Australians don’t want to buy electric cars, it is that the supply is severely limited by other manufacturers. At the federal level, the antipathy to EVs is so strong that companies are reluctant to allocate more of their electric cars to meeting the demand.

“The big message is that Model 3 sales numbers show that Australians want EVs and other carmakers can also sell EVs with one secret ingredient — make a good car at a good price point but make it available to customers,” Jafari says. To buy a Tesla, all a driver needs to do is go to the website and order it. Tesla will deliver — with sometimes a three month wait — but deliver they do.

Traditional carmakers only make a few hundred cars available for an entire year. As a result, the Ioniq 5 sold out within hours in late 2021, Polestar also now has a long waiting list for its Polestar 2, and Kia says it has just 500 of its new EV6 available for sale in 2022. “What I’m very confident about is Australia doesn’t have a demand problem, it has a supply problem,” says Jafari.

He tells EV Central, “Most people in the car market will now be considering an electric option.” Several states in Australia are offering incentives to EV buyers but the federal government is loathe to do so. Instead, it spreads disinformation about how electric cars will “kill the weekend.” It also steadfastly refuses to enact any emissions standards for new cars with gasoline or diesel engines, which means manufacturers dump their dirtiest vehicles that they can’t sell anywhere else on Australia.

“It’s great that some state governments have received the global message, but at a national level we’re stuck in the past. We desperately need the federal government to introduce Australian EV rebates alongside fuel efficiency standards, just like other developed nations,” Jafari says. He believes EV sales could boom if there were sensible government policies in place. “If we get these changes, you’ll see sales figures really rocket ahead,” he said.

Isn’t it amazing that despite significant headwinds like dealer franchise laws in the US and government opposition in Australia, Tesla keeps powering ahead, leading the world kicking and screaming into the electric transportation world of the future? Either there are millions of Tesla owners who have been duped by the nefarious machinations of Elon Musk or the forces that oppose electrification are being deliberately obtuse.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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