Australia: Electric Vehicles Exceed 10% of Auto Sales for First Time!

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Out of the 110,000 vehicles sold in Australia in September 2023, 10.6% came with a plug. Approximately 8% of these (8,821 units sold) were battery electric and 2% (1,264 units sold) were plugin hybrid EVs. The Tesla Model Y was once again the highest selling BEV and SUV, and third overall, coming in just behind the Toyota Hilux and the Ford Ranger. Finally, Australia exceeds 10% EV market share!

Australia Exceeds 10%
Tesla and BYD selling well in the Australian auto market. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Australia’s uptake of electric vehicles has been rapid, but staggered. Just a few years ago, there was only a 0.8% penetration. At the start of 2022, that tripled to 2.4%, and it rose to 4% by the end of the year. With the introduction of the refreshed MG ZS EV, the BYD Atto 3, and the Tesla Model Y in late 2022, the stage was set for another step change in 2023. For most the year, the penetration rate has hovered around 8%. Just last month, I was lamenting because the penetration rate had dipped to 6.5%.

Finally, we have made another step change and in September, Australia exceeded the 10% barrier. My expectation is that the affordable triplets — the BYD Dolphin, Great Wall ORA, and MG4 — will take us to the next step change by the end of the year. BYD was expected to begin deliveries of the Dolphin last month, but they have been delayed. The Dolphin enthusiasts pages on Facebook are full of posts from people keenly awaiting their deliveries.

Australia exceeds 10%
The BYD Dolphin is on the way, but yet to be delivered in September. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Ten hydrogen cars have sold in 2023, but no new ones were registered in September. PHEVs on the other hand are up 141% over last September’s results. Most of Australia’s new cars come from Japan, followed by Thailand (where most of the utes are made) and then China (where most of the EVs are made). By the end of the year, it is expected that Australia’s fleet of EVs will have doubled over 2022 figures.

Both the Tesla Model Y (#3 with 3811 sold — up from #8 last month) and Model 3 (#20 with 1366 sold) make the top twenty vehicles of all fuel types sold in September. The Tesla Model 3 actually outsold the Toyota Corolla. Also in the top 20 are the MG ZS EV and Mitsubishi Outlander — note that these numbers would contain PHEVs. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is having a resurgence on the Australian market, with Mitsubishi investing serious money in a slick advertising campaign featuring Aussie comedy icon Russell Coight and set in the Australian Outback. Have a good laugh at this:

They even make an effort to dispel some of the FUD around charging and EVs going through water. The tagline is: “Australia Ready.”

Now for the details for those who like hard data:

  1. Tesla Model Y — 3,811 — a 50% increase on last month. YTD = 23,457
  2. Tesla Model 3 — 995 — another 50% increase. YTD = 14,540
  3. BYD Atto 3 — 702 — a 15% decrease. YTD = 8,700
  4. MG4 — 685 — double last month’s figure. YTD = 941
  5. Volvo XC40 Recharge — 230 — almost half of the August numbers. YTD XC40 + C40 = 3,200
  6. Cupra Born — 218 — double August’s numbers. YTD = 594
  7. Kia EV6 — 202. YTD = 1,147
  8. MG ZS EV — 145. YTD = 2,359
  9. Kia Niro — 113. YTD = 717
  10. Polestar 2 — 111 — half of the August figure. YTD = 1,789

As requested, I have included year-to-date figures for the top ten. A full list of all cars can be found here.

Australia Exceeds 10%
MG4s lead the coffee morning lineup in September. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

As cars move up and down the top 10 chart, it is hard to know the exact reason. It is certainly not lack of demand, but more to do with supply and logistics. Early in the year, there appeared to be a fight for third position between the Atto 3, the Polestar 2, and the MG ZS EV. SAIC’s MG4 and Volvo seem to have shaken things up a bit. The MG4 is doing very well and should continue to do so. The arrival of the Volvo EX30 early next year should make the leaderboard even more interesting. The baby SUV has some compelling stats.

Australia exceeds 10%
Volvos are selling well in the Australian market. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

The Great Wall Motors ORA had 90 sales in August and 71 in September. I have high hopes for this funky little runabout and am starting to see them on the highways, as I did this morning doing the school run. Year to date, 283 have sold.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E will be hitting Ford Australia’s show rooms imminently (test drives are available in Brisbane now). Though, with NSW, ACT, and Victoria listing them as “coming soon,” it appears that there is a limited number of vehicles available to play with. Some pundits question whether it will do well against the Model Y competition that has better specs and a lower price. Just booked a test drive — stay tuned for an update.

Renault is returning to the Australian EV market with a new Megane, after withdrawing the Zoe some years back. I wish them luck. I didn’t think much of the petrol Megane (my sister-in-law had one and never stopped complaining about it — she nicknamed it “Migraine”), nor did I think much of the Zoe EV (which wouldn’t pull the skin off a custard). In France, the Megane polled #7 on the top ten chart for August and #14 across the whole European market. The Zoe of course is a big hit in Europe and still being sold there. Hopefully Renault have improved the Megane and the EV will do well in Australia.

Remserv is encouraging government school teachers to take up the Atto 3 by salary sacrifice and/or novated leasing. They were actively promoting EVs at a recent “Teacher Career Fair” for prospective graduates. Previously, the EV option was not available to government employees. I am looking forward to seeing more BYDs in school car parks. Their website introduces the topic: “The most affordable way for Queenslanders to join the EV revolution … the times they are a’chargin’”.

Australia exceeds 10%
Remserv finances government workers into EVs. Photo courtesy of Thomas Oates.

BYD has recently launched the Seal and a Mega store in Sydney. You can view it here. EVdirect, which markets the cars, is on record as saying that it expects to ramp imports to 9,000 EVs per month next year. So, hopefully, 2024 will see another step change as more electric vehicles enter the Australian market.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 719 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth