Model 3. Credit: Bridie Schmidt
Model 3. Credit: Bridie Schmidt

There has been wide speculation about the exact number of Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles deliveries that have and will take place in the initial roll-out of the long-awaited car in Australia.

The most recent assessment, as we reported here, was “in the thousands”. Tesla never comments on sales of models in individual countries, and the numbers of previous sales, Model S and X, are not tracked by official data in Australia.

The Driven, however, understands that the exact number – delivered in three ship cargos – is 2,414. This is confirmed by several sources. Most of these are expected to be delivered in September.

Indeed, it is said that it is a case of all hands to the pump, as virtually every Tesla employee in the country gets involved in Model 3 deliveries to consumers who have been waiting, in some instances, for more than three years since putting down a deposit when the car concept was first unveiled in 2016.

If Tesla gets anywhere near that number of deliveries in the month of September – we know a couple of dozen were delivered in late August – it will put the Tesla Model 3 in the ranks of the top ten, and maybe even the top five for new car sales in Australia for the month.

It will also likely double the total sales of Tesla EVs since the Model S was first delivered here in late 2014.

That is a stunning achievement. It comes as sales of petrol and diesel cars slump dramatically – down 18 per cent in August for passenger petrol cars, and 8 per cent fall in SUV sales.

Petrol and car sales have been in decline for 17 months now, so much so that it is considered to be the new normal. The industry now likes to blame the usual suspects – a slowing economy, tight finance, lack of consumer confidence.

But it’s pretty clear that there is something more fundamental going on here – many consumers can see the change ahead, and some are already deciding to hold their purchases, and retain their current vehicles until they find an EV they want and can afford.

Until the end of 2018, electric vehicles accounted for a miserly 0.2 per cent of total new vehicle sales in Australia, and most of these were locked in at the very top end – the Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles. In Norway, with strong incentives, sales of EVs are now more than 50 per cent of total sales.

A recent Budget Direct survey in Australia provided some fascinating results.

It found that more than half of the respondents said they did not think they would be driving a fossil fuel car, either petrol or diesel, within 10 years. More than 21 per cent said they would be going electric within five years.

In the key 18-34 year old age group, the numbers were even higher – with 25 per cent expecting to dump petrol vehicles within 5 years, and a whopping 59 per cent within 10 years. Apparently, they are not worried about “losing” their weekend” or think they would be better off walking to Bathurst.

Other studies – such as those by ClimateWorks – show that for fleet owners, who account for nearly half of all new vehicle sales, some electric cars are already available are better value than the petrol and diesel alternatives. That’s because, despite the high ticket price, the lower running and maintenance costs make them better value.

The Budget Direct survey revealed lingering consumer concerns about battery life, charging infrastructure, and the potential impacts of EVs on the grid. But how much of that is due to the disgraceful scare campaign from the current Coalition government earlier this year and the misinformation in mainstream media?

As for the Model 3, well it’s going to be interesting to where it goes from here – whether this is a “one-off” boost from pent-up demand, or will the sight of all these electric vehicles running around the place – with the Kona, Ioniq and Leaf and the impending release of the electric mini and the first VW,  inspires others to follow.

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