Exact numbers for Tesla Model 3s shipped so far to Australia came to light on Monday, an encouraging indication that the “mass-market” electric sedan is experiencing unprecedented interest in an auto market that has been dubbed a “global laggard” in EV uptake.
According to sources familiar with the matter, a total of 2,414 Tesla Model 3s have arrived in Australia via three cargo ships, starting with the Cap Capricorn in mid-August.
As noted by Giles Parkinson, these numbers are stunning – and particularly so when cast in the light of the entire Australian auto market.
Globally, the Model 3 is driving EV adoption, with latest numbers from electric vehicle database EV-Volumes showing that it is now even giving its internal combustion engine (ICE) competitors – BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz – a run for the money.
In August, figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries – which notably has also been documenting a sustained 17 month decline in petrol and diesel sales – showed that of the Model 3’s competitors, Mercedes-Benz entire sales inventory amounted to 2,380 vehicles.
BMW on the other hand sold a total of 1,860 vehicles in August across its range of offerings, while Audi sold a total of 1,365 vehicles.
As we note, that’s across their entire range. Looking at specific models noted in EV-Volumes figures – the BMW 3 and 4 series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 and A5, the Model 3 is, quite literally, charging ahead.
Only 423 Mercedes C-Class vehicles were sold in August, only 255 BMW 3 and 4 series vehicles were sold (the majority of these were 3s), and only 137 Audi A4s and A5s were sold.
In total, that’s 815 vehicles.
It is important to note that Tesla does not count a sale until a delivery is made so those 2,414 vehicles are not accountable to one month alone, but it must also be noted that the numbers given by our source for Model 3s shipped to date will continue to increase as more vehicles are shipped from California.
Tesla staff are by all accounts putting the shoulder to grindstone to get these thousands of vehicles out to customer – some of whom have been waiting three years since reservations were first open.
Another source who spoke with a representative from financier Macquarie Bank said that 500 Model 3s were delivered last week alone, an indication of the speed and scale of the deliveries.
Another point to note is the phenomenon that has become known as the “Tesla Stretch” that has been noted overseas and that The Driven has brought to light locally where Australians have admitted that in many cases they are paying over $30,000 more to buy a Model 3 than they have ever sent on a car before.
(Ed: Or, in my case, nearly $50,000).
The point is, the Model 3 appeals to a different – and it would appear, wider – range of customers than equivalent medium-sized ICE vehicles priced above $60,000.
Even ex-Car Advice journo Paul Maric noted on Twitter in regard to the reported Model 3 numbers that “normally over 2k is enough to get basic saturation” – in itself a nod to the fact that the Model 3 is already proving a popular addition to the Australian auto market.
Whether deliveries of Model 3s can be maintained at this impressive initial rate is the next question – and given the current political climate in Australia, probably not likely. Many of these sales represent long standing orders, and prices have risen with the falling Australian dollar.
Overseas, sustained sales of electric vehicles – particularly in the USA – have been supported by financial incentives to encourage acceleration of EV adoption. These in turn have been driven by fuel emissions regulations as countries turn the focus towards meeting Paris agreement targets to mitigate irreversible climate change.
But in Australia, the federal government led by coal-lovin’ prime minister Scott Morrison continues to fuel a carbon-rich agenda, cementing a reputation as “coal pusher”, and Morrison choosing to open a box factory for a billionaire donor on his current visit to the US rather than attend the UN climate leaders summit in New York.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.