An informal survey of aspiring Model 3 owners suggests that the bulk of deliveries in Australia have yet to occur, indicating that there is still plenty of strength in demand for Tesla’s first “mass-market” electric vehicle.
Thousands of Model 3s are expected to have been delivered in Australia by the end of the year, even as petrol and diesel vehicle sales continue an 18-month downturn, but the question is exactly how many.
A burst of delivery activity before the end of the September quarter was expected to have filled much of the demend, but it may have only scratched the surface.
As The Driven learned in late September, the first three ships to arrive in Australia laden with Model 3 s carried 2,414 units, and there have been five more ships arrive from San Francisco’s Pier 80 since.
Tesla does have a tendency to ramp up deliveries towards the end of the quarter, but as we head into the final quarter of 2019 it would appear that there could be at least that many still to be processed through Australian and New Zealand docks for delivery to customers.
As many as 7 in 10 orders are yet to be filled across Australia and New Zealand, with only half of customers contacted so far with a delivery date according to self-reported figures collected by Twitter account Australian Tesla Owners.
While Tesla does not issue local delivery figures, it is also known that in the third quarter of 2019 some 419 Model 3s were delivered in NZ, pushing into first place for new EV sales ahead of Kona Electric, the Audi e-Tron and of course the ever present Nissan Leaf among others.
Registration numbers are unfortunately not as transparent in Australia, however it is believed that up to 70-200 vehicles are being delivered per day at each of Tesla’s Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney delivery centres, with as many as 1,500 vehicles having made it to customers in September alone.
While there have been reports that staff have been given a break after September’s frenetic end that even saw Tesla chair Robyn Denholm pitch in, the numbers above suggest there are still a good few thousand still to be delivered.
If this does come to fruition, it could see the Tesla Model 3 enter the top ten in new car sales for the quarter, a first for electric vehicles in Australia and heralding the shift to clean transport that is so needed if the private transport sector is to pull its weight in curbing carbon emissions.
One more salient point – from the data collected by Australian Tesla Owners, it would seem that only 4 in 10 orders are for the most affordable Standard Range Plus (SR+).
Instead, most customers have opted for the much pricier Performance model, and to a lesser extent the Long Range.
A number of cheaper electric cars have been introduced this year by legacy carmakers, including the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona Electric and Ioniq – all of which have been outsold by the Tesla Model 3 already.
But the above numbers suggest that instead of preferencing more affordable electric cars from legacy carmakers, more drivers switching to electric are deciding to go the extra hog to get longer range, a car that gets better as time goes on thanks to over-the-air updates, and better performance.
Some other interesting stats include:
- Pearl White is the favoured colour (mind you, this would be largely because some weeks after opening the Australian configuration page, Tesla changed the default – and free – colour to white).
- Just 8% of owners have seemingly opted for a white interior, despite an insistent call for the option to be added to help reduce interior vehicle heating in Australia’s searing summers.
- At least half of customers have opted to pay additional costs for a non-standard paint option.
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.