The message is clear: more Australian drivers are opting for electric with new plug-in car sales doubling in the typically quiet month of January, while petrol and diesel car sales continue on a dramatic downturn.
The V-Facts figures, released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), illuminate a continuing and clear shift in car buying intentions in Australia that is resulting in a now 22-month decline in fossil-fuelled car sales.
Electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) passenger vehicle sales are up more than 50% in the private sector this month compared to January 2019, and have tripled in the commercial sector highlighting a preference for electrified fleets.
And it is more: even though the increase in EVs is from a small base it has to be noted Tesla, which claimed 70% of the electric car market in 2019, does not report its sales to V-Facts.
Sources suggest between 50-100 Tesla electric cars – mostly Model 3 sedans – may have been delivered in January, meaning actual private electric car sales could actually have increased month-on-month by up to 500%.
The shift is even more so in the SUV segment which has seen a meteoric rise in non-pluggable hybrid sales and a trebling in the private sector of electric and PHEV sales.
Overall new car sales fell 12.5 per cent from January last year, while passenger car sales plunged 23 per cent from the same month a year earlier.
“Given the broad range of environmental, financial, international and political issues facing Australia during January, it is no surprise to see the new vehicle market has reported a conservative start to the year,” Weber said in a statement.
But market analysis by Roy Morgan suggests that there is another reason behind the slump in petrol and diesel, as drivers decide to hang on to gas-guzzlers while they wait for more electric vehicle choice.
And that choice is coming, with up to eight more models, as well as the Australian-built ACE-EV Cargo Van, promised for arrival this year opening up more choice for drivers.
Among them could be the Tesla Model Y, which it is hoped will arrive locally by late 2020 and promises to be even more popular than the Model 3 although in Australia that may depend on the introduction of a cheaper Standard Range Plus and bringing that in under the Luxury Car Tax threshold.
In the meantime, the outlook for February is equally optimistic for electric vehicles – and again, Tesla looks to be the early leader going on shipping reports (and keeping in mind Tesla does not record a sale until the vehicle is delivered).
Among 23 ships globally shipping Tesla vehicle to overseas markets there are four headed Down Under, carrying 665 vehicles headed for Australia and 64 for New Zealand.
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.