New figures reveal Tesla made it into the top 10 most popular auto brands registered in NSW in the last quarter of 2019, while some American and Japanese mainstays suffered dipping sales that placed them at the bottom of the list.
Australians currently buy only a small percentage of electric vehicles (EVs), and the country as a whole has been branded a laggard in the adoption of zero emissions transport, a fact that makes Tesla’s meteoric rise in NSW into the top ten a significant feat.
The official data sourced from the NSW motor registry shines a light on the changing auto market, which in NSW saw an 8.4% drop in all car sales in 2019, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).
But not for electric vehicles. The data, which is based on increases (or decreases) in number of active registrations, and includes old models being deregistered, shows that at the end of 2019, there are now 1,971 more active electric vehicle registrations within the state compared to the end of 2018, 1,651 of which are all-electric passenger vehicles.
It also shows that seven in ten of those all-electric passenger vehicles were made by Tesla – a stunning percentage that reflects previous figures estimated by The Driven for nationwide EV sales.
This is doubly impressive – and encouraging for the adoption of electric vehicles – because the Model 3, of which some 3,000-4,000 vehicles have been delivered to customers nationwide, only arrived in Australia in August 2019.
Tesla was also the leader in terms of increasing sales, selling almost double of that from the previous year, followed only by MBC and Chinese-owned MG which saw a 70% increase in sales in NSW.
Since 2018, the number of active Tesla registrations have jumped from 1,300 vehicles sold in NSW since the introduction of its flagship premium Model S sedan and premium Model X electric SUV, to almost 2,500 – almost all of those in the third and fourth quarters.
While the fourth quarter jump propelled Tesla into the top 10 for those three months, for the whole year its position climbed to 15th position in the most popular brands in NSW in 2019, a ranking that is sure to be challenged in 2020 once there is a full twelve months Model 3 sales under Tesla’s belt.
Exact figures for Tesla sales can be difficult to obtain, since the Californian carmaker does not report to local sales the FCAI, and although there is no model breakdown, it is all but certain that the majority of extra active Tesla vehicle registrations for 2019 in NSW are now the more affordable Model 3 vehicles.
Plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) sales also saw a surge in interest in NSW in 2019, with 9,443 active registrations compared to 2018 YoY across all segment, 6,895 of which are passenger vehicles.
In total, there are now 43,258 active PHEV vehicles registrations in NSW – 36,215 of which are passenger vehicles.
The shift in buying behaviour towards electric vehicles echoes analysis by market research firm Roy Morgan which shows that nationwide there has been a massive surge in interest in EVs.
This is potentially bad news for carmakers who do not establish a presence in the electric vehicle market, or which are not perceived by their audience as a brand that can “do electric”.
The most recent fall out of this is Holden, the operations of which US carmaker GM yesterday announced it would shut down by June 2021 as it looks to develop electric and autonomous vehicles.
In fact, it was Holden that saw the largest fall in active registrations (-26,673), followed by Ford (-16,506), Mitsubishi (-6,640), Toyota (-5,848), and Nissan (-4,442).
This article has been updated to more accurately describe the data which refers to the number of active registrations compared to previous periods.
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.