Tesla has now sold 80% more electric vehicles than all other car makers selling EVs in Australia for 2020, pressing home its dominance in the local market, while hybrids continue to soar in popularity.
While hybrid sales have doubled from 2019, battery electric vehicle sales were up 17.3% compared to the year before, according to Vfacts data collected on behalf of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), (noting EV sales are from a low base and do not include figures from Tesla).
By contrast, the wider auto market in Australia is now on its 29th month of decline in sales, further highlighting the ongoing success of electric and hybrid cars.
While the all-electric Hyundai Kona is sitting at the top of EV sales in Australia according to Vfacts, it is of course the Tesla Model 3 that is the real leader.
Including the Model X and Model S, Tesla has in 2020 sold around 80% more electric cars than all other EVs on the market combined.
Adding in year-to-date numbers that may include some spillover into September due to delivery delays in August, there have now been approximately 2,700 electric vehicles bought in Australia in 2020.
This includes an approximate 320 extra Model 3s arriving in August according to Tesla shipping tracker Vedaprime, whose data shows that the Californian car maker is ramping up shipping again, post-Covid shutdown.
— VedaPrime (@VedaPrime) September 2, 2020
While electric vehicles – particularly in the passenger car segment – are on the increase, plug-in hybrid sales are just holding steady, with the only segment on the increase also in the passenger segment.
It would seem that SUV buyers are either opting for the non-pluggable RAV4 hybrid, which is driving sales for Toyota, and has contributed significantly to the 36,000 plus hybrids bought so far in 2020, or the all-electric Hyundai Kona, which is the most sold electric SUV in Australia to date.
It is important to note that it is now a year since deliveries of Tesla’s hugely successful Model 3 started in Australia, boosting 2019 EV sales to triple that of 2018. While 2020 sales have been slower since the first surge of Model 3 deliveries, they are still well ahead of other car makers.
Going on this sales rate this means we are looking at about 4,000 battery electric vehicle sales in total for 2020, around 40% less than 2019’s 6,718 total sales reported by the Electric Vehicle Council.
This highlights once again the urgent need for policies in Australia to help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, which have been proven to have much lower lifetime emissions than petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles – and of course, no tailpipe emissions whatsoever.
Although the Tesla Model 3 broke the mould for EV purchasing intentions in Australia, EVs remain higher-priced in Australia than overseas due to import costs, luxury car tax and currency conversions, on top of battery prices.
The numbers show that Australian consumers are still choosing to keep car spends in the hybrid range, rather than the more expensive EV range, despite the lower running costs of the latter category.
With Australia now officially in a recession, this is not likely to change soon.
What is needed is a policy that will encourage consumer uptake – a national electric vehicle strategy expected in mid-2020 has now been delayed until at least the end of the year, while a Net Zero strategy will focus on fleet uptake with a view to second-hand market growth as fleets turn over – generally three years.
Still, there are more models dripping slowly onto the Australian market. The sub-$50,000 MG ZS EV and upcoming Mini Cooper SE are all but set for first deliveries to Australian customers.
There is also a new Kona Electric sitting in the wings but whether its imminent announcement will rekindle interest or dampen it as interested buyers wait for the 2021 version, which could possibly brandish the new Ioniq electric series name.
Lastly, we cannot forget the Model Y, which has the potential to stymie new EV sales growth when it finally becomes available for order in Australia (Tesla will not say when this will be however), if drivers succumb to the same ordering frenzy as the Model 3, but hopefully not the same long three-year wait.
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.